The Black Zooey Deschanel Play Offs

by Guest Contributors Eddie and Ralph

Eastern Conference: The Thuggish Seductress Dream Girl
Starting Line Up: Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown

Nicki MinajIf the notion is that Zooey Deschanel is an unreal amalgam of white male fantasies, female rappers like Nicki Minaj may offer that for Black males.

  • The sexy female rapper who can outshine her male counterparts in guest verses.
  • She’s as gully as she is sexy, equally comfortable talking about selling blow and blowjobs.
  • Embodies a unique sexuality that is emulated by other women. In Nicki Minaj it’s a hyper-sexuality compared to the childlike sexuality of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
  • The Nicki Minaj catsuit could be a parallel to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s lens-free horn-rimmed glasses.

Western Conference: The Multi Culti World Wanderer
Starting Line Up: Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph, Rosario Dawson

Rosario in Sin CityIf the notion is that she speaks primarily to the fantasies of Black males who aren’t into mainstream standards much in the same way that Zooey Deschanel fulfills the fantasies of indie rock loving, comic book reading White males.

  • They can play many different ethnicities, playing the girlfriends of both White and Black actors without it raising an eyebrow.
  • That ability to float in and out of a specific racial identity offers both the actress and her Black male admirers access into worlds where they may not normally feel represented. Rashida Jones is one of the few black actresses currently on a Thursday NBC sitcom. Jones and Rudolph were the only two people of color in the Beastie Boys “Make Some Noise” video.

  • In “I Love You Man” Rashida Jones character is named “Zooey.”
  • Both Dawson and Jones write comic books. Occult Crimes Taskforce and Frenemy of the State
  • Rashida Jones’ dad is Quincy Jones. Maya Rudolph’s mom is Minnie Riperton. They may not play ukulele but they have the master tapes of some amazing stuff.

Southern Conference: The Neo Soul Warrior Princess
Starting Line Up: Erykah Badu, Ladybug Mecca, Jill Scott, Amel Larrieux, Lauryn Hill (DNP, Coach’s Decision)

Erykah BaduIf the notion that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is more an escapist fantasy from the drudgery of the existing world.

  • The woman whose hardcore afrocentricity inspires her male counterpart to seek more truth and knowledge of self.
  • Clothing consists of t-shirts, thrift shop finds and kinte cloth.
  • Far from being considered high maintenance, she is presumably content smoking out and listening to old Quincy Jones records.
  • Badu’s live performances are often unique from show to show creating a sense that she travels the world free of cares.
  • Their tastes run eclectic. Badu covers classic Chaka Khan and is inspired by indie darlings Matt & Kim.
  • Badu and Hill were the Manic Pixie Dream Girls for many college guys who are now in their thirties; the same age as their white counterparts who pine over Zooey Deschanel.

Northern Conference: Downtown Wild Child Coutourist
Starting Line Up: Vashtie, Jack Davey, Santigold, Solange, Amanda Diva

Jack DaveyIf the notion that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is escapist fantasy and fashion forward trendsetter.

  • The woman whose is known as much for the being in the scene as they are for their artistic contributions.
  • Their style is unique and brightly colored easily getting the attention of sneakerheads and club kids.
  • If there’s a party, she never waits in line. If there’s a concert, she’s got backstage passes. Q-Tip calls her his “little sister.”
  • Because she’s in the scene, she seems more approachable whether it’s at a party or on Twitter.
  • She never seems to be attached or in a relationship thus giving every guy hope.
  • Gives off an instability that excites and terrifies, where an amazing party ends up with a night in jail.
  • Vashtie has been dubbed “Downtown’s Sweetheart” and played stickball in a NIKE sponsored event.

Midwest Conference: The Royal Order of the Daughters of Spinderella
Starting Line Up: Any black female DJ

Beverly BondIf the notion is that she challenges and attracts in the way that Zooey Deschanel can probably play a guitar better than the guy who is falling for her.

  • She’s attractive.
  • She knows a lot about music. And keeps up on new music before most people are aware of it.
  • She has access to cool parties. Unlike the Downtown Wild Child Coutourist, she’s not in the middle of the dance floor being hit on by everybody. She’s above the fray controlling the room.
  • Her music knowledge challenges a man’s in a way that is emasculating in an arousing and nonthreatening way.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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Written by:

  • Sunny

    Honestly, this is cool and all, but why do we keep getting put in boxes?

  • Sunny

    Honestly, this is cool and all, but why do we keep getting put in boxes?

  • tentativelyfrank

    Definition of MPDG by Nathan Rabin, who originally described her: “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the
    fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly
    soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and

    This article displays precisely why none of these women deserve to be saddled with such an offensive stereotype, we know them all for having particular identities and achievements. None of them are an embodiment of anything, except maybe hard-work.

