So far we've been looking at the role that manic pixie dream girls play within the context of the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle -- coaxing wary guys out of their shells, so that the sexes can get reacquainted with each other, after 5 long years of refractory-phase hyper-sensitivity.
What happens to these girls once that role has been fulfilled, though, and the cycle enters the manic phase where everyone feels invincible and carefree? There's no longer a need for an earthly guardian angel to lift a guy up out of a deep psychological hole.
Roles are adaptive within a phase, and do not stay constant over time. New environment, new roles. Still, some may be better suited to a particular role than others are, based on their birth and development.
Once the wary people have been rescued from their emo funk by the manic pixie dream girls, during the warm-up phase, the MPDGs are then free to pursue their own social and emotional needs and fulfillment during the manic phase. They've been caring for others for the past 5 years -- it's time for a little vacation, a little break, a little "me time".
They were glad to care for others in the previous phase, and don't resent that at all. But now that that work has been done, it's time to play. They are not abdicating all duties and responsibilities, they're simply going on vacation. And it's not in a hedonistic degenerate way -- they just want to shake off their role of nurse and get footloose and fancy-free for awhile, in a wholesome way. As MPDGs, they were validating others -- now it's their time for receiving validation from others.
That's what was behind the backlash against the MPDG role during the early 2010s, after its heyday during the late 2000s: everyone understood that the MPDGs' function had been successfully accomplished, and now it was time for them -- and everyone else -- to move on to new roles during the manic phase. They were going to have more of a social life of their own, fulfill their own emotional needs, have others validate them rather than vice versa, and have some wholesome fun on their little vacation.
This change to the MPDG role shows up in a new focus on social independence during the manic phase movies with characters who, in the previous warm-up phase, may have been straightforward MPDGs. The girl in Ruby Sparks (2012) gets a life of her own, separate from her author-creator. The operating system in Her (2013) socializes with other OS's and leaves the human social ecosystem entirely. And the mermaid from Splash (1984) ends up leaving the human ecosystem of her love interest, taking him back to her own world under the sea.
This change was foreshadowed already at the tail-end of the MPDG heyday, in 500 Days of Summer (2009), where half the movie explores the MPDG leading a fulfilling married life of her own with another man, after having nursed the male protagonist out of his stagnant depression. It's not that manic pixies are fickle gypsies -- but that roles change along with the phases of the excitement cycle, and some other type of person may need her attention in a different phase (or she may need attention herself).
A more concise, impressionistic display of the changing of roles is this ad for Magnum ice cream with former MPDG Rachel Bilson from 2011 (infectious enough that I still remember it, despite watching minimal TV during my adult life). No longer nursing others through emotional rehab, she's now free to pursue a wholesome carefree treat of her own, on her own:
But the most intense signal of the changing roles is the "it's time for a little me-time" anthem that explodes during the manic phase of the cycle. These are not hedonistic, about cutting all social ties and responsibilities, egocentric, etc. They clearly place the desire for a little vacation and validation for themselves within the context of having already fulfilled their duties to others and behaved responsibly. It's simply time to take a break, catch their breath, and replenish their own emotional stores after having given to others, by having some carefree me-time fun. They will get back to their responsibilities to others, just after a brief rejuvenating vacation.
These anthems were performed by women who were born during a manic phase, just like the MPDGs were (early '50s, late '60s, early '80s). Also like the MPDGs, they socially imprinted on the manic phase environment when they were hitting their adolescent stride at age 15. And in one case, Avril Lavigne, she'd already played the MPDG role during the previous warm-up phase (the late 2000s, in "Keep Holding On" and "Girlfriend").
It's too bad that Cyndi Lauper and Shania Twain didn't have big hits from the late '70s and early '90s, when they would've been naturals in the MPDG role, to show the evolution across phases like Avril did. I assume that they at least resonated with the MPDG role during the warm-up phase, like other manic-phase births do in such an environment. By the time the manic phase rolls around, they certainly show signs of having been through a MPDG role recently -- I've taken care of others, now it's time for a validating vacation of my own.
They don't treat the generic topic of "me-time," though: it's a specifically feminine form of needing to unwind and receive some emotional validation from others. And that, too, is after having fulfilled a specifically feminine role -- nurturing others. That's why these fall into the broader "girl power" trend that characterizes the manic phase of the cycle. (There are different forms of girl power from women who were born during different phases, but that's a matter for a separate post.)
I searched the late '60s manic phase for examples, but came up empty-handed. The "girl power" songs from back then were more about social / political change, as the sudden eruption of the women's lib movement overshadowed the more mundane changing of phases in the excitement cycle. Without such a momentous one-time social revolution under way, I assume there would've been one of these anthems back then as well. Alternatively, in the pre-neoliberal era, it might have been unnatural to make songs that, in however qualified of a way, glorified me-time as opposed to couples-time, family-time, community-time, or country-time.
In any case, these anthems all made the year-end Billboard Hot 100 charts, and are some of the most iconic of the manic-phase zeitgeist.
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper (1983)
"Man! I Feel Like a Woman" by Shania Twain (1997)
"What the Hell" by Avril Lavigne (2011)