In vogue? En vogue? I refuse to Google.
I have consumed a 4 Loko and things are looking grim. OK, not a 4 Loko. I have consumed a Joooooce. But that's all they had the other day. Still, I am high on caffeine and also caramel booze and I have something to say because otherwise I am pointless.
I am watching Elizabathtown for the first time, and I don't hate it.
Here's the deal, and this has bothered me forever. This movie is infamous in blog-land because of the really tired bullshit trope peddled by the otherwise estimable Nathan Rabin: the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl".
It set certain corners of the internet on fire when it was coined two years ago, and it pops up here and there, and it's always bugged me. See, the thing is, Rabin defines it like so:
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl 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. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is an all-or-nothing-proposition. Audiences either want to marry her instantly (despite The Manic Pixie Dream Girl being, you know, a fictional character) or they want to commit grievous bodily harm against them and their immediate family. As for me, well, let's just say I'm not going to propose to Dunst's psychotically chipper waitress in the sky any time soon.
This is what really bugs me: the idea that people like this don't exist just because Nathan Rabin hasn't bothered to meet them or doesn't care to know them. I HAVE MET THEM, NATHAN RABIN. I have befriended them, I have dated them, I have had sex with them, I even married one (though, maybe, I would call her a "Brutal Pixie Dream Girl on Fire.") Sometimes I feel like pretty much all the women I know would be classified as a MPDG if depicted in a movie.
Also, really, there's the terminology. Rabin's description (and the approving blogosphere head pat) is so vicious and pejorative. I wouldn't call these women, these friends of mine, "Manic Pixies." I would call these remarkable women something more along the lines of "Awesome Spontaneous Smart Chicks Who Don't Take Their Cues From Men."
Which, I guess, is the weird thing to me. It's odd to see Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine..." so reviled when, by my estimation, she was an honest portrayal of a woman in her 20's who didn't quite know what she wanted, flitted in and out of a relationship, and ultimately took care of herself. The fact that she wasn't as fully-fleshed out as Jim Carrey's character didn't matter to me because IT'S NOT THE FUCKING POINT. Actually, EXACTLY the fucking point is that Jim Carrey (and the audience by extension) doesn't know exactly what this woman wants because they don't actually know each other that well. You know, JUST LIKE EVERY DAY OF REAL LIFE. It's like complaining that we don't get all the facts upfront in a murder mystery: THE POINT OF THE DRAMA IS IN THE NOT KNOWING.
I enjoy that. I don't need to see flashbacks to Kate Winslet's childhood or a monologue about how she was raised by a single mother in a steel town to give a shit about her or assume this or that about her character. We don't actually know that much about a lot of the people we interact with on a day-to-day basis, so leaving things up to the audience to assume, with hints at this or that, actually (in my mind) adds to a feeling of verisimilitude. But then, I'm not a whiny blogger who's never written a script. And I don't really care about the whole "cipher" argument. Different movies have different points of view and tell different people's stories. You can't tell everybody's story in every movie, because holy shit did you see Crash it was awful.
Also, there is some criticism that the MPDG is unrealistic because she may not totally buy into her own bullshit. But, seriously -- who ever buys into their own bullshit? If anything, that's what I love when I see these characters: the idea that they're phony and that we never know for sure if they even buy into their own idyllic thing that they're pushing or if they're covering for something. I've loved writing these characters, over and over again, that are all artifice and eventually have that broken. I think it's the truest story in the world. We're all afraid of being found out.
The larger point being that I'm sitting here watching Elizabethtown and Kirsten Dunst's character reminds me of so many of my friends it's not even funny. So I don't get it. Maybe I'm so misogynistic I can't even see that I'm making all my friendships reductive, but I doubt that. I think, again, that I don't see this as a bad character. I love impulsive, independently-minded people who could give a shit. Who gives a fuck that Nathan Rabin never ran out onto a frozen pond at midnight with somebody he loved? (Or, to borrow from my own life, skinny-dipped in a lake in Maine in the dead of winter?)
I think back on all the places I've been, all the kites I've flown, all the rides I've hitched and all the spontaneous explosions of fun and trouble I've had in public (or semi-public) over the years. I think back on being grumpy but then being saved by Spring and I rolling around in three feet of snow and then hailing a cab. If it was in a movie, Amanda Marcotte would get grumpy about it. But it happened, woman.
Sorry, Nathan Rabin. This is not just in our imaginations. Just, some of us live these lives and some of us watch them. And I have a million regrets, but none of them are for being too boring or for not doing something. And if your bullshit meter is tripped by Kirsten Dunst then, really, I just feel sad for you for not meeting more interesting people and doing more interesting things. Now get out there and make out in a cab, because life is fucking short.