My Little NON-Homophobic, NON-Racist, NON-Smart-Shaming Pony: A Rebuttal

I have been a lifelong feminist, and as an artist working in the animation industry for more than 16 years I have striven to do right by women and girls in the animated projects I have been part of. I try to bring sincerity and depth to the female characters I’ve animated and have fought in development and story meetings to make female characters more than just the typical girlfriend, Mom or sex symbol. I’ve even fought to see that there was more than just one girl character in whatever project I was working on. Sometimes I swayed my coworkers (often it was easy, to their credit) and sometimes I lost. My goal, as an artist and as a storyteller, was to one day have a show of my own for and about girls.

After years and years of pitching original animation for girls to studios and networks and always hearing “This is great, but animated shows for girls don’t get ratings,” or “Girls don’t watch cartoons,” I finally got the opportunity to have my own show.  It’s called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I was extremely skeptical at first about taking the job. Shows based on girls’ toys always left a bad taste in my mouth, even when I was a child. They did not reflect the way I played with my toys. I assigned my ponies and my Strawberry Shortcake dolls distinctive personalities and sent them on epic adventures to save the world. On TV, though, I couldn’t tell one girl character from another and they just had endless tea parties, giggled over nothing and defeated villains by either sharing with them or crying–which miraculously inspired the villain to turn nice. Even to my 7-year-old self, these shows made no sense and couldn’t keep my interest. No wonder the boys at school laughed at my Rainbow Unicorn Trapper Keeper.

From what I’ve seen since I’ve grown up, little has changed. To look at the quality of most girls’ cartoons, it would seem that not one artist really cared about them. Not one designer, not one background painter, not one animator. Some of the more well-meaning, more expensive animated productions for girl audiences may look better, but the female characters have been so homogenized with old-fashioned “niceness” that they have no flaws and are unrelatable. They are so pretty, polite and perfect; there is no legitimate conflict and nothing exciting ever happens. In short, animated shows for little girls come across as boring.  Stupid. Lame.

This perception, more than anything, is what I am trying to change with My Little Pony.

And that’s why I was so dismayed to find Kathleen Richter’s post on the Ms. Blog, accusing the show of homophobia, racism and smart-shaming. There she stated:

So overall, these are the lessons My Little Pony teaches girls:

  • Magical white ponies are suited for leadership; black ponies are suited to be servants.
  • Stop learning! You will overcome any obstacle by resorting to strength in numbers (of friends).
  • Girls that wear rainbows are butch.
  • You need the government (ideally a monarch invested with supreme ultimate power and a phallic symbol strapped to her forehead) to tell you what to do with your life.

A surprising amount of commenters rose in defense of the show, and for that I am extremely grateful. Without repeating their retorts too extensively, here is my defense against the accusations.

  • Color has never, ever been depicted as a race indicator for the ponies. When your characters are purple, blue, orange, yellow, black, white, red, green and pink, who’s to say which is supposed to signify a white person, a black person, an Asian person? The only races in My Little Pony are Earth Pony, Pegasus and Unicorn, and they are all treated equally, ruled by a leader who embodies the traits of all three  This leader is white only to signify day, and she co-rules with her sister, who is purple to signify night. Additionally, I’d just like to assure anyone who might still question the guards at the foot of the Princess’s throne that their colors were picked arbitrarily–and they are paid for their service.
  • In the first episode, the lead character, Twilight, is depicted as a pony so wrapped up in her studies that she has no interest in socializing. But since socializing and making friends is an important, healthy aspect of anyone’s life, her mentor encouraged her to, essentially, go out and play. In the end, the character goes on to lead a more balanced life, maintaining both relationships and her studies. In subsequent episodes she is frequently seen reading, referencing books to help solve problems and even living in a library.
  • Rainbow Dash has rainbow-striped hair because of her name and because she is very interested in sports, specifically flying. She is a tomboy, but nowhere in the show is her sexual orientation ever referenced. As we all know, there are plenty of straight tomboys in the world, and assuming they are lesbians is extremely unfair to both straight and lesbian tomboys.
  • The Princess is depicted as the main character’s mentor, her teacher. She’s an authority figure and even a bit of a surrogate parent. The Princess gave Twilight her instructions as someone who knows her and is personally involved in her upbringing. And though there is historical speculation that unicorn horns were indeed phallic symbols, I doubt that is making its way into anyone’s subconscious.

The messages I’m really trying to get across with the show are these:

  • There are lots of different ways to be a girl. You can be sweet and shy, or bold and physical. You can be silly and friendly, or reserved and studious. You can be strong and hard working, or artistic and beautiful. This show is wonderfully free of “token girl” syndrome, so there is no pressure to shove all the ideals of what we want our daughters to be into one package. There is a diversity of personalities, ambitions, talents, strengths and even flaws in our characters–it’s not an army of cookie-cutter nice-girls or cookie-cutter beauty queens like you see in most shows for girls.
  • Find out what makes you you. Follow your passions and ambitions, not what others expect of you. For instance, if you like sports don’t let someone’s suggestion that that is unfeminine stop you from doing what you love. Be considerate of others’ feelings, but not at the expense of your own goals and dreams.
  • You can be friends with people who are vastly different from you. And even though all friendships have their share of disagreements and moments when you don’t get along, that does not mean that your friendship has to end.
  • Cartoons for girls don’t have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness. Girls like stories with real conflict; girls are smart enough to understand complex plots; girls aren’t as easily frightened as everyone seems to think. Girls are complex human beings, and they can be brave, strong, kind and independent–but they can also be uncertain, awkward, silly, arrogant or stubborn. They shouldn’t have to succumb to pressure to be perfect.

Yes, My Little Pony is riddled with pink, the leader is a Princess instead of a Queen and there probably aren’t enough boys around to portray a realistic society. These decisions were not entirely up to me.  It has been a challenge to balance my personal ideals with my bosses’ needs for toy sales and good ratings. I do my best to incorporate their needs in an acceptable way, so when we are asked to portray a certain toy or playset, my team and I work to put it in a place that makes sense within the story. There is also a need to incorporate fashion play into the show, but only one character is interested in it and she is not a trend follower but a designer who sells her own creations from her own store. We portray her not as a shopaholic but as an artist.

I never expected to work on a show based on a toy line, but I accepted the project based on my sincere childhood love of the toy and Hasbro’s desire to create an entertaining show that is not just a long toy commercial. When I took the job, I braced myself for criticism, expecting many people–without even watching the show–to instantly label it girly, stupid, cheap, for babies or an evil corporate commercial. I encourage skeptics like this to watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with an open mind. If I’m doing my job right, I think you’ll be surprised.

Lauren Faust is creative steward/executive producer of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Top: Original drawings of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters by Lauren Faust.

Comments

  1. I know I’m late to this party, but I really just want to thank you for helping create this wonderful show. I will admit that I cringed a bit last year when my then three year old was introduced to MLP by an older cousin, but now I am so very glad that she was! It is pretty much the only cartoon that our whole family can enjoy watching together. We have easily seen every episode at least three or four times, and they really are so great. It is so interesting to see how my girls relate to the different ponies at different times, and I really appreciate how ‘real’ their friendships are presented as – it’s not always just sunshine and rainbows. Honestly, I was a bit worried about my daughter being too girly in some ways, and I love that Rainbow Dash and Apple Jack have helped her be more interested in sportsy type things.

  2. Isabella says:

    Thanks for making this show, this article too. I’m a 13 year old girl, and I always feel awkward, because I’m no doubt the smartest or at least in the top ten in my school. I also don’t bother talking to people, carry a pen and pencil around and take notes on my day, walking down hallways quoting my favorite books, read/write during class, walk down the hallway with my face in a book or my tablet under my arm, and often just sit around and block out the world in deep thought in things like time travel. So when I saw Twilight Sparkle, I had a mental “asdfghjkl” moment where I was like “This show was made for me!” I’ve loved the show since the first episode I saw. I relate to each character in different ways, also. So, I thank you for making the show, it made me feel a lot more normal! :)
    <3

  3. Its interesting how many people who defend the show talk on about how good it makes them feel.
    One would suppose feeling good is all that matters, regardless of how the feeling may not resonate with reality and responsibly. Defending the drug is all that matters.

    In S2, Ep.25 Princess Cadence’s special power was to be able to spread ‘love’ wherever she went, for example, transforming two ponies arguing over a ‘hooficure’ into goo-gooing lovers. That’s nothing but spreading infatuation; any deeper-seated issues were unresolved and tanked over by a hit of ‘feel good’. Is this all young children are to understand about love?

    So is this why S1, Ep 21 gets a free pass? The show is so touchy-feely one either forgives the creators of MLP for lying about the Conquest of North America and crudely dissing caring and sharing, or one fully agrees with the sentiment that the Aboriginals never had valid claim upon their own land and caring and sharing is mockable. Either way, a regressive position is allowed to stand and the problem goes unresolved and tolerated only by ignorance or chronic addiction to painkillers.

    The danger of MLP:FIM is not that it tells viewers what to think, but how to feel, while warmly inviting viewers not to think in the first place. Its as if no-one ever had to deconstruct a sweet-talker looking for what he’s really after.

    • Dafuq did i just read?
      Referring of course to the ignorance above. You seem just as ‘read-to-much -into-it’ as the fine lady who posted the original, and equally misinformed, complaint.

      1) As previously stated. This is a T.V. show. Stop reading so deep.

      2) In answer to your question, yes. All most children understand about love is infatuation. Do you want to be the one to explain that ponies X and Y are having serious relationship issues and their marriage is on the rocks? Or do you just wanna watch the show?

      3) If I recall correctly, and I know I do, the land issue in that particular episode were handled significantly better than we humans handled them here in real life. They compromised. We killed.

      4) Your constant reference to the abuse of drugs is rather telling. I do believe you should get that checked before it becomes a true problem for you. I’d hate to lose such a font of wisdom. People like you really truth from the heart.

      Lastly, take your liberal arts major paper writing elsewhere. I’m sure your professor is very pleased that you used so many big words. We are simple and we speak simply, after all, we are dealing with children.

      • This is a Ms Mag blog; anti-intellectualism and invitations not to think serve no purpose. Any children here in age or of heart are probably very bright. There is no need to speak ‘simply’, and every need to talk honestly. MLP:FIM is subject to criticism like any other work of art, all the more relevant for being popular art.

        1. MLP:FIM takes pride in its sophisticated wit. Why not think carefully about a child’s show intricately crafted to be an example of discursive whiteness, spun to be hip and now and feminist, and appeal beyond the official audience age?

        What is sold is more than plastic ponies; every few episodes, a cultural attitude problem of privilege and entitlement is crafted in. Using every trick of emotional reassurance to appeal to an alienated society, to reconnect with values in ways that alienate in the first place.

        Notice that ponies come in a spectrum of colours, which would seem to defy charges of racism. Yet, when identifiably human-inspired Equestrian races come into play, they are like Zecora the Zebra (black African), or Little Strongheart the Bison (American Aboriginal) – separate species. The fantastic cool species like dragons and griffins, of course, have no distinguishable non-white affectations. Separate species were a promising convention, except it didn’t work because ponies soon became proxies for whiteness.

        The core tenet of racism is that different races ARE as separate species, or at least subspecies or breeds. One race sets itself as the standard beneath which all others must fall and be seen to fall as less attractive and accomplished. Mixed-races are undesirable and it so happens the mule – a horse-donkey hybrid – appears in no less than six episodes as an object of ridicule. Mules and donkeys are drawn well below the high standard of pony cuteness. Real-life mules are as beautiful and intelligent as any equine. There was no reason to draw entire groups of animals to look bad and be ridiculed in a cartoon about friendship. Or, was there a pathological need for someone to be pickonable? How does this affect a child’s developing sense of universal love and fairness?

        Whiteness isn’t characteristic of all white people, but its a stereotype becoming as distinct as any other racial stereotype.

        2. Young children can be frightened by parental arguments. Obviously, the arguing ponies were no kids parents, but Princess’ Cadence’s love spell (from S.2, Ep.25) need only calm the ponies enough to apologize and begin sincere and constructive resolution, role-modeling a positive example not only to children, but any parents watching. A child can and should learn the difference between a crush and genuine love.

        Children can have common moral sense that should be encouraged. Yet, in S.3, Ep. 10, ‘Keep Calm and Flutter On’, Princess Celestia asks Fluttershy to make a villain “… use magic obediently of his own free will.” That’s almost oxymoronic. The more appropriate and expected word would have been ‘responsibly’, over ‘obediently’. Why did Princess Celestia/MLP writers choose that word? For that matter, is controlling and manipulating someone a sincere reason to be their ‘friend’? Is that even friendship? Fluttershy, is supposed to be an exemplar of sincere kindness, not special agent False Friend. Did Discord learn universal respect and empathy towards others, or peer pressure from ‘friends’? What kind of conscience-building is that?

        S.2, Ep. 21 ‘Dragon Quest’ is a somewhat better example of moral rationality when Spike refuses to smash a phoenix egg to go-along, get-along with newfound dragon friends. Having helped smash the nest and scared off the parent birds, he is presumably remorseful and assumes responsibility for the egg. The ‘reformed’ Discord would have likely smashed the egg if keeping mean friends appealed to him more than kind friends.

        3. The land use issue in S.1, Ep. 21 was handled horribly, cleverly restating the racist line that aboriginals were just squatters who didn’t truly own or need their land for anything important compared to the settlers. It was hammered repeatedly by Braeburn and Applejack that ponies needed the orchard’s food to live, while the bison only needed a traditional trail to run wild on; there’s simply no moral equivalence. That denial of moral equivalence, that dehumanization, is the essence of racism, all the more postmodern for its subtlety. Saying no bison got killed on a MLP cartoon is meaningless.

        MLP:FIM at its worst was like a kind of backlash and rebellion against so-called political correctness by the genuinely, antisocially, politically incorrect . S.1 Ep. 21, ‘Over a Barrel’, qualifies as the perfect negative example for any university or even junior high school course on aboriginal studies and postmodern racism.

        4. Personal attacks are hardly a rebuttal, however harsh the withdrawal symptoms from MLP:FIM’s trickster spell. MLP:FIM has become part of the moral experience of children of all ages, reducing important human values to emotional sentimental buttons to push via personified ponies and musical numbers. Buttons that when pushed sometimes didn’t square with either real reality or the fantasy reality.

        By S.3, Ep. 13, ‘Magical Mystery Cure’, MLP:FIM was exemplifying Bernard Shaw’s paraphrase of Pierre de Beaumarchais, “What is too stupid to be said is sung”, which applies to most of the episode. From its theme of royal elitism and cutie-mark determinism, to the racist imagery recalled by savage animals dancing around Rainbow Dash in a cauldron, there is little to redeem from this episode save perhaps the chorus of the second main song:

        A true, true friend helps a friend in need
        A friend will be there to help them see
        A true, true friend helps a friend in need
        To see the light that shines from a true, true friend

        Any true friend to My Little Pony’s character archetypes should be critical of their misuse and those that misused them. Charity, compassion, devotion, integrity, optimism, and leadership are real values of the conscience, not make-believe like the characters made to personify them or buttons to push in a trusting audience.

        Hasbro owns patents to plastic ponies, not humanitarian values. By being built around the manipulative presentation of those values, the MLP:FIM invites being strongly judged accordingly.

        • Karnoffel says:

          Please do provide an example of an alternative IP that contrasts MLP:FiM that also strives to do what Lauren Faust envisioned. Using “intellectual vocabulary” in an attempt to brow beat where regular speech will suffice and is much more efficient, and irrelevant pieces to parallel with the show does nothing to move the community over to your own views. I urge you to take some time to review your own statements, and attempt to see without first clouding your own lens. If in the end you still feel the same way, that MLP has threatened or undermined these values you have presented, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion. We the community who love this show and what it stands for will still be here to love and tolerate the hooves off of you.

          • Hmmm. My initial response was apparently too angry and moderated out of existence. Fair call. I apologize to Ms. Mag. Take 2:

            MLP:FIM is well able to stand on its own, so why pursue a comparison fallacy? What other cartoons say is irrelevant except that if they’re worse, then there’s obviously a problem. They’ve never inspired guys to make dubious claims about being pro-feminist and label a show as such to MLP’s extent.

            There is no reason to smart-shame so-called ‘intellectual vocabulary’. Perfectly understandable concepts like discursive whiteness are easily accessible. There is no reason to talk down to readers on an Ms. blog and pretend they don’t know all about it or can’t can’t look it up.

            Whiteness is a system of privileged elitism for its own sake. Every dominant group in history has been guilty of abuse of power and finding ways to justify the dehumanization of its exploited victims, and call that ‘ normal. The WASP tradition was the most recent, pervasive and most connected to a racial appearance. Whiteness is the standard of ‘normal’ and ‘elite’ in culture.

            There is a reason why WASP whiteness imploded like a serpent eating its own tail; it was predicated on privileging itself at the expense of non-whites. However, being white was not enough to be white.

            Witness the attacks on white liberals for trying to do right by others regardless of colour and not privileging whiteness. Or the difference between say, being white (lower class) Irish versus (normal-to-elite) white Anglo-saxon a hundred years ago. Or the simple difference in social power between white women and white men. Especially in the military, which is one major bug about the MLP’s militarism cues.

            The sense of entitlement to be above prosocial behavior, and to demonstrate being above prosocial behavior as the mark of secure social status, is the entropy of elitism, but also bait for the trap. Elitism is not elite; elite is earned; its honestly built. Elitism is privileged; its false and easily dissipated.

            Whiteness left many decent people who happened to be white twisting in the wind with the most basic connection to their humanity, their physical appearance, turned against all but the most sociopathically aggressive of them. Non-whites certainly couldn’t sort good from bad if whites couldn’t do the same amongst themselves, so dehumanized and demonized whites generally from below as they were from above, while still striving for the advantages of whiteness.

            Proxy pony whiteness games exacerbate this wound to society. Television shows tune the moral compass as an outlet for social interaction. By adopting racist, sexist myths as it did in ‘Over a Barrel’, instead of defying them, MLP promotes them as a baseline for acceptable behavior.

            There was some despicable racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior that went on at the Seattle Northwest Brony Con a year back, that was all but condoned and far from corrected. A very textbook example of retro whiteness. Demanding ‘love and tolerance’ for that is morally oxymoronic and devalues Brony ‘love and tolerance’ below empty sloganism .

            Over a Barrel demonstrated that whiteness is a complete package. Non-white aboriginals were not respected, not-white-enough whites were not respected, women were not respected.

            In S.1, Ep. 5, “Griffin the Brush off”, Pinkie Pie had the perfect pair of in-universe clown glasses. They were a takeoff on the traditional Groucho Marx glasses, with brightly coloured lenses, red clown’s nose, and moustache. She even replaced the cigar with a party blowout. All that was missing was using brightly coloured hair for the moustache, or maybe ditching facial hair altogether.

            Pinkie pie glasses were never seen again, replaced instead with Groucho Marx glasses, a symbol of male dominant humour. Very out of place in a show with no humans. Its an artistic statement of alliance, a demonstrative technique, a ‘show, don’t tell’, trope.

            MLP:FIM drops witty real-life gag references all the time. The creative team knows pop culture. They know how to make a statement. Accidents even as Freudian slips are few and far between.

            My lens are perfectly clear. My ‘opinions’ are based on documentable evidence, facts, theories and ideals. Bronies have not been able to rebut any of them, but make emotional appeals to love and tolerance and anti-intellectualism to essentially do nothing and go along, get along. Love of the show is used the way evangelical creationists use ‘love and forgiveness’ and anti-intellectualism to overcome secular reasoned criticism.

            MLP:FIM is a perfect expression of the art and science of anthropomorphism and the narrative, and often a vehicle for patriarchal propaganda.

            Racist, patriarchal, classist, sexist and militarist ways of thinking reject the freedom to embrace basic human respect. It doesn’t turn off for the ‘in’ group and shouldn’t be reinforced in children’s edutainment.

            Bronies love a tv show for how good it makes them feel. I respect the stated spirit of what Faust tried to accomplish enough to try and listen to what was really said, not blinded by manufactured charismatic visual and audio cues, but informed by them as well.

            How are my observations incorrect, Brony? That has never been answered, just dismissed as ‘opinion’. What interpretation of the show and what it stands for do you ‘ love’, and what does it say about your capacity for agape, as opposed to ‘feel good’ aggrandizement?

        • WolfArmor says:

          I’m not going to pretend to have over-analyzed a piece of entertainment to the level that you have. I’m not going to pretend to have taken college courses that encourage that practice. What I am going to do, however, is poke a hole or two into your statements using hard won common sense won through years of dealing with real life and real problems and not a college classroom, since I wasn’t ‘privileged’ enough to attend and not the right color to get in for a discount or for free.

          Detecting bitterness yet? Good. Because people get bitter and aggressive when the first thing you do is compare them to worthless drug addicts and then you turn around and give either/or statements that say that either one agrees with you or they are racist, sexist, bigoted homophobes with a drug addiction. Now that we got that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, here is something that I did not see mentioned in any way, shape or form in your overly long diatribe against “whiteness”.

          You repeatedly cite ‘Over a Barrel’, but leave out and seemingly ignore a few key portions of the storyline. Representatives from both parties expressed a desire to understand the others requirement for the same swath of land. Because of raging tempers, and a subsequent poor performance attempting to chastise them into co-operation, the essential communication never occurred. Due to that lack of communication, the conflict escalates into violence. Now, the fact that the conflict is ultimately resolved by compromise is trying to teach a better way, to seek common ground with those you don’t agree with and try to work something out from there.
          Instead, you seem to think that there is some sort of racism and sexism going on. So a disagreement spawned by a lack of communication is racism? And I’m still trying to figure out where the sexism is. Is it because one of the ponies in Appaloosa, who happened to be boarding up his home in preparation for the impending conflict, growled at the main character trying to get them back to the conference table? Last I checked, that is little more than impatience with a dash of ignorance.

          Now, you are free to disagree with me and I won’t imply anything against you that you haven’t already directly stated and I would appreciate it if you would do the same.

          • You shifted focus from key details marking racism and sexism and avoided addressing them, then resorted to more smart shaming. Its not the fault of the education system or affirmative action programs that you reject learning and can’t or won’t type “whiteness” or “patriarchy” into a search engine to learn about them.

            “Over a Barrel” used sexism to contrive the main ‘lack of communication’; the pony nags getting in the way of Little Strongheart and Braeburn, to start. Racism was in not recognizing the Bison/Aboriginal need for land to feed their families like the settlers, not recognizing Bison/Aboriginal ownership of that land as legally binding to avoid making the settlers look like squatters and thieves, and oversimplifying Bison/Aboriginal culture to feathers and stampeding while playing up the amenities of Appleloosa. Those actions made fraudulent any positive message that could be drawn.

            Context is everything.

            Suppose you threw a technically perfect punch; who or what you hit and why, would determine if the action was good or bad. Suppose you had the formula for a math problem but were given a couple of wrong numbers to plug in; the wrong calculation would result no matter how correct the formula.

            Lies are a deliberate ‘lack of communication’.

            Don’t see the sexist gag in a group of female ponies (nags) nagging and generally not being very bright every time they open their mouths when they are usually the problem solvers? Either the art of satire and meaning of sexism are lost upon you, or that’s an example of the ‘blind eye’. What is the fair not-either-or call on that? Is not seeing it fair?

            Why was a real fact of the Conquest – Aboriginal need for their own land to feed their families – explicitly denied and the settler need played up? Seems a little biased and racist on part of the writers. What is the fair not-either-or call on someone defending such a gross inaccuracy? Is not seeing it fair?

            Racism and sexism are promoted by deliberate misrepresentations of the people attacked and the context of their conflict. Whiteness theory explains and exposes many of the off-signals of MLP, its creators, owners, and fans.

            Are drug addicts truly useless people, or in need of protection from themselves and those who maliciously profit from their illness as greedily as land speculators, bankers, and politicians exploited Aboriginals and sometimes-too-willing early American settlers?

            A whole other storyline could be built upon how Braeburn and his fellow ponies were led to build Appleloosa overnight on borrowed bits they have zero chance of paying back and so get foreclosed upon.

            If you disagree, then refute – not circumvent – the core points upon which my argument was based.

            Just try building an illegal settlement in a public park and see if the legitimate authorities don’t react badly to the occupation and tear it down no matter how cute the defense. Any amount of schooling is useless if its only memorization and elitist myths in place of informed reason, whether from the ivory tower or the mean streets.

        • Titanium Dragon says:

          AT:

          Seriously, this is just senseless whining. It seems you have bought into a lot of cultural mythology about the colonization of the Americas.

          Here’s what really happened: The people of the Americas were somewhere between three and five thousand years behind the Europeans from a technological and cultural standpoint. When the Europeans rolled in, they brought with them a bunch of diseases to which they were highly resistant which had flourished in their densely populated centers for millenia, but which the Native Americans had not evolved immunity to. Thousands of years of disease evolution versus zero years of resistance was not pretty.

          Added to that, the Americas had few major civilizations. North America had nothing; central and South America had the Aztecs and the various other mesoamerican city-states, and the Inca. The Aztecs were hated by everyone else because they literally cut out and ate the hearts of their enemies, and the Inca were pretty much annihilated by smallpox (though the Spanish had some help there too from other natives).

          The Europeans regularly did terrible things to each other, but when they came to the Americas, the natives had zero chance against them. Worse still, when the reservations came about, many of them decided to cling to their cultural idenity and not end up becoming a part of the greater society around them, which is why reservations to this day almost invariably suck.

          The Native Americans were not saints. They were not the “good guys”. Nor were the Europeans. This is just a cultural myth. Everyone was out to win, and the Europeans were far better at it than the Native Americans were. When they had been facing each other, it was fair. When the Europeans came, it wasn’t anymore. And let’s face reality here: The Europeans were actually NICER than the Native Americans. In tribal societies, upwards of 25% of deaths are attributable to violence. The Europeans, for all their “evil”, were really not terribly inclined towards violence.

          But no one is going to put THAT in a children’s television show, because it is depressing and, no matter HOW you potray Native Americans, people will get angry over it. So its better just not to care at all.

          The episode was silly. It was not meant to be a valid representation of what happened in the real world, any more than Bridle Gossip was meant to be an accurate representation of how racism works in the real world. And ironically, the episode probably was a more accurate representation about how a lot of the colonization of the Americas went than is often seen on TV, because the “native people” actually benefitted from the presence of their new industrialized neighbors, even if the neighbors did have a tendency to take a bunch of land.

          Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with MLP:FIM. It (mostly) teaches kids good lessons. A couple episodes have rather missed the mark (the most obvious being Feeling Pinkie Keen, which was a fun episode, but failed to really deliver the correct moral) but mostly it is good and the show has a lot of heart to it.

          Over a Barrel is not meant to show how the conflict between the natives and the Europeans went. They had a PIE FIGHT at the end of the episode. The point isn’t really that, the point was “Seek common ground with people”. Just like the Zecora episode was about not judging people by their looks but by their actions (and literally “Don’t judge a book by its cover”), not JUST racism (and certainly didn’t portray racism “realistically” – but it never meant to).

          I wouldn’t say that the show tells you to feel rather than to think – it tells you to do both. Empathy and intelligence are how they solve the problems on the show, by and large, though sometimes hard work and physical action are how it gets done. Whatever, it all works out.

          Being warm is a good thing. The show does indeed portray sweet talking – how to do it, how it works, and how to see it.

          As for other completely ridiculous accusations:

          1) Anyone who talks about “entitlement” is invariably the most entitled person in the room. They’re always the jerks. There are no exceptions. Period. Do inequities exist? Sure. Are most of them race-based? No, at least not in the US/Canada.

