Zooey Deschanel has criticised the “manic pixie dream girl” trope often portrayed in films and TV, describing it as “one-dimensional”.
The New Girl actress, who often finds herself playing goofy but loveable characters, hit out at the stereotype in a recent interview with The Guardian.
“I don’t feel it’s accurate. I’m not a girl. I’m a woman,” Deschanel said in response to a fan-submitted question. “It doesn’t hurt my feelings, but it’s a way of making a woman one-dimensional and I’m not one-dimensional.”
She continued: “I think the tendency is still to make women one-dimensional, so you have to add dimension, if you can. The more screen time a female character gets, the more space there is to show complexities, but there has been a shift, so I’m optimistic.”
Deschanel went on to discuss the 2009 romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom, a deflated greeting card writer who tries to convince his co-worker Summer (Deschanel) to be with him. The actress addressed how her character is often seen as the “villain” by fans, despite Tom being the more problematic of the two.
“I got that take from day one,” Deschanel she said in response to audiences viewing Summer as uncaring. “It’s a very emotional response. People want the characters to be together, but that not happening makes the movie interesting. She is upfront that she doesn’t want a relationship, but he ignores her.”
She continued: “The most telling scene is when she tells him: ‘I’ve never told anybody that before,’ and he makes it about himself. He is fixated on external details — such as her liking the Smiths — that has nothing to do with who she is as a person. To anyone who thinks Summer is the villain, I say: think a little deeper.”
Back in 2012, Gordon-Levitt encouraged fans of the film to re-examine his character, noting that he was “no romantic role model”.
“I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is,” he told Playboy.
“He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life.
“A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”