Robert Tracinski identifies AOC as a Hollywood archetype.
Sheâ€™s the Democratic Partyâ€™s Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
Once you see it, you canâ€™t unsee it. AOC is an MPDG, and if we had political satirists worthy of the name, NBC would already have brought in Zooey Deschanel to play her on Saturday Night Live.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a stock character first classified by Nathan Rabin in a 2007 review of Elizabethtown, a film he described as â€œThe Bataan Death March of Whimsy.â€ â€œThe Manic Pixie Dream Girl,â€ he wrote, â€œexists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.â€
In my youth, this sort of character was usually played by Julia Roberts, often opposite Richard Gere. More recently, the trope has been associated with the kind of chirpingly quirky free spirit, chock full of precious hipster mannerisms, often played by Zooey Deschanel (and widely parodied). You get the idea: strumming a ukulele, dancing in the rain, riding an old-fashioned bicycle in a sundress. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the vibrant, attractive young woman who, by the sheer force of her joie de vivre and childlike enthusiasm, rescues the brooding male lead from his cynicism or malaise.
The Democratic party certainly needs this sort of thing right now as it struggles to break free from the funk of defeat and the grey, hopeless compromises of Clintonism. So of course they were eager to idolize a slender, attractive young champion, with her flowing dark hair, improbably big eyes, and wide, toothy smileâ€”many of the qualities, come to think of it, that qualified Julia Roberts for this role on the big screen.
Lisa Schiffren, on the other hand, offers a simpler explanation.
The real reason that neither cameras nor citizens can look away is, of course: sex. The woman exudes a wild kind of sex appeal. She is hugely mediagenic. Her thin, lanky body, with the attention grabbing, erâ€¦ rack; the expressive face; the crazy eyes and large, invariably red lipsticked mouthâ€”any casting director could have predicted her ability to grab attention.
To use the Hollywood term of art, young Alexandria is, â€œfuckable.â€ That is a rare quality among political women, possibly never previously seen in any elected female Congresswoman or Senator. (Though Harry Reid thought that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, N.Y.) had it early on, when he called her â€œthe hottest Senator.â€) Remember how the extremely hot Sarah Palin disrupted the political landscape, and we learned the acronym MILF? This attribute explains why there are so many politically conservative men telling the world that they would â€œdoâ€ her, while complaining about her â€œstupidity,â€ and irritating voice. Men are obsessed, despite the fact (or because of it?) that she is a clear candidate for the top right corner of the Hot-Crazy matrix.
Meryl Streep first publicized this Hollywood casting criterion in a now scrubbed NPR interview. Asked how it was that she had been given all of the serious female roles in her generation, Streep responded, and I paraphrase, â€œIn Hollywood they decided early on that I wasnâ€™t â€˜fuckable.â€™ So I got to be interesting instead.â€ Amy Schumer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus elaborated on the concept in a sketch known to all millenials.
Lest you think I am insulting the looks of all women previously elected to Congress, please note that the opposite of â€œfuckableâ€ is not unattractive. It is â€œserious.â€ Serious in the manner of women who wish to be taken seriously in the serious endeavor of making the nationâ€™s laws and policies. Serious so that citizens trust them, as we must. Itâ€™s not an accident that the women who have held the most powerâ€”Margaret Thatcher, Patricia May, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meirâ€¦. everyone except Benazir Bhutto and Evita, were post-menopausal. Even Hillary Clinton, no sexpot, had to be â€œa certain age,â€ to be plausible as president. No one trusts a womanâ€”or manâ€”who radiates sexuality as a primary calling card, and excites it in others. This is true in real life, though not on TV, where the implausibly attractive imitate the serious.
For the record, this attribute of AOCâ€™s is the major reason anyoneâ€”anyoneâ€”takes her â€œideasâ€ seriously. Thereâ€™s no there, there. To be sure, the Socialism she spouts is a threat. But all those old people running for the Democratic nomination apparently believe that she is the ticket to eternal life, or at least to the millennial vote, because of her vibe, not her thinking.
Fascinating as it has been to watch, this AOC dumpster fire of sexuality in Congress is terrible precedentâ€”for our political culture, and for women in politics. Charismaâ€”the ability to charmâ€”is tough enough for the admirably substantive to beat.