          2) The “white people” on the show include, but are not limited to: ponies, gryphons (the only two we’ve seen were american and French respectively), dragons (though their culture resembles no human culture, Spike fits into Equestrian society just fine), and the totally fabulous sea serpent from season 1. Zecora is a zebra but has cutie marks like the ponies. The buffalo are not ponies. Claiming ponies are “a proxy for” whiteness is silly. They’re a proxy for a non real-world culture. Does it resemble American/Canadian culture? Sure. But calling that “white” culture is to basically say “We suck too much to be a part of the culture of the country we are part of.” Guess what? Being culturally American has nothing to do with your race. Black, white, asian, native American, whatever, what defines you as American is how you behave and how you speak. Equestrians could easily be people of any race. If you try to cling to some sort of race-based culture, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution, because guess what? You’re a racist.

          TANGENT TIME: “But the white people are destroying our culture!” Yes. Welcome to reality. All cultures, over time, change. If your culture does not change, it is dying. When people cling to, and try to keep, their culture static, they are saying “our society needs to die”. Over time, the constant is change. Culture changes over time. All advanced civilizations work this way. This is why “western culture” wins – it is constantly evolving. But ALL real world cultures do this. All prospering cultures continue to change over time, and the cultures which change the fastest tend to survive the longest – the reason that Americans are winning the global “cultural battle” is because we seamlessly incorporate new things into our culture constantly.

          Every time you resist allowing new things into your culture, you push it closer to dying, as rather than adapting, you will simply drive people to adopt the superior culture. The Japanese have a thriving culture not at all based on worshipping the West. There are tons of European cultures, though they are becoming increasingly homogenized and Americanized precisely because of resistant elements. The eventual evolution is towards a single global culture, I think, with minor regional variations, and that’s not a bad thing and not something to fight. If you want anything from your culture to matter, you need to adapt with the times and allow your culture to change and grow and incorporate itself into the greater culture.

          3) Princess Cadence’s spell isn’t meant to be a love spell, it is meant to “fix the rifts between people”. And I will note that the fandom has presented it rather negatively. It is a rather questionable power. However, she is not a major character in the show.

          4) They were trying to reform Discord and make him behave nicely. He had a great deal of talent but liked to use it destructively. Was it phrased perfectly? No. Are you crazy for caring? Yes. And the reason that Fluttershy befriended Discord was NOT to manipulate him. She befriended Discord because she wanted to make HIM realize what it meant to be friends with someone and care about something other than himself and his idle desires. She actually wanted to help him, because as things were, he was alone and his only way to interact with other people was destructively. The reason that Discord “reformed” was not because of peer pressure, it was because he realized that someone else really DID matter to him and hurting them was hurting himself. Is that peer pressure? No. It is compassion.

          5) Whining about Magical Mystery Cure just means you’re crazy. Sorry. It is a cute episode which uses music to help compress actions. It is funny and it has a solid story. The only bad part of it was that it was the thing that pushed Twilight over the edge into being a princess, but as I have explained elsewhere, Twilight becoming a princess was never, ever, ever going to really “feel right” in a 22 minute episode.

          6) Cutie mark determinism is something that complete morons talk about. The truth is that is NOT how cutie marks are portrayed in the show. Cutie marks don’t determine your destiny; YOU do. The cutie mark is a recognition, BY YOU, of what you want to do. And they aren’t simple things, and they’re nonbinding. Consider:

          Rarity’s special talent is finding gems. She is a seamstress, not a miner. However, she is capable of hoof-to-hoof combat and has fine control over her native unicorn telekinetic powers.

          Applejack’s special talent is running farms (or possibly even more general than that). She is good at EVERYTHING having to do with it – she plants seeds, harvests fruits, tends the fields, makes finished goods, sells goods, manages workloads, and repairs the farm, and on the side she is good at a variety of sports and is athletic.

          Rainbow Dash’s special talent is the weather. What does she aspire to do? Be the best racer in the world. She is the fastest pony in all of Equestria, capable of breaking the sound barrier and creating a massive explosion in the process. She is also extremely adept at weather control, capable of creating whirlwinds by herself. She is a solid team leader, very good at manipulating clouds, and on top of all that she is also unrelatedly atheltic and very strong.

          Twilight Sparkle’s special talent is magic. She is the best magician in all of Equestria, but despite her massive raw magical talent, she has to WORK to be good at magic – she studies extensively, creates her own spells, and does a lot of experimentation. On top of her magic, she is also a good leader, an astronomer, a historian, she writes reports, does original scientific research, and has a ton of casual hobbies and loves to try out new things, even if she sucks at them.

          It is not entirely clear what Pinkie Pie’s special talent is. “Parties” is the obvious answer there, but in addition to her ability to throw random parties, she is also an inventor, a cook, a clown, a musician, an entertainer, a comedian, and several other things besides. She may seem zany, but she is capbale of being responsible and deep down inside there is more to her than partying all the time, even if she hides it. She likes to make people happy. But even BEYOND that she has totally unrelated talents – the Pinkie Sense is limited precognition, and she has the ability to exploit toon physics for the rule of funny, even if it isn’t directly related to making people smile. She also has several other ambigious talents which may or may not be magical in nature. She certainly does not allow herself to be confined by her cutie mark.

          Fluttershy’s special talent is empathy and kindness. She can speak to animals, and also has THE STARE, which can apparently cow anything without very strong will. But it isn’t just that; she also has a great deal of empathy and kindness to her, and is good at dealing with people who are hurt. She is also a veteranarian of sorts, in addition to a pet groomer. She is a naturalist. She has all of the attendant pegasus powers, even if she is bad at them. She also has a more than passing interest in fashion, and likely has numerous other hobbies as well.

          7) The idea that the show has any sort of patriarchical leanings at all is only in the mind of someone with absolutely no grasp on reality whatsoever. The kingdom is run by women. We have seen exactly FOUR men – Braeburn, the sheriff of Appaloosa whose name escapes me at the moment, Fancy Pants, and Hoity Toity – who had real power of any sort, and of those, only braeburn and Fancy Pants were very positively portrayed. The leaders of the country are female. The main cast has ONE male character – Spike – in it, and he is a kid. Amongst the anxillary cast, there have been two powerful male villains, and two powerful female villains, and of those, only one of the male villains had any character at all and he is not very empathetic. There is one supporting cast member who is male, Big Mac, and he barely has a personality at all – Braeburn got more personality in ONE EPISODE than he got in the entire show. The world is a much kinder, gentler world than the real one, partially because of the magic of friendship – empathy is a vital trait in Equestria, and the show is feminine – what people describe as culturally “feminine” ways of approaching life are very prevalent in the show.

          The show has virtually no male characters, the leadership of the team, city, and entire country are female, and only ONE male in the entire show has a real character and shows up often – Spike, a 10 year old boy who is infatuated with an older girl. It probably takes until season three for the show to pass the reverse Becdhel test as a result of the fact that there are virtually no male characters on the show.

          And you know what? I’m fine with that. As a guy, I have zero problem empathizing with the characters. It does not upset me at all that there are virtually no male characters, because I don’t -care-. I don’t feel that the show is anti-masculine or disempowering towards men, and honestly I’m GLAD for the presence of a strong female cast. I think in reality, men are quite capable of empathizing with an all-female cast, just as women can with an all-male cast, and I think if more people recognized that, a lot of the problems with women being unrerepresented in entertainment would go away.

          • “Over a Barrel” was set in the American Old West, not the Spanish portion of the Conquest, although maybe MLP will get around to whitewashing the Conquistadors as well.

            In classic elitist/whiteness style, you completely evaded the core issue while addressing it, namely, why weren’t the Bison/ Aboriginals portrayed as needing their land to feed their families, and as the legitimate owners and authorities of that land, seen as legitimately empowered to determine land use over the settler ponies? Why not recognize this in a hip cartoon instead of repeating the moldy myth of the Conquest that those Aboriginals weren’t doing anything important and didn’t really own their land?

            Good example of elitist doublespeak as well; neither side was the good guy… buuut the Europeans were nicer and more culturally advanced and less violent… despite that the West’s history of warfare would impress Genghis Khan, and the positive contributions surviving native American cultures fought to keep alive make to American, Western, and world culture. Is it normal and wise for a culture discovering the ability to kill off others without significant consequences to themselves, to laud going totally psycho?

            There will always be critics- and ways to judge the soundness of a critique. Bullies for whiteness today like other violent elitists before them look at malicious genocide as natural and acceptable in the big picture and long run. Their meme of action, like how accusing dictators of killing their own people somehow irrationally equates a legit invitation for us to kill those people too.

            MLP would fit nicely with Goebbels propaganda system in an American police state, what with the clever use of truth to cover for lies. As cheerleaders of whiteness the ponies do quite well, and Hasbro/DHS needs to be called on it. After all, how better to manipulate thoughts than through feelings? If people feel good while acting badly, repeating the mistakes of whiteness, all the better from a standpoint that history is about tossing the other into the dustbin.

            As for my other “accusations”:

            1) Your entire post is one long defense of the psychopathic elitism of whiteness that did not address the core point; why not be fair to the proxy aboriginals in a cartoon about friendship even though it was not in real life? Suggesting the survivors of genocide should be grateful to their attackers, or that a fratricidal culture based on domination and exploitation is the inevitable end of history if every naysayer need be conquered or killed to prove it, is an interesting point of view but doesn’t explain why “Over a Barrel” isn’t racist and sexist, only that it would be OK if it was – an angle of rebuttal admittedly not considered till now.

            2) Your accusation of racism is a nice fallacy of the inverse, but blaming the victim to shoot the messenger won’t wash.

            Whiteness is an attitude of elitism and entitlement associated with a racial appearance. There are whites who will never measure up to the descriminating standards of whiteness, and people of colour who can be accused of whiteness. Those who can identify and reject whiteness without mistakenly rejecting their best selves with ‘white guilt’ are as glad to be done of it as Fluttershy was of Iron Will’s training (S.2 Ep.9 “Putting Your Hoof Down) that made her into an angry bully.

            Whiteness’ pretense to being the invisible yet universal standard of humanity is over, because its internal contradictions and outright humanitarian hypocrisy are intolerably apparent. Few people “of colour” have ever not been reminded they are not white whatever their place in predominantly white Western societies. Its at least as common as any woman in a ‘man’s job’ being reminded at some point she is a woman in a ‘man’s job’. Many white people no longer identify with a standard that denies their humanity and circumscribes their ability to express it as white people, not agents of whiteness whose sincerity is forever suspect.

            That we would live in a post-racist, post sexist bigotry-blind world (nudge-wink blind to bigotry) just falls flat through the floor.

            The hardcore racist belief is that races are or should be as separate species, and Zecora the Zebra and Thunderhooves the Bison are separate species from ponies. If not for MLP whiteness, there would have been no problem with this character construction device, but S.1, Ep. 21 “Over a Barrel” changed everything.

            3) Princess Cadence was rejected by portions of the fandom for being a sappy Mary Sue, because a too-perfect heroine is somehow bad, or for breaking the popularly understood “only two alicorns” rule. The fandom did not pick up that there’s nothing wrong with a pony able to inspire genuine compassion as long as its an accurate portrayal of compassion within the limits of the show.

            4) Discord did not experience compassion, he experienced self-pity brought on by peer rejection. I’ll get back to this, and Tangent Time.

            5) Back to whiteness theory.

            Being a unicorn wasn’t enough; Twilight had to change to an entirely different race. Up till then, alicorns were presented as a separate breed, not what appears to be an optional stage in the MLP pony life cycle.

            Twilight just wasn’t white enough as a unicorn.

            6) I’ve argued cutie mark determinism is wrong, you seem to agree, yet an entire episode based on cutie mark determinism is somehow ‘solid’? The episode was a denial of free will, meritocracy, and individuality.

            It turns out Twilight was spoon-fed opportunities to succeed. Then, breaking what must surely be a basic rule of casting magic – don’t cast it blindly or somepony might get hurt – qualified her to be a Princess with even more power and immunity from censure because… what, she’s faithful to Princess Celestia? Why accept so many deep internal contradictions? MLP isn’t real, its based on caricatures of ideals that can inspire reality as an art form.

            Fluttershy with Pinkie Pie’s cutie mark would probably be a writer, poet, or similar artist that allows a shy personality overlayed with imaginative and flighty talent to flourish. Not trying to run Pinkie’s party service.

            RD’s original mark indicated her need for speed; as a Pegasi, weather control was her traditional vocation, and her assertiveness and courage are innate. A butterfly cutie mark would probably have her augmenting weather teams with critters.

            Rarity doing the weather makes no sense at all. With RD’s cutie mark, she would be an extreme racing unicorn with a flair for cool racing outfits.

            Applejack with a gemstones cutie mark would probably end up at Pinkie Pie’s family rock farm, or a wandering prospector as her family roots were in seed-gathering.

            Pinkie Pies’ balloon cutie mark appears to symbolize flighty air-headedness and imagination, as well as a gift for gab (think cartoon quote balloons). She was raised on a rock farm. Had she talent in working the Apple farm, she would have been plenty strong enough, had two experienced farmers to guide her, and farming is a traditional earth pony vocation.

            There was no reason for each pony not to make the best of each other’s cutie mark except as desperate writing to cover a poor decision by Hasbro to make Twilight an alicorn. Maybe it was trying to tap into that hip new age 2012 transcendence hype, but interpreted through whiteness theory, Twilights alicorn upgrade is very disturbing.

            Even without whiteness, body acceptance is a big issue with women and girls, driven by a need to express control over themselves while gaining the acceptance of others. What does Twilights major bod mod say when taken alongside the constant stream of media messages that tell women and girls they don’t look good enough?

            The only good thing is Twilight didn’t have to die to get her wings.

            7) Matriarchy is a proxy for patriarchy the way ponies are proxies for whiteness. MLP asocial subtexts legitimize the sense of entitlement to elitism common to both. Feminism would challenge and contrast elitisms against true merit, not repeat the dumb things patriarchal males do and say, which is what Western matriarchy amounts to.

            Women are underrepresented in entertainment because that’s the way the patriarchy wants it. No other reason. The audience was always there, but the willingness to answer it square was not. Whiteness theory is all about calling the fiction of race-blindness and by extension, there’s no such thing as being gender-blind. Saying everything would be better if women ‘get over it’ is patronizingly irrational. Nothing really has changed except that women may toe the line alongside guys more openly.

            Women who are presented in entertainment are almost always filtered through the lens of guys – even in MLP. Read the direction and story editing credits. From a pro-feminst standpoint, there is no problem with guys doing jobs they are well-qualified to do. If set to the task, guys can be a lot more discerning about the games guys play against girls, having an inside track – if they want to be. Most times guys will play the ‘wingman’ and cover for patriarchy, and this can be gleaned from the finished product.

            While entering a fantasy world of cute emotionally reassuring women may be great for women and girls, somehow I don’t see this as being any kind of problem for most guys as long as the environment flatters them and they instinctively feel in control. MLP:FIM delivers, and even matriarchy’s little digs via dorky or emasculation prone male ponies can be indulged.

          • Mikhail Ramendik says:

            “MLP isn’t real”

            Funniest. MLP criticism. EVER.

        • Noni Anderson says:

          A.T. Thank you so much for pointing out the racism in this show! I watched episode 21 with my daughter and was shocked at how racist it was! I really do not understand why Aboriginals were portrayed as a different species and their “compromise” at the end was just disgusting. I also definitely have problems with the sexism in this show. Thank you!

          • You know what?
            This is a TV show.
            Little girls wouldn’t notice the racism (which may or may not exist) in this show.
            They just think it’s a happy show about ponies.
            Which it is.
            Honestly, I don’t understand why you waste time writing 20-page paragraphs to these people.
            It just makes them angry. So they respond.
            This makes you angry. You respond.
            Everyone gets angry.
            You are not going to change these people’s opinions, they will never stop arguing.
            You would be better off just ignoring them.
            Just leave them be and they won’t bother you.

        • A.T. said:

          Notice that ponies come in a spectrum of colours, which would seem to defy charges of racism.

          What you are missing is that the key racial distinction between Ponies has nothing to do with the colors of their coats. It has to do with whether they are Earth Ponies, Unicorns or Pegasi. You are thoughtlessly trying to force the Ponies into the human categories.

          Yet, when identifiably human-inspired Equestrian races come into play, they are like Zecora the Zebra (black African), or Little Strongheart the Bison (American Aboriginal) – separate species.

          Actually, there are very strong analogs between the three main Pony races and real human groups — it’s just that you are so obssessed with looking at skin colors that you are forgetting earlier classification systems. Here’s a hint: think “medieval.”

          We do not know for sure that Ponies and Zebras are not interfertile. It’s improbable that either species is truly of genus Equus anyway (for numerous obvious reasons).

          In any case, these are non-human species in a multi-species xenofiction fantasy world. The Ponies are not human, white or otherwise; and Zecora is not a black African human woman. They’re not really speaking English, either — whatever language they are supposed to really be speaking is being rendered as English — a “translation convention.” Likewise, Zecora’s speech is being rendered as African-accented English, but that’s not how she’s really speaking.

          The fantastic cool species like dragons and griffins, of course, have no distinguishable non-white affectations.

          No, they have distinguishable non-human (and non-Pony) affectations. But you didn’t notice them because your White Privilege sense wasn’t a-quivering for them. For instance, Gilda turns her head rapidly and without warning exactly as does a bird — it’s very noticeable in “Griffon the Brush-Off.” And Dragons have a distinctly alien psychology, which is very apparent in all of them save Spike (who was raised as a Pony), and sometimes even in spike as well.

          Separate species were a promising convention, except it didn’t work because ponies soon became proxies for whiteness.

          In your mind. Because in order to apply your Critical Race Theory to the show, you need to find “whites” to demonize.

          The core tenet of racism is that different races ARE as separate species, or at least subspecies or breeds.

          Yes, and this is not true for humans in their present Earthly society. However, the Ponyverse — like many science fiction and fantasy universes — depicts a world in which there really are numerous seperate sapient species, sub-species and breeds.

          It also strongly urges an ethic of mutual tolerance, friendship and even love between different kinds. Heck, one of the few canon ships involves members of two seperate evolutionary classes (archosaur x mammal). Everyone familiar with the show knows of whom I speak. And the main reason it seems to be in potentia rather than active is one of age, not race.

          But perhaps you didn’t notice that, because the mammal in question is white-furred?

          Mixed-races are undesirable and it so happens the mule – a horse-donkey hybrid – appears in no less than six episodes as an object of ridicule. Mules and donkeys are drawn well below the high standard of pony cuteness. Real-life mules are as beautiful and intelligent as any equine. There was no reason to draw entire groups of animals to look bad and be ridiculed in a cartoon about friendship.

          You seem to have missed that the episode which most focused on donkeys was an incredibly-romantic love story involving two lovers searching for one another for decades and in the end finding each other with the help of one of the Mane Six. But who has time for heart-warming love when one’s mind is full of Critical Race Theory?

          Whiteness isn’t characteristic of all white people …

          Well of course not. If it was, then you wouldn’t have the power to make who and what you hated magically bad by applying it as a descriptor. To you, “whiteness” is verbal Smooze.

          To that, I respond: “UTTER FLUTTER!”

          Yet, in S.3, Ep. 10, ‘Keep Calm and Flutter On’, Princess Celestia asks Fluttershy to make a villain “… use magic obediently of his own free will.” That’s almost oxymoronic. The more appropriate and expected word would have been ‘responsibly’, over ‘obediently’. Why did Princess Celestia/MLP writers choose that word?

          Hmm … maybe because the last time Discord was on the loose he tried to destroy Equestria and drive all its inhabitants insane? Maybe because Discord doesn’t have a very good understanding of, or sympathy with, “responsibility,” and “obedience” would here be the next best thing? Or possibly because Princess Celestia is the sovereign monarch of Equestria, and hence can rightfully expect “obedience” from residents of that land to any halfway-reasonable decree from her?

          For that matter, is controlling and manipulating someone a sincere reason to be their ‘friend’? Is that even friendship?

          Fluttershy, who is a classic example of an All-Loving Heroine, is willing to be friends with Discord on the proviso that he does not hurt others. Is this friendship? It’s apparently better friendship than Discord generally gets, given that he takes the deal.

          Keep in mind that most sapient beings flee in terror from, rather than offer friendship to, Discord.

          And, hmm, how friendly would you feel toward Discord, if he was real and you were at his mercy? Why I wager you’d be worried that he’d violate your rights in some way, shape or form …

          Fluttershy is supposed to be an exemplar of sincere kindness, not special agent False Friend. Did Discord learn universal respect and empathy towards others, or peer pressure from ‘friends’? What kind of conscience-building is that?

          Every journey begins with a single step. Peer pressure to maintain certain behavioral standards as a condition of keeping friends is a start toward “universal respect and empathy for others.”

          You would have Celestia (or Fluttershy) nobly refuse to employ such a base tactic — and Discord would either still be still trapped in stone, or Equestria drowning in chocolate milk.

          You — having no responsibility toward anyone in this regard — are free to urge the most morally-refined strategies regardless of the risk to innocents. Princess Celestia has to worry about a nation full of little ponies.

        • You are taking this show too seriously. You should re-read what Faust wrote.

    • Hmmm…..I see your point A.T. many of the points you brought up did bother me aswell.
      And it would be nice if Faust took your criticism serious and consider her story choices more carefully in the future.
      Altough I can understand why these things slipped into the show. So many of these things you mentioned are considered normal and are never questioned. And unless they bother you personally or someone makes you aware of them you never will notice. So thanks for the effort A.T :)

      That being said: you have to understand that different people interpret stories in different way. It is true that all of the aforementioned examples can lead to a thought process that ends with your conclusions. But there is just as high chance that an individual will interpret the examples in another more positive way or never makes the same conclusions you did.
      This is an inevitable part of storytelling. People will interpret stories in different ways or take lessons from it you can’t even imagine.
      So maybe the consequences of wachting this show aren’t as dire you believe they will be.
      Still; I think it is good to point these things out.

      • Things like racism, sexism and militarism are not things called lightly. Respecting differences of opinion is important; as you say, and if a gut feeling or first impression doesn’t jibe with sound reasoning, its not something to fuss over as it is true people see things differently.

        Still, there are only so many ways one can bend positive psychological archetypes as represented by the Mane 6, even with artistic license to add depth to the personalities.

        Some people were upset over Zecora being a wise woman stereotype, a minority exploited for knowledge trope. However, being a teacher and herbalist respected for having knowledge is not a negative stereotype. Fussing over that, when almost all cartoon characters are some kind of archetype, didn’t seem fuss worthy.

        Rules of reasoned debate, when honestly applied, can help set one straight as to what is accurate or inaccurate, or overthought. Mostly its been a core principle at stake, so basic it can’t be ignored, that I’ve seen necessary to post about, not some quirk of style.

        I’m not really all that sure Faust had much to say about “Over A Barrel” or any other episodes except maybe the first two. She would not have quit if she could have expressed herself responsibly and honestly as a creative artist. Listening to herself would have priority over the suits and the odd fan if she could.

        MLP:FIM is a team effort making the best of Hasbro’s directives. M.A. Larsen took a lot of flack for S.3, Ep.13, “Magical Mystery Cure”, but it was Hasbro that dealt him the nearly impossible cards to play that went against everything he might have been led to expect from Faust’s initial production bible.

    • A.T. said:

      Princess Cadence’s special power was to be able to spread ‘love’ wherever she went, for example, transforming two ponies arguing over a ‘hooficure’ into goo-gooing lovers. That’s nothing but spreading infatuation; any deeper-seated issues were unresolved and tanked over by a hit of ‘feel good’. Is this all young children are to understand about love?

      Cadance’s true power is to restore harmony. The couple in question were already in love, they were simply quarreling. Cadance Cadance is basically an anti-Discord.

      She could probably pervert her power to force ponies to fall in love, but I suspect that Celestia has long since explained to her why that would be evil. And there’s no reason to imagine that Cadance is evil.

      The show is so touchy-feely one either forgives the creators of MLP for lying about the Conquest of North America and crudely dissing caring and sharing, or one fully agrees with the sentiment that the Aboriginals never had valid claim upon their own land and caring and sharing is mockable. Either way, a regressive position is allowed to stand and the problem goes unresolved and tolerated only by ignorance or chronic addiction to painkillers.

      Equestria is not North America, and you are making huge unsupported assumptions about the actual history of the Equestrian Ponies with the Buffalos. All we actually see is a conflict over land use in the vicinity of a single town, and in the end the situation is peacefully resolved. Neither pony nor buffalo is actually killed.

      Why are you trying to force an imaginary kingdom to have the exact same history as America or Australia? Are you saying that it is impossible for any native / more powerful newcomer situation to play out differently? But we know that it repeatedly has played out differently — both worse (Tasmania) and better (Roman Gaul) for the natives! So your implicit premise is directly contradicted by reality.

  4. First, was Faust’s vision to provide characters for proxy whiteness and renew stale patriarchal messages? Whiteness being the retro WASP male middle-class experience of entitlement to privilege, security, opportunity, the default for ‘normal’ stuck up behavior and condescending expectations for everyone else. Feelings of social alienation for many young people may stem from no longer living in that kind of world. They then become perfect receptors for the messages of reassurance in MLP:FIM as it has come to be.

    Previous posts reviewed episodes to explain the in-your-face expression of antisocial elitism based on race, gender, and class and pervasive militarism creeping into a show about pony friends. The ‘Mane 6′ are just honorary ‘one of the guys’. S.1, Ep. 21 particularly stands out as retro whiteness. That wholehearted support for antisocial whiteness exists is no surprise. Smarmy ‘love and tolerance’ condescension towards aware and critical heathens is also real-life formulaic.

    Second, concepts of whiteness, discrimination and hierarchy are simple. So is the science of anthropomorphism and proxy moralizing using cutesy animals. Accusations of being ‘intellectual’ are just trying to smart-shame these ideas out of the conversation. Hazing is a big part of retro whiteness, particularly for internal control of free thinkers. Its subtle when it has to duck the radar. But the mask drops when its safe to demonstrate dominance and announce the score.

    There was nasty real-life hazing of people of race, women and transgenders at the Brony Everfree Northwest convention, and others. It seems the Brony code of ‘love and tolerance’ is used to browbeat compliance to abuse. ‘Love and tolerance’ is less an aspired-to behavior, and more a weapon, a demand for indulgence and no consequences for dehumanizing others. Not unlike a perfect mother, girlfriend or servant perhaps? Love and tolerance alone are a lobotomy trap, without an informed sense of responsibility to deter scammers.

    Third, feminism has clearly lost control of its own narrative. Not only in prime-time popular culture. Not only on main street. Feminists can’t even define themselves and their message on a Saturday morning cartoon.

    Feminism became another marketing gimmick to appeal to guys, and no-one noticed. One wonders how many feminists are familiar with the history of Japanese animae and the magical girl genre; ever even heard of ‘Sailor Moon’ and its impact on Western culture? For certain, many hardcore male MLP:FIM fans would have. The creative minds of Western artists and their producers can’t help but have noticed and dissected the art and the audience.

    MLP:FIM is one of the best psyops using the science of anthropomorphism and narrative out there. Deliberately crafted from more spontaneous predecessors to be a hit, and misused for propaganda. Again, is it really cute and fun for the Mane 6 to parody a real-life intel hearts and minds mission in a conquered country as in S.3, Ep. 1,2, ‘The Crystal Empire’? There were surely far less obviously mil-intel complex worshipping ways of storytelling. Especially when the real-life versions are such a fail. Or, Rainbow Dash’s ambition to join the Wonderbolts – modeled on the USAF/USN demo jet teams, not a civilian group. How realistic is it for women to join the air force as a fighter pilot? Its not like feminists are going to be welcome contenders at TopGun in real life. Its not about how good they are as people and the real job, but apparently tolerance, collusion and perpetuation of a culture of abuse and corruption.

