Personally, I love some of the characters but not the trope. There are those people in our lives that bring us up out of our brooding or depression or anxiety and it doesn’t matter who is which gender or if we’re both the same. This has totally been another woman in my life before. They can be friends or strangers or whatever. They have their own lives and purposes, but sometimes, they just choose to do it.
I hate the trope because it implies that the 10% of women who fall under this personality type (it’s ENFP, if you’re curious), are painted as if their sole purpose in life was to find broody people to uplift. By the way, 6% of men are also ENFP’s. I saw the association on a pin and about fell out of my chair. I may have known a few of these and am definitely married to one. On the other hand, when not used in a piece of writing and given absolutely no depth, people of this personality type can also be described as: happy procrastinator, quirky, charming, enthusiastic, unreliable, confident, curious, and the personification of a rainbow pop tart. Okay, that last one is another way of saying MPDG/B.
The unfortunate reality is that there are two reactions to this type of person (on first impression) and they are based on gender. For men, these women or girls are to be enjoyed upon on their encounter and to be allowed to live on in mythical perfection once she has left them. For women, these men or boys are to be enjoyed on their encounter and gotten rid of before actually falling in love lest you end up with someone who can be of no help as a partner in life.
These first impressions are not true to their characters, by the way. Like the other types, there are those who are potential compliments, kindred spirits and challenging opposites. My husband is one of these types and I’m listed as a kindred spirit. It couldn’t be more true. Also, if you’re poking around Truity and ENFP, you might notice that they make for interesting parents.
What does this have to do with the trope? It’s just a trope, and while potentially based on real people, it takes them and their actions out of context and paints them as existing solely to bring the protagonist out of some sort of funk. I loved what John Green did with Margo Roth Speigelman in Paper Towns. He broke the trope by turning her into a real girl by the end of the book and movie. He even separated her intentions from the protagonist’s journey concerning her. It was brilliant, but he’s not the only one to do it, I’m sure.
While it’s easy to search and rattle off loads of movies that use and abuse this trope, what about books?
Personally, I couldn’t think of any others that I would say use the trope, but there is a Goodreads shelf under this heading and I noticed that I’ve only read two books on it. Paper Towns and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Not quite sure how The Bell Jar ended up on that shelf. There is a list too, and again, only Paper Towns, which makes me suspicious because the point of the book was to tear down the image of Margo as an MPDG, which makes her not one at all. So…. not sure what’s going on here.
Have you read a book with MPDG/B? What was it and who were they?
Do you think there are subtle perception differences between the girls and boys who have embody the trope in your reading, or viewing? Personally, I find that the guys are given just a tad more depth and that knocks them out of the official running, except that people still included Paper Towns, so maybe it’s just a gender thing…. I’m not saying it is, I’m asking what YOU all think. So?