Posted by: markfender | January 2, 2013

Psychotic Nightmare Cynic Girl

Is there a new trend in film to counteract the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

manicWe can pretty much blame Ellen Page for this new role. She started it in Hard Candy where she played a defenseless teenager luring sexual predators to their just deserts. Diablo Cody certainly helped solidify the “voice” of this character in Juno (although Juno is a bit lacking in the death-dealing) where Ellen Page again cyncically acts way smarter than her age, full of world-weary wisdom. Ellen Page then takes it to the next level in Super where she played a psychotic sidekick who really just wanted to kill as many people as possible.

Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl from Kick Ass is another example, if a bit more cartoony. She has no particular issues with killing and even seems to revel in the bloodshed. She’s a bit less cynical about society and life in general…assuming you can dismiss the killing as a normal social adjustment. She also definitely introduced the other telltale trait of these characters: free and easy use of the word “cunt.”

Roxy from God Bless America is another example of this character – the barely pubescent but oddly already thirty years more mature than she should be girl who complains bitterly about every aspect of culture. The complaining about culture bit is fairly standard – it’s called ‘rebelling’. But the reaction seems to be to turn to mass murder.

I’m not really sure if it’s a new trend. After all, parallels could be made with Heathers and these characters. But they do seem to be cropping up more often in recent years. Of their telltale characteristics seems to be a casual relationship with violence (usually even reveling in it enough to worry the other characters), a cynical attitude towards society, a vocabulary and maturity far beyond their years, and a disarming wardrobe designed to appear as innocent as possible.

So, is this a thing? Should it be? Does it need a better name?



  1. It seems to me folks have just taken the “precocious badass young boy” model that we’ve seen since the biblical character of David and gender-switched it. Some day Hit Girl will grow up to be queen in Jerusalem and write poems while committing adultery.

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