    The show-and-tell tropes are all there. Want more? In S.1, Ep. 5, ‘Griffon the Brush Off’, when MLP:FIM was more genuine, Pinkie Pie had the perfect, in-universe pair of Pinkie Pie clown glasses, with coloured lenses and red clown’s nose, and mustache. She even replaced the traditional cigar with a party blowout.

    That ensemble just blew away Groucho Marx glasses, which are gross especially on a show without humans. If Pinkie Pie glasses developed further, with different coloured hair, and different blowouts, they would become real-world party toy hits, a new iconic standard for humour. However, Pinkie Pie glasses were never seen again. A male icon of dominant humour, Groucho Marx glasses, took their place.

    There is a big picture war for hearts and minds going on. If feminists don’t stand up and defend the movement from wherever they can make a stand with an informed perspective, there won’t be real feminism to empower the next generation. The learned ability to deconstruct with critical and informed thought, the weapons designed against women’s minds at every stage of their development as human beings. And to a lesser degree, their men as well. Instead of one step behind good ol’ boy girl power, feminists will be two or more back, stumbling over matriarchal and racial division in a dance called by patriarchy.

    A feminist’s first duty nowadays might be, learn not to be fooled. Hold the honest line on truth and conscience and demand it of your entertainment products.

    • “How realistic is it for women to join the air force as a fighter pilot?”
      I think you are the one being sexist here.

      • Beanzoboy says:

        Yeah, considering I’m an aircraft maintainer in the Air Force and I fix fighter jets, I can name no less than six women who are indeed fighter pilots. And the female commander of my BASE is a fighter pilot. Granted, there aren’t many women who are fighter pilots, but that’s not because of sexism, but because there aren’t too many women in the Air Force in general. This person will use whatever they can to fit their biased opinion, even contradicting themselves when it suits their purpose. It’s best to just ignore the garbage that they type, since none of it is even remotely accurate.

    • Paul (Cause I don't need to hide my name) says:

      Geez buddy, lighten up. Half of the things you are talking about, such as the glasses reference, are not things any kid is going to know. Hell, most people that didn’t choose to study high level cultural history or whatever wouldn’t get. Some people either couldn’t get into college for various reasons, or chose to study something else. And don’t give me that BS about being to lazy to look it up either. Until I read this I had no reason to believe that those glasses were anything but a comedy gag prop and neither does anyone else. It’s a part of comedy culture, and the only reasons anyone would associate any negative conations is because people keep bringing it up. This is a kids show. It’s not possible for it to accurately portray all the subtle context of everything it references. It can’t possibly explain all the atrocities that it’s references are associated with. But then all history is built on itself and most of it was violent. You couldn’t present that as a kids show. And you seem pretty determined to say whiteness as much as possible. I’m black/white/Chinese and even I can see that every race gets a lot of hate. Your “whiteness” is elitism that’s not just determined by race. There are a lot of rich black guys at my college, all from rich families. There are about 3/4 as many rich white guys, and 2 rich Hispanics. None of them work. You need to get over yourself, and actually look at the world around you, and not just what you see on TV. Go outside, work at a shelter or food bank and see that your “whiteness” is as full of it as you are.

      • The invisibility of whiteness is based on people not being aware or really understanding the cultural cues specialists like entertainment pros behind Hasbro’s MLP would know, reference and reinforce. So ‘any kid’ not knowing isn’t quite the point. People who do know appear pressured to follow the magician’s code and not call the trick openly or critically. You just reaffirmed discursive whiteness like so many other MLP:FIM defenders have, validating the importance of emphasizing it as a core element of MLP:FIM racism, insiderism, and elitism.

        The average viewer may or may not like disembodied noses on glasses or find that funny, or even know about Groucho Marx – but the MLP team did understand and prioritized those over Pinkie Pie glasses. Humans don’t exist in Equestria for that prop to make sense as a pony tool for humour, any more than the M1 helmet appearances when the ponies still wield classical arms and armour. As deliberate cues to the real world they fit.

        Reproducing the violence of the Indian wars isn’t the problem in S.1, Ep. 21 “Over a Barrel”; reproducing the attitudes backing and sustaining the cowboys and Indians war mythos that excused and encouraged the violence is. The lesson that respecting others by not stealing from them even if they are a different people from yours was completely missed, because that context wasn’t to be taught. Similarly, reproducing the sentiments even at a low level behind any of the other real atrocities of history is wrong; they had no validity to begin with so why even plant the seeds like that.

        The argument is oft repeated that this is a kid’s show, but almost every poster here is an adult or young adult, reflective of the fandoms. MLP:FIM is demonstrably not just a kids show. Despite the official target demographic of girl children, its engineered to appeal to adults, males as well as females. If it were exclusively a kids show, with little chance of attracting parental oversight, that would make MLP:FIM’s antisocial slights worse, not better, because kids would internalize screwed-up values with no chance, however apparently slim, of balancing input from an adult.

        The attempt to turn the whiteness argument against itself didn’t make any sense. I did say whiteness is elitism not restricted in participation to any one race, and your mixed racial background and the wealth of your college peers doesn’t change anything. Any individual whether pony, zebra, or mule regardless of wealth can ID whiteness then embrace or reject it.

        Many charitable volunteers participate in antiracist, antiwar and antipoverty activism and would sincerely like to work themselves out of that job. Those elitist, well-connected bankster insiders who profit from a corrupt financial system that ruined the economy and livelihoods guarantee job security in aid work. Those accepting corruption as part of life and even a tool for advancement, might not see a problem here, but it really is from the schoolyard bully protected from consequences by connected family and friends to banksters likewise escaping prosecution at the expense of their victims.

        Maybe you need to not be so full of yourself as well, and graduate already out of university and into the real world of needing to hold a job or two to get by (and needing to know someone to get even one sometimes). Critical thinking skills whether of head or heart are not always improved by academic education.

  5. I grew up playing with and watching MLP I still remember my first one I got back in 1984 …Blossom. I usually hate when people ” update” things from the 80s – it just seems they rip the shows original apeal out for me (can you imagine them doing that to Jem?! Or She-ra ?! The 80s fashion are what made those show great!) and dont let me let me go on with them CGI ing the Smurfs and Chipmunks… Though the Chipmnk movie had a great story. Anyway MLPFIM is AWESOME! After watching that the original was so bland. The animation is much more fun, the charcters much more interesting. My favorite pony is Fluttershy followed by Twilight Sparkle because they are the most like me. Thank you some much for protraying Introverts in a positive light. So many shows teach children its not okay to be an introvert … That they can somehow make themselves “better” by being an extrovert , not just adopting some extrovert habits which is the healthy way. Shy introverts especially … Not only do we have to put up with people trying to push us around because they think we’ re easy targets , but we get told we arent ‘ confident’ because we arent ‘assertive’ Fluttershy is a great role model for shy sensitive introvert girls… She shows you CAN have extrovert friends, stick up for yourself, and still be the ‘nice girl’ without leting people push you around. I loved the episode where Fluttershy goes to that Minotaur dude to learn how to be assertive … It was like watching an episode from MY life. And you know what?! She didnt change … Only learned some new skills… Im glad the message taught the difference.

    • It was one of the better episodes, although Angel Bunny spoiled rotten was a mixed bag.

      However, Fluttershy owed the Minotaur an explanation of why she wasn’t 100% satisfied. Technically, she did benefit from some of his teaching and of her own accord, pushed it too far using its harshest lessons against her friends. While Iron Will did walk away with the valuable lesson that no means no, he did not learn what Fluttershy learned so he could improve his program for other clients.

      While it was clever to make a minotaur a bully, Iron Will was not really a bully. Iron Will tried to be reasonable and cut a deal. Unlike the ponies that bullied Fluttershy for no reason at all, he was willing to back down, listen to Fluttershy’s quiet voice, and do the right thing and let it go. Iron Will’s bluster was motivated by the initial suspicion of being stiffed of his fee, a contract Fluttershy freely entered without coercion, that he had every reason to believe had been fulfilled.

      Yet, the MLP writers decided to call Iron Will a monster for being assertive but loud, wimpy for being decent enough to tone down his attitude when wrong, and greedy for trying to make a living helping others when even doctors enforce fees for service.

      • AT, something has been bothering me about this post for a while and I finally figured out what it was. Your claim that Iron Will wasn’t a monster and not really a bully. What do you call his so-called assertiveness techniques? Physical intimidation, and in the example he put Fluttershy through on stage, violence. Remember that goat assistant he had block Fluttershy’s path that he literally pushed her into knocking over? Sounds like bullying to me.
        As far as deserving an explanation, sure. It is a shame that the writers didn’t take advantage of that opening to teach the difference between assertiveness and intimidation more thoroughly than the weak visual example at the end.

        • Hmmm. Missed this one.

          WolfArmour, I’m getting a little tired of you twisting things out of context when you deign to recognize context at all (since in this case it serves your purposes). Of course, its nice to know, you can spot subtlety when you want to, and I’ll bear that in mind for future reference.

          You’re not interested in ‘civilized’ debate, just scoring points in defense of real malice. It was readily apparent from your first post and I’m not going to accommodate it anymore. Your dissing attitude reeks. Its clear you don’t mind racism, sexism, and militarism at all.

          Anyway, just in case you really are asking a serious question, Iron Will is a Minotaur. They’re like the Texan stereotype of Equestria, big and physical in word and action, and like other big physical folks, no harm given or intended or you’d know it, and they’ll respect a ‘hands off’ if you insist.

          The goats acted ON A STAGE. Fluttershy was clearly unharmed and a willing participant in the seminar, no more intimidated than usual, and also on a stage where she pretend-asserted herself against a pretend-bully. The pillow fight from S.1, Ep.8, “Watch Before You Sleep” would have hurt her more than anything Iron Will did, because the psychological harm of bullying is from the intent to do wrong. This was demonstrated in this episode where some of the bullying was non-physical.

          Given the physical resilience of ponies and the lack of malicious intent, I’d give Iron Will a pass. If Rarity, for example, had really felt threatened by Iron Will, she does have magic and he does not. Pinkie Pie freezes when really scared, but she wasn’t fazed by Iron Will’s roughhousing ways at all.

          The rest of Fluttershy’s bullying experiences were, within the fourth wall, actual instances of bullying and it was a very realistic portrayal of someone getting over doormat syndrome and beginning to find the right balance of when to use physical and non-physical means of assertiveness.

  6. @Titanium Dragon

    Re: TANGENT TIME: Do you normally live in a state of psychopathic paranoia or just come off a marathon session of the 4-X video game Civilization? You just said it was OK to run around trying to destroy other cultures as a white American male because that’s your game and you’re good at it, then tacked on the lame excuse that everyone else does it.

    Then you say its important for other cultures to allow new things from self-appointed ‘superior’ cultures to be adopted so they can change – or else die? What of a culture that does not want to kill yours off (regardless of capability)? Too bad, because no matter what there’s a crazy armed nation of psychos coming to redefine their normal for the worse any way it can?

    Objective standards of right and wrong are eternal; the only differences lie in the application of the ‘notwithstanding clause’.

    Will the world be united by good or evil? By ways of prosocial empathy and compassion, or sociopathy and psychopathy? We live in the era of the bankster and eternal wars ‘of choice’ (whose choice?). Healthy empathy and genuine compassion do not appear to be winning. In the balance, its elitist westerners killing or planning to kill everyone else at home and abroad, utterly failing to produce a sustainable peaceful society anywhere and baiting domestic collapse.

    Women’s rights in the west were founded on the peacetime economy, where women could exert influence as workers with good jobs and entrepreneurs with successful businesses, and informed consumers making wise choices caring for themselves and their families.

    Getting back to point (4); Discord never learned compassion, only self-pity. Obedience out of fear of withdrawal of affection is only a first step to developing an independent conscience that understands affection and recognizes and accepts genuinely being sorry for misdeed enough not to repeat it.

    Discord didn’t get near that far. Don’t say its just a cartoon and compassion is a complex idea; he only had to say “I’m sorry”. Not “Friendship is magic” (!?)

    Compassion is a universal value about caring for those who otherwise ‘don’t really matter’, because they do matter. Apathy is not feeling for someone, sympathy is feeling for someone, and empathy is feeling with someone. Compassion is nuanced, disciplined empathy that respects the baseline dignity of another being regardless of in-group or out-group status.

    Empathy is the two-edged sword; it can burnout back to apathy or warp into narcissism and shadenfreude, if it does not mature into compassion.

    Compassion feels and understands without pity or other pettiness. It buffers the intensity of empathy, but not a retreat to the emotional safety of apathy or dissipation into empathic gratification. Compassion remains steadfastly warm and prosocial. Tribalizing it to the in-group makes it incomplete, less compassionate, a mere social tool circumscribed by the needs of the tribe arbitrarily set against the universal. Regression to immature empathy is inevitable.

    Discord didn’t care at all for the beavers whose minds were overwritten, wasn’t at all sorry for the Apple family, or share Fluttershy’s sense of hurt for her other friends. He only felt that his own feelings were persistently hurt by Fluttershy’s rejection. He remained a sociopath caring only for himself and wasn’t at all sorry for anyone but himself. The talent of the voice actor and Discord’s animators might imply otherwise, but they can’t fill in such big gaps in the dialogue.

    Given that the show’s writers deliberately equated good with obedience rather than enlightened free will, and displayed no understanding of the wrongness of manipulating others via so-called friendship, it is not crazy to be concerned.

    Witty moral ambiguity is a big problem in MLP; the lack of moral clarity that leaves negative interpretations valid even in the face of the ‘official’ moral of the story. Many episodes speak with a forked tongue, backed by impeccable technical polish. Its not always as serious as “Over a Barrel”, but it does raise questions.

    For example, in S.2, Ep. 9, “Sweet and Elite”, was one funny episode, but did Rarity really learn it was wrong to lie to her friends, suck up to snobs, and nearly drown her cat? Or that none of those things mattered?

    Did Rarity instead realize that as one of Twilight’s friends, a heroine of the Elements of Harmony, and personal guest of Princess Celestia, she had always outranked the Canterlot Elite? Something that Fancy Pants picked up on right off? Viewers were encouraged to cheer her every close call with comeuppance like a comedic heroine dodging just desserts.

    This episode had great potential for teaching viewers to recognize genuine self-worth, but there is a fork-tongued, dishonest twist in hiding the second interpretation in plain view that does not resonate well. There’s a lot wrong with MLP, mostly stemming from its departure from its official roots as a feminist inspired take on the MLP franchise into the handmaiden for patriarchy it was probably always meant to be.

  7. Lauren, thank you for this. I am an 12 year old tomboy, who is like a mix of Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash. When I read Kathleen’s blog, I completely flipped out screaming about how rude that was. She only saw the theme song. There is Zecora, the zebra, and she hasn’t seen Princess Luna. Besides, the Unicorn, Pegasus, and Earth Pony, are the races and an Alicorn has Earth Pony, Pegasus, and Unicorn inside them. Also, how does Rainbow Dash look mad? She is adorable! She is NOT lesbian, and Rainbow Dash’s rainbow mane is from past generations. She is sporty and athletic. Twilight is always reading and never really makes friends, so Celestia has Twilight make friends so she can save Equestria. If she told her that it would save them, she wouldn’t truly experience it. If she actually watched the show she would see that, but NO. She just goes watches the theme song, and said “Oh, I should pick out stupid things that aren’t true and twist it so they sound like they are!” I totally agree with you Lauren Faust. I hope you come back to the show!

  8. stephanie says:

    hi i just want a comic that will be awesome and im 13 year old

  9. TechUnadept says:

    I could have gotten into it, but the pink one’s a bit of a deal breaker. She’s like the Eye Poking Machine from Dead Space II. I’m like, “Okay. Okay, I can do this…” Then she opens her mouth and I go “Ow, my brain!” because she’s roughly equivalent to a hydraulic piston shoving a needle through my face. As an experiment, I watched MLP in one window, and Metalocalypse in another, and I had way more fun with the latter group of six weirdoes, and the songs didn’t make me want to slit my wrists.

  10. Rob Stening says:

    Okay, having finished writing this post, which is now 6500 words (groan) and far longer than I ever intended it to be, I will post it. I started out writing pretty concisely but became more and more, er, eloquent (in quantity of words even if not quantity)

    I am addressing the commenter “A.T.” as I saw your posts, and – though I immediately disagreed with most of what you said – I felt your discussion was (largely) well-written and your statements generally supported, and after spending most of the day on this, I have challenged – although not significantly changed – my views on how society is presented in MLP: FiM.

    To start my response I drew up a list of bulletpoints summarising your arguments and evidences over the last page of comments, along with quotes where appropriate. This I have not posted but when I quote you I will provide a link to your original comment. However, I have only gone into detail on posts on This page of comments – had a look at older comments but decided now to dispute them separately, although many issues you raise here are the same as there.

    Although I think in many cases your interpretation is wrong because it doesn’t take into account some facts in or elements of the show, I respect your opinion – especially when it comes to pure interpretation rather than something either of us can ‘prove’. You criticise the show heavily but back up your general argument with detailed knowledge – which would seem to make you unique on the internet. (I mean, the lack of knowledge in the original Ms Mag article which Faust responded to is quite spectacular but unfortunately exemplar of most FiM critics.) I’m actually going to say thank you for making your points intelligently, it makes a refreshing change, even if it’s dense reading.

    Finally, although I have endeavoured to back up or reference my points, avoid sarcasm and not use the classic ‘stop reading into a kids show’ as a counter to valid points, I do not claim to be perfect and so I hope you’ll forgive me for any mistakes, misquotes, misinterpretations or misrepresentations I have made. I’ve also tried not to make humorous asides although there were a couple of times I just couldn’t resist (but both are in paragraphs which are sort of tangents anyway). And now I’ve increased the size of this post even more so I’ll stop now.

    Final note, my spelling will be inconsistent because every time I copy your quotes it resets my language to U.S. English (I’m from the U.K.) and I’m not tech-savvy enough to change the language setting of the whole document, just words where the spell checker has picked up on it. So, ‘analyzed’ and ‘analysed’ will co-exist in this post.

    Racism in Over A Barrel: Two points you make:

    Firstly: The only identifiable non-‘white’ cultures are shown as different species. The implication therefore is that all ponies (whether unicorn, Pegasus, earth pony etc.) are white and the other species represent other human races (zebra, bison) or inferior in-world races (donkey, mule)

    and Secondly: they implied the Aboriginals didn’t need their land as much as the settlers did.

    Second things first.

    It is explicitly recognised as buffalo land: ‘the land is theirs’; ‘the buffalo had it first’. Although, when AJ says the settlers need it to live, RD doesn’t say the same back. So I can see why you say this. And we do spend more time in Appaloosa which is portrayed as a very cool place.

    BUT. Second things first again, the ponies being ponies in a show about ponies see things predominantly from the ponies’ perspective. Now, you may say, they should have written it so we saw more of the Buffalo side of things.

    But much more importantly – The Buffalo Didn’t Actually Live There. No-where at all in the episode does anyone say that the Buffalo actually subsisted off of this land. I’ll get on to food in a moment, but if the land was that important to the buffalo, why did it take them up to a year to realise the ponies had taken it over? You said “Aboriginal need for their own land to feed their families [was] explicitly denied and the settler need [was] played up” (June 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm) If by explicit you mean actual words spoken in the show’s dialogue, you are wrong. It’s never explicitly denied, and the only implicit denial is in the conversation between AJ and RD I started this with, where they get interrupted before RD can really respond anyway.

    If you had used the word ‘implicit’, I’d agree initially, except that the buffalo land isn’t actually their Home, but their property. Oh yeah, it was still wrong to take it, but we don’t get much said about why they need it to live because they don’t need it to live, in this story:

    Their homes/tents/tee-pees are in a different part of the land (although that need not be permanent), but they all act as if the town areas is part of buffalo territory but not actually part of their home. As for food, it’s a bit strange how they portray ponies as subsisting off of apples rather than grass, but there appears to be grass in buffalo land anyway (and Buffalo eat grass, so taking the stampeding ground has not denied them of food) (grass in buffalo land: http://3945.webs.com/GRASS.png) Having said that, the bison seem to eat mush rather than grass, so this may be irrelevant.

    Your argument is that by not emphasising how much the bison need their land to survive, that they are dehumanising them. (And by extent, dehumanising any culture that isn’t dominant, with the dominant culture being Euro-western). The difficulty with this is that in the story details it was only a part of bison land on the (apparently) edge of their territory, not a conquering of their homeland.

    Now, what you could argue reasonably is that the plot should have been that the settlers took over the native’s Home land (rather than extra or bonus land), as that would be a more realistic portrayal of what actually happened in reality. In the MLP story, the buffalo don’t need that One piece of land in question to live – so it is not a microcosm of the native conquest.

    And here’s where we get our problem. The moral of this episode was to compromise and share, not to explore the ethics of conquest and colonisation. I think they should have kept colonisation out of it in order to not confuse the issue, but the point is they were not trying to present a direct parallel to reality. Your only justification is in that this is the only episode which touches on conquest but it only goes as far as the rightful owners Wanting and the invaders Needing (sort of needing any way) – which would be wrong IF it were taken to be a microcosm.

    Now for the first point, where ponies seem to be the norm and other races are present in fewer numbers and sometimes the object of derision.

    Your argument is that, because all non-European/western cultures are represented by non-ponies (e.g. by Zecora), that the dominance of ponies is implying western culture should be or is the norm. And that this is wrong… hang on a second. In most places in the western world, there’s a reason why non-whites are called an Ethnic Minority, and that’s because they comprise A Minority of the population.

    But of course they should still be accepted regardless of racial difference, and if there is also a cultural difference, that should be respected. See for example how pegasi and unicorns are different racially and in ability yet they are accepted alongside each other, even breeding together (or at least with earth ponies). However Zecora has not just a different ethnicity but a different culture as well (much more different, than the difference between Peg and Uni’s for instance.)

    One minor point I partially agree with you though is re: mules and donkeys, in that the characters often take the mick using ‘as a mule’ phrases. Re: donkeys, saying they’re portrayed as ugly is ridiculous – the only 3 donkeys we see are old – and just as ugly as the old ponies. (e.g. Mulia is no uglier than Apple Rose)

    At least you don’t seem to have endorsed the point in the original article – that Celestia had black slaves. Which is ridiculous (yeah, they’re grey – as well as white and brown, as of the Equestria Girls trailers. The only discriminating thing there is that they are all male, not a racial thing, so I will cover this in sexism shortly).

    Oh and a minor point also raised regarding Over a Barrel. I’d like to quote Wolf Armor here: “I’m still trying to figure out where the sexism is. Is it because one of the ponies in Appaloosa, who happened to be boarding up his home in preparation for the impending conflict, growled at the main character trying to get them back to the conference table?” (May 25, 2013 at 12:21 am) to which you replied “You shifted focus from key details marking racism and sexism and avoided addressing them, then resorted to more smart shaming.” (June 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm).

    Umm, he disputed your interpretation of sexism by raising a detail and discussing interpretation of it, and you ignored it. In fact you told WA that he/she had ignored Your point. Yet you’re the one who said “If you disagree, then refute – not circumvent – the core points upon which my argument was based.” (June 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm) So you’re the one who ended up circumventing the point.

    [Apologies: the next section is in a bit of a funny order and not very organized]

    You also said “Don’t see the sexist gag in a group of female ponies (nags) nagging and generally not being very bright every time they open their mouths when they are usually the problem solvers?”, followed by “Racism and sexism are promoted by deliberate misrepresentations of the people attacked and the context of their conflict.” (both June 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm)

    Firstly, I don’t know how you can see Over a Barrel as being sexist. You’ve been making a more general point about the MLP universe being a matriarchal one instead of the patriarchal reality, in other words it remains sexist just with a gender reversal. Obviously we have fewer male characters (about 20/70 counting only those verbally named) and the world is governed by females.

    Yet this doesn’t square up to your statement in Over a Barrel – where’s the sexism? Ponies both male and female defend appaloosa from the bison attack. The bison herd contains both male and female buffalo (apart from strongheart, 12 minutes through they all gasp and some sound female). Evidence you could use is where the town has a male Sherriff and the bison tribe leader is male. So we have a patriarchal society here, but, the MLP universal is matriarchal? You can’t have it both ways.

    [Apologies: didn’t make my point above very clearly, but more on this subject later]

    But is this episode really male-dominated? The townsponies don’t listen to the mane 6, not because they are female, but because they are outsiders interfering. They are rejected by both male and female townsponies. (only a male growls at them, but the female background ponies reject them simultaneously with the males, they don’t seem any more reasonable nor merely follow the male townies). So, I don’t think this Over a Barrel episode is any more sexist than any other FiM episode.

    So, now to consider if the MLP universe at large being matriarchal, and whether this is a direct flip of our elitist society. Firstly, yes, princesses govern the world. But the important positions underneath the princesses are occupied by mostly males. Appaloosa has a male sheriff. The guards and Captain of the guard are male. Nobody seems to have mentioned Shining Armour that much except whether he’s so weak he ‘requires’ Cadance to use his magic.

    His magic worked just fine before the changelings got in, even while under (partial) mind control, presumably it takes more power to expel than it does to make a shield. Also, requiring others around you to work your magic is a common theme – twilight cannot wield the elements of harmony alone, neither can celestia. Shining Armour marries a princess and becomes a prince, yes, but let’s look at his role after that. Most of his time in the Chrystal Empire is supporting Cadance emotionally and, when she collapses, physically. Appears to be ‘inferior’ in this regard. Yet he patrols the arctic wastes for signs of danger and single-handedly battles Sombra’s shadow to buy his friends more time (albeit unsuccessfully). Yes, we have a male sacrificing himself for females (and spike), but isn’t this also a question of risking 1 for the sake of increased safety of 7, rather than prioritising the survival of females?

    [I realise you never said the latter rhetorical question, but I thought this point was worth exploring]

    Applejack is never seen working a plough, yet Big Macintosh is. All the Winter Wrap Up snowplough ponies are male. That’s because, in humans to a degree but much much more so in horses, males are physically stronger. Of course you could interpret Mac’s permanent wearing of a horse collar to be a sign of his eternal servitude if you wanted. But ask a show-runner (or fan) and they’ll probably say it’s a sign of his diligence and dedication than ‘this is my job, it’s all I do’.

    How about Carrot Cake, then. He faints and hyperventilates and trots-on-the-spot-when-stressed more than Cup Cake, so isn’t exactly the image of The Big Strong Man. But he’s actually shown doing just as much work as Cup Cake with their kids – including the changing of nappies. He pulls their cart because he is (although a bit scrawny), bigger and (probably) stronger than his wife, not because he’s her servant. Carrot is shown to be supportive and hard-working – is this reinforcement of a matriarchal society? No! It’s a good male role model in a kid’s cartoon! That’s how dads in reality should behave!

    The same goes for Shining Armour. Speaking of which, he’s shown in charge of training ponies for the Equestria Games, so it’s not all hold-cadance’s-hoof-while-she-does-the-real-work.

    The Wonderbolts have approximately equal male and female (I think it’s 4 and 5 but can’t remember the amount, and that’s from the guidebook anyway not the show), and yes their Captain is female but the academy intake is shown equal male and female.

