May. 8th, 2017

dmilewski: (Default)
The weekend went just fine.

It rained Friday-Saturday. Lots. That's normal for this time of year and very, very good.

On Sunday, I mowed the back yard, which is still partially occupied by the detritus from the freshly murdered azaleas and rose of sharon. There's still lots of roots to get dug out, but I did find two more hydrangeas that need replanting, along with some ornamental grass. The front yard is getting jungle fever.

We also did the mulching this year. Jenny got brave enough to get the compost out of the composter and the hoses out of the soffit beds, while I did the turning.

This week, I discovered The Room 3, so I've been playing that wickedly well designed game.

Jenny's college friend Zoey Mulford, a folk singer, was in town giving a concert, so we drove down to Mount Renier to see the show. She plays both guitar and clawhammer banjo (with lots of drop thumb). She's a pretty damned clever singer-songwriter, and I developed quite the professional respect for her way with lyrics. She'll be over the house today visiting Jenny, but she'll likely be gone before I get home from work.
dmilewski: (Default)
Let's pee on the electric fence! It's time to talk Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Rather than define this myself, check out Wikipedia's article.

The structure behind this is just fascinating.

The MPDG comes about in relatively few cases. You need a story about a main character in a rut, with another character who comes along with the energy to get him out of a rut (the manic pixie dream girl). Usually, this is a romantic comedy, but sometimes it's a life exploration film.

In order for this plot to work, you first meet and experience the doldrums of the protagonist. Since he is the point of view character, arguably the only character that is real, the plot revolves around him. This means what whoever walks into his life walks into his plot, into his gravitational well so to speak. He's also sort of an everyman, so even though he's shallow, everyone who identified with him project their own character complexities onto him, so he seems more real to us because we sympathize . Finally, since we get to know his trouble, we think that we get to know him, but we really don't.

Eventually a second character comes along to shake up his life. At first, this is unwelcome, because the character in a rut really is more secure in his safe run than in anything unsafe. This second character tends to be less real than the main character, so what' there has to really be there. Because this character gets less screen time, the audience must meet and like this character immediately, identify this new this character as worthwhile, and root for a hookup to happen. If you don't meet that criteria, the audience wont' be happy. Liking the character's superficial qualities is more important than getting to know the character deeply because the second character doesn't get nearly as much screen time.

If you were to give the second character as much screen time, you lengthen the film, take time away from the primary character, and risk the audience not liking the second character. There's nothing wrong with that idea for a structure, but the result is a different film, one that doesn't carry the same tempo as the structure above. In truth, the secondary character only really exists as a plot device for the primary character's growth and development.

Seen in this light, a manic pixie dream girl has nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with practical plot mechanics. It's sexism is merely an illusion.

By this definition, the earliest manic pixie dream girl that I know of is Prince Charming from Snow White. We see the story through Snow White's eyes, her troubles, and her friends. When she's in trouble, Prince Charming shows up, is instantly likeable, gets almost no screen time, we root for him, and waltzes away with the girl, taking her out of her rut. By any objective analysis, Prince Charming has been reduced to a sexist stereotype, but really, he's just a plot device for Snow White's growth.

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