The other day I was reading a cracked article about stupid shit Romcoms need to stop “teaching” the general public when a light bulb went off in my head. Here’s the quote and pay attention to the bold:
“#4. Not Being Able to Function Socially Makes Someone Attractive and Interesting
The Thing:”If she’s a wide-eyed, crazy, eccentric free-spirit, then she’s actually just the gal you need to straighten your entire life out, man! Bursting out in song in the middle of dinner and not knowing how things work makes a person attractive!”
Worst Offenders:The New Girl,Garden State.
This trope has been around so long that it’s actually been given a name. Film critic Nathan Rabin calls it the Manic Pixie Dream Girl character and describes it as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that 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.” It’s any chick in a movie who is more style than substance, and whose free-spiritedness and unconventional approach to life is meant to cover up for her general inability to function socially. And and it’s insulting to both genders.
Zooey Deschanel’s character in The New Girl is probably the clearest example of this right now, as that entire show is based around how quirky and eccentric and, as a result, lovable, Zooey’s character (I think her name is “Eyeface”) is. Except she’s not so much “eccentric” as much as she is “bad at being alive and functioning socially, in the present.” One of her main conflicts in the pilot is that she has a date at a fancy restaurant, but doesn’t know what to wear so she puts on overalls! Classic Eyeface! And one of the male characters on the show goes goofy-eyed and clearly starts falling in love with her instead of, say, yelling, “You’re 27 years old, how do you not know how to dress and function yet? Get your shit together.”
It needs to stop because guys shouldn’t live their lives expecting a woman like this to exist. No guy should be waiting around for a quirky, blue-haired, horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing chick to show up and fix his entire life, because what woman would want to deal with that expectation and level of pressure?
It also needs to stop because I don’t want wide-eyed gals to think they need to act like vapid morons to attract guys. Because I’m an average, twenty-something male in 2011 America, I’ve developed a pop-culture induced soft spot for pale chicks with giant eyes and bangs
And, unfortunately, Hollywood is trying to convince women who look like this that being brainless goofballs who don’t understand how life works is an appealing personality type, and I just can’t let that stand.
Hollywood is still teaching women that “dumb” is “attractive,” they’re just hipsterfying it. I don’t know when it happened (maybe after Clueless?), but sometime after the ’90s, “Quirky Eccentric Weird Chick” became the new Bimbo. She’s just as insultingly one-dimensional as the archetypal Ditsy Blonde Bombshell Valley Girl character that was all over the place a decade ago, except now she wears vintage knee-socks and listens to The Smiths, and that’s supposed to be better, for some reason.”
Ignoring the condescending tone of the article and light bulb having gone off it got me thinking. It got me thinking that in the last decade as this trope invaded all those silly light hearted romcoms, it’s dug it’s insidious fucking claws into my life in two ways. One being me playing this role to attract men and two men looking for these attributes in a woman so while initially attracted to the silly free spirited pixie they think they have found, when they get to know you all bets are off, because finding the independent, strong, fierce personality underneath that expects you to be a grown capable fucking adult is enough to deflate the biggest fucking hard-on.
This has happened to me repeatedly. And every time I am standing in the dust of a collapsed relationship, thinking what the fuck just happened… whiiiiile pretty much being aware of the fact that at some point, I wasn’t playing my role well enough and scared the stupid fuck off.
Which brings me to the here and now. So there’s this guy. He’s cool, smart, funny, etc. I like him. I could see myself crushing on him and get the occasional squee giddy crush moment. But I am older and wiser and it’s not consuming my god damn life. So I have perspective – I can step back and observe my socialization at work in bonding with this guy. And yanno what I saw? Me starting to play this fucking role again. Portraying myself as this quirky, cute, eccentric gentle hippy out in the country side growing purdy flowers, being the soft gentle Mum nurturing her child despite hardships.
Sounds enticing and sweet right?
Except for all the eccentricity and cuteness you find in me? I am also a fucking cynical cunt who is so shit sick of the status quo, the patriarchy and mainstream society that I opted the fuck out and now hide on my hill surrounding myself with like minded people because I am FUCKING FED UP. I am angry, I am disenfranchised, I am loud and up in my ever so cute little garden, I am usually covered in sweat, mud, chicken shit and yelling at the dog to quit chasing the fucking chickens. Have I mentioned the cynicism? Swearing? Hairy arm pits? And bad fucking temper? What about the fact that I am fat? No? I guess that doesn’t fit into the fucking trope I was socialized into.
I also expect men to fucking take care of themselves. And yet?
I invited this lad up to the house and my first concern was what will I cook for dinner and is my house clean?
I might be flat fucking broke, unable to afford feeding him and so exhausted by my very real health issues that after doing all these wonderful things to fulfill my role that I am trained to play, the next fucking day I will be in bed, sore, unable to do much besides take care of the basics.
But hey! I played my role! I ensured I fluttered around, made myself as attractive as possible and lured the peen bearer to me JUST SO without giving away the truth lurking behind of who I am which might scare him away.
This is what society and my family has taught me. This is how I function now. Except I refuse, and watch how fun THAT’S going to be.
No wonder I want a fucking flame thrower for Christmas.