    And now we get to militarism: the royal guards; the wonderbolts; and the fact-finding mission in the Crystal Empire.
    I just mentioned the wonderbolts and the mix of genders. But it wasn’t so much gender you talked about, it was “Or, Rainbow Dash’s ambition to join the Wonderbolts – modeled on the USAF/USN demo jet teams, not a civilian group. How realistic is it for women to join the air force as a fighter pilot? Its not like feminists are going to be welcome contenders at TopGun in real life. Its not about how good they are as people and the real job, but apparently tolerance, collusion and perpetuation of a culture of abuse and corruption.” (May 18, 2013 at 12:16 am)
    Okay, so your objection to the wonderbolts is because they are based on military groups who are ‘a culture of abuse and corruption’. Regardless of how true that statement about military culture is (which I’m sure many would dispute), let’s look at the wonderbolts. The WB are Based off of these jet groups. But they are IMPROVED upon. The Wonderbolts welcome both male and female, discrimination only with talent (well, physical ability). They are an improvement of their real-life counterparts, they are how their real-life counterparts Should be! But, because they resemble or were created to imitate military groups, you have decided that they are the continuation of or glamorisation of that military culture. I disagree. As I said, they’ve taken a ‘bad’ thing and turned it ‘good’.
    You do have a point in that Spitfire shouts a lot but this is nowhere near the kind of bullying that happens in the real military (sometimes). And note she never does it pointlessly, the first time it’s to get them to defy her and get competitive – although the sunflower one fails this test. I would agree that I don’t think a show should glamorise hierarchical bullying, but she never bullies for a reason.
    Now, the royal guards and fact-finding mission. Last things first.

    “Again, is it really cute and fun for the Mane 6 to parody a real-life intel hearts and minds mission in a conquered country as in S.3, Ep. 1,2, ‘The Crystal Empire’? There were surely far less obviously mil-intel complex worshipping ways of storytelling. Especially when the real-life versions are such a fail.” (May 18, 2013 at 12:16 am)

    The fact-finding mission I don’t think was ever supposed to have parallels to or parody its real life military equivalent. This is one of the few times where I think you have over-analysed or read into things, but what I mean is that I don’t think this was ever the intention of the writers. I’m NOT saying ‘it’s a cartoon, get over it’, but I think this parallel was entirely unintentional.

    [Apologies: following section is a bit messy]

    The night vision and disguise… if this was a major plot point like the conflict in Over a Barrel was, then I might be more inclined to agree with you that it’s a dodgy portrayal on the part of the show runners, but it wasn’t a key theme. Plot device served to show that the population couldn’t help and wouldn’t exactly be up for a fight if Sombre came. Couple of visual gags added in and Pinkie taking things too far again. (In exactly the same way as ‘DON’T FORGET TO WRITE’ in Wonderbolt Academy, or going totally over the top at one of the many parties)

    Now, you could say, it’s still glamorising or normalising such behaviour, which is wrong, regardless of whether it was intended or not. Now I come the closest I’ve been in this reply (and by the way, I am writing this paragraph last in a – hopefully – final edit), the closest I’ve been to saying ‘don’t read into things’ and leaving it at that. The question is, really, how powerful is this subliminal messaging (regardless of whether it’s elitist militaristic design from the show runners or unfortunate coincidence) – is this really going to influence anyone?

    The question is, is it really parodying it? Can you really justify the description of it being ‘mil-intel complex worshipping’. Aside from the fact I don’t think anyone – except those who’ve suffered at the real-life equivalents – is going to be influenced by it, I disagree with the word ‘worshipping’. Twilight doesn’t go, “ooh, a secret mission!” she goes “ooh, a research paper!” – moreover, although Pinkie Pie does take it to a military level, she completely fails. So it’s hardly worshipping the mil-intel complex – in other words, not glamorising or normalising it. So the only thing left ‘wrong’ with the scene, is that it can be construed as making fun of a serious thing, which would only hurt people who have suffered from the mil-intel complex in real life, or know/empathise with those who do.

    Now, the royal guards and their militarism.

    This, I agree with you with. To a degree. (Again).

    Yes, all the royal guards are male. They’re all plain colours (though this could be their coats are dyed or something, but seems unlikely as we get a brown one in Equestria Girls). I don’t seem to have any quotes in my summaries I compiled of your post, but I recall you said something along the lines of them being inefficient in A Canterlot Wedding and only serving as a pointless display of force. Two themes here, the militarism and the sexism. Sexism is easier – male ponies are stronger and tougher than female, as a rule (in reality). Strong, tough women will be stronger and tougher than the average man, but a strong, tough mare will not be a strong or tough as an average stallion (let alone a strong tough stallion). So – although it wouldn’t have demeaned them to include female guards perhaps, it was probably done to give kids a theme they could recognise easily.

    Which is where you have a point! It normalises (male) militarism. Although the exclusively maleness doesn’t tie up with your overarching ‘matriarchal society’ stuff, the normalisation of it – I understand where you’re coming from, and… I agree. Almost. (Again.)

    I mean, this is a fantasy world where magical ponies are occasionally threatened by dragons, changelings and all manner of bad-guy-whatnot. It’s reasonable – for the sake of having exciting adventure plots rather than endless gabbing about fashion and tea parties – for there to be some kind of army. Now, I do agree that the contrast between the show of guards at the beginning of ACW and the apparent uselessness of them at the end was a bit much – they should have included them later or played it a bit less earlier on. So, I agree about ACW specifically, and I see where you’re coming from when we combine this impression of military with the wonderbolts, but again I don’t think it matters.

    I don’t think it’s ingraining anything into the psyche of kids who watch the show. Note how the royal guards also serve as messengers and even chariot-pullers. Considering they never explore their military in any detail except ‘here’s some guards, here’s a captain’, it’s well-rounded – except for gender. If they had excessive military parades and made a big show of their strength, I’d agree with you. But it’s not excessive. They wanted to show that This Episode Is Of Epic Scale And The Bad Guy Is Powerful, which they did with a forcefield and lots of guards on duty. But they’re guards – not an army. The fact that the changelings totally kick their butts implies that there aren’t many guards. It’s not a military arm at the deployment of the government, it’s just a security team. Ok, maybe that’s underplaying them a bit, but… I think you get my point? =]

    Now. Before we move further, as I’m going to reference your post of (May 18, 2013 at 12:16 am) quite a lot, I thought I’d respond to one of the points you raised – one where I actually agree with you (mostly).

    You said “Accusations of being ‘intellectual’ are just trying to smart-shame these ideas out of the conversation.” I appreciate where you are coming from, and have tried my best to respond to your points on an intellectual level and I agree with you in that things should be analyzed.

    [Apologies: below paragraph is a tangent]

    In fact my analysis of the characters as I have watched the show and looked at their moral dilemmas (despite the fact they’re not always done perfectly, as you mentioned in Sweet And Elite, her lies don’t actually have consequences [June 18, 2013 at 11:17 pm]) – looking in depth at characters has actually made me like them even more. Take Luna’s conversation with Scootaloo in her dream – when Luna reminds her that she is princess of the night, her face has both pride and regret – presumably regret over her dark [LOL] past or possibly resentment of the fact she has to do the same job that brought her so much hurt every single day (… well, every 24 hours). We also get huge detail in her appearances in the crystal empire. She never explicitly says she doubts twilight, but her body language, facial expression and the subtext [Are you sure you don’t want me to go as well?] speak volumes.

    But I digress. My point there was that analysis can increase enjoyment of a show, although of course if the show does turn out to have a repulsive underlying theme, maybe not so. But I don’t think it does.

    Anyway, although I think things should be analysed, it is possible to over-analyse things. Although some of your analyses I think go to the right level of depth, and many I actually agree with – e.g. “Discord never learned compassion, only self-pity.” (June 18, 2013 at 11:17 pm) – I don’t – as you have certainly gathered by now – I don’t agree that MLP is a vehicle to subtly reinforce elitism in race or gender or class or militarism.

    Also, analysis of the depth and quantity that you have done takes a long time to process and then counter. When I tried to summarize all your main points into bullet points (with quotes), the document came to 5 pages in Microsoft word. I have literally spent all day working on this response, and even then it feels incomplete. (e.g. I wanted to discuss animals – especially dragons – when looking at the MLP society structure and race)

    Yes it’s true that their society has females at the top, but it also has strong male role models (and females) in positions of authority and otherwise. All characters make mistakes, regardless of how role-modelly they are, (except Carrot Cake who doesn’t actually make any mistakes – although to say that he’s perfect Would be reading too much into him because we see so little of him) – anyway, all characters make mistakes and have consequences [most of the time] and have to face reality. Twilight in WWU faces that she can’t physically do all jobs. Pinkie Pie doubts herself (Griffon the Brush Off; Party of One; Return of Harmony), and doubts the validity of her lifestyle (Baby Cakes) or her ability to actually do it (A Friend In Deed; Too Many Pinkie Pies) – I think these life lessons are way more important than exactly how many of each gender or race are represented at each level of society. However, that is my Opinion of the Priorities of a show and simply stating it does Not make your interpretation of elitism untrue. I might think that it exists on some level but that it is unimportant.

    Here’s my take on how elitism (which I think is confined to gender, not race, which I’ve countered [or given the other side of the evidence anyway]) in MLP works.

    We have a society broadly parallel to our own, although of course greatly idealized, with some Definitely Bad And Not Ambigious At All characters (i.e. Chrysalis) thrown in to give some adventure stories.

    Within this matriarchal society, we have male characters of importance who Do Not face prejudice in the same way that women in today’s society (unfortunately and disgustingly) face prejudice. In reality the wonderbolts would not be of equal gender split (although you could argue because you’ve got to be physically strong enough to fly jets there is a larger pool of males [I mean the RAF used toonly takes 17-19 year olds as pilots, that’s how small the window of fitness is ]) – yes, in reality the wonderbolts would not be equally split in gender, yet in the Ponyverse it is.

    If it were a true opposite of our own society and was enforcing the same prejudices, then it would be female-dominated. The same goes for farming and parenting – both of which are shown to have males having important if not unique (for farming) roles distinct from females. Same for the Guards – though you may have a problem with they’re all male (or the militarism as discussed before), the fact that they are all male indicates a special place of masculinity within the MLP verse.

    [Apologies: next paragraph is a tangent]

    (I haven’t discussed the whole Doctor and Nurse thing in their medical staff because you haven’t raised it and it’s a very small number of characters – bear in mind the Vet is female… might be stereotyping but a real-world one, one that doesn’t fit with your interpretation that the MLP world is female-dominated)

    On earth, women face prejudice as they ascend our social ranks, in Equestria, neither gender faces prejudice as they progress in society. Although, only females have been made into Alicorns and only males into Royal Guards so far. (With Alicorns it’s a very small number and for Males you can argue the physical demands of the job).

    I haven’t discussed class much. Will do briefly. The posh ponies in Canterlot consider themselves above the rural ponies in Ponyville. In the same way, Apple Bloom wants to make a good impression on her cousin specifically in part because she’s from the big city. We also see young Applejack idolise the big city lifestyles of the Oranges. (Cutie Mark Chronicles?) At the same time, you’ve got characters like Fancypants – who is lovely despite being Upper Class – but admittedly considers ‘Charmingly Rustic’ a compliment and expresses more interest in Rarity only after learning about the castle suite.

    However I have interpreted in the opposite way from you – you said ‘Did Rarity instead realize that as one of Twilight’s friends, a heroine of the Elements of Harmony, and personal guest of Princess Celestia, she had always outranked the Canterlot Elite? Something that Fancy Pants picked up on right off?’ ([Sorry, don’t know which post this came from])

    You have interpreted this to mean that he recognized her as a superior – because of her royal affiliations – and therefore sucked up to her. This is a really interesting interpretation which I had not considered before.

    However, after consideration, I disagree.

    He doesn’t so much suck up to her as just start socializing with her. He doesn’t namedrop her at every instance, he doesn’t show her off (although the auctioneer, dinner-party-pony and art gallery pony do). With the Cake Frosting sequence he doesn’t seem to think ‘oh, better pay a compliment’, although he does look a bit surprised. The weird thing is, even if she’s ‘superior’ to him, he still remains totally aloof – unlike his entourage who are total hooflickers.

    But the biggest reason I disagree with… not so much your interpretation but the degree of your interpretation… is the way Fancypants treats Rarity’s friends. I just watched the Where Did You Get Your Dress sequence, and – although he looks slightly superior when she mentions ponyville, look at how he responds to Rarity saying come over here. Check out that body language. When she suddenly appears, he lifts a hoof in the typical surprise pose, but he remains facing Twilight the whole time. He keeps smiling at twilight and in fact looks just as put out when Rarity is dissing the dress as he did when ponyville was mentioned. When he says ‘in a moment etc.’, he’s not sucking up to Rarity at all, nor does he seem to be taking advantage of her presence. In his tone and body language he seems to treat Rarity and Twilight as equals. He even winks at Twilight!

    [Here comes a tangent, but don’t worry, it’s not a shipping exercise]

    (Never noticed this wink before today! If you want to get into really microscopic detail… he winks as he says ponyville – twilight is in fact from canterlot and is well-spoken like Rarity – it could be that he interpreted ponyville as a joke and winked to show he understood it to be so. Out of context this would make sense, but, now let’s put it In context! When it’s revealed they are in fact from ponyville we don’t see his reaction, only that of the crowd. However, while Jet Set, Upper Crust and co are all haw-haw-hawwing, Fancypants is smiling at the ponyvillians. There’s not a hint of him having to recompose himself or anything, thus, I think he genuinely believed that Twilight was from ponyville [although that’s not actually what she said, she said a dear friend of mine from ponyville, which is ambiguous.] in conclusion I think that wink is further evidence that he just treats them both like equals) – Now that, my friends, IS over-analyzing. =)

    Fancypants seems to treat Rarity as his equal as well (although there is a slight element of patronizing, I still think – from the detail of the garden party scene in particular – he’s not exactly the pig-headed chauvinist full of privilege he might have turned out to be… unlike Prince Blueblood)

    Then look at how the entourage reacts when Rarity admits to ponyvillians being her best friends. They scoff! But when Fancypants gives them his approval the entourage immediately starts sucking up to Rarity. This just shows that they see Fancypants as socially higher than Rarity, not the other way around. And the Canterlot vultures are the ultimate judges of social rank, after all.

    Moving away from Mister Pants (and I never thought I would say that), I’d like to wrap up my thoughts on your interpretation of the show.

    I’m going to quote myself “On earth, women face prejudice as they ascend our social ranks, in Equestria, neither gender faces prejudice as they progress in society” And elaborate a little.

    What I mean is, Equestria is a parallel yet reversed society to our own. However, it is also idealised. (Having women in charge would not automatically make everything better than it is today [just quite a lot of things]). The nature of a kids show is that it is idealised – but it’s not showing a matriarchal society (or by extent a patriarchal one) to be The Best Society. Their society isn’t a simple flip of ours, so it doesn’t suggest that our model of elitism is the best way of doing things. Within pony world, rank comes from merit. (Except for Prince Blueblood? Did he marry into the family? Or was he just a random character who is out of place with the revised/updated/expanded mythology? [I think the latter, although he could once have been perfect but then went crappy after getting luxury status])

    Just remember that Discord ruled Equestria in chaos before Celestia and Luna stood up to him – so they had to earn [or steal] their places as rulers. Cadance (in the book) was a Pegasus who was elevated to Princess because she understood Love completely (and was able to defeat a villain because of that). Twilight became a Princess because she understood Friendship completely. Now, I don’t like what they did with the Cutie Marks as it is ambiguous, seeming to trap her friends involuntarily into roles – like you said they should have acted differently, e.g. “Rarity doing the weather makes no sense at all. With RD’s cutie mark, she would be an extreme racing unicorn with a flair for cool racing outfits.”(June 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm) I agree this episode wasn’t perfect, but my point about the nature of their hierarchy still stands. And we know that the Princesses weren’t always there (or at least, weren’t always Princesses) because they weren’t in the (seemingly) Pre-Discord events of Hearth’s Warming Eve.
    [Apologies: next paragraph is a tangent]

    (although in my own headcanon, Discord was partly responsible for the winters and betrayals, then after Clover the Clever made everyone harmonious and defeated the windigoes, he decided that chaos would not just restore balance but should reign instead).

    But anyway. As much as I’d like to have finished this with a neat, essay-like conclusion, I kind of reached mini-conclusions throughout. Nevertheless I’ll try and summarise the important ones…

    *

    My final conclusions are different from yours – I don’t see the society in the show as containing any subtle racism, sexism or classism. Oh there are characters who embody them (e.g. Princess Platinum for racism against non-unicorns and the entire population of ponyville against Zecora, then the obvious Blueblood and Canterlot snobs and so on, but these are all characters shown as being in the wrong somehow, with another character showing how to behave [e.g. Apple Bloom; Fancypants]).

    Most of our contention revolves around Over a Barrel, which I have (hopefully) shown does not mis-represent the needs or rights of natives because it was never supposed to represent a life-and-death choice – although I think you will agree with me that they should either have done it life-and-death with equal treatment of both sides, or have avoided the whole race & colonization aspect.

    I have also given my interpretation of the (pretty much non-existent) evidence of sexism in Over a Barrel. There are minor issues I haven’t discussed, such as the Groucho Glasses, Cadance’s love spell and other stuff I’ve forgotten, because then it comes down to interpretations of a single piece of evidence. Is it really normalizing and celebrating an era or character associated with male-domination?

    It’s getting hung up on this sort of thing that has made people less pedantic than myself rule off your opinion as a reading-in-to-things-rant. Although I think with examples like the glasses (which Kids and people unfamiliar with G. Marx will understand as ‘funny glasses’ or ‘a tool to make people laugh’ rather than what you said, “A male icon of dominant humour”(May 18, 2013 at 12:16 am).)

    For the major points of your comments: racism in Over a Barrel and in treatment of minor characters; classism in canterlot and alicorns; and matriarchal society subtly normalizing our own patriarchal total-authority society, I disagree and have given reasonable reasons why. You may disagree in my interpretation of evidence, and then we shall have to agree to disagree. But I have one last thought.

    Even if the society in MLP was supposed to parallel our own hierarchy, the main focus of the show is on how to behave as an individual. If they had a perfect world, then a lot of the life lessons they have wouldn’t relevant. In the real world there are dodgy authority figures and snobs (Canterlot again), there are bullies, and there are ethnic minorities. Friendship is Magic is teaching how to behave as an individual in those situations. With authenticity; maturity and acceptance respectively. If the cartoon was based in a perfect society then the characters wouldn’t have any chance to learn.

    At the same time, I think their society is ‘better’ than ours enough to be an enjoyable setting, but also is similar enough (e.g. with some of the hierarch of our world) to give space for the characters and viewers to learn Real Life Lessons. Having a slightly imperfect society isn’t supposed to be a subliminal reinforcement of the status quo, it’s a setting in which genuine and positive teaching can take place.

    I hope I’ve given you food for thought in the same way that you have given me, and that – where necessary – we can agree to disagree politely and intelligently.

    • @ Rob Stening, Part I:

      Well, respectfully, you certainly gave me a lot to think about regarding the invisible standards of privilege and expectation set by whiteness. Such as how Bronyism has strong elements of laddist culture, which hazes women with ‘just joking’ mysogyny yet somehow sees itself as manly expression, and how Bronies see themselves as pro-woman despite the worst of their fandom. I’m not accusing you of laddism/Bronyism.

      Your arguments isolated and restated evidence out of context, ignored arguments without a clear explanation for ignoring them, and tossed out small details, such as alleged female bison in a group sound effect, that demonstrably aren’t conclusive. Old-school bad science failed to appreciate how the parts fit the whole and so deny relationships some didn’t want to recognize. Whiteness theory, for example, was not clearly addressed or even mentioned, although discursive whiteness was the unifying theory of most of my positions on sexism, elitism and racism.

      Lets look at the sound effect. … its more than a little shallow.

      First, the relevance of bison women is that they are there and affect the viewer to appreciate the bison characters as sympathetic people. If absent (or non-apparent), the people-ness of the tribe is lessened. Many old westerns never showed braves as husbands, fathers, and sons; just cool targets to shoot at. Its not even clear what CT’s relation to LS is. It was a herd interrupted in its migration stampede, so there is no reason for background females not to be there.

      Second, in the collective gasp to RD’s posturing, only LS and Spike can be heard clearly, Chief Thunderhooves could not be distinctly heard as an male over Little Strongheart. The expression is normally at a higher pitch in both men and women. Its likely canned FX recycled whenever a collective gasp is needed, like S.1, Ep.7, “Dragonshy” , ~3 minutes in. Bees buzz like Changelings (actually sounds like flies), it doesn’t mean anything but bug wings.

      That brief sound effect refutes nothing whether women participated or not. How to make an audience care about characters is Filmmaking 101. You overtly highlight them like the Appleloosans.

      This is incomplete and contradictory reasoning that’s so much making excuses.

      You then allege WolfArmor’s point was circumvented; it wasn’t, it was called giving the blind eye to sexist satire. If it wasn’t deliberate satire and just came natural, that still backs whiteness as setting invisible cultural norms that are sexist. As you did, WolfArmor restated evidence out of context; reducing four scenes of the Mane 6 nagging and being rejected, to one instance of a male pony rejecting being brought to the negotiation table, which is what the Mane 6 were nagging about. (BTW, the growling pony was just loading apples into a cart, not boarding his home.) It was like calling a flock of ducks a flock of ducks and having someone pull a drake out from it and ask, “What flock of ducks? You call this drake is a duck?”

      The nagging scenes present another whiteness message. Not-white-enough women may have acceptance and inclusion working alongside men for whiteness like good little women. In real life some women are all for patriarchy as long as they have a ‘special place’ somehow, rejecting feminism not only for themselves, but resenting it for others. There were no female decision makers in this episode. Not even a mayor mare. Twilight was not a real leader capable of a plan. Who’s expectations are being reinforced here? Feminism or patriarchy?

      Even when you agreed with me, such as that there is matriarchy in MLP, its unclear if you understand and accept that matriarchy is not feminism. Even defend matriarchy and deny that elitism, sexism and racism exist against the obvious cues they do. I’d need a separate post to untangle that. Many fans flatter themselves that they enjoy a feminist show and are better enlightened, sensitive people.

      The trendy feminist buzz around MLP:FIM is so well marketed, its likely little girls were the cover demographic from the very beginning and the whole male fandom phenomenon was not entirely spontaneous, but planned-for. Girls were certainly dropped in a hurry as the core audience to be catered to, since they’ll still watch it anyway like they do most ‘universal’ programming for guys.

      Bronyism seems more like a variant of laddism; no understanding of what feminism is, indulgent to misogyny either way. Like MLP:FIM is no longer young girls’ TV, and Twilight is no longer a unicorn, feminism apparently must change its definition of itself to appease newfound fans so that guys can more easily bond with each other. Brony clans exhibiting laddist behaviors just lead with cuteface rather than the usual rudeness.

      Leading to your conclusion, its claimed that since poor actions in the show are often also portrayed as indeed somehow wrong, and the ponies show what’s right, and authentic RL cues make MLP:FIM life lessons relevant, its all good. Context is everything. When moral conclusions are ambiguous MLP:FIM never should be taken unguardedly as a positive role model for anyone. MLP:FIM takes universal pro-social values and tribalizes them to apply foremost to an in-group . This is asocial insiderism.

      In s.1, Ep.7, “Dragonshy”, Fluttershy scolds a dragon less for being a bully, and more for hurting her friends. She starts saying the right thing, “Just because you’re big, doesn’t mean you get to be a bully”. However, the big, strip-tearing, stare of conscience, emphasize-with-Fluttershy-closeups punchline is, “You do not hurt my friends!” This is the important lesson viewers walk away with; especially don’t be a bully with my friends. So, bullying strangers isn’t as bad? The official moral was to always have faith in your friends.

      In S.2, Ep.3, “Lesson Zero”, Twilight makes trouble where there is none, so she can solve it and look good. This is advanced dirty office politik – gaming the system at the expense of others. Why was Sunset Glimmer sent away in Equestria Girls? Resorting to lying and deception? Who deserves to be banished and locked in a dungeon in the place she is banished to (S.1, Ep.22)( – or at least told “That’s wrong don’t ever harm my subjects or try lying to me with contrived crisis again.”

      Twilight suffers a little embarrassment, but did she learn never do that at all, or do it better next time? When Twilight diverted attention to her late report, Celestia call her a ‘wonderful student’. Her friends help her elude punishment by sharing blame. Being insensitive to a friend’s problems was the big lesson. Then, don’t let a small worry become a bigger problem; had Twilight been successful, she could have delivered a fraudulent report on what she learned about (abusing) friendship. An important universal lesson in caring for others by being honestly responsible is left ambiguous in favour of a tribal lesson about being sensitive to the needs of friends. Such lessons could be complimentary and should be clear; in MLP:FIM if they are sorted to affirm asocial insiderism over prosocial universality.

      In S.2, Ep.9, “Sweet and Elite”, nothing actually changed. It just reinforced a real-world problem as an acceptable vice; no-one learned not to be a snob, just who not to be snobs to. Fancy Pants by whiteness theory is the ultimate mascot of whiteness, a “princely young English gentleman” hybrid trope. The mascot of WASPhood who’s refined accented blessing is sacred in the English speaking world. The actions of the Mane 6 are depicted in stained glass at Canterlot Castle, (Pinkie Pie points out they are famous in S.2, Ep.1) and in a public ceremony (S.2, Ep.2). Its probably safe to assume by S.2, Ep. 9, that the ‘most important pony’ in Canterlot (who has no apparent job; top banker maybe?) is somewhat aware of who Rarity and Twilight are, smarter than the other wealthy ponies to know this matters, and making connections and having some fun with very important ponies.

      Its natural to feel more strongly about those you know or think you know than strangers, but there is the proverb, ‘Strangers are friends you have not yet met”. That’s not to say strangers are friends, or always could be friends, or would even be likable let alone safe if knowable. Just that they matter as persons.

      What if the Mane 6 were nobodys and Fancy Pants spent his social capital on them just to be a nice guy, not a nice guy to the Heroines of the Elements? Would the Canterlot elitists dump FP as well, since the lesson of not being a snob can’t stick? What if the dragon had friends with him? Would they just jump Fluttershy and finish off the Mane 6 to defend their friend no questions asked? Will Twilight make up trouble to fraudulently buff her Princess resume and office budget?

      For a kids cartoon, exploring simple life lessons for the official age level, the moral reasoning in MLP:FIM are just so off. MLP ‘friendship’ lessons are too often not a stepping stone to prosocial relations universally, but reinforce insiderism against all.

      Then you conclude we should politely agree to disagree; as if your positions matched anything. They didn’t. MLP:FIM been pinged for sexism, elitism, and racism, and you’re essentially bluffing with flimsy excuses as if the whiteness baggage is still all stealthed and not patently obvious.

  11. My respect for you has only increased exponentially as the years tear on.

  12. Krissey Dye says:

    Haters gonna hate. Im an 18yr old female and I love MLP:FIM. And my boyfriend, 21, is a brony.

  13. @ Rob Stening, Part II:

    By whiteness theory, most people would be unable to see sexism, racism, or elitism in MLP; its invisible, part of their fundamental belief/wish system and as easy to observe as the top of their head.

    Upended on the head, some people, upon learning of whiteness theory, will oppose it to the core of their being. Many others will embrace it without hesitation. Many many more will still deny its even there, finding alternate explanations that don’t stand upon inspection, resisting and even hating anyone who ruins their chance to stand before their God (so to say) and claim “I didn’t know.”

    So as to avoid accusations of ‘circumventing arguments’, lets examine some of your strongest attempts.

    First, claiming the writing team via RD explicitly recognized Bison ownership of the land. Well, only if the quote is taken out of context. The entire exchange was: [My commentary in square brackets.]

    Rainbow Dash: The land is theirs! You planted the trees not knowing that. Honest mistake. Now, you just gotta move ‘em, that’s all. [Yay RD; dance with those wolves. There are two telekinetic unicorns to help, one of whom is possibly the most powerful magic wielder after the highest level unicorns. Moving the trees should be easy if the Bison agree to compromise and even help.]

    Braeburn: Well… eheh… [Yeah, ponies can't live on apples alone; they need to sell them because putting up a town in one year with all the amenities ain't cheap and comes on mucho borrowed bits. Harvestin' is today... This is 'head-canon', of course, but a logical assumption.]

    Applejack: They busted their rumps here! An’ now they’re suppos’t ta bust their rumps again, just ’cause some buffalo won’t stampede someplace else? [Honest Applejack? Really? How'd you feel if some no-account squatted on one of your fallow fields claiming you weren't using it at the moment? Try tunneling into a bank vault and see how all that hard work impresses the judge.]