    Why would we want to put them in a box?

    • Anonymous

      Please read the original piece, linked at the top of the article, to understand what this hunmor piece was playing off of.

    • Anonymous

      This was a humor piece, playing off to the more serious analysis linked at the top.

  • The New Black Woman

    I enjoyed reading this. It was no doubt an interesting perspective…

  • I don’t get it…

    This post is silly. The original article on the Black Zooey Deschanel debated whether a Black woman could ever embody the infantalized, demure character that Deschanel plays so well. Given our history of being seen as masculine and hypersexual, it was a poignant, interesting piece. This one just puts Black women in boxes. It doesn’t hearken back to our history at all, it simply stereotypes. I don’t understand the point of this.

  • Anonymous

    Not for nothing, but shouldn’t there be a category for Black Brits and Afropeans (i.e. Thandie Newton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw et al)?

  • Malik

    I’m thinking Aisha Tyler should be up here, but I don’t know what category to put her in.

    • Digital Coyote

      I think they’d have to come up with some sort of awesome gamer group because you don’t get between Ms. Tyler and her Halo.

      Or she could be in an all-around badass category (because of her character on Archer) that would include Gina Torres and Angela Bassett.  

    • Digital Coyote

      I think they’d have to come up with some sort of awesome gamer group because you don’t get between Ms. Tyler and her Halo.

      Or she could be in an all-around badass category (because of her character on Archer) that would include Gina Torres and Angela Bassett.  

  • Shahryar Rizvi

    I was thinking about this concept and recounted the fictional character Sherem from the book  Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad. I’m not sure which conference she fits in, though.

    • Wanderinglady123

      “Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad” is one of my favorite books!  I think that Sherem is more Southern Conference.  She had the “warrior princess” bit down pat!

  • yoli bee ☆

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    Haha I love this. At first I was a bit letdown because I will never be a “Thuggish Seduction Dream Girl” because while I can talk about blowjobs, I can’t tell you about selling blow. 

    But then I got to the Souther Conference and was like “haha, I kinda fit that one. However, I think I have a lot of qualities usually associated with “Manic Pixie Dream Girls” except I’m black so you know how that goes. I think I’ve got a cool thing going on here–oh, you think my giggle is cute? You think it’s cool I have natural hair, wear tie-dye tube dresses, and like baking cupcakes in cute aprons? I also love womanism, fighting patriarchy, making racists feel uncomfortable, all while ending my day with some Jill Scott. POW!

  • Jeff Harris

    Zoë Kravitz should be up there in that  “Multi Culti World Wanderer” group too. Daughter of Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, granddaughter of Roxie “Helen Willis” Roker, she has that bohemian vibe about here, plus, she plays a myriad of diverse characters, including a Hispanic character in X-Men: First Class, has modeled professionally, fronts a rock band, and, well, she is two letters away from being a Zooey herself.

    • Olivia White

      Plus, her mother basically originated the category!

  • Soulsentwined

    FeFe Dobson should also be included in The Multi Culti World Wanderer

  • alia

    Loved this!

  • Anonymous

    The manic pixie dream girl is always described on the internet as being really problematic and bad. Maybe outside of Nicki Minaj, what is problematic about and of the women listed here as far as how they’re represented in the black media? I don’t see anything wrong with liking Jack Davey, of bumping Lauryn’s records, or anything else related to the women mentioned here

    • Anonymous

      It is.

      When I got this submission, I initially pushed back telling the writers that the whole point of the trope was to exist solely to for a man’s personal development, and that most of these women have too much agency in their public personas to fit. But they argued that the whole idea of fantasy fodder for a certain type of guy was their angle, hence the statement of the presumptions in each conference. It’s a different take on MPDGs, sparked largely from Tami’s post (linked in the piece) which pondered the roles for black women in that kind of framework. Ralph and Eddie chose to create a new framework.

      • Anonymous

        These are excellent descriptions of fantasy fodder. My only issue is that antime who’s been kind of following this issue evolve over the last 4 or 5 years may very well interpret this as a sstatement that having year fantasies/attractions is somehow bad.

        The piece, while very accurate, leads to a big “so what?” What’s the point being made?

        • Anonymous

          It’s a humor piece. That’s the point. See reactions here and on twitter.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, they did it for the lulz? Lol, I can dig it.

          • sistah


  • JB

    I clicked on this from Twitter having no clue what to expect and it was fascinating! I am from NYC, but I definitely play for the Southern Conference: The Neo Soul Warrior Princess. *afro picked, fist raised*

  • Flavia

    I am surprise that Esperanza Spalding is not part of the list. Not only are her looks fitting for the contest, but she plays the cello as well. I think photos like this one would make her a good contender:

  • Shizukaa

    Thank you for this! This is hilarious and so spot on!