Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer. Natalie Portman in Garden State. Any quirky girl who wears Modcloth dresses and serenades pigeons with Carly Simon before cartwheeling into the distance. This is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a sexist trope coined in 2007 by Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club. The MPDG is whimsical and zany and helps the male main character along on his journey like a pastel Disney forest animal. Unfortunately, she’s one-dimensional and only exists in service to the dude’s self-discovery.
The internet chomped onto the Manic Pixie Dream Girl concept and didn’t let go. Something about it struck a chord (on the ole vintage ukelele, of course). On days when I’m not feeling badass and empowered and driven, it seems easy, tempting even, to find a floral thrift-store dress and be someone’s sidekick. After all, there’s nothing wrong with hula music, Mama Cass, or rollerskating through life (trust me, I would if I wouldn’t immediate break my neck). Needless to say, same for equal partnership where both people support and encourage each other. But letting a dude subsume your agency and identity out of fear and/or laziness is different; that’s what I don’t want to do.
So why is being a manic pixie dream girl sometimes so appealing?
Old music videos are amazing; the more terrible, the better. Don’t ask why, but I recently watched the vid for Amy Grant’s 1991 bop “Every Heartbeat” AND IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. In fact, despite being 25 years old, it was chock-full of love lessons for our modern times. Say sayonara to your singleness, my friends (and hello to alliteration? um anyway). Ready to find love in the early ’90s? Like hell you are!
1. Dress like you mean it.
A polka dot dress is good. Coordinating with a polka dot background, umby, AND dalmatian puppy is even better. Worrying about “being too matchy-matchy” is so 2016.
Can we talk about the blue tent Amy also wears? How many people are hiding inside? Like Puppy Surprise, a favorite childhood toy also from 1991 (COINCIDENCE?!), you never know: there could be three, or four, or fiiiiiive!
2. Go to work.
Having a female mechanic seems pretty progressive for 1991. Nicely done, Amy. I’ll let you think of your own terrible car/love metaphors while you enjoy this Harlequin romance novel cover video still:
Looks like SOMEBODY’s heart needs a tune-up! (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)
3. Just kidding, go to the laundromat.
Together with the late-’90s editions of the American Eagle catalog, this video perpetuates the harmful myth that the laundromat is a magical place where you could have a meet-cute with a hunky intellectual:
Recently I found myself in a predicament. I thought I had been sexxing a grown-ass man, wizened with age, delivering me regular gifts of phlegm and discounted pancakes on Tuesdays. WRONG. I did a double-take and whadday know, he was actually a small child of 20-some odd years. “A fuckboi,” in common parlance. Don’t make my MIZTAKE! <-especially great if this site were called Miz Takes, or Ms. Takes? Anyway, I’ve compiled a useful list to help you determine whether your Male Person can HANDLE YOU. (As Qween Nicki Minaj raps, “I’m just lookin’ for a man; fuck a B-O-Y.”) And GO:
MEN say I love you.
BOYS say I want you.
MEN wear button-down shirts.
BOYS wear graphic tees.
MEN have a mortgage and pay child support.
BOYS receive child support from other men who are hopefully their fathers but if not, you know, no judgment.
MEN accidentally crunch entire almonds underfoot.
BOYS get washed away at sea.
MEN can open a jar of pickles using only their giant lobster-claws.
BOYS never call you back just because they’re trapped in the sewer with their leg pinned under a large piece of metal.