    Rainbow Dash: Plant the trees somewhere else! [Like maybe further down a stampede path? Can you believe it, RD had the right solution all along? No? Well neither did she apparently. Too bad she never learned to have the same confidence in her intellect that she does in her athleticism.]

    Applejack: Where?! It’s the only flatland around these parts! [Scenes about town showed lots and lots of flat land, but it looked kind of arid. Lots of room down the eventual stampede path as it turned out, but trees were cruelly cut down, not replanted. Poor Bloomberg probably still has nightmares, the settlers have less apple trees - even though they supposedly really need apples...]

    Rainbow Dash: The BUFFALO had it FIRST! [So? That's irrelevant; the aboriginals owned it because they owned it. If someone steals from you, you shout "That's mine! Stop thief!, not "Hey, I had that first!". Just say stealing is wrong and snap the hoodwink spell.]

    Applejack: The settler ponies need it to LIVE! [Well... see the Braeburn commentary. But the pathos clearly favours poor starving settler ponies, not broke ponies foolishly building a town so out in the middle of nowhere the train has no coaling station and there is little arable land. Is there gold in them thar hills?]

    Rainbow Dash: Come ON Applejack! [Yeah, come on Applejack, lets move some trees.]

    Applejack: You’re bein’ unreasonable! [Um, theft is reasonable? C'mon, someone point out thieving is wrong unless you're leveling your character's thieving skill... Really, this is recognizing and respecting bison/aboriginal ownership?]

    Rainbow Dash: I put my hoof down! [Huh? Couldn't say thieving outside a MMORPG is wrong either, eh? What does your hoof amount to around here anyway, BTW? Just call it theft and they'll back off or see you in Celestia's court.]

    Twilight Sparkle: Look… Both the settlers and the buffalo have good reasons to use this land. There must be something we can do. [Hahahahaha, like running space has any moral equivalence to hunger... even if the hunger thing is far-fetched. Maybe Appleloosans trade apples for hay and oats... Does anybody still agree the Bison own the land? Now, Pinkie Pie, suggest a path through the orchard. Hello go-to girls? Time to show us how its done.... Ow! Turn it off... OMG, there's singing so bad its charming as in S.1, Ep.18 "The Show Stoppers", then there's 'its really not supposed to be that awful but. It. Is. Whoever wrote that song really hates sharing and caring... how does one wash eardrums... so much for the archetype of laughter...]

    The settlers kept the stolen land, the Mane 6 nagged them about it, and Chief Thunderhooves was puppeted into accepting it and absolving pony guilt, by appreciating civilization and extorting apple pies. One senses a little hostility towards real-life treaty obligations… but anyway, so what was really said? How did ‘no’ in so many words become ‘yes’ in so many actions?

    In real life, one could argue aboriginal land ownership was respected; they were allowed to sign treaties, after all. Yet who would believe that, honestly.

    Aboriginal land ownership by the late Indian Wars was a technicality convenient for land speculation. An ‘ownership’ figure to ‘legally’ take from mitigated anarchy in competing settler land claims. Aboriginals never really owned anything respect-wise; they were always meant to cede. The general pattern of Appleloosa (minus the pie fights) – cut a small deal then arbitrarily make it bigger – was a land-grabbing theme. That the ponies didn’t do a continent with one town in 22 minutes of TV is hardly a rebuttal. MLP:FIM had the opportunity to continue in the tradition of movies like “Dances with Wolves” and television like “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman”, but didn’t.

    The next argument you make is a common one; that aboriginals didn’t live ‘there’. Settled agrarian tribes were forced from their farms and towns; recall the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ – living ‘there’ means as much as owning land for an aboriginal; they can aaalways move.

    Nomadic Great Plains Aboriginals maintained a vast bison run that stretched from the Canadian treeline to the Rio Grande, from the Appalachians to the Rockies. It was divided amongst rival nations, but techniques such as controlled fires managed the landscape as brush-free savanna encouraging Bison numbers and easy hunting. Bison themselves managed grasslands by instinct, not overgrazing but browsing from one viable patch to another while trampling and wallowing bare areas, essentially tilling those to receive new grass. Together, nomadic civilizations and bison maintained mutually sustaining grassland and forest margin habitats. Seasonal and fixed resources from different areas could be harvested year-round. Mobility made Plains Aboriginals difficult to defeat in war. Bison eradication was understood by the U.S. government and army as the key to breaking the Plains economy, so only after nearly murdering that species were the Plains Tribes finally defeated. Aboriginals lived ‘there’.

    Another argument is of sharing the blanket blind eye and respecting ‘minority’ cultural differences. One assumes by extension ‘majority’ cultural differences should be respected, such as whiteness. Its not wise. Whiteness is a parasitical influence developed by parasitical elites to flatter and empower themselves based on seducing the vanity of a distinct racial group. It is not agreeable that cultural differences should be respected where fundamentally in conflict with more objectively prosocial values.

    For example, anti-women customs and beliefs (often to protect women of course, or to protect men from women’s influence, or prove ‘manliness’) pervade the social and religious practices of some foreign cultures to a degree best described not as mere elitism, but supremacist elitism. Comparable versions exist in Western custom and religious belief, some nearly forgotten, unenforced and supposedly obsolete. Others newly arisen out of old, such as laddism.

    Remember Spike refusing to smash the phoenix-egg (S.2, Ep. 21 “Dragon Quest”)? He wasn’t a good lad, but its not an example making the jump to RL often enough. Should tolerance and so-called respect become an excuse to roll back feminism? Blanket blind-eye tolerance here would be a tacit agreement to embrace one-another’s ‘acceptable’ asocial excesses, singing Kum-by-yaaa by the witch-burning fires, bonding with all the good hazers of women domestic and foreign.

    There’s more for a Part III if only it were possible to wordsmith it down to a manageable length.

    • David bobinsky says:

      Oh, dear GOD! Stop arguing over a show! I want to see if anyone responds to Faust’s diatribe, and I get a two and a half page long argument.

      #1: AT, you are insane. Seriously, this show provides a lot of good points, I’ll admit, the song from “over a barrel” was bad, but I mean SERIOUSLY, sexism?! The “sexism” is as ridiculous as saying that telling a girl to “wash a stain out of a sweater before you wear it again” is sexist. You are obviously a white supremacist, now leave.

  14. @ Ron Stenning, Part III (of IV):

    That critical look at the portrayal of Princess Luna in the poster episode “Sleepless in Ponyville” (S.3 Ep.14) only proves the power of the anthropomorphic spell. S.3, Ep.14 was a poster episode, a lite episode allowed to be itself with the material with no significant political baggage. These are important so as to not burn out the audience. That was Goebbels’s system; focus on popular entertainment to reinforce existing prejudices, boost morale, and so mold minds.

    A number of assorted arguments around militarism are likewise uncritical.

    The claim that it makes sense for Equestria to have some kind of army to defend against threats is followed by the claim the Royal Guards are just a security team. Huh? Fine. Issue guard ponies Starfleet uniforms. Gene Roddenberry insisted Star Trek’s Federation Starfleet wasn’t military even though they have ranks, arms, and military pretensions. The Royal Guards are part of a uniformed service we’ll call the ‘Sovereign Guard’. The Canterlot Royal Guards get red uniforms for ACW. However, Roddenberry was genuinely peace-minded and was aiming for ‘responsible use of force’, where the good guys are good guys because they do genuinely good and right things.

    Then the notion that militarism is needed to break up the monotony of tea parties. The classic Dungeons and Dragons setting leading to adventure is a tavern where free adventurers share drinks. So why not a tea party? Its just a change of brew. Sugar Cube Corner would make a great tavern.

    As for the Wonderbolts being inclusive, well they appear to be TeamToken. All the real air force ponies in S.3, Ep.15 “Wonderbolt Academy” are white and gray males like the Royal Guards. Wonderbolts aren’t part of Spitfire’s command staff; the white and grays hold the clipboards. Spitfire seems to have been demoted from officer to NCO, or taken a special interest in RD’s class; captains don’t normally drill raw cadets, sergeants do.

    Then the ‘men are naturally bigger and stronger than women’ to justify an all-male military/guard caste? Twilight shoots blaster bolts from her horn; the big bad guy guards carry spears. In real life, the preferred work and sometimes military horses have been mares; they are more even-tempered. The only way male horses can compete in utility is to be gelded. This is where real-life pony excuses cease to be attractive.

    A special place for masculinity mirroring real-life so closely in a fantasy world of females, just reaffirms gender-based privilege and subtly reassures guys watching the show. Feminism isn’t about special places for anyone its about equal rights, responsibility and opportunity to pursue those things. Real people make the decisions, such as the majority of construction workers being male (S.1, Ep. 6, “Sonic Rainboom”, S.2, Ep.8, “The Mysterious Mare Do Well”). Suppose Luna and Celestia were replaced by princes; we’d have a patriarchal world with a mostly female main and supporting cast.

    A claim that no-one faces gender discrimination in Equestria – with job segregation and inequality right in front of the eyes – makes no sense. In a make-believe world its conveniently unquestioned. Well, it was questioned once. In S.1, Ep.22, “Bird in the Hoof”. RD asked a guard what it takes to be a Royal Guard and is met with silence. Whiteness-blind, its just a spoof of the legendary Buckingham Palace ceremonial guards. Isn’t there a connection between everyone in ponyworld knowing their place and not making waves and the real world where that’s an ideal of elitist governance?

    All males are in their traditional jobs, even as women’s fashion designers (Hoity Toity, S.1, Ep.14 “Suited for Success”). What of the females? Fluttershy scuttles Photo Finish the fashion photographer (S.1, Ep.20, “Green Isn’t Your Colour”) when she doesn’t want to be a model anymore. What was different between PF and HT? Both were demanding and good at their jobs, but the career guy gets more default respect than the career girl. Its far less a rebuke of the fashion industry and its demands on women, and more a shot at successful fashion women. Isn’t Rarity supposed to represent Generosity? Why not have PF recognize Fluttershy’s unhappiness and let her go after a big sendoff performance that restores her dignity? (Sometimes the writers have too much fun bullying this character.)

    The opinions of those who don’t read too much into things when there is something to read, and hostile to those who do read, sums the worth of their opinions. MLP:FIM is a shining example of the art of propaganda in what appears to be an attempt to co-opt feminism to sell whiteness. Sci-fi fantasy criticism is usually about science facts got wrong and pseudohistory screwups; obvious flaws in the moral compass don’t reflect well on the ‘magic of friendship’.

    MLP:FIM may sometimes inform actions and ways to act – but a right way is not often found in patriarchy or matriarchy. It would have been more genuinely useful to know what real feminists had to say about growing up with such a platform as MLP:FIM.

  15. @ Ron Stenning, Part IV (of IV):

    Then you go on about how Shining Armour sacrificed himself in S.3, Ep. 1-2 “NSA Cointel Ponies”. This deserves special attention.

    Most real intel work is ‘research paper’ stuff. Making sense of intel strategically requires educated analysts who can frame it into a perspective for action. Twilight and the pony girls performed the very basic steps of a real cointel ‘hearts and minds’ assignment, studying the culture of their targets in order to better co-opt them. There’s something really immoral about this MAGIC OF FRIENDSHIP since real life ‘hearts and minds’ missions are driven by insincere motives. ‘Friendship’ answers to the utilitarian needs of the manipulating the subjects, not legitimate human needs. Watching “The Crystal Empire” was like watching a box in a box.

    The Elements of Harmony are the only reason Celestia need draw upon the Mane 6 for danger. Yet it appears Celestia was trying to fulfill some kind of prophesy or had already pre-ordered her stained-glass window with Twilight; as if there isn’t enough real-world superstition driving violence it has to be affirmed in fictions for kids. She’s so into this elitist prerogative she’s willing to take irrational risks. To compare, to fight Discord (S.2, Ep.1-2) the Mane 6 were fairly asked and the Elements of Harmony superweapon was the key to victory. Apart from the vague ‘fight chaos’ allusion that might be drawn, there were no significant cues in “The Return of Harmony” to real-life propagandism.

    Twilight was unaware her exam was a field test – a ‘real thing’ kind of test. That’s just milking the Frantic Adorkable Twilight joke once too often, way out of reasonable context. Twilight apparently has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what she’s spent her life training for. Likewise the Mane 5 had no idea why they were being summoned to Canterlot. What kind of life lesson is that? Command Authority calls so drop your real job and life and respond without question? They were just drafted, but act like they are special agents or poster-perfect citizens at the police state’s command, not denizens of a magical pony realm.

    Pinkie’s Fluttershy suit disguise was a nice inside gag – the characters share the same voice actor. There’s a lot of wit and intelligence on that show and its very self-aware. “The Crystal Empire” glitters and shines like one of too many fish rotting in the twilight of a free society. Pinkie Pie playing spy was mil-intel fanboyism in lock-step with the episode’s theme. It might as well have been be commissioned by the NSA to help promote normalization of a warfare state.

    Back to Celestia taking irrational risks. Its not sacrifice but stupidity that Shining Armour was the only combat-capable magic user apart from maybe Twilight.

    Prior, in S.2 Ep.26, Shining Armour’s protection spell appeared to be some sort of shell; anything that gets in, is home free, but there is no problem maintaining it night and day while going about normally. Princess Cadence’s shield appeared to be closer to some sort of field, so would require much more power to fill, not just cover, a similar volume with evil-repulsing effect. So its not surprising PC got a little tired in “The Crystal Empire” after SA’s spell was countered. A field effect would allow her to protect herself while casting over a large area alone. That this plot device makes sense, can only be an accident.

    The rest of the story really didn’t. If Luna couldn’t go, why not send Royal Guards to help scout? Celestia risked her Guard Captain, the Mane 5, Cadence and the welfare of Equestria to stage another success for Twilight. Do prophesies other than self-fulfilling ones even work like that? S.2, Ep 25-26 “A Canterlot Wedding” was annoying with its allusions to terror threats; cuteifying a ‘hearts and minds’ mission is closer to obscene for a little kid’s show.

    Classic save-the-world adventure fantasy usually reduces heroes and nations to actors serving good, evil, and neutral ideals, for epic battles for supremacy. Heroes learn about themselves and life as they succeed at tasks not spoonfed from above. Not heroes and ideals to the service of the state. Again, the selfish inversion of the universal to the tribal in the service of the petty. Suddenly, Celestia is reduced in grandeur to a petty monarch, not the sun deity of a world.

    Twilight reads a lot of books; why couldn’t she go questing for the Crystal Empire and discover it on her own? Why go so far out of the way to stage a “Hearts and Minds” mission with Twilight and the Mane 5 as comrade heroes of the state? Who ever heard of a field test that’s a vital make-or-break national assignment?

    When we return to the Crystal Empire for the “Equestria Girls” movie, we see differently coloured guards appear; all-purple Crystal Empire guards, still all male, and one token orange coloured guard named Flash Sentry. A gray Royal Guard was seen patrolling; part of an advisor force to the Crystal Empire’s new Canterlot-sponsored army? Why do they even need so many guards when they have the Crystal Heart? The guards can’t even stop simple theft now.

    The end moral of “HSA Cointel Ponies” was scrambled. Twilight is implied to have failed because she didn’t personally deliver the crystal heart. She gets a pass because she didn’t place personal ambition ahead of the mission. Yet she recovered the heart, saw to its safest and surest delivery, and won over the Crystal Ponies. Where did Twilight fail? Only in Celestia’s precise instructions that Twilight alone assist Cadence and Shining Armour. If she had gambled for glory and won, then even with her friends harmed, Twilight would have passed by Celestia’s rules.

    What exactly is the writing team about with contradictory ‘morals of the story’ like these in a story whose moral raison d’etre is suspect? As art of its time, MLP:FIM is very telling, but its not innocent children’s TV in the least.

    • WolfArmor says:

      My last reply appears to have been moderated out of existence, so with apologies to Ms. Blog I’ll try again with 100% less anger and a lot less sarcasm.

      AT, if all that you argue is true, then just what is “Innocent children’s television”? Barney? Tele-tubbies? Sesame Street? Every one of them has their own set of biases and problems if you look deep enough, so I guess that just leaves turning the TV off and isolating the child from ALL written works, since each one carries the bias of the writers. I’m willing to bet that no matter someone produces, someone else can come along and take everything in it and find a way to cram some theory around it to the point where it is no longer recognizable. Which, incidentally, is exactly what you appear to be doing, intentional or not.

      According all of your arguments and theory thumping, there is no such thing as “Innocent children’s television” because the people producing it have a hidden agenda, whether it is ‘whitism’(yes, I did read a summary of the concept. Frankly you’ll have an easier time selling manure to a bull than convincing a majority that it isn’t an attempt at reverse-elitism) or misogyny or militarism and it is all deliberate propaganda to keep certain groups subjugated.

      Are there flaws in the story? Yes, but find me one story that has no flaws. Could things have been done better? Yes. Can anyone write a story that is entertaining, completely non-biased and will actually be enjoyed by the population at large? About as likely as a meteors hitting the street and spelling out the next set of winning lottery numbers. Is it a deliberate attempt to rot the minds of young children with propaganda? No.

      You appear to be highly intelligent, AT, but I really think you are wasting your time attacking this show when there are much better targets for your wrath. Not to mention alienating people by deliberately misconstruing their statements and casually insulting their intelligence. All that ever does is solidify that person against your cause, no matter how just it is.

      • People have already tuned out of television because they don’t like what is presented and how it is presented for them, let alone their kids. Criticizing MLP does not require misrepresenting it; its patently obvious under the right light and die-hard fans would always be feel insulted, alienated, and hostile to any criticism they couldn’t smother down on the first go.

        Your arguments consistently use reductio ad absudum and a ‘just folks’ writing style. That belies no small level of intelligence on your part in defense of the neo status quo.

        Examining MLP content for antisocial messages is easy since the show declares itself to be about the ‘magic of friendship’ and adopts virtuous psychological archtypes – stereotyped ideals and values – as its own. Bias of writers will always be present – but what is the bias and how honestly is that bias presented? I never said all bias was bad, only that the hidden whiteness agenda was bad.

        One would expect children’s televison to be consistently true to the face-value package and not play agenda games. Mr. Dressup didn’t, nor did Mr. Rogers; both were ‘innocent children’s television’; real TV shows where all children young and old had the right to be treated with universal honesty, dignity and respect. Genuine compassion, critical thinking, and imagination weren’t a problem. The bottom line wasn’t selling kitsch and propaganda.

        For those who grew up after 1984, when television advertising restrictions for children were lifted, and Hasbro’s 22 minute commercials-as-television became possible, things are clearly a bit different. At the time,` deregulation opponents did have concerns that so much advertising at children would ‘rot their minds’. They weren’t necessarily mistaken; the minds are intact but not the animating emotions.

        Sentimentality and consumer self-gratification are taken away from television that thinks for and feels at the child, not with the child in the expected contract of respect. The power of illusion is far more easily abused now. Whiteness theory, insiderism, and elitism all contrast against honesty, generosity, kindness, mirth, loyalty, love and charisma. Unlike the usual telecommercial, MLP fantasy can be compared to reality using the archtypes and ideals it claims to master.

        G.I. Joe is more honest than MLP:FIM in that viewers expect militarist values and get just that. Stealthily repackaging them ‘soft’ in pony cuteness because hard militarism isn’t as popular with a more war-wise audience, isn’t honest and innocent even by the standards of a telecommercial.

        Reverse elitism has already been examined when matriarchy was explained as being the opposite of patriarchy; envy of patriarchal power and desire to replace it is obvious. Whiteness theory is about deconstructing power, creating a space for the objective absence of privilege affectations over inherent merit; a form of anti-elitism.

        These posts aren’t aimed at changing the show’s fans; they are what they are and like good little insiders will cover for their friend MLP:FIM no matter what. Hasbro marketers probably even seeded the community with paid shills to control the buzz. Brony types aren’t what they like to claim; sensitive, sure; but not in a compassionate and pro-woman way; maturity stops at self-indulgent empathy at best and deliberately thinks no further.

        Its unfortunate its not a waste of time critiquing the show; its an example of how humanitarian types lose the popular ‘clash of cultures’ war at home, holding the ivory tower in books, magazines and documentaries but losing the streets via the televisions in their homes.

        • AT, Shills? Seriously? How do we know you aren’t a shill for Mattel? Ridiculous, right? Except you seem to have a huge ax to grind and tend to ignore or explain away your detractors and assume that they are pushing an agenda much more sinister than selling toys, getting ratings and get some values in on the side. Of course, you’ll immediately say that the values are subverted by racism, ‘whiteness’, sexism and whatever other -ism you can come up with.

          You also claim to know what bronies are really like, but it is demonstrated from your writing that you get all your information about them from a narrow selection of articles that tend towards, or are 100% negative. Yes, I’m aware that there have been some issues, but the few do not define the majority.

          You claim we are not compassionate, and yet we are in the middle of a blood drive, set up and operate a charity; and that doesn’t include all the volunteering by smaller groups of friends. For example, my friends and I have taken blankets and food to a local shelter and have plans to volunteer at a kitchen in the near future. Are these not compassionate activities?

          You claim we are not pro-woman… Care to define your version of pro-woman? Because if it is treating all women as equals, no problem, been doing that for years. If it involves setting up special status for women and/or deferring to women in all things, no dice. Equal treatment means equal treatment in my book. No-one deserves special status, since in my opinion that is contrary to the equal protection clause. It is up to the individual to excel.

          On the ‘whiteness’ theory, you do realize that simply by naming it that way, it is self destructing? It encourages racism against whites by implying that all whites are engaged in a conspiracy to belittle and disenfranchise other races. Which, in and of itself, defeats the purpose of the meritocracy that is the goal.

          You say all you have to do is shine the right light on it, and I’m saying you are holding filters up to the spotlight that have your preconceptions printed on them so they splash across the stage like some grotesque shadow puppet that distorts what is being looked at.

          As for innocent TV, I’ve never heard of Mr Dressup, but I remember Mr Rogers and regret not listing his show as a good example… Of course I stopped watching him back in 1979 so it’s no real surprise that he slipped my mind. Then again, the Neighborhood of Make-believe was ruled by a king and had a complete royal family. Any fiction that describes a population that uses even a semi-medieval form of governance is going to have elitism. After all, titles of nobility scream elitism regardless of how much separation between reality and make-believe is shown in the show. Dang, there goes the purity of Mr Rogers.

          • You know, marketing techniques in fan community development and management aren’t some big secret. One can either believe the Brony movement was truly spontaneous, or the buzz had a little help here and there.

            While I’m not a huge fan of Barbie, she was called out decades ago. Besides, Hasbro’s big problem now is Disney, with whom they are on the short end of takeover talks.

            Volunteering to band-aid some of the social problems whiteness attitudes ultimately create is very heartwarming indeed. Its always just business, never the fundamental flaws in the model of doing business and the attitudes driving them. One could certainly say poverty predates whiteness, but banksterism is high insiderism.

            Dropping the conspiracy meme? That’s funny. Lets run with it. Its great that some Brony clans organize so charitably like Masons, Elks, Daughters of the Eastern Star or some other exclusive society of friends who also happen to be businesspeople. Wait, didn’t Sweetie Bell get the idea to form a ‘secret society’ in S.1, Ep.12 “Call of the Cutie”? Isn’t that a very advanced concept for preteen girls who might not understand horse-pulled trains?

            On a more serious note, only a few Brony types ever called the racism of “Over a Barrel” and those who couldn’t be ignored were hammered with posts far more intense than the ones allowed on this blog till they backed off. Don’t think any amount of band-aid charity stunts excuses being blind to root causes and destructive acts directed towards those who won’t stay blind. Compassion isn’t stunts; its everyday living.

            Whiteness is called whiteness because it was invented by whites for whites during American colonization to insure whites would never find common ground with non-white indigenous peoples and rebel against the colonial European ruling class. In exchange for the promise of upward social mobility whites received preferential socio-economic treatment enshrined in law and it took centuries for non-whites to gain full citizen’s rights.

            The word ‘whiteness’ is appropriate. The only problem with whiteness detractors have, is calling it.

            Making an observation of whiteness does not equate racism towards whites because the trigger is not the racial appearance but the attitude problem of entitlement such as demonstrated by the ponies towards bison in “Over a Barrel”. Its an obvious problem that Aboriginal ownership and need of their own land is denied in such an underhanded way. If it encourages racism against the racially white, the solution is not to deny the phenomenon or change the word but defend and reiterate the correct definition of discursive whiteness.

            Cough… King Friday’s Neighborhood of Make Believe? So instead of reductio ad absurdum to try and score a point while missing the point or evading it, you go with overgeneralization.

          • Addressing what is pro-woman boils down to being genuinely pro feminist and pro social, and these are complimentary and interchangeable in the contexts I’ve been using.

            Being pro feminist means being genuinely concerned with the advancement of women as peers and equals to men for opportunities for social status, authority, economic security, quality of life and participation in society. For example, being informed and able to identify and oppose barriers of thought and institutions of privilege that deny gender equity. Whether chairperson of the board or stay at home parent, its simply reasonable and desirable to have the best people at a job, who want to be there. Not someone who is only better at jockeying for position using off-the-radar advantages.

            Being pro woman means not blaming the victim – blaming women for their position and choices made, but also not indulging victimhood. Some women’s survival strategies advantage patriarchy. For example, some women may take exception to matriarchy being called out. However, its contradictory to the goals of gender equality and can decisively benefit patriarchy when a few women advantage themselves in symbiosis with patriarchy at the expense of feminism.

            Being prosocial means upholding agreeable standards of altruism and reciprocity for the benefit of others and society as a whole. Its not predicated upon rewarding oneself or one’s immediate peer group, but on achieving an objective greater good. For example, Brony charity is fine, people need help, and working together on a positive common goal can be rewarding. But is further appreciation and recognition some sort of demand from recipients and observers? Doing real social work is very stressful because external reward is simply not consistently going to happen, while understanding the root causes but not being able to address them because of inertia and ignorance is very frustrating.

            Prosocial behavior is also an aesthetic quality; laddettes are female lads, for example, but its not necessarily a glowing triumph of gender equality to fail with the lads.

  16. Mystery MLP Fan says:

    I have found subtle sexism in this show. Albeit, it probably isn’t the sexism Kathleen Richter thought of.

    I see a bit of anti-male sexism in this show. Only 3 male characters are positive characters; Spike the Dragon, Shining Armor, and Big McIntosh. All other male characters are either portrayed as annoying pukes (Snips and Snails) or as background characters (Braeburn and Thunderlane). Like it, or not, sexism does go both ways.

    I’m sure it wasn’t Lauren Faust’s intention.

    • Ms. Faust, my hat’s off to you for the strong influence you’ve made. The fact that some of your detractors even take the time to watch the show, even much more time than those taken by those who appreciate it, says a lot. This is a world where an action can be interpreted as good as well as bad. And you chose to bring something you believe is needed by the world, something that you see missing, despite the negative contexts brought up by your negative critics. You chose to build some things up to set as starting points for the kids; leaving the next step up to them. It’s just sad that there are those who expect everything from you, that there are those who just lie on their couch with some self-righteous quest to look for anything they can interpret as bad in whatever they see on the TV or on their computer monitor or even just out their window, demanding that you and the other creators (and even just the people passing by) spoonfeed them with whatever they themselves see to be missing in this world, never admitting that it’s their own responsibility, that it’s their own opportunity to contribute to the world. You saw something missing, so you chose to build, to contribute, no matter what nitpickers would say. And that for me is the greatest manifestation of your dedication and your sincerity. And for that I am extremely grateful.

    • That sexism is matriarchal straw feminism.

      A lifelong feminist would be concerned with equality with quality; fortunately there are at least no female versions of Snips and Snails. On the other hand Faust did come up with ‘Femme Fatale’ on the “Powerpuff Girls” serial.

