The Canadian Club

{October 18, 2009}   My Pixie, My Jaded Princess


Let’s just say, Dave, that Garden State was so fine a film that they had to remake it twice!

Once for WASPs:

And once more for history buffs:

Appearing in theaters between 2004 and 2005, these three movies were not original in their portrayal of the now-famed Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope, but did articulate within a unique cultural moment a single shared structure that endows the MPDG with a unique capacity to evacuate the Oedipus complex — just as the Oedipal President par excellence had subjugated the country to his blind whims.

Why not, at the time, wish for magic?  Why not enact a romance of denial rather than a drama of confrontation and reconciliation?  Yes, Dave, you’re right, by gum!  We needed to be more About a Boy and less enabling of the Natalie Portmans in our lives.  And, yet, time and again, we have seen privilege and ersatz sentimentality forge ahead and have married our fates to the lie of felicity owed. Or, as Pete Campbell says, “Why does it have to be like this? Why can’t I get anything good all at once?”

And therein lies the irony of the quote that you so aptly brought to light, and that bears repeating:

I was a jaded and cynical 27-year-old who came of age in the swinging ’90s of dot-com-boom Manhattan.

Really? Jaded and cynical?  Based on several face-to-face encounters with this utterance, it seems to translate for the layperson as “I went to [liberal arts college or Ivy League school here], and I should either be making more money or have sold the right to my screenplay/novel by now.”  It seems to be this same unquestioned acceptance of a kind of skewed meritocracy myth that likewise blinds one to the leeks beside the baguette.  The same people think that Natalie Portman is smart because she goes to Harvard.

People think that Natalie Portman is smart.

It is hard to blame the gatekeepers for such a failure of imagination.  For one thing, I don’t believe they are just shaping content for what they think will please — they have been nurtured on the same mythology.  Yes, the writers themselves should know better — but how do we account for such a massive number of them not knowing better?  If you were to poll every bohemian New Yorker about Vienna, I am sure that we’d get a monotonous collage of Opera, Sachertorte and Gustav Klimt (who never, mind you, was one to turn down monotonous collages).  Personally, I would like to single out high school French teachers for vilification — however, I have too much respect for my own teachers to tolerate grouping them in with the lot. I would also like to blame the Chicago Art Institute for its massive collection of Impressionism — but that is neither here nor there.

I have some other ideas, that I’d like to hash out over time… but, I think for now, given that Mad Men is on tonight — and I think we love that program so, precisely because it tackles the root of this problem — we can really blame Conrad Hilton.

By the way, would you say “Any Vow-bag” is a good summative acronym for your excellent formulation Autumn-in-New-York/Vows-Column/French-ladies-carrying-baguettes-on-bicycles worldview?

et cetera