Zooey Deschanel is debunking the “manic pixie dream girl” trope that has plagued film, TV, and the Internet this century.
Deschanel, whose filmography has all but embodied the lovable, goofy, and whimsically edgy stereotype, slammed the concept in an interview with The Guardian.
“I don’t feel it’s accurate. I’m not a girl. I’m a woman,” Deschanel responded 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.”
Yet Deschanel’s most famous MPDG role remains 2009 romantic dramedy “500 Days of Summer” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a deflated greeting card writer who becomes smitten with coworker Summer (Deschanel) and tries to convince her to end up with him. While Summer has been dubbed the “villain” of the film, it’s Tom’s determination and unwillingness to accept who she is that has colored the feature quite differently in the 13 years since its release.
“I got that take from day one,” Deschanel opened up about audiences viewing her character as heartless or 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.”
The “New Girl” alum 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.”
Gordon-Levitt previously addressed his problematic character, formerly telling Playboy (via NME) that the “attitude of ‘He wants you so bad’ seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones” before warning: “But I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is.”
“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,” Gordon-Levitt explained in 2012. “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,” he concluded. “That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”