The Trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Why It’s the Actual Worst

-by Dkeama Alexis, student volunteer

On one level or another, we are all familiar with the ways women are overtly objectified and dehumanized in various forms of media, but this practice has evolved to be disseminated in less obvious manners. One of these methods is the use of the ever-popular trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a form of characterization that essentially robs the female character of any personality whatsoever.

This term was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin during his review of Elizabethtown (not super on board with the title), the quintessential example of a film that makes use of this trope. He describes this role as a woman who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures” but who also doesn’t have her own personality fleshed out in the slightest during the entirety of the movie. Since his partner has been constructed as a blank slate that serves to inspire his self-development, the usually boring, exceedingly insufferable, always stuck-in-a-rut male protagonist can then foist his fantasies and desires onto his partner and find fulfillment, happiness, and/or success in that way, a practice that essentially robs the woman of her own personhood.

Continue reading