Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Norma Shearer and Manic Pixie Dream Boys

Who’s that girl? It’s not Jess, it’s not even Norma, it’s the men Miss Shearer seemed to gather around her in almost every film role. In her Pre-code performances Shearer is not relegated to a supportive role nor is she doomed to a one-dimensional outlook or perpetually unalterable journey. In most cases she is in a constant struggle between a life of sexual and emotional liberation and an existence of a conventional wife and mother. Some might say in even a ‘soulful’ or ‘brooding’ manner. Her adventures through films from 1929 to 1934 are constantly peppered by the standard array of male leads. Unlike the screen heroes of the 1940’s and 50’s, these male counterparts display flowery, emotional qualities and seem to pander only to the wants of Shearer’s more domineering persona. They appear to mirror the characteristics of the typical subordinate, quirky female roles of the 21st Century, recently more controversially coined ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girls’ (MPDG).