      Possibly some combination of stockholm syndrome, her career held hostage by a male-dominated and highly competitive industry, and inability to filter out matriarchy as straw feminism.

  17. Nathan Emerson says:

    Wow. Some people really look deep into things,a lot deeper that a young girl probably would. Anyways, great defense Faust. I am confused on how people relate racism with the buffalos and ponies. There wasn’t any racism that I saw. The two groups could have been any mix of any of the races, and the outcome would have been the same.

  18. Troll Hunter 60000 says:

    ….You do realize they’re all basically using an argument generator to say all of this stuff and just plugging specifics into the blanks provided..right?

  19. I love MLP. And I try to be tolerant. But boy … some of the comments on this page, well, it’s just another case of ‘there’s another lot I’m glad I’m not in any form of relationship with; what a bunch of freakin’ fruitcakes’. Analyzing what’s wrong with society by perceived deliberate slights and scenarios in a kid’s cartoon? To the depths you go? I’d write further, but my experience over the years has been it’s impossible to have any form of rational discourse with some people. I think Lauren’s amazing and the show is wonderful. If you don’t … look at it as an example of the exercise of free speech, and go and produce one yourself that you think better meets society’s needs.

    • An interesting take on rational discourse and free speech.

      One wonders why the star of MLP:FIM, Twilight Sparkle, a pony who is supposed to be smart and well-read, inspires so little real-life respect for deep critical thinking about interesting things.

      S1, Ep.15 “Feeling Pinky Keen” where Twilight botches the scientific method trying to prove she’s right rather than document the truth, and is hammered into accepting Pinkie Sense on faith value, was only one episode.

      • Charckles says:

        Well, look at that!!! Feeling Pinky Keen has been criticized by the fans for it, and is not considered canon.

    • Christine S. says:

      High five!

    • Christine S. says:

      High five to Chrissie, that is.

  20. @ Stardust

    Hasbro sells G.I. Joe war toys; they know the mil component of the mil-intel complex quite well. Now they seem to be dabbling in the intel. Two books, ‘Tourists of History’, by Marita Sturken and “End of Victory Culture’, by Tom Englehardt might help you understand the problem My Little Pony presents to Western culture. If you have time for egghead stuff like that.

    Hasbro/DHX spends millions researching their demographic and producing MLP:FIM for it. Its not a waste of time to explore what that investment is all about.

    The whole point of my posts were to help people see MLP’s promotion of stealth racism – discursive whiteness, and warped values – insiderism and elitism, and give them a fair chance to detect these elements as they watch MLP:FIM. Sociopathy is too deceptively packaged in cute little anthropomorphic ponies and song not historically associated with selling mil-intel culture; most wouldn’t have a fair chance otherwise even if they were against racism and elitism.

    People may get upset at Hasbro/DHX’ deception being called, but the alternative is blind-eye bystanding as viewers internalize dangerous levels of manufactured moral ignorance and join a sociopathic and alienated society caring only for its self-gratification. All the while thinking they are prosocial and pro-feminst sociopathic because they love My Little Pony whatever else they do.

    Think for yourself what freindship, loyalty, kindness, generousity, honesty, charisma and love really mean and see where the show digresses. Understand. Disagreement is fine, but not when its based on willful ignorance and denial of evidence before one’s eyes

    There’s a world of aesthetic difference in the early ‘agenda’ S.1 episode “Dragonshy’ and the ‘poster’ episode “Look Before You Sleep”, and the later somewhat poster episodes S.2, ‘Return of Harmony” 1-2, and agenda episodes S.3, “The Crystal Empire” 1-2. As a package, its all pro authoritarian mil-intel complex propaganda from experts in the trade. To paraphrase Sturken “[the cute pony] is the embodiment of innocence and thus serves to domesticate and humanize America’s militarism…”

    As for women as fighter pilots, there is a website called ‘protectourdefenders’ that addresses severe and persistent problems of sexual abuse in the military being systematically ignored, like its part of the hazing process, except it never stops for women and some men. The military has its strong points, like respect for meritocratic values, but also adheres to its own brand of elitism and insiderism.

    The air force has been in the news over its treatment of women. If its worth it for a women to risk or even join in bullying, sexual hazing and worse just to fly a fighter jet, that’s almost understandable, because its a really cool thing to fly those machines. However, its hardly sexist to view such hurdles as unacceptable and unrealistic.

    Militarism, insiderism, and elitism are poisoning the West and taking the rest of the world along for the ride. MLP is a small but shiny and cute cog in the machine.

  21. Christine S. says:

    I’m 20 years old. I adore your show, and was introduced to it by my 23 year-old fiance. I had no clue why a guy would want to watch a children’s show targeted at a female audience. Then I watched it. I’m glad that there is someone out there trying to change the type of media that young girls are exposed to. I’ve always been concerned with the kind of, to put it bluntly, crap that young girls are exposed to, the constant barrage of perfect characters that many find impossible to live up to. Seeing a large cast of less-than-perfect characters in a show, characters who were concerned with real-life issues, not just the tragic incidence of not knowing what to wear to a party or being ignored by a crush, felt so refreshing. It filled me with hope that, maybe, people would realize that all of those things you said about little girls, and females in general, is true. So, I give you a big thumbs up. I know that many people criticize “My Little Pony” for a hundred different reasons. In my opinion, they are just too afraid to watch it, because then they’ll find that they like it, and that they were wrong to call it just another show for baby girls. Being such a popular show, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to see critics delving far too deep into symbolism. I understand that “My Little Pony” can send some deep messages about life and friendship, but for the love of Celestia, can people please stop over-analyzing every single aspect! Save that for the boring high school english courses. Please keep your paranoia or whatever other agendas out of this amazing show, and leave it for what it is: a brilliant example of the kinds of media that young children should be exposed to.

    • Excuse me, that’s a little misleading.

      Its pretty clear you’re trying to hide behind Faust’s skirts, instead of address the issues. Many of which Faust is not entirely responsible for, if at all. They are Hasbro’s issues and that of the MLP:FIM creative team, post-Faust.

      Faust and Hasbro admitted to engineering a show they hoped would appeal to a broader audience than MLP’s traditional audience – that is, appeal to parents of little girls as well. Many of which happen to be guys. By default guy appeal will include the same guys who enjoy cartoons even without being parents.

      Hasbro and Faust were very pleased that they succeeded in increasing MLP’s market reach, and see plastic ponies achieve ‘action figure’ status. However, MLP:FIM no longer appears to reflect Faust’s intentions, and as far as she could, she alluded to unspecified creative differences with Hasbro. Faust was gone by the end of Season One as a core player, and probably a lame duck well before that.

      The show is very a useful must-watch for deconstructing cultural cues from a sociopathic society steeped in commercialism, racism and sexism, needing emotional connection and seeking it via a shared media experience.

      As long as parents can explain to kids the postmodern racism in “Over a Barrel”, then it becomes a powerful teaching tool against racism. As long as parents can explain to kids that its wrong to fake problems to solve to look good, as in S.2, Ep.3, “Lesson Zero”, that episode becomes a teaching tool… with some effort. Some episodes, such as S.3, Ep. 1-2, “The Crystal Empire” are difficult to explain as wrong to kids because a ‘hearts and minds ‘ mission is a complex abuse of friendships and there were many more problems crammed into the episodes.

      That’s a lot of extra work that shouldn’t be there in the first place, given that some people won’t have the knowledge or skills to deconstruct the off-messages and find the words for the feelings and ideas, or worse, totally agree with them.

      Flawed characters coping with and overcoming their flaws are great exemplars up to a point, and that point is reached when they are unapologetic racists and liars whose flaws are no longer flaws but acceptable and cheered-for quirks.

      Faust’s full position on “Over a Barrel” is not known and sealed by non-disclosure agreements. All she said is that they gave it to some aboriginal consultant and made the suggested changes. Which makes one wonder how bad the original version was. However, there is the horse-drawn train. That was her idea, it was witty and historically accurate, and the suits decided it was too complicated for kids and added back the engine, making the idea (and by its extension its originator) look kind of dumb as a result. Faust isn’t looking like the powerful J.J. Abrams figure of the pony world.

      Every cutie mark is supposed to be unique, but many are recycled. Every background pony should be unique, but is recycled, the same pony even appearing with different voices. DHX is even proud of this impersonal process. Would a real producer with undivided attention and full powers have noticed and cracked the whip on reducing dehumanizing cues if the director did not? Idealism aside, its also the best and easiest way to develop new characters viewers already are connected to. That gives the show a more tangible and imaginative pseudohistory to sell instead of making backstory up from scratch every show.

      There have been a lot of brilliant artworks, glowing reviews and imaginative fan stories inspired by MLP:FIM, no few better than the real show, that wouldn’t be criticized that as overthinking. Naturally, because MLP:FIM defenders don’t care about overthinking so much as controlling and censoring what is thought about their show, and by extension, themselves. Their emotional investment, even emotional dependency, on characters who don’t really exist made by people they don’t even know comes first.

      Too many fans are excusing things most would not normally let pass, ethically. They become not only indistinguishable from changelings who are racist and sexist, but act in total voluntary allegiance.

      MLP:FIM is just another tool of patriarchy now, like it was intended to be from the start when Faust had her doubts. G.I. Joe couldn’t do the mission anymore, so its up to the girl ponies.

      Also, this would be basic high school social studies, not english.

  22. AT, I did nothing more than what you have done, found a single detail that can be considered negative and expanded on it well past any possible intention of the original creator of the show. Applied real world ethics and mores to a fictional realm for children. Sound familiar yet? Nice of you to show your hypocrisy by dismissing my statement as over-generalization.

    I also just love the fact that you think that charity efforts are “just business” and a social “band-aid” because we aren’t revolting against the powers that be. Like that puts blood back into the veins of someone that is dying or feeds someone who is hungry. Oh, and our “secret society” charity? Not very secret with full financial disclosures and having jumped through all the hoops required to achieve federal tax exempt status. No special initiations or dubious rites here, just trying to do good things.

    I brought up the conspiracy meme? You have been doing almost nothing but saying that MLP is a white patriarchal conspiracy with heavy doses of militarism and racism deliberately created to keep the powers that be stable.

    I’ve been looking back at some of the past comments and I noticed that starting at a certain point, you hopped onto any positive comment and proceeded to browbeat the commenter into submission. And when one dares to stand up to you, berate you, or even engage in civilized debate, you play the racism, sexism and smart shaming cards.

    I’m sorry, but your hypocrisy destroys your credibility.

    • You just pulled the smart-shaming card again with another groundless attack on credibility. How exactly does one respond to Brony-type denial of an argument on unreasonable grounds? Agreeing to disagree isn’t the answer, because it elevates a flawed position to a level of credibility it does not have. Such ever more patronizing ad hominems and strawmen baits retaliation in kind, but the facts speak more clearly.

      Rarely have you been able to consistently draw upon facts from the TV show or real life to support your positions, and none that can’t be refuted. Where is the credibility in dismissing actual evidence of racism, sexism, and smart-shaming as ‘cards’ instead of explaining, clearly, why the evidence is not interpretable as racism and sexism and on and on? Why would one consider charity work as a ‘compassionate’ tradeoff for willful non-awareness of systemic racism, sexism and elitism that contributes to the need for charity in the first place?

      Your constituency is cleverly unreasonable, understands exactly what I’m saying and why, and defaulted to the only possible defense of attacking the messenger when the core message is irrefutable. The only thing you seem concerned with is dismissing my claims by any means possible fair or foul, not debate. The only thing thankfully missing here from Brony browbeatings seen elsewhere, are the histrionic insults and threats to cover a failed argument; or rather, reinforce its fail.

      Its like you’re stuck in 1950′s Canterlot, er, I mean Camelot America where the internet and alternative media don’t exist and people can’t be informed.

      I said MLP:FIM is an example of discursive whiteness. Militarism and sexism are integral to this. How is S.3, Ep. 1-2, “The Crystal Empire” not interpretable as a ‘hearts and minds’ mission, and the very concept an affront to the genuine meaning of friendship?

      Their controversial reputation makes Masonry an easily understandable negative example of insiderism everyone can understand, fairly earned or not. Cultish symbolism like the “Eye of Providence” in S.2, Ep.12, “Family Appreciation Day” (at 15:50), Granny Smiths’ memory of Canterlot, a triangle-eye symbol on a background tent) just indicates cultish masonic groups are into discursive whiteness, even though the “Eye of Horus” symbol is not originally theirs. There are Masonic halls, Shriners, Daughters of the Eastern Star, etc., in just about every city and town. Of course, this isn’t about masonry, its about abuses of insiderism, but its interesting that Bronyism appears to have links with and mimic esoteric groups.

      The all-seeing eye is not supposed to be the NSA, but a reminder that all ones thoughts and acts are seen by a good and just God. Friendship as ‘insiderism’ was one of my arguments against MLP:FIM. Like the aphorism “Friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies”, insiderism is friendship taken too far and not really friendship anymore.

      You never really addressed the asocial values of insiderism; just defaulted to another ad homenim-strawman attack on myself. You have no argument against my arguments, just except empty attacks my credibility. No defense except to encourage closed-mindedness, no tactic except to appeal to the bigotry of your constituency as ‘the way things are and should be and we all agree facts notwithstanding’.

      The ‘conspiracy meme’ discourages critical thought whenever a real organized social movement tries something underhanded. Like how the bankster lobby was just a figment of cranks, until 2008 when the system collapsed. Like how today, many key architects of the financial collapse remain not only unpunished, but in the same position of authority they held before – as the US Securities and Exchange Commission avoids pressing charges and waits for the statute of limitations to time out. Seems like they have friends covering for them. People should oppose cover-ass irresponsibility. Even if they can do nothing immediately themselves, shilling for the behavior instead of acknowledging its wrong, is wrong.

      Covering for MLP’s racism and sexism is wrong. If someone says MLP:FIM is racist and sexist, and presents a good argument for this, the response is not to blow empty rhetorical smoke like you’re doing.

      S. 1, Ep. 21, “Over a Barrel” had racist and sexist elements, and you never explained why you believed those elements weren’t interpretable as racist. Of course, its not even possible to argue the racist symbolism. Its not an expansion of ‘creator’s intent’; the intent is quite clear; to put a happy face on America’s core war myth. The Indian Wars. Celebrating its universal appeal as the core attitude of imperialism in a deceitful way, and pretend it all worked out for the best for everyone, and any naysayers who think there’s a better way are annoying nags. Did Hasbro do it on purpose or did it just feel right as they constructed it? No matter, as the end attitude is the same.

      Do you really not know historian John Toland wrote that Hitler modeled his concentration camp system after America’s Indian reservations? Does it matter since you don’t care about the root issues or the ultimate application of whiteness – of not caring about the fundamental right to dignity of fellow human beings who might be among the not-white-enugh? I can back my arguments with discrete and relevant facts; all you have is empty words backed with patronizing attitude devoid of meaningful facts.

      Are you aware of the “Garden of Truth” report on the exploitation of aboriginal women and how sexist and colonialist attitudes are a part of this? Those women aren’t exactly willing and well-paid participants of the entertainment industry; they appear to populate missing person’s lists. Does it matter since you don’t care about the root issues, the ultimate implications of applied whiteness – of not caring about the fundamental right to dignity of fellow human beings? I can back my arguments with discrete and relevant facts; all you have is empty words backed with patronizing attitude devoid of meaningful facts.

      No, all you can do is deny real reasons for shame as mere cards to be played. Worse – deny any need to be aware and when possible act to mitigate harm.

      You have no idea or concern for the root causes for poverty and need for systemic reforms. Quite the contrary, rather than be aware of a need to ensure fair wages and keeping jobs in the country, you’d seem much happier to have charity to perform. The problem of offshored jobs (and conditions of offshore workers), paying fair wages, creating more secure jobs at home instead of downsizing and part-timing them, all so there is far less need for charity and people can support themselves and each other with dignity, are total non-factors in your argument. It characterizes simply being aware as an act of revolution. Hopefully whatever charity you do vets for “worthless drug addicts”, as one would hate for all that good will to be wasted.

      There is racism and sexism in MLP:FIM “Over A Barrel”, its attitude of discursive whiteness in very clear. You’ve invited the argument to go everywhere but there, yet everywhere that’s led, leads to more evidence of sociopathic insiderism, which MLP:FIM celebrates with witty sentimentality in more than a few episodes.

      Nothing you’ve said changes this. Its one thing to be ignorant of a few facts, entirely different to embrace a bad attitude and its baggage as somehow good.

      I’ve answered your questions and invitations to stray from the core argument. Your constituency has never had a counter except for irrelevant and false personal attacks that always avoid answering the problem. Furthermore, away from MS. Mag, those personal attacks are quite intense and completely pysycho, but such extremism is ‘accepted’ by the majority of the fandom as just part of the fandom.

      Racism and sexism does exist in MLP:FIM and it exists as discursive whiteness, promoting whiteness attitude and outlook as cute and adorable and magically thinking the antisocial to be prosocial.

      Carl Sagan’s “baloney detection’ toolkit is a very useful resource if you want to check out what anyone says – or leaves out saying – about anything. A section of that toolkit covers the rhetorical fallacies you employ, like the ‘excluded middle’ argumentation by which you sidestep racism and sexism evidence, and ad hominem, by which you attack my credibility, and strawman, by which you characterize my actions to misrepresent my argument as hypocritical, and appeal to ignorance generally, seeking to restore the invisibility of whiteness.

  23. CharlieUnicorn says:

    There’s plenty of problems with the OTB episode, the main and foremost being pitching an ethnic group as a separate species and second, mimicking (parodying?) an RL historical context, and the rest is trainweck. Yet, dissecting this in minute detail and write essay-like texts is beyond silly when the answer is clear in sight. It’s just bad writing, which now and then ruin episodes in an otherwise entertaining show.

    Bear in mind, show executives and creative teams aren’t sociology majors trying to move society forward. They are trying to sell a show (and the associated line of toys). It’s true that MLP does try to be something more than that in avoiding the clichés of other “girl shows” and does it pretty well most of the time. The bottom line is that this is also a selling point. They have stumbled on a giant audience who wants this, and now they need to figure out how to keep the majority happy, and sell for as long as it’s possible.

    It’s not a bad thing per se, unless we’re to relate it to the problem with the entire commercial entertainment industry, in which case we might aswell throw out the TV (as suggested in a previous comment). An easier suggestion would be to actually be involved with your child as a proper parent.

    If we take extreme stances, like on the one side the fanatic brony who considers this show to be a social revolution empowering women everywhere (leave Twilight Sparkle to teach your child morals!) and on the other side, someone who sees this show as a devious propaganda device for enforcing the patriarchy through subliminal programming then well, you’re missing all the obvious explanations as navel gazers do.

    Also, it isn’t really fair to insult a fanbase and it’s multitude of individuals. There was a brony outcry regarding the movie which broke the spell and put the characters in skinny sexualized human forms, and thus in a context where women are valued firstly in relation to men (my, my how chauvinistic of them). I don’t care to flesh out all examples I’ve found of good and bad brony fan reactions, but my point is that good ones exist and shouldn’t be overlooked.

    So why did Hasbro make a movie like this?
    “Our marketing experts indicate that drawing the mane 6 as humans is exceedingly popular on the internet. Can we incorporate that in the plot and also sell a new line of figurines”?
    “Oh crap, that was a mixed reception”.

    It’s not much more complicated than this.

    • Ooookay. You read my ‘silly essays’. Real life examples of racism, sexism, and militarism shorn of any pony cuteness were brought up to contrasting defense of MLP:FIM with the more clearly indefensible, to zero effect.

      Racism, sexism, and militarism are either-or propositions; one is either for them or against them. Freedom of speech has been used in their defense, but still first about defending freedom of speech, responsibly preventing greater abuses. Pony cuteness is nowhere in that league and the Indian Wars are not absolved by feeling pony cute about it or the attitude, the meme of self-righteous self-serving entitlement, that enabled the wars.

      So lets look at company line arguments, paragraph by paragraph, from the softer side of Bronydom.

      Quote: “There’s plenty of problems with the OTB episode, the main and foremost being pitching an ethnic group as a separate species and second, mimicking (parodying?) an RL historical context, and the rest is trainweck. Yet, dissecting this in minute detail and write essay-like texts is beyond silly when the answer is clear in sight. It’s just bad writing, which now and then ruin episodes in an otherwise entertaining show.”

      Response: [Fallacy of the missing middle, again. By which I mean, the focus is so wide or so narrow the main point is lost. With a dash of ad hominem smart shaming.

      Presenting a separate species as a racial or ethnic group, and parodying real live historical contexts, are neutral in and of themselves. These can be useful devices for character development and storytelling. How that wasn't done is missing, written off as "bad writing". Ponies as proxies for white people = neutral. Ponies as proxies for whiteness = wrong. Zebras as proxies for black people = neutral. Zebras as negative stereotypes of black people, wrong. Whiteness is a negative stereotype of white people, even if some are too empowered-gangster with it to see it as a negative.

      Racism sexism explained from the context of discursive whiteness frames the problem in clearer contrast for more consistent identification. Similar problems could be avoided in the future, but if not, also makes clearer if racism, sexism and militarism are deliberate or accidental elements.

      Claiming 'bad writing' is an arbitrary, subjective argument not really helpful without details. We share the basic idea that racism and sexism are wrong; however, someone who does not, might consider "Over A Barrel" to be perfectly well written and totally love the double entendre. Those who see only cute ponies and bison, and somehow ignorant of history, still can't see the problem of theft and extortion driving the story and let go, seamlessly hidden in plain view.

      To hit most of the wrong notes that could possibly be hit crammed into 22 minutes of coherent storytelling is very impressive, right down to the contrast of AppleJack's tree-cuddling tree huggery to start, and apple trees cut down instead of moved, at the end.

      To you, this is beyond silly because you don't agree with what I'm saying. Otherwise, its the usual MLP:FIM shop talk, with slightly different points of reference.]

      Quote: “Bear in mind, show executives and creative teams aren’t sociology majors trying to move society forward. They are trying to sell a show (and the associated line of toys). It’s true that MLP does try to be something more than that in avoiding the clichés of other “girl shows” and does it pretty well most of the time. The bottom line is that this is also a selling point. They have stumbled on a giant audience who wants this, and now they need to figure out how to keep the majority happy, and sell for as long as it’s possible.”

      Response: [Well, one would expect them to be socially responsible and at least not regress society. The majority was once sold on the overt racism of blackface routines, but that didn't make it all right. If the majority can be sold on stealth racism, sexism, and militarism, that doesn't make it all right. Even less right is teaching how to be politely and stealthily racist and sexist. Hasbro is abusing the trust of its viewers, including non-white viewers at home and internationally.]

      Quote: “It’s not a bad thing per se, unless we’re to relate it to the problem with the entire commercial entertainment industry, in which case we might as well throw out the TV (as suggested in a previous comment). An easier suggestion would be to actually be involved with your child as a proper parent.”

      Response: [There are a couple of internal contradictions to this position. If television executives and professional creative teams are making transgressions only a 'sociology major' can spot, what chance does the average parent who is not a sociology major have? How then is wishful thinking for every parent to be a proper parent useful when most don't have information and insight to act. Further, anyone trying to provide critical analysis is marginalized as a silly overthinker by the show's annointed go-to fandom. The the prejudices of the entire commercial entertainment industry are very interesting, maybe MLP:FIM shares some of them, but this is about how racism, sexism, and militarism have no place in a childrens show based on archetypes of freindship, except perhaps as negative examples.]

      Quote: “If we take extreme stances, like on the one side the fanatic brony who considers this show to be a social revolution empowering women everywhere (leave Twilight Sparkle to teach your child morals!) and on the other side, someone who sees this show as a devious propaganda device for enforcing the patriarchy through subliminal programming then well, you’re missing all the obvious explanations as navel gazers do.”

      Response: [Things like 'bad writing' may be obvious, and just as obvious, that doesn't say anything because it doesn't explain why the writing is bad any more than your other 'obvious explanations'. I said two things, racism and sexism are present in the show, and second, this can be clearly explained with whiteness theory. From this, I made the conclusion that educated, skilled, trained entertainment industry professionals were deliberately promoting these elements. They didn't see anything wrong with asocial values presented a certain way, and realism suggests some may not see anything wrong with them at all, just like some in the audience may not.

      Viewing television as propaganda isn't extreme. As you certainly agree, its trying to sell stuff; products and ideas, some more honest and worthwhile than others. The best marketing is also often devious; even when the product is wholly honest, some trick to attract positive attention and stand out from rivals is fair play. What makes 'devious' good, baaad, or just plain uncool wrong is the art and science of marketing and human moral intelligence.]

      Quote: “Also, it isn’t really fair to insult a fanbase and it’s multitude of individuals. There was a brony outcry regarding the movie which broke the spell and put the characters in skinny sexualized human forms, and thus in a context where women are valued firstly in relation to men (my, my how chauvinistic of them). I don’t care to flesh out all examples I’ve found of good and bad brony fan reactions, but my point is that good ones exist and shouldn’t be overlooked.”

      Response: [Bronyism is essentially synonymous with whiteness. Criticizing Bronyism is not criticizing the fanbase, many of whom deliberately identify as NOT Bronies. Criticizing individual bronies as typical representatives of Bronydom is fair go insofar as they are keepers of its whiteness. No brony successfully led a mass reaction against "Over A Barrel"; there was none to be had. Protecting the product and good feelings associated with it becomes indistinguishable from support for discursive whiteness and shilling for Hasbro by the anointed and named Brony fanbase.

      One can't overlook a Brony pharisee like WolfArmor and his amoral methods of defending sexism, racism, and militarism. He couldn't keep the feral excitement out of his gloat as he denounced me as a hypocrite. Reducing debate to a cheap game of scoring and winning, one fallacy after another was imposed. For all his talk of 'civilized debate', by the rules of formal debate, assuming a triumphant conclusion with an ad hominem fallacy is a bizarre admission of defeat, something his rhetorical skills demonstrate he should understand. He also understood name calling is a bigger score because argumentum ad populum can relies on emotional impressions alone to appear to win.

      The core arguments of racism, sexism, and militarism in MLP:FIM never more clearly stood undefeated and without rebuttal, needing no further comment, right there. Yet, who would notice except those who understand real debate.

      That exchange was stereotypical (minus the overt swearing and death threats) of the hard sell awaiting those who reject being smothered with smarmy love and presumptive tolerance. One may as well have been criticizing a cult in its compound. One cannot overlook that Bronies not only ignore, but deny or absolve racism and sexism while often espousing to come from higher ideals and motivations, and they are not doing so as individuals, but as Bronies.

      I'm not denying good fans exist - many of my observations were also made by people who otherwise enjoy the show and may even consider themselves Bronies. I'm not saying individual non-Bronies are always faultless. I am saying bronyism is incapable of cleaning up its act and avoid being defined by the lowest common denominator. Even your own soft sell won't even mention racism, sexism, and militarism out loud and seeks to digress elsewhere, such as the Equestria Girls movie.

      Quote: "So why did Hasbro make a movie like this? “Our marketing experts indicate that drawing the mane 6 as humans is exceedingly popular on the internet. Can we incorporate that in the plot and also sell a new line of figurines”? “Oh crap, that was a mixed reception”.

      Response: [I'm not sure that one hour and thirteen minutes qualifies as a 'movie'.

      Without access to Hasbro's confidential marketing documents and off-record conversations of key decision makers, its still obvious "Equestria Girls" happily returned portrayal of girls to being patriarchy's kind of girl, but the humanform appearance of the Mane 6 isn't the core problem; more like another diversion fallacy since its the most obvious.

      There's really no way to humanform the Mane 6 without so-called sexualizing; human teenage girls have some clear characteristics that can subjectively be overplayed or not. Issues of body size and shape also apply to men. The storyrunner even made a laddette-lite comment on Twitter regarding humanform Flash Sentry A.K.A. (to her) "Dreamy cutebottom".

