I think in this case, it would depend on what the metavar is designed to do. If f was a metavar that took in a value, had side effects, and then presented the variable back on load (that would be the __getself__ part of the proposal) I also included built ins for working with this type of variable, such as iscloaked('f') which would let you know if this is a metavar. There is a builtin called setcloaked(name, value) that will always trigger the existing python assignemnt, regardless of the type of variable. This is similar to the escape hatch of object.__setattr__ for classes.
I would argue that you are calling process_the() because you have looked up its function and found that it does what you want it to do. The process of seeing its result would be the same. It is currently possible that a function called process_the would return an array (what you need to call munge_result) 99% of the time, but have a random clause to return a string, which would result in an exception thrown in your code. The same is possible with my proposal, if a library author wrote something that was hard to consume, it would be hard to consume. There are utilities available to gaurd against unexpected code currently (isinstance), and I am proposing the same.