With an abundance of hate pieces on the world wide web wishing to stab the heart of the manic pixie dream girl character trope, we’re familiar with the problematic aspects of this stock character. The manic pixie dream girl or MPDG for short is quirky, free-spirited, unconventional– wait for it– not like other girls and exists solely to help the brooding male protagonist realise life’s true meaning.
As it turns out, she has a male equivalent too— the manic pixie dream boy. Anna Breslaw, who coined the term, describes the manic pixie dream boy or MPDB for short as “the self-mythologizing ‘free-spirited’ dude who’s determined to make your life magical, whether you want it or not.” From Augustus Waters from The Fault In Our Stars, Jack from Titanic, Tom from Last Christmas or Aman from Kal Ho Na Ho — the manic pixie dream boy comes with a live in the moment attitude, life advice masked in metaphors, and a unique outlook to transform the way you perceive the world. He writes poetry about the texture of your skin, knows how to fix all your problems and loves you for YOU. The MPDB helps fiercely independent goal-oriented women to stop and smell the roses, take risks and listen to their hearts.
pete davidson, travis barker, and machine gun kelly are the manic pixie dream girl of men….. the chaos goblin line cook
— yeehaw meg (@yeehaw_meg) November 20, 2021
Whether it’s Harry Styles, Timothee Chalamet, Tom Holland or the recent obsession over Ryan Reynold’s appreciation of Blake Lively’s look on the MET Gala red carpet, we’re seeing the internet gravitate towards men who challenge the notions of macho masculinity in mainstream media. The Internet was also quick to tag celebrities like Pete Davidson, Travis Barker and MGK as the male versions of the manic pixie dream girl, understandably because they don’t fall into the conventional category of men that we think these women are ‘supposed’ to be dating.
While the toxic MPDG trope tends to portray women as the happy go lucky side characters in a man’s world— something that society already pushes us to be— the MPDB is seen as a refreshing shift from the clean-cut mould of toxic masculinity by representing a man who’s supportive of women’s independent fulfilment, isn’t insecure about letting her be the main character and has high emotional intelligence.
While it isn’t fair to reduce these celebrities to a label since they aren’t characters in a movie but real people, there’s a deeper conversation that needs to be addressed— have we set the bar so low for the men in our lives that them doing the bare minimum is seen as something that needs to be romanticized? Are we really labelling any action that isn’t f*** boy-esq as exceptional while these are things that should be a given in any healthy relationship?
Sure we love ourselves a man who can see beyond his own toes but should we hoist them on a pedestal, worshipping the very ground he walks on? Nope. Rather disappointing you can’t see the finger I am holding up.