      Assessing EG requires looking at what they left out as much as what they included; for example, 'lazy' Thunderwing (S.2, Ep. 22 "Hurricane Fluttershy) did not have a humanform doppleganger and no putatively black humans exist at all in this alternate world where people don't care if your skin is purple. (Notice the retro joke; "I'm not racist I don't care if your skin is purple... but..." reference.)

      The sexism wasn't in that the humanform Mane 6 were concerned with fashion and boys either. That last bit is almost a remix of S.1, Ep. 26 "The Best Night Ever". Sexism was far more subtle. The boys do all the cool stuff in the background while girls admire them. The hackey-sack eco guy, and drama guy in Twilights "This Strange World" song, (about "sorting the small details of a strange new world", so don't slag me for being subliminally suggestable and noticing small details), athletes and rocker guys in the first cafeteria scene, and techie guy in the hallway after Twilight finishes talking with Pinkie Pie.

      Its potentially sexist both ways as opposed to genders sharing full participation in their activities. Pontentially, because, the traditional gender depictions are not right and wrong in and of themselves. Innocuous role options are only wrong if enforced against will, merit, and need. Was there a need here? The obvious subtle enforcement of postmodern patriarchy parodies the lite matriarchy of the main pony show. The overall effect from the show to the movie says, "sexism was OK if it's done right".

      To just dismiss this as a few problems with bad writing, is to ignore that its good writing and presentation, even perfect, from a certain point of view.

      To replace the missing middle, Lauren Faust's feminism, which oversaw the show's initial look, voice and charisma - and therefore popularity, was clearly not heeded to move forward. Quite the opposite; the writers proved they could progressively move away from the original feminist-friendly production bible as long as they kept up a few strategic appearances. Faust devised creative compromises around Hasbro's censors and permitted some from the creative team, to get things done. Hasbro/DHS then exploited them to their full whiteness advantage.

      Why would Hasbro marketing be surprised that some bronies were honest enough to be upset at "Equestria Girls" and the loss of another fig-leaf? After all, all that matters to Hasbro community management is that enough consumers still call themselves Bronies - how much self-respect they have in doing so is not Hasbro's problem.

      An early poster here said Pinkie Pie's awful 'caring and sharing' song was just mocking straw liberals, not real liberals. The joke's on her, and I should have explained better. A joke has the anatomy of setup, punchline, and optionally, tagline. The tagline is another punchline based on the main joke. If its especially funny, its called the topper. When the punchline is run with the setup, the topper has to be clear and distinct and arguably required so as to not leave the joke hanging. It never appeared in S.1, Ep. 21, "Over a Barrel". Pinkie Pie interrupting the wipe to credits with "That's what I said", doesn't count because she never said anything tangibly useful in a useful way, for all MLP:FIM's usually snappy and positive delivery.

      To compare, in PowerPuff Girls, S.3, Ep. 12, "Equal Fights", Femme Fatale was the straw feminist punchline running concurrently with the setup of stealing Susan B. Anthony dollars. The topper was that Susan B. Anthony was willing to go to jail for breaking the law, Femme Fatale wasn't. However, a joke is more than the sum of its parts; its all about timing and pacing. Patriarchy got all its myths clearly affirmed in 20 minutes of cartoon; the world is post sexist and its silly to protest, feminism is misandric, women can be themselves without it. Nothing could save an extraneous topline crammed into the last minute and forty seconds.

      Are bronies more powerful than the once firstmost fandom ever, the Trekkies and their hardcore adherents to the principle of consistent canon and the enlightened feel of Roddenberrys era? They arguably kept Star Trek a living social phenomenon. They became totally expendable to the new, fascile action-adventure formula. Star Trek's corporate masters could pick and choose which vocal trekkers to reward with attention, choosing the visible leadership of trekdom. Before, trekkie leadership was primarily spontaneous and charismatic, from within, tapping the better outspoken of them. Not those who could pretend to have Universal Studio's official favour. The rewards of pandering were not lost upon the rank and file.

      If one looks at other mass market consumer phenomenon, such as massively multiplayer online RPGs, there's a similar revolving door effect exploited by bottom-feeder fandom community managment. Once the open call to assemble a community is successful, a stable core group of the company's kind of people - fanatics, addicts panderers, and maybe a smattering of the genuinely like-minded who can tolerate the system, emerge and is officially rewarded. Further growth is a merely a bonus of momentum. An outflow of disappointed fans is no big deal because that kind of person isn't inside group material anyway.

      "Equestria Girls" sorts the not-brony-enough the way whiteness culture sorts the not-white-enough, with ever greater leaps of faith. No big loss to the bottom line compared to Hasbro getting what a show flattering their whiteness values while still being profitable.]

      Quote: “It’s not much more complicated than this.”

      Response [No, its not complicated at all. The supply side of supply and demand always has the upper hand in determining what is supplied and what is successfully demanded. Applied real world ethics and mores always been subject to opportunism, that is, the applied defiance of real ethics and mores.

      MLP:FIM is a 22-minute commercial that’s become deliberately dependent on whiteness for appeal. It doesn’t believe in itself enough to do complete seasons as art might demand, let alone what good marketing would for long-term as well as short term profits. Doing business this way is perfectly good to from a different point of view so stingy with everything else.

      Its the art and science of marketing to consumers tainted by human failing; the human being part is as optional as viewers allow it to be. Its often not much of a contest, when the art and science of marketing also influence what people think those standards should be. Its nothing for MLP:FIM to cast alienation, cronyism, insiderism, and nepotism as friendly.

      The core contentions of my argument still stands. Racism, sexism and militarism are part of MLP:FIM through such examples as S.1, Ep. 21, “Over A Barrel”. Its as deliberate as discursive whiteness. Its an expression of elitism with no principled barriers to extremism and supremacism. Enablement is fostered by shrouding or promoting the asocial as prosocial.

      • CharlieUnicorn says:

        I think I should elaborate on the “bad writing” part since it was an over-simplification.
        I belive there is merit to whiteness theory, gender theory, social class theory, economism and plenty more theories which describe social structures. The key of understanding these structures is that most of them work right through us. We live and breathe them, subconciously most of the time, without any vector. Regardless if we like it or not, we return to what we consider normal, which is what we observed growing up.

        Why do you think California based production teams, predominantly white we presume (or with afflicted upbringing), would be any different?

        I don’t see that many faults in your observations in accordance to whiteness theory. It’s your base premise that ‘this is all deliberate’ which throws everything else overboard. I somehow doubt there’s devious master minds who scrutinize every scripted line.

        I have provided a simpler explanation in that most people are simply rehashing what they grew up with. I for one see almost every show, and definately every commercial one, out of the US (I’m from Sweden) as a glorification to economism, outdated gender roles and rampant individualism. It’s fairly obvious to anyone who grew up outside of the US. Is it because a propaganda machine of select few masterminds keep the populace at bay? No, it’s because these ideas are so all-encompassing that people there will rehash them whether they know it or not.

        Even when they try not to. I think MLP:FiM team actually tried, but as is clear from your observations, didn’t succeed very well. They frankly aren’t smart enough to see through it all, and executives, do you honestly believe they care about mindcontrol part from what is required to advertise and sell?
        If you would claim that, then the burden of proof demands alot more than just what you can read out from the show, sorry.

        I do agree however, that the show could have been better if Faust was kept in charge and in full control of where this is going.

        • Since there is merit to the basic arguments, additional arguments can’t throw ‘everything else overboard’; two different things cannot be dismissed as one.

          First, racism, sexism, and militarism as whiteness elitism remains valid even if you believe it wasn’t deliberate. Second, probable deliberate discursive whiteness drawn from more than its frequently appearing elements and themes. Hasbro and function of the American entertainment industry to sell American values as well as its products, and social trends like the conservative ‘rebellion’ against political correctness, were also considered.

          Applying Occam’s Razor – the principle of parsimony, saying your explanation is simpler, is not conclusive. Occam’s Razor is a relic of medieval Christian religious studies; a useful but not reliable indicator of fallacy. One could argue the sun orbits the Earth, because that’s what it looks like, discounting all other more complex astronomical observations. Modern application of Occam’s Razor refers to simplicity of theory, not the complexity of system described by the theory. Your argument essentially says that many people unknowingly harbour bigotry, so it can’t be deliberate. It also appears to imply apparent absence of malice, even at that level, makes it excusable, which it does not. The second argument simply says poorly informed people are taken advantage of to do wrong by conscious, knowledgeable bigots.

          The ‘California’ entertainment industry is Hollywood; America’s propaganda machine. Most MLP:FIM writers and Hasbro execs will have animation and marketing (psychology) college, field mentoring, and cut their teeth doing commercials. They are not your average viewer blindly regurgitating the familiar. Some may be more sensitive, informed, and experienced than others. Hollywood serves America’s internal right vs left culture wars and anything the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, or other such acronymic institution might need. Faust was on the side of feminism. Hasbro catered to straw feminism via bronyism.

          Discursive whiteness can be accidental or deliberate by definition. The volume and quality of whiteness messages, and reactions to criticism, suggests deliberation very much in the style of S.3, Ep. 1-2, “The Crystal Empire”, a hearts and minds mission to sell those values. Deliberate discursive whiteness would not require the collusion of the entire MLP:FIM team; just a few people for whatever reason quietly sympathetic and pushing a whiteness agenda from within the production chain.

          Many people who claim to have no bias, act out unconscious cognitive bias given the right circumstances of non-accountability. For example the ‘mule’ treatment. People normally wouldn’t openly rudely ridicule others. Yet, the mule treatment become a recurring gag in the show. S.1, Ep.4, “Applebuck Season” innocently played on the saying “stubborn as a mule”; no big deal except the mule looked too negatively muleish. Ponies in MLP almost never look horsey in a bad way. Twilight saw her slight and apologized.

          Then it snowballed; S.1, Ep.19, “A Dog and Pony Show” not-so-innocently unapologetically established mules as ugly; that didn’t sound like Rarity. S.2, Ep.21 “Hurricane Fluttershy” established mules as uncool; Rainbow Dash isn’t that mean. S.3, Ep.4, “One Bad Apple” repeated this again, but it was ‘natural’ for Diamond Tiara. The behavior meme was so established as acceptable, its incidental who says it, bully or hero. Was this all deliberately planned? Very unlikely, at first.

          What’s wrong with a cross between a horse and donkey in this otherwise friendly, emotionally supportive fantasy world where species proxy for human races? Deliberation to foster and exploit opportunities for bigoted double entendre throughout the series becomes as apparent as the effort in S.1, Ep. 21 “Over A Barrel”, where the process was constantly paint-by-numbers. Stealth bigotry is not a pattern of behavior people should be normalized to.

          Within S.2, Ep. 22, “Hurricane Fluttershy” there appears to be a response to Richter’s controversy. Pegasus Thunderlane is a darker gray than the Royal Guard grays, and accused of being lazy by RD. Thunderlane turns out to be one of the strongest fliers, but catches the feather flu from the female pony Blossemforth, who is the real cause for trouble. As a final gotcha, TL’s little brother Rumble is a white colt; the only colt at the tornado rally for some reason. Thunderlane appears to joke at liberal annoyance at black stereotypes, then tries to upend them.

          In “Equestria Girls”, Thunderlane has no duplicate, nor does the very popular brown pony, Time Turner (Dr. Whooves). No darkly coloured humans appear, yet caucasian skin tones are frequent in the faux-diversity of Canterlot High. Humanform Big Mcintosh and Flash Sentry don’t have their ponyform colours, but are rosy-white and tanned-white, respectively. Humans are just lighter shades of pony, including Silver Spoon, who is silver-grey. These can only be deliberate, race-conscious decisions. Ex Celestia agent Sunset Shimmer was a hacker, not just a cyberbully; this was underplayed but significant.

          Rebellion against ‘political correctness’ is not without merit. PC obsuficates, abuses, and hijacks genuine values against themselves. However, more often PC is a false flag, code word, and first stage of, rebellion against real humanitarian values as they become internalized and normalized by society. Cumulative actions and results, say more than any placating words like ‘love and tolerance’ and acts of charity.

          The degree to which discursive whiteness is perceived as deliberate versus incidental, depends on how much benefit of the doubt one is willing to give the writing-animating team and Hasbro-DHX. Either way, doing wrong is still doing wrong and one either acknowledges and opposes wrong, or colludes with it. Faust left when creative differences came to a head. She may have been blind to discursive whiteness, but does know her feminism as art.

          Being from Sweden does not set you as greatly apart from North Americans as you might think. Sweden underwent ‘Americanization’ during the 1990s, when Swedish elites were persuaded to dismantle the ‘Model Society’ and institute neoliberal economics. Sweden became part of the EU, and now shares EU concerns over high unemployment and dependency on cheap African resources. At the same time, society is challenged by waves of African immigration, fleeing societies collapsed from colonial era and modern interventions. Perpetual insecurity for all is patriarchal whiteness’ gift to the world.

    • Good Grief.

      Races as separate species wasn’t the problem in “Over A Barrel”, it was the discrete quality of the portrayals and the relationships. Just bad writing? Are you kidding? From a tacit bigot point of view it was perfect.

      Mansplaining racism, sexism, and militarism to defend the show as Bronies do, doesn’t address that at all.

  24. Wow, I came here expecting to re-read an article and came across a full on flame war between two ideologues. On one side we have AT who is holding the show and its creators to an extremely high, possibly unreachable, level, and on the other we have Wolfarmor who looks to me to be more ticked about attitude than anything else and is arguing completely from an emotional level. All over ponies. Really? I knew there were fanatics on both sides but wow… You two are something else.
    I’m not interested in getting pulled into your little war, so I’m going to say my piece and leave you two to continue to try and rip each other to little shreds. Seriously you two, you have gone past the bounds of propriety.
    Wolf, AT has outlined a lot of serious issues. At least face them and come up with something directly related to those points without being a jerk.
    AT, wow, that is a lot of thought you’ve put into this. More than I thought was possible. And a lot of sarcasm… Really, you told Wolf he was incapable of using a search engine and refused to learn. That’s a pretty low blow, isn’t it? Was it really called for?

    Alright, I’m done. Go back to your flame war.

    • You’re right, I was extremely snarky and I’m sorry to those offended, including WolfArmor. There appeared to be no other way to emphasize the problem of stealth racism and reinforcement of antisocial memes through the buzz without an aggressive voice, which is a fine explanation but no excuse.

      The standards set were not impossibly high. For example, simply recognizing theft was wrong could have easily affected the final scripting of “Over A Barrel” for the better. Instead, theft disappeared and became OK under some circumstances and the elitist war meme of the Indian Wars was repeated. MLP:FIM is just a kids show; sort of. Other media get it right often enough. More significantly, officially grown-up media wouldn’t likely get away with getting it wrong.

      The groupthink of coverup among some fans naturally followed because of their prosocial emotional investment. Like Twilight in S.1, Ep.3, “Lesson Zero”, they became alienated from the very thing most might have thought they were about, honest pro-social connecting with others.

      Recall an earlier RL example; laddsim in Britain, where women activists at universities were upset they couldn’t tell young men rebelling against political correctness, and those genuinely mysogynistic. Political correctness is annoying when some people abuse its seeds of truth, but there are better ways of calling that out, than denying those truths and covering for the bad guys.

      When patriarchy can’t stand on its own, it can’t be allowed to run and hide behind women to cast its stones.

      • I get that what you perceive has made you angry, and I wasn’t offended, merely disappointed. You are obviously very passionate and informed, I just felt that your acerbic tone is significantly counter-productive to what you want to accomplish. I know a lot of people that would read your messages and would agree, right up until the first bit of snark. Then they would close ranks, and minds, and fend off what they perceive as an attack on their character as individuals and as a group.

        Personally, I have to admit that I don’t agree with everything you have brought up, but I don’t have the background or education to be able to engage you in a reasoned discussion. I don’t know if my response is purely emotional or if there is something more logical that I can’t seem to pull out of my brain. That being said, I won’t waste your time trying feebly to debate you without something more solid than “I just feel like you are wrong”

        I’ll simply take what you have mentioned on various points and see if I can’t spot it the next time I watch through. Except Over a Barrel. That one has so many issues just in the base story without the context of westward expansion.

        • Not angry, just walking the stages of grief for the free world that was. Those who would shut out the message, want to anyway and will waste time searching for any pretext, so why not give them one and be done with them.

          The mil-intel-industrial complex likes to take credit for winning the Cold War, but they were then as they are today, parasites on free societies that had the innovation and guts to face down 50 000 plus Soviet nukes and live in the habit of having rights and freedoms. The same parasites who took away those rights and freedoms because of ragged terrorists they themselves sponsor, who can’t win without covert aid. Maybe we weren’t so free after all, but no-one with power back then would dare spit on the illusion as casually as the NSA-fanboy types do today. The greatest freedom, is the freedom to be responsible to those very real and important ideals as best one can and make them so.

          S.4 has changed MLP a bit; analyzing the first few episodes is easy enough once you get the pattern. Its like a grand mass psychology experiment. Albeit one dreamt up at a wild frat party where people drink to forget and do drugs to forget harder.

          • S.4, Ep.3, “Castle Mania” is where MLP:FIM jumps the shark merging both agenda and poster elements into a hybrid format. Before, episodes were often distinguishable as agenda driven or poster episodes true to the source material. Now both share screen time; its only a matter of which theme is dominant. “Castle Mane-ia” drapes a cliche haunted house trope around the agenda message that its OK to snoop into private journals for the valuable learning experience. Everyone should keep diaries for ease of snooping by others. Strangely enough, keeping a diary and the importance of introspection was also part of the Queen of England’s 2013 year-end message.

            In pop culture, ‘jumping the shark’ references the successful 50′s nostalgia TV serial “Happy Days”, when popular supporting character Arthur Fonzerelli jumped a shark on waterskis in the season 5 premiere. This was a fundamental qualitative change; ‘Happy Days’ originally centered on an all-American family from the idealized ’50s. After jumping the shark, ‘Happy Days’ became a modern fantasy about the supernaturally gifted Fonzie. Jumping the shark is that seminal hokey moment when a show has lost the promise of its premise to reboot as a caricature of its former self, usually under a revamped creative team. Successful shark jumping popularly resolves identity conflicts and flagging premises to renew the franchaise. Most “Happy Days” fans living in the 1970s happily jumped the shark with Fonzie into happier waters, as the show’s timeline progressed into the ‘un-Happy Days’ of the 1960s. What do MLP:FIM fans want?

            MLP:FIM has always been conflicted. Officially under Lauren Faust, MLP:FIM was a family cartoon informed by feminism with a mandate to defy existing sexist kid’s cartoon conventions. Unofficially, MLP:FIM became propaganda informed by anti-progressive sentiment sold with straw feminism. Hasbro cherry-picked the MLP:FIM fandom to promote what they wanted. For example, some fans made humanform pony art and fanfiction; Hasbro jumped on the excuse to make the pop tweenie “Equestria Girls” movie. What Hasbro wanted everyone to want, was to justify the vices and validate the prejudices of their brand of patriarchal whiteness, not progressive feminism.

            So we have “Castle Mane-ia”. The premise is adventure set in the Castle of the Sisters. The setup is a bad cliche haunted house tale in the Palace of (Lame) Pranks. Twilight, searching for references to the mysterious box gifted her by the Tree of Harmony (S.4, Ep.1-2 “Princess Twilight Sparkle”) is referred by Celestia to her and Luna’s old castle library. Where all the books survived 1000 years in ruins without a roof instead of being moved to Canterlot ages ago. A fin breaks the waters.

            All the characters are played as off-key caricatures. Regular audiences often know a product better than its creators, watching characters grow incrementally each new episode. A sense of canon is reinforced in reruns easily on-demand for most. For production staff, its often just a job where they make stuff up then go home after a day of careerism and office politics. A divergence between producer intent and audience expectation easily develops as ‘mistakes’ become canon.

            Twilight loves books but violently THROWS a book in frustration? Just, no. The ruins are dangerous and falling apart, but Celestia sends Twilight there without a second thought? Well okay, that’s in-off-character for wise and noble Celestia. Twilight snoops into a private journal owned by Celestia and Luna on the broad invitation to examine their old library? NOT. The previous episode established that the Royal Sisters knew nothing about the box; that isn’t going to change 1000 years ago when the diary was last written into. Twilight worships Celestia as mentor and friend. Digging into her rulers’ private papers does not reflect that.

            Betraying privacy is a big deal, recognized as such by Twilight herself in the poster episode S.2 Ep.23, “Ponyville Confidential”. Shark jump fail for even trying to square that with cute ponies. The journal was in a secret reading room, not the library proper. The information supposedly allows Twilight not to fear castle ghost stories, but Twilight wasn’t inclined to fear anything. She was lost in library paradise. The journal plotline erodes the still-common meme that personal privacy is an important and expected right. The tired old excuse of doing wrong for the right reasons, ends justify means, is trite, too real and unwelcome. If Twilight found Celestia’s old purse with money in it and went on a shopping spree, that’s not free money that’s theft.

            The rest of the story is just a convoluted excursion even Pinkie Pie can’t explain believably, although a-la-prozac, she does try to swim with the shark.

            The Mane 5 somehow, separately, all get the same idea to go to the castle and arrive at the same time to be scared by contrived hijinks. A phantom pony at the very beginning mysteriously suggesting to the Mane 5 with a little Jedi wave of the hoof to divert their various activities to the castle, would have helped cheese things up for the better. Everyone travels the Everfree Forest on a lark, but the Tree of Harmony (S.4, Ep.4, “Princess Twilight Sparkle”) only contains Everfree’s nature magic; its still the untamed forest it was before Discord’s plunder vines. The castle dumbwaiter even delivers fresh carrots after 1000 years, and no-one is surprised. Nothing happens with the ominously set up ‘Pony of Shadows’ or the 5-eyed star spiders; are they waiting for a future episode? Those elements may as well be insider calling cards from the Anglo-American Five Eyes phantom spy club of web-weaving trickery and deceit.

            RD and AJ came to see who could stay in the spooky castle the longest on a dare contest, as if they hadn’t settled their rivalry in S.1, Ep. 12, “Fall Weather Friends” in favour of maturity. They are then scared stupid by haunted house gags far less frightening or even interesting than anything they have encountered for ‘real’. Rarity and Fluttershy came to LOOT ART; unbelievable. Fluttershy is terrified into thinking her pet Angel Bunny was crushed by castle debris while Rarity scolds the starship AI (except its just a castle), then reduced to bawling like a baby. HOW IS THAT FUNNY? It felt like the writing team was hazing the Mane 5, not writing for them, like little brat boys fishing for a reaction from little girls. So, who’s the official/unofficial target audience again?

            The official lessons, tempering imagination with knowledge and respect for history and art, are quite advanced and applied in the breech. Twilight concludes the tale by having the Mane 6 keep a journal so they can be snooped by others as an example to viewers. Its not just a renewal of the ‘Letters to Celestia’ device. Closed-access personal diaries, wider-access activity journals, and open blogs are lumped into default public domain, sidestepping moral expectation to privacy.

  25. Hmmm. MS Mag censored my last post.

    Do you Bronytypes even listen to yourselves without narcissistic filters? Brushing off, laughing off, racism, sexism and militarism as ‘overthinking’ and ‘bad writing’ says nothing but complicity. Chief Thunderhooves mock dies with a pie to the face, and its all funny, like the way the real Indian women and children died for real was all a big joke and they should just get over it.

    Thinking whiteness’ stealth bigotry actually still works and does not come off as overt bigotry trying to be stealthy; what’s up with that? Why shouldn’t any remotely morally aware being not react harshly to this offense? Its like watching an alternative ending to the movie “The Wave” (1981, 2008) where every schoolkid decides they’re cool with fascism, embracing instead of rejecting The Wave. Then realizing, its not just a movie, its real. (In fact it was real, an unexpectedly successful social experiment at Cubberley High School, Northern California that even freaked out its instigator, teacher Ron Jones.)

    Presenting other races as different species had the neutral potential to sidestep racism’s baggage, but success would rely entirely on the quality of the relationships then presented. Was Gilda the Griffen (S. 1., Ep. 9, “Griffon the Brush Off”) a natural candidate to play the bully villain because of the implied mixed heritage of eagle and lion? Normally this would be silly – until the the the ‘ugly mule’ became a running joke and “Over A Barrel” squaring theiving settlers with extortionate aboriginals. Suddenly Gilda becomes consistent with ever worsening examples of speciesism proxying for racism, not against it.

    Poor excuses such as ‘bad writing’ are insufficient, failing at the most basic level to be valid arguments equivalent to describing and explaining the discursive whiteness of MLP:FIM. It willfully, obviously, panderingly, looks the other way and makes excuses. Failure to respect the simplest standards of logical reasoning in defending stealth racism, sexism, and militarism mark Bronyism as a culture of whiteness and fair to criticize as such. The groupthink is unmistakeable.

    Bronies are a fandom, clearly favoured by Hasbro, but are not MLP:FIM’s fanbase. Indie fans very deliberately non-identify as Bronies because they reject one or more identifiers of whiteness that Bronies generally love and tolerate. This is not to say every non-Brony fan is perfect, but they take responsibility for their opinions as individuals and can be judged as individuals. Bronies are tied by willing association, to their lowest common demoninator, and Hasbro, to Bronies by catering to them. Bronies first appeared in 4-Chan, a hub of internet forums noteable for sometimes noxious decorum and aggressive discussion of mass media entertainment, an offshot of ‘furry’ subculture, itself closely associated with zoophilia.

    MLP:FIM episodes such as “Over A Barrel” would be considered good to anyone tacitly supporting racism, sexism, and militarism, ‘bad’ only in that it was caught out by a few careful observers, and wonderful in that it may still call upon uncritical support of those who can appear non-racist, non-sexist, and non-militarist. Its not extreme at all to see MLP:FIM as whiteness propaganda – and see that it works.

    “Equestria Girls” reaction was nowhere near the “Derpy Hooves” controversy which arose after S.2, Ep.14, “The Last Roundup”, where clear valuations of ableism were at stake. Hasbro restored some dignity to the portrayal of Ditzy Doo as a pegasus with derped eyes, not someone dumber and clumiser than the usual cute pony because her eyes were derped. By whiteness theory, Ditzy can be explained as having recovered some dignity not because she inherently deserved it like every other pony, but because as a proxy of whiteness, she could never be given the mule treatment. That’s the only incident that can be looked at as either a sensitive act or whiteness in action with sensitivity in its favour. Bronies still noteably divided and opposed to Hasbro’s reversal.

    Human girls have distinct biological features and non-negative stereotyped manners; there was no way to humanform the Mane 6 from ponyform and not include them. This creates a largely artificial controversy over hemlines, body shape and girl talk which are arbitrary, unclear and incomplete indicators of sexism. More complex but discrete and valid observations that might contextualize those observations and better critique the one-hour and fourteen minute ‘movie’, become conveniently obscured.

    Its not complicated, as long as one does not sanitize and dumb down problems of racism, sexism, and militarism back into invisibility.

    • (Correction, S.1, Ep.5 “Griffon the Brush Off”, not Ep. 9.)

      • Hey A.T.

