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Manic Pixie Dream Girl: when the female character exists only in function of the man

All of us, after watching the movie “500 Days of Summer,” felt the need to choose sides, trying to determine who the villain of the film was: Summer or Tom? But let’s admit it, most of us took Summer as the villain and Tom as the victim. However, I must sadly tell you that if you took sides, you didn’t understand the movie.

This iconic film has a deeper meaning than a simple romantic comedy. It seeks to criticize the stereotypes of romantic films, going against the archetype of the “girl of your dreams” better known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

What does Manic Pixie Dream Girl mean?

Now you might be wondering, what is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Explanation: In the world of cinema, this term is known as the archetype of the female character who is beautiful, mysterious with problems, but lacks depth, with the sole purpose of helping the insecure and immature male character pursue his selfish happiness. The female character is not known, does not develop, and lives only at the mercy of the male character.

Both the characters of Summer and Tom fulfill the stereotypical characteristics already explained, but at the same time, they are the ones used to nullify them. How are the stereotypes broken in this film? To start, Summer may seem like the perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but in reality, we can see how her character grows and develops when she’s not with Tom.

Tom is this immature young man who expects to find the meaning of his life from a girl, but Summer doesn’t want to give meaning to anyone’s life. She’s a complex woman who feels and experiences things that the protagonist ignores. A woman who doesn’t expect to find love, which ironically (spoiler alert) she ends up marrying in the end.

This film is a perfect representation of how the protagonist, behind the dream girl, actually gets it completely wrong. Summer is not the villain; the only villain here is Tom’s empty expectations, seeking to be loved by someone just because it’s him.

At the time of its release, the audience felt the need to choose sides, simplifying the film in a superficial sense, leaving aside the true message it wanted to convey. But it’s not just the fault of the audience who saw it at that time; it’s also the fault of the film’s promotion in general. It was marketed as another romantic comedy, supporting a clash between the two sides: Team Tom Vs. Team Summer, misunderstanding the core of the film and criticizing it as the typical romantic comedy.

At that time, it wasn’t understood by the general audience, but now we have the chance to revisit it and truly understand its message. You can see more clearly how Summer deviates from the archetype of the dream girl and becomes more of a real character.