Now let's all get on with our lives
// Shannon Elliot

There are a lot of shows on TV right now that make women look bad. The ladies of Gossip Girl have never made a well-thought-out decision (that doesn't involve clothes) in their lives. Snooki and Deena roll in the sand, shrieking like wasted porpoises, while male castmates look on and laugh. The entire cast of The Bachelor have completely lost their minds. The show that pisses me off the most may seem harmless in comparison, but the moronically twee New Girl regresses me to a cave-womanish rage with its insistence on its insipid star: Zooey Deschanel.

I always vaguely disliked Zooey for some reason I couldn’t figure out, but I didn’t start to detest her until I saw 500 Days of Summer. After the movie finished, my boyfriend (at the time) seemed to be suffering from a swooning fit like his corset was too tight. “That girl,” he breathed, mesmerized. “She was like, the perfect girl!”

I don’t condone jealousy over celebrity crushes, but his statement was so irrationally offensive to me that I had to stop and consider what it is about Zooey that makes her totally hateable. After all, she didn't she didn’t fit the cookie-cutter “bombshell” it-girl image I had in my mind.

With her immaculate bangs and wardrobe straight from Anthropologie, she seems tailor-made for the artsy, iPhone-apping, indoor-scarf-wearing sensibilities of the world. But how could everyone fall for someone so patently fake? I mean, it’s kind of creepy, how contrived she is. She’s like a living doll. Can you even imagine Zooey Deschanel taking a shit?

Luckily I’m not the only bitter nihilist in the world. Fellow hater, film critic Nathan Rabin of the Onion A.V. Club, captured her persona perfectly and summed it up in what is now an internationally recognized movie trope: “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG),” he writes, “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

Although playing the “villain” role in 500 Days of Summer, she flits in and out of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s life, being a total bitch with no explanation for her actions. The closest we come to receiving an explanation for her character is when she trills, “Because I wanted to!” after callously breaking his heart for the trillionth time. Like Natalie Portman’s saccharine forest sprite in Garden State, her role is always to act as a catalyst to the male character, with no exploration of her own story arc.

Zooey’s characters always choose non-threatening careers such as secretary, elementary school teacher, and department store elf, in which they can fulfill their dreams of singing and doing crafts all day while their male costars go on to become architects and lawyers. Although it’s always depressing to see women typecast as bitchy workaholics (paging Katherine Heigl), I would way rather see that than watch Zooey glamorize careers that belong in the '50s.

Jezebel contributor and Smart Internet Lady Sadie Stein identifies Zooey as an “Amazing Girl”, and furthermore expands on the archetype of her and the other girls like her: “All are vaguely creative, all sort of political, all sweet and kind and sympathetic and all lacking in any critical judgment whatsoever. Indeed, a lack of harsh judgment might be called the central tenet of their sisterhood, and perhaps a key to their particular magic.”

Her characters always go along with whatever her male counterpart seems to want, always supportive, encouraging, and sexually available, while demanding nothing in return. She loves his taste in music unconditionally; she’s cool with his lack of ambition; she hangs on his every word without question. Lazy male audiences love this kind of character because it gives them an unrealistic expectation of finding the perfect female muse willing to put up with their shit indefinitely. No such girl exists, of course, but the expectation of her is the ultimate entitlement fantasy.

My boyfriend and I broke up shortly after watching 500 Days of Summer. It was probably my fault; I couldn’t support our relationship anymore. It primarily consisted of hanging out in his attic getting baked and listening to his prog-rock collection while he tuned his ever-growing collection of acoustic guitars. After all, the Zooeys of the world would have found our relationship “amazing”. Having no interior life of their own, it would be much easier to be quietly absorbed into a man’s. After all, he would no doubt worship her, having found his unquestioning, undemanding female; the “perfect” girl.

My argument is that we need to forget about the Zooeys, the MPDGs, the perfect girls of the world, and focus on, or focus on becoming, Real Girls instead. Real Girls who aren’t perfect, Real Girls who get angry, who take shits, who have bad hair days. Real Girls who don’t exist only for the enjoyment and improvement of wimpy artist-type men. Real Girls who are never complacent, who have ambition, and above all, never stop asking questions.

I say that we boycott New Girl. I bet Toddlers and Tiaras is on instead. Talk about the poor portrayal of females in the media! Someone get me some popcorn.

//Shannon Elliot, production manager
//Author illustration

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com