Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Here’s a good post on the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I’m not as bothered by the term as the writer is, but her point of view is interesting.

To me the female lead in 500 Days of Summer was like something out of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. But this post made me think.

Reel Feminist

There are few cinematic terms I despise as much as the phrase “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (MPDG for short).  My problems with this term are legion, so first off let’s have a little history.  Nathan Rabin coined the term when describing Kirsten Dunst’s character ‘Claire’ in the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown.  According to Rabin, Dunst epitomizes the MPDG, a female character 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.”  These women are describes as bubbly, childlike muses who exist solely to inspire a male protagonist, encouraging him to embrace and enjoy life.

The MPDG is one of those cinematic terms that was assimilated as soon as it was uttered; a lot of people accepted its existence as fact immediately, as if Rabin’s term was absolute and not to be questioned.  No one…

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The Last Enemy

With Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Masterpiece Contemporary‘s mini series The Last Enemy was chilling and suspenseful. When Steven Ezard’s NGO activist brother dies, the aloof mathematician returns to London for the funeral. For years he’s been working in China where no one can bother him.* He doesn’t recognize this “new” London with its national id‘s and tight, high tech security. Within hours of his arrival he’s swept up into intrigue. Steven soon becomes intrigued and then smitten with his brother’s wife Yasim, a doctor who’s secretly caring for an wanted woman who’s dying of a mysterious disease.

When Yasim disappears, Steve agrees to act as a spokesperson for a security system the government wants to implement, Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA makes Orwell’s Big Brother look like child’s play. This insidious system can tell the government everything you’ve done, everywhere you’ve gone, everything you’ve bought, considered buying, you name it. By talking up TIA, Steven gets handsomely paid and gains access to everyone’s intimate data so he can track down Yasim. Of course, more nefarious characters want to track her down and to keep Steven in their pocket. Once he proves to be less docile than they figured, he becomes a target.

The mini-series kept me on the edge of my seat and really made me want to live off the grid. If that’s possible . . . yes, national i.d. and more efficient data aggregation has it’s dark side, a very dark side.

I liked that this dystopia didn’t look grungy and decrepit. It looked real, which is how I think it will look if we come to that. Good performances by the whole cast.


Anonymous speculates that William Shakespeare didn’t write his plays and offers a theory that the 17th Earl of Oxford did. Though I don’t buy this idea because I do think genius springs up in all classes, I do love historical and even speculative historical fiction enough to enjoy a film that has an interesting theory.

For a couple hours it was worth it to put aside my beliefs and enjoy rich costumes, romantic landscapes of yore, even the muddy ones and bold dialog (though it wasn’t as Shakespearean as Elizabeth Rex‘s dialog).  The thesis put forth is that the Earl of Oxford had the education and background that William Shakespeare lacked and he wrote plays to influence Elizabeth as she ruled the British empire.  The implication is that a woman wouldn’t have been wise enough to rule as successful on her own. Well, I don’t buy that, but I did find it interesting to see what this screenwriter believed as the story takes a lot of interesting twists.

I will quibble with the portrayal of William Shakespeare. Here he’s a buffoon and one that’s a far cry from say the jester in King Lear. In fact, we’re told that although he can read, he can’t write. Poppycock. Writing isn’t hard and in a week Asian students have the alphabet down. We know Shakespeare went to grammar school and unless his hand was injured during that entire period, someone would have taught him how to actually write letter.

There was the Earl of Oxford, the real Bard. He was very stately, but for the life of me I can’t recall a line of dialog he said. Now if a film wants to depict the real Shakespeare, shouldn’t that character be eloquent, someone who’s conversation is memorable? That’s why the film failed. I wasn’t convinced that because this man was well dressed and was given a good education, that he was a genius. Genius isn’t that well hidden.

The political intrigue gets complicated, but not impossible to follow. But then I’d seen Elizabeth Rex recently so I knew about the intrigue and the Earl of Essex’s execution. I do wish someone, perhaps a woman, would write a play about Elizabeth that isn’t so skeptical of her ability to lead.

The Diane Rehm Show on China and US Relations

Diane Rehm at WMU

Diane Rehm at WMU (Photo credit: Jay P.)

Diane Rehm hosted a fascinating panel on China-US Relations. Her panelists clarified the recent events that could be hard to really understand when so many news sources oversimplify.

Dear Writers of Choke,

Wish we’d heard more of the song before she choked

Ah, I saw the Glee episode Choke, and well, it was okay. So many of this season’s episodes have been just that: okay. The problem is I’m showing my students season one and those are fresh and absorbing. Mind you I’m watching them for the third or fourth time and they still entertain.

It was dramatic that Rachel choked on her audition for NYADA.  Sad, since she’s the best performer and unjust, but it was realistic and now there are opportunities for her to do something different. I didn’t like or buy that NYADA would send a famous woman to Lima, OH to listen to two students. Not in a million years. Also, it would have been more dramatic if the audition included lots of hopefuls just like Kurt and Rachel. Whoopi Goldberg‘s role could have been played by anyone. She was on so briefly, that I doubt I’d have hired her, better to use an actress from a good theater company like Steppenwolf and save some money to donate to a woman’s shelter.

Now for the domestic violence storyline, which seemed so forced and preachy. This is a real issue, but it didn’t work here. Why wouldn’t Sue, as a teacher, enlarge the number of girls she wanted to teach or preach about domestic violence to? She would bring in all her Cheerios. She just would. Yes, she just heard Santana and company making light of the issue at Coach Beast’s expense, but that’s usually a sign that the average student would do something like this. Hence an educator would want to reach all students, even young men. It’s not simply a women’s issue and Sue’s smart enough to know that. I could see the prolonged abuse Coach Beast is experiencing a mile away even before she lied to Sue. A good story would have been harder to predict. Also Coach Beast is the obvious candidate as a victim so it would have been more interesting for the swimming coach to have been beaten, after all, she’s most like Santana, whom needed to learn that she’s not invincible.

Puck’s flunking rang true but his father showing up at just the right time was so contrived. Who actually takes European geography? I’d believe him flunking Geography and then you could still have him sing “The Rain in Spain.” There were times when I watched and I channeled Sue. I just needed a megaphone to yell, “Sloppy! You writers are sloppy!”

Sam’s character seems so lame, so not like any Christian I’ve met, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. I can’t buy that he’s been so sheltered that he’s stupid, yet he sports edgy hair and tattoos. He sports the look of the cool edgy alternative home school kid, not the dweeb. His infatuation with Quinn could be interesting though.

I can’t believe it but though, One Tree Hill was never as good as the first season of Glee, it held it’s own for the first three seasons.