Dear Manic Pixie Dream Girl Stock Character,
We need to talk.
You have a problem, and it’s a rather serious one.
For years, I was blind to your issues. In fact, I have dedicated a large chunk of my life to attempting to be just like you. Not just like Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown or just like Natalie Portman in Garden State, but just like you, the ultimate combination of all of the characters who fall in your spectrum. I wanted to be the girl who appreciated life more than the people around her did, who relished nature, who approached difficult and awkward circumstances with Reckless Abandon. I wanted to be the girl who lived carpe diem rather than just spewing it forth like the cliche that it is, who danced in parking lots, in the rain, in the woods, in the middle of walking her dogs just to prove to myself, friends and the world around me that I was unique and surely loved life.
And, more than anything, I wanted to change The Boy. It doesn’t really matter which Boy, because, as you know, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, your shallow, hollow shell of a character ultimately fulfills her own purpose by changing whatever Tortured Soul is thrown her way. The Boy is often complex, confused about his place in the world, possibly depressed, and has emotions beyond those of Wild Abandon. And you change him. You show him the error of his ways. You show him how to love life – every minute – by appreciating small things and forcing him well outside of his comfort zone. You are, in effect, his saving grace in what seems to be a bleak, monotonous situation.
The problem is that you shouldn’t be expected to change anyone. Of course, people change people. That does happen. But the weight of The Boy’s eventual happiness often rests entirely on your tiny, Shins-loving shoulders. And this is a problem.
The Boy doesn’t truly find his way in life. He finds you, Manic Pixie Dream Girl. You are responsible for changing him, you are the one in whom he finds his fulfillment, and if you have an off day, he will be detrimentally affected.
The above reasons are why I have decided to stop attempting to follow in your footsteps. While I want to appreciate the life that has been given to me, I don’t want to force actions just so others think I’m appreciating life (when I don’t even enjoy dancing in parking lots most of the time). I don’t want to feel the pressure of always having to be upbeat and quirky, even when I’m having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and really just need a hug and some prayer. And I cannot change The Boy, whoever he happens to be. I cannot be the agent of change or the steady bedrock upon which his entire appreciation for life rests.
I’m abandoning trying to copy your ways, and I really hope you abandon your ways as well. You have been a token character in American media for far too long. Your message is dangerous, your personality lacks depth and, while your love of life is admirable, your other qualities seem unhealthy, and I no longer desire them.