December 12, 2021

Frustrated would-be Manic Pixie Dream Girls: Michelle Branch, "All You Wanted" (2001)

Let's return for a bit to the theme of what the would-be Manic Pixie Dream Girls are up to during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle -- when people are in a refractory state, do not want to be bothered, and therefore when the MPDG's services are generally unwelcome.

An earlier post looked at one who was doomed in her attempt at playing the role of the protag's earthly guardian angel. That suggests that the type of women who would be a MPDG in the proper phase of the cycle -- the restless warm-up phase, when people are coming out of their vulnerable-phase cocoons, but some are wary and need some coaxing -- feel an impulse to play that role, even when it's not meant to be, due to the refractory state that everyone else is in.

So perhaps being born during the manic phase of the cycle gives a person a lifelong mission to play that role, and sometimes they are broadly rejected, while other times they are broadly welcomed, depending on what phase of the cycle it currently is. Manic-phase births are resilient, having imprinted on a zeitgeist of invincibility, and aren't going to let a little wet-blanket atmosphere stop them from at least trying to be earthly guardian angels.

Here's another textbook case, albeit from music rather than movies: "All You Wanted" by Michelle Branch, from the early 2000s vulnerable phase. The guy she's addressing is down in the dumps, feeling lonely inside and all mixed-up from the chaos in his environment. Lest anyone get confused about her guardian angel role, the chorus puts it plainly: "If you want to / I can save you..." And there's that therapeutic bartender aspect again: "And all you wanted was somebody who cares".

Unfortunately, it's a vulnerable phase, so not only do they not end up together (which is typical for the MPDG and the sad-sack protag), but she doesn't get to motivate and inspire him to achieve the greatest things that he can, and find true love (with some other love interest). The song is more about the would-be MPDG's frustration of being a guardian angel in a world where no one wants to be saved, but rather left to suffer alone. Doomed just as much as the would-be MPDG from Frantic.

Like the actual MPDGs, though, she fits the profile. She's born in a manic phase (early '80s), hourglass shape, butt girl rather than boob girl, and taller than the average for a girl (5'6, although their heights have a wide variation).

I checked out her work from the late 2000s restless phase, when she could have realized her MPDG potential, but it didn't seem to pan out. Maybe because it was a side project (a country duo, the Wreckers), rather than her main singer-songwriter career, I don't know. Too bad.

At any rate, the line in the chorus about yearning to save someone makes me wonder about the whole "I can save him" meme. Wasn't that primarily during the late 2010s, that is, another vulnerable phase? If you want to save him, just go ahead and do it -- unless everyone's in a refractory state, and you feel doomed in your yearning to save him. I also wonder whether these girls were primarily manic-phase births, that is, born in the late '90s? Impossible to conduct a survey to verify, but I suspect my hunch is correct.

Those poor girls had imprinted on an invincible, resilient zeitgeist at birth, and when they're undergoing their second birth of adolescence at age 15, it's another invincible zeitgeist (early 2010s). Everything seems to be going so well! And then suddenly, when they're in college around age 20, their would-be bfs are all mopey and touch-me-not. If only she could snap him out of his funk, and cure what ails him...

But now, as of 2020, these late '90s babes (and any hold-outs from the early '80s cohort) can work their MPDG magic on the sad sacks of the world, and they will be welcomed with open arms rather than pushed away like they were five years ago.

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