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Navel-Gazing: Is Jack Dawson a Manic Pixie Dream Boy?

On the occasion of the re-release of Titanic in 3D, Amy and Allison ponder their nostalgic affinity for a young Leo DiCaprio. Why did Jack Dawson pull at the heartstrings of teenage girls everywhere (aside, of course, from his boyish bowl cut)? Was it because he existed only to save Rose from the shackles of repressive privilege? Does that make him—gasp—a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Can boys even be MPDGs? Join us on this journey into the Heart of the Ocean , full of film theory, feminism, and teenage angst! 
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Allison
Allison
Allison
Amy
Amy
Allison

Allison

Allison: Well, my parents actually had very few rules and little-to-no discipline, so my rebellion was somewhat misdirected. But the entire point of his character is that he shows up and saves Kate Winslet—literally and metaphorically. He opens her up to independence and new experiences, which is what enables her to go have this ass-kicking life. That’s classic MPDB. Amy: Plus he has that whole unstructured, free-spirit, kinda-weird thing going for him, which seems to be a tenet of Manic Pixie Dream Girls. I mean, he was friends with a one-legged French prostitute simply because she had beautiful hands. Replace “prostitute” with “bunny” and I feel like that could apply to any character that Zooey Deschanel has played.

Allison

Allison: Well, my parents actually had very few rules and little-to-no discipline, so my rebellion was somewhat misdirected. But the entire point of his character is that he shows up and saves Kate Winslet—literally and metaphorically. He opens her up to independence and new experiences, which is what enables her to go have this ass-kicking life. That’s classic MPDB. Amy: Plus he has that whole unstructured, free-spirit, kinda-weird thing going for him, which seems to be a tenet of Manic Pixie Dream Girls. I mean, he was friends with a one-legged French prostitute simply because she had beautiful hands. Replace “prostitute” with “bunny” and I feel like that could apply to any character that Zooey Deschanel has played.

Allison

Allison: Titanic was, at its heart, really a story about Rose’s awakening. She was the one who went through the journey. If she wasn’t there, Jack would have been just some rando who drowned. His entire life would have been meaningless if she wasn’t there to save! Amy: Yeah, he sums it up pretty well just before he sinks with the rest of the ship: “Listen, Rose. You’re gonna get out of here, you’re gonna go on and you’re gonna make lots of babies, and you’re gonna watch them grow.” Clearly, his hopes and dreams are only for her—even when he’s on his death igloo. Allison: I think he had some hopes and dreams, but they were small and unimportant. IT’S ALL ABOUT HER. Can you remember much about Natalie Portman in Garden State, or Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown, except what they did for the leading men?

Amy

Amy: So he definitely only existed for Rose’s development and because the movie needed a heartthrob to attract the tweens. But does that alone a MPDB make? What I’m trying to say is: was he manic or pixie enough? Allison: Well, he was fairly manic. He pulled a lot of shenanigans on that ship. Also he was a fabulous dancer. And as far as pixie-ness goes, I think it’s fair to say that a beautiful lad like Leo wouldn’t look out of place living in a tree making cookies. Is that too literal?

Amy

Amy: Looking back I find his brand of “All I need in life is the air in my lungs” (actual line) kind of irritating and so cliché it can’t be true. And that scene where he dances with a little girl in the party downstairs—Eye Roll Central. Am I just jaded now? Allison: Yes. You are afflicted by Late ’90s Nostalgia Ennui, because if Jon Hamm said that, you’d think it was adorable. Amy: Touché. I am a sucker for whomever Hollywood deems a heartthrob. But I can’t help but think that Jon Hamm would have delivered that line somehow ironically and while brooding—not with such gag-inducing earnestness.

Allison

Allison: MPDG/Bs are always painfully earnest. One of their hallmarks is that they are perpetually young, sort of stuck in a suspended adolescence. Jack literally never grows up. He dies. He shows up, changes Rose’s life, then dies. That makes him the ultimate MPDB. If he had been a woman, he would have won the Oscar that year. Amy: …Or, you know, grown thick bangs and gotten a primetime show on Fox. Related Stories: "Navel-Gazing: We're, Like, Really Pretty":http://www.divinecaroline.com/22326/126813-navel-gazing-we-re-like-really-pretty#0 "Eight Fun Ways to Commemorate the Titanic's Demise":http://www.divinecaroline.com/22360/126937-eight-fun-ways-commemorate-titanic-s#0 "Will You Go See Titanic 3D?":http://www.divinecaroline.com/122442/126933-go-see-titanic-3d

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