        I gotta say, as a brony (well kinda, I’m just a fan of good animation, I found the show in reviews, watched and it’s now my favorite currently running western animation, though I distance myself far from the culture as it tends to get a lil weird), I have to say that I concur with you on most points you have made, sadly.
        Though I have to point out, any negative things that could be taken from the show can be corrected easily, if even noticed by the viewer, and are easily outweighed by the positive messaging. I mean seriously, I’m impressed by the time and thought you have put into this, but in all honesty, I don’t believe any child would walk away with a my thing but improved social skills.
        Let me elaborate. Let’s just say for the sake of the argument that the writers of the are racist sexist elitists, and that they have injected the show with these traits subtly ( and to be honest, it really is subtle, I’m an 18 year old constitutional conservative and I view everything I watch threw a political lens and didn’t notice this). Now I don’t believe, with all of these people who are older than I viewing this show, that their children are gonna catch it, and run with it as life lessons. To be able to see it the way you see it, you have to be set in those ways, and I don’t believe children are gonna dig deep enough to even find these messages. In fact even if they did, and said something like “daddy, i saw on my little pony that peer pressure is a good thing” ( reference to keep calm) I would respond “honest, that’s not the message, only take away the lesson that they tell you in the end” but I would dumb it down for the kid. I think this is a way to still get the good messages they convey in the end, without the messy social problems they’ve included.
        Though one thing I think they botched terribly was “over a barrel”. I realized that was not an acceptable portrayal of the plight of the American aboriginal immediately. My theory is that ( because I don’t believe they’re trying to fill a child’s head with evil” is that they had an idea to use bison as native Americans, had a lesson planned out, but when it came down to production they decided that the actual story was far too grim for a child’s show, even an equestrian version of it. So, in an attempt to distance the story from the touchy subject, they went with a less serious problem, and they did thoroughly explain the problem, which is very obviously different then the native american’s. I believe they should have approached it differently though.
        Keep the story, but have the resolution include something along the lines of an admittance that they did accidentally take they’re land, but emphasize that they had no idea it was owned, and were sorry that any of this happened, and the appaloosians’ should have offered the compromise in the end, as the wrong doers.
        Like I said, I think they had a concept and a message, but inadvertently botched it in the process of making something viewable.
        Now I have to say, even though there may be some “bad” undertones to the show, I’m still gonna watch it. Just the same way that I still watch the looney toons and other pretty much anti-PC shows, because even as a jap myself, I still laugh at stereotypical slant eyes and buck teeth, because I know anyone who actually takes that crap seriously is an idiot.
        Bottom line- it’s a cartoon. Even though it disappoints me to see them pervert her noble goals with subliminal white-wash, it has absolutely no effect on me, and any child who could possibly take away anything negative from this will have that kind of negative thinking reversed by peers and good societal influences in general. The good that this show can cause FAR out weighs the bad, when viewed independently, and especially when compared to other cartoons, even educational ones.
        I mean, Jesus Christ, there’s entire generations that grew up on looney toons, and they are smart enough today to know that those things are just socially unacceptable.

        Well, I’d love to get a reply, you seem like someone who genuinely has something to say, not just some flamer who hates just to hate.

        Thanks for your time!

        • One more thing, I mentioned I’m a conservative, then I realized where I was and what that could be interpreted as. I FULLY support social and workplace equality and civil rights. The constitution reads “all men created equal” and I live by that, no mater race, gender, or sexuality. And also as a conservative I feel it’s none of my darn business who gets married to who, just keep my taxes low and freedom in check. I don’t know how everyone feels about me talking about politics here, but lol who care.

          • Intellectually understanding something is amiss in MLP, but still willing to accept it unconditionally, while claiming it has no effect, the way you accept the racist depictions of non-whites from old cartoons and new cartoons, says all that needs to be said about discursive whiteness. But I’ll keep writing anyway.

            The old Donald Duck WWII toons are still watchable despite some racist imagery because its Donald Duck, a perfect product of its time and circumstances. Similarly, classic Flintstones from the 1960s was mostly good and of its time. MLP has no real excuse; its here and now with supposedly here and now post-bigotry sensibilities, yet it looks like an attempted cultural lobotomy against all the humanitarian advances in American culture of the past 60 years.

            The live action “Last Airbender” movie tried racebending the protagonists as whites rather than an Asian and a couple of Inuit, and crashed and burned for this as well as being a bad movie. Well before that, Bruces Lee was made a star by the majority white Americans against the wishes of establishment Hollywood. Most people generally won’t be bigoted when presented with a clear choice with one noteable exception. Pull laddist behavior on a person of colour, and not a white woman, and suddenly the appropriate legal consequences would appear, if not more spontaneously violent ones; not indifference. Motivation to act against injustice is at least partly popular social programming.

            MLP takes obvious advantage of ponyflage to present relationships humanforms couldn’t get away with. Adults aren’t supposed to be able to see it; children, never. They are just to internalize the behavior. It matters that children can’t see it to understand it; invisibility is the problem, not the solution, of discursive whiteness. Young girls love the show; its keyed to their precocious intelligence and lack of life experience, with all the cues of baby-headed ponyforms and girl society. Only more experienced women step away from Pegasisterhood girl power to assert a culturally independent self, if they disagree with the program.

            Fixing MLP is going to require a lot more than the occasional coloured guard pony with a speaking role. From a certain point of view its only getting better and needs no fixing at all. It would require a major shift in the depicted moral understanding of healthy relationships and acceptance of responsibility. The MLP gatekeepers don’t quite grasp or don’t care for such things. Faust was replaced by those who knew how to toe the straw-feminist line; she was probably never meant to keep her dream job’ Friendship is Magic carries and an integrity hit right from the get-go.

            There appears to be more than the usual Hollywood office politics motivating things. I wasn’t kidding about patriarchy hiding behind women to cast its stones; The Hub’s latest offering is “She-Wow”, a jerky guy who bumped his sister aside to become She Wow, a female superheroine; except its just a jerky guy in fru-fru drag and his sister gets to play sidekick. Its not likely to be particularly subtextual about a guy walking a few miles in a woman’s shoes very often if at all.

            Bigoted negative stereotypes are nothing to laugh at. The battle of good against evil is cartoony, but there’s an avatistic truth in there. In a modern sense, its the battle of enlightened compassion versus sociopathic psychopathy, productive standards of human behavior and parasitical moral relativism. Not unlike Discord’s seeds in S4, Ep. 1-2, bigotry needs to be planted ahead of time to tip the balance against natural prosocial inclinations.

            “Yellow Peril” sentiment never really died in the West. In the 1980′s and early 1990s, Japan inc. was demonized for competitive success in business; they went bust shortly thereafter. China is the born-again yellow menace of the new millennium, capable of destroying America because… well, I’m not sure what dire threat an aging nation of Western-sponsored sweatshops really poses except that ‘Made in China’ is more like a warning label now. If China refused to ‘steal’ Western jobs, China would be labelled anti-free market commies for not providing cheap labour and lax standards and trade would be penalized. China ‘threatens’ America by holding American debt – maybe $1.2 Trillion of a $16 Trillion++ debt America mostly owes itself – or threatens America by not buying American debt and refusing to prop the dollar (and keep American consumerism affordable). This kind of no-win relationship is the core meme of the Indian Wars; the non-white is obligated to cover for whiteness’ elitists. There’s never enough land to give away and conflict is stage managed to keep the other in the wrong.

            A constitutional conservative soft on the wildly popular depiction of a fantasy America ruled by an absolute monarchy, coinciding with real-life rights and freedoms of a Republic being extinguished in favour of mil-intel-financial complex fascism, wouldn’t have been possible two generations ago. Whatever your definition of conservatism is, its backed by a lifetime of cultural experience including mass media entertainment telling you what’s fashionable and actionable.

            From Faust, one might expect the Tree of Harmony to grow a new element from Season 4, likely Cadence’s, from whatever’s about that locked box, and become more like a living tree than crystalline machine. Twilight or an upgraded Fluttershy might become patron of a renewed Everfree Forest; or something imaginatively better over the next phase of the adventure serial. Somehow, affirmation of life and freedom over artifice and control is not something the present creative team desires any more than retiring the alicorn monarchy as what appears to have been Faust’s original storyarc.

            However savey the classic Looney Tunes generation thought they were, they couldn’t keep America free. Something was missing and they just learned to laughed it off and let it go as children. People learned not to be sexist or racist or militarist too overtly, and not to think too hard the wrong way; that’s it, and that’s not enough. The elitists can gloat over Kennedy’s murder via the alternative media and young girls may learn even earlier how to be a straw feminist; isn’t that wonderful.

            A defining difference between first and second wave feminism was that the first wave wanted equality as human beings, while the second wave somehow became be equals as honourary men, repeating all the same mistakes of male culture that women of the first wave assumed women were above.

            I’ll continue to watch MLP:FIM as well; watching the lie evolve more polish and skill in presentation is fascinating.

  26. I know this is late–but thanks so much for making this show!
    I am a 16-year-old girl, and FiM has done a lot for me. It made me realize just how important my friends are!
    Also, as an artist/writer, the show really inspires me. There’s just so much thought and detail put into everything, and it turns out awesome–just goes to show that any concept can become something great, as long as you have the right writer.
    Another thing: I suffer from depression, and FiM is always there to brighten up my day. Pinkie’s Smile song always makes me tear up because it feels like a big hug on a hard day!
    I am also a lover of fantasy, and this show has some pretty epic stories!
    And of course, I see a lot of myself in the characters–I even go by the name Dashie sonetimes!
    I’m very excited to see what the show has to offer next. Thank you so much for creating this show.

  27. The Season 4 premiere was an amazing magic show.

    S.4 Ep.1-2 “Princess Twilight Sparkle” continues with reduction of the universal to the petty, patriarchal triumphalism, and whiteness. Content gaffes are expertly framed in seamless production values. Celestia refers to the people of Equestria as ‘citizens’. Since Equestria is now just a country she’s the monarch of, powers over the sun and moon (and via the Crystal Empire, the magnetosphere) flatter an exceptional superpower. People everywhere else don’t matter.

    Recall the wonder and grandeur of a fantasy world – read entire planet if not universe – of magical ponies called Equestria ruled by wise women? Well, forget that.

    In the language of symbols: Ditch any romantic notions of Sun Goddess and Moon Goddess inspiration.

    Princess Twilight Sparkle’s cutie-boom seemed kind of pretentious, overwhelmingly garish and superimposed over the sun and moon during the Summer Sun ceremony. Was it over-earnest reference to the Twilight’s cutie mark as a tree of life symbol? No.

    Looking closely, Twilight’s cutieboom morphs briefly into a Star of David just long enough to subliminally remind everyone that God is a man. Its not characteristic of Twilight or the occasion. A smaller twilight-like cutie-boom would reflect that twilight heralds day or night. It should compliment the sun and moon; not crassly overwhelm them. The rays of Twilight’s star might elongate into streaming, sparkling fireworks, lightly recalling the 4th of July and her cutie mark. However, it wouldn’t deliver the same splashy message of exceptionalism as the Star of David splashed across the sky.

    The Tree of Harmony recalls James Cameron’s “Avatar” movie, in the inverse. Whereas in “Avatar”, the tree of life was a living thing that mimics technology to foster and defend wildlife, the Tree of Harmony appears to be a crystalline technology to control Everfree life.

    In the language of action: How natural is it to expect females, even heroines, to be irrational?

    MLP:FIM totally contrives safe and friendly elitism, with Twilight Sparkle insisting that she doesn’t think she’s better than everypony, repeatedly. Even as everyone else is written to voluntarily treat her so. The topper is the impractical and clearly contrived decision of the Mane 5 to disarm themselves before facing then-unknown but expected to be hideous threats. Just to preserve Alicorn rule, they send Twilight back when things get dangerous – all alone, when somehow she again forgets to teleport from danger. Of course, failure, which is pretty much guaranteed, leaves nothing for Alicorns to rule.

    Each pony was needed to operate the Elements of Harmony; that was the whole reason they were together in the first place – or was it to stage Twilight’s rejection skit? Why wasn’t princess leadership expected and respected to lead from the front as was obviously necessary?

    Fluttershy then affirms that friendship is elitist and utilitarian when Twilight returns. Twilight was needed to think for them.

    In the meantime, viewers are left wondering why Celestia never returned the power jewels to the tree. She stashed them in her castle, her palace, and finally Twilights library, never realizing the tree might need them to live? Then never kept tabs on Equestria’s defense against the Everfree Forest?

    In the language of Whiteness: Where’s the premise to the setup? It barely made the back of the bus.

    Zecora the zebra brings this magical potion that somehow just happens to be able to tell Twilight everything she needs to know via flashbacks. The flashback potion came out of nowhere. Did Zecora make it from sap or a flower from the Tree of Harmony that allows alicorns to magically communicate and connect with everything the tree experiences through the elements and its own magic?

    No, it couldn’t be that because that would give Zecora too much relevance to the story and people would wonder even more why the Mane 6 re-entered the Everfree Forest alone without an experienced guide. Zecora only lives in the forest searching it out and safely navigating its dangers for exotic herbal ingredients; why would the Mane 6 need her along for their clique’s ‘bonding experience’ even though the story hinges on Zecora’s contribution.

    In the language of emotions: Much ado about nothing.

    Scant screen time is given to the Mane 6 learning the value of meaning over materialism when the time comes to outgrow and part with their elements, the climax of the story. On the other hand, as important as these non-selfish lessons are, its still no big deal since all they did was replace the Elements where they belonged. It wasn’t right or smart to ‘borrow’ them for so long in the first place. Celestia or even Twilight can always reclaim them like was done the first time after the tree recovers. Except for Twilight, the Mane 5 never personally kept their elements; they shouldn’t be attached to jewelry now kept in a far safer place that Twilight can’t miscast spells upon and even Discord couldn’t breach directly.

    Those were just the biggies; there are lots of smaller qualitative departures, old and new.

  28. PeeblesAlicorn says:

    I am so happy that this show was made. It really helped me, because before I watched it, me and my friends weren’t as close, and when my friend, Jessica showed me, I was a complete skeptic. But I watched, and I loved it. I showed my other friends, and we’re a lot closer. I’m a lot more confident, and I make friends more easily. I used to spout out informational facts, and sit with my books at parties, and I also used to beat myself up after I got a grade lower than an A. I’ve made a few friends because of this show, and I’m more confident. I still bring at least 2 books to every sleepover, and take school seriously, but now me and my friends are a tight group of diverse friends. There’s Abby (a sporty, competitive bundle of awesome), Eliya (a friendly, funny, artistic, slightly dramatic person), Caeli (a bubbly one of a kind funny and crazy person), Alex (a person with a good attitude, and a down to earth personality), Jessica (a unique, quirky girl who doesn’t care what anyone else says), and Brooke (a sporty, funky sort who is assertive and smart). We cosplayed at HalCon, at Equestria Girls, and at my season 4 premiere birthday. This show has made us more open and without it, I don’t know what would have happened. Thank you.

  29. Wonderfully insightful article. It made me love the show even more. My son Ari loves the show, which was a surprise. Here’s an article about him: http://www.oldschoolnewschoolmom.com/2014/01/my-son-is-brony.html

  30. Perhaps im oversimplifying here. but for people on both sides of the issue is it not our job to raise our children and direct them through early life by setting examples about right action. So much of this analysis and debate seems foolish when the answer seems it should be : dont let a fucking cartoon raise your child. The deeper issues being debated here i feel somewhat undermine a childs innocence. Let them be children now they have plenty of time to be boring sanctimonious people debating racism and sexism on the internet when they grow up and dont believe the world is magical anymore. This is just my opinion though.

    • Its the standard oversimplifying you were trained to. People use the television as a babysitter; its a reality worth challenging, but still the reality. If all parents did watch their children’s shows, read the scripts, and read the lyrics of the music they listen to, they still might not be able to keep up. Some Bronytypes and Pegasisters are parents, and don’t see any problems at all. The system may be objectively wrong, but they see a payoff for themselves as more important.

      Parents raised on TV won’t notice that its not the same shows playing the same messages anymore. Each generation is a new mass media experiment with new same-old goals. They weren’t trained to look or question, just let things happen. So, the problem is adults with an incomplete education trained to accept smart-shaming indifference towards critical thinking skills passing it on to the next generation.

      Doesn’t matter how smart they are; if they don’t use it, it doesn’t count, and they become part of a problem and perpetuate it. The best solution to the problem, diligent, vigilant and aware parents, are taken out of the game and child education left to experts like teachers, the school psychologist, and television advertisers. Sometimes these people are trustworthy, sometimes not.

      Childhood is where people learn their streetproofing skills, or lack thereof. Being a child isn’t all fun and games; its sometimes painful. Adults just seem to forget what it was like to be a child, and remember it mostly as a time without adult concerns. A child’s innocence is being lost at all times; its called growing up. MLP:FIM seeks to grow them up the wrong way with the wrong messages, and that the issue here.

      The world is magical; its just that there’s evil magic as well as good, every day spells cast by the word and deeds of women and men. Its easy to lose sight of the wonder it is to be a human being on this planet, as it is the responsibility that comes with ability.

      There is a fairy tale I heard once.

      Once upon a time there was a land where the people were happy and free. The secret to their happiness? Well, when they met they’d smile and exchange warm fuzzies with one another. These warm fuzzies were pure and good, and people went away eager to share them with others. Everyone was happy but an old witch or crone. Or maybe it was an old warlock. No-one remembers for sure. But this warlock was cold and prickly and lived alone in a cave and didn’t like the happiness, warmth and freedom at all.

      “I’ll fix them,” the dishonest one sneered. And so were devised cold pricklies, indistinguishable on the outside from the warm fuzzies. They were given out far and wide with as a warm and generous a smile as can be, and the warlock took warm fuzzies in return. But when people recieved the cold pricklies, they felt cold and prickly and a little sick inside even if it seemed OK at first. Not warm and fuzzy like they’d expected.

      Well, some people became eager to ditch the cold pricklies whenever and however they could, hoping for a warm fuzzy again. Others fooled themselves into liking cold pricklies even if it killed them inside, spreading and receiving cold pricklies with manic glee. If one had a warm fuzzy, sharing was suddenly not such a good idea. Some formed cliques of trusted sharing, but not even these were free of cold pricklies. The land became angry, sad and not free, unable to understand what happened to themselves or each other.

      The warlock laughed and watched the mayhem he’d spawned, surrounded by his hoard of warm fuzzies. But warm fuzzies need to be shared to stay healthy, and live in a good heart. So they left that bitter one, cold and prickly and more alone and bitter than ever, the suffering of others its only respite.

      The tale could be a metaphor for many things, but part of the obvious solution is to call a cold prickly for what it is, albeit risking the warlock’s wrath to see no good deed go unpunished.

  31. chinesebronies says:

    “Whiteness”— you must be joking. I am in SEAsia and everyone here thinks the ponies are chinese. And you missed the subtle racism of Discord, as the yellow peril threatening the pony world. It’s just a cartoon, don’t get into a race and culture argument over it. And never forget, we chinese are the only culture that has defeated the american military everytime in modern history, in korea and vietnam. Now we own all your debt and you have to pay us interest.

    • Uh-huh, I’m sure Hasbro will be pleased with the cross-cultural adaptability of their elitism experiment, although they were trying to put it over the Japanese, sharing as it does manga roots.

      The Vietnamese gave China the boot in 1979 far more handily than they did the U.S., and South Korea is still occupied by the U.S. and very prosperous relative to ‘liberated’ North Korea, which is a basket case into the post-modern day. What did Pyrrhus of Pyrrhic victories say? “Another such victory and I’m undone?” China may have written the Art of War, but its open source now.

      Pride in that gilded pop-culture yoke is telling, although anyone can be anyone on the internet. Are Chinese really that confident with only one obsolete Soviet-era aircraft carrier and a fistful of American IOUs versus the state-of-the-art American SSBN/GN fleet and the bankster-industrial system? China is #3 at globalfirepower.com, but its a distant 3rd. Good luck cashing all of that U.S. Treasury debt into real wealth faster than inflation turns it into bathroom tissue.

      Millions of North Americans are more than willingly culturally conditioned to believe China’s coming, and bought guns just for the occasion. In the meantime it was real Sun Tzu of China to finance the mil-intel machine that ran them out of Libyan and South Sudan oil fields. Oh, and that cute little newspaper map of all the American bases and cities Chinese missiles can reach? All those people aren’t even worth public health care, expendable for the ‘right’ cause.

      If Fukushima is any indicator, any serious war in Asia would be the end of Asia fairly quickly; how does Sun Tzu go, “Lets you and the other guy go fight?” The Fukushima plume of death killing from Fukushima through the north Pacific to California is only a mild sampling of what will wash over from a serious war. 28% of U.S. West Coat infants are already diagnosed with congenital thyroid anomalies just from the initial accident. The last man standing will be dead on his feet, even if he’s forsaken Earth for a place in heaven.

      What is traditional Chinese culture based on? Valuing the family and venerating the noble past like over here? Elitism is elitism wherever it festers.

      China has already lost. They lost when they adopted a Western-invented policy, the one child per family law based on Malthusean theory, and committed self-genocide. Not only of people, but of culture. Culture can only be lived by living people with living values. Broken families and social alienation by a different path.

      China lost at Tiennamen, when anti-corruption reformers were tainted with lies of treason and ran out of government. The leaders of the student ‘pro-democracy’ movement fled to the U.S. to be well-off Chinese ‘dissidents’ for the CIA. Freeing Chinese ‘hardliners’ to loot and pollute the country and partner with like-minded Westerners. Politico-moral lobotomy, just like here.

      Back then, one brave Chinese stood in front of a tank, and the tank stopped. An interesting contrast to Kent State. Today, a steamroller willingly rolled right over a poor Chinese man trying to save his home and ancestral village from being ‘developed’ – that is stolen – by bureaucratic fiat so some crony capitalists could squeeze a few bucks. And no-one cares. Any winning culture seems to be long gone.

      China loses today, with 4 trillion dollars and counting stashed by the ruling elitists into overseas accounts, cheated from the peasantry’s land and labour. Banksters Jr., striving to hold their heads high at foreign cocktail parties. That stashed cash is hostage, by the way, to anyone who can arrange to freeze the accounts of a rogue nation. The five-eyed spider can do that; China can’t. No more than they can protect the graveyards of their ancestors from being despoiled by crony capitalist land grabs for chemical agriculture.

      I didn’t miss that Discord was a Qilin; a Chinese unicorn, either. He was beat and made to serve. Discord lost the long game, just like the Aboriginals did, and written to ‘deserve’ it.

      You can have your world. I’m plugging on for mine; elitists here would just love to have the rules they foist on others, enshrined here for good. Basic imperialism from social studies; the periphery always comes home to roost at the core.

  32. chinesebronies says:

    And as a last note, Twilight Sparkle is obviously chinese because of her straight fringe hair, her pet dragon and her studiousness.

    • Sure, I’ll play along.

      Lots of girls have straight hair. Mushu was a Disney invention for Mulan, and Spike is based on the western lizard-like dragonform, not the eastern snake-like dragonform. Spike is Twilight’s little brother figure, not her pet, although its interesting he’s interpreted that way. Lots of girls are studious and easily on par with any Asian stereotype when they’re not discouraged from excelling.

      My Little Pony toys are made in China, so technically they are Chinese by being ‘born’ there. But who owns the original patents? Who writes the shows and greenlights what gets broadcast? If you want to adopt a foreign imaginary character as your own cultural artifact, then Twilight Sparkle-bot’s doing her job teaching you ‘her’ values are yours too. Clearly some Chinese consumers are no more discerning than those in any other Americanized nation.

      As the Gregorian calender enters Chinese New Year week, its interesting to note that MLP:FIM first-aired episodes for this time, just happen to be about disease, not health and propserity. Health and prosperity themes might be more appropriate for a show sold and airing in Asia during its New Year. Just a subtle coincidence; no-one would even notice the bug to call their flu, isn’t it?

  33. Daizy Ford says:

    My friends and I are HUGE fans of MLP and we thought it would be really cool if there was a fan fiction contest. I thought maybe Lauren Faust could help with that.

    • I’m not sure she’d enjoy what’s happened to the show now, but who knows.

      S.4, Ep.4, “Daring Don’t” is another hybrid agenda episode normalizing not having privacy in the surveillance age and pushing the cult of celebrity. Like product placement, its behavior placement, presenting a dubious example of how to act as acceptable. The poster premise is the ‘hidden prince’ trope, the agenda setup is divided between Rainbow Dash’s wannabe sidekick cliche while Twilight leads the rescue of the hidden prince(cess)/damsel in distress.

      The Mane 6 stalk their favourite author, A.K. Yearling, to help her finish writing her latest ‘Daring Do’ adventure novel so Rainbow Dash can read it already. Because famous authors just love fans like that, especially fans with the combination of connections and nuts to act out their obsession. Twilight is convinced by RD to ferret out A.K. Yearling’s secret home address. Since she already knows ‘everything’ about Yearling, Twilight likely misuses her Princess authority to access private information not publicly released. Cognitive dissonance is agent Twilight as she repeatedly restates the importance of respecting privacy even as she abets its violation. Naturally its written to work out for the better; kids can never be too young to internalize that hypocrisy can work out.

      The Mane 6 discover that A.K. Yearling is really Daring Do, their heroine. All those fictional adventures they read were real and they’ve stumbled into the middle of the latest one. Yearling/Do fights threats to Equestria similar to those the Mane 6 might, but on a smaller scale. No doubt future episodes will reveal Daring Do to be another Celestia agent, sending field reports back as works of fiction.

      Upon meeting the Mane 6 though, the quick-witted Daring Do doesn’t recognize the Heros of the Elements. DD doesn’t even blink at seeing an ALICORN PRINCESS in her home. She’s more concerned about a large gold band. Not only that, her rival Dr. Caballeron, never notices the Mane 6 looking in through the picture window by the front door where he enters; he’s more concerned with confessing his nefarious plans to steal then sell said gold artifact to an implied terrorist. Since, um, kids need to learn to rationalize inconsistencies in make believe narratives so as to better accept rationally inconsistent make-believe ‘official’ real-world narratives. The main antagonist is the formerly fictional Aztec villain Ahuizotl from S.2, Ep.16 “Read It and Weep”.

      Ahuizotl and his gang of ponies with Aboriginal-themed cutie marks stage another ‘us versus them’ whiteness vs aboriginal theme like S.1, Ep.21, “Over A Barrel”. Its not overtly proxy racist since aboriginals are ponies, not bison, but the aboriginals are still the bad guys. They use a magical artifact within a Mesoamerican pyramid to heat an isolated northern Equestrian valley, the Tenochtitlan Basin, from temperate forest into sweltering tropical jungle. Solar energy and the well being of all creatures in Equestria are Celestia’s concern, (S.1, Ep.22, “A Bird In The Hoof”), so its not clear why Ahuizotl would invite being banished and thrown in a dungeon in the place Celestia banishes him to, if this was all bad. After all, the Crystal Ponies thaw the North Pole to live. Ahuizotl wants to lock in the heat with a 800-year timer ring stolen from Yearling/Do. Those familiar with the Indianna Jones franchise, probably suspect DD stole it first.

      Protection of the realm is now Twilight’s duty over minding her own business, but the Princess needs to demonstrate how stupid respecting privacy is by needing extra persuasion beyond the breaking and entering, vandalism, assault, theft, and plotting before her eyes that’s not private. A future episode will likely reveal Ahuizotl is another of Celestia’s students gone rogue with impunity like Sunset Shimmer (Equestira Girls).

      After his inevitable defeat, Ahuizotl isn’t arrested and brought before Celestia’s court for weather control without a pegasus license and kidnapping, then endangering Yearling/Do. He’s left free to plot revenge, which makes as much sense as Ahuizotl capturing both RD and DD, but letting RD go so she can later rescue DD. RD meanwile, wants to ‘help’ Daring Do by jumping a piece of DD’s action for herself.

      Despite RD being a Hero of the Elements, etc., etc., Yearling/Do has no idea who RD is and wants her to go away; for good reason. In order to cram RD into a bumbling wannabe sidekick trope, all of RD’s talent and experience disappear because she is just so in awe of Daring Do. This is a rehash of S.1, Ep.7, “Sonic Rainboom” when RD loses all her nerve before a flying competition, and a bit of S.1, Ep.26 “The Best Night Ever” when RD tries to impress the Wonderbolts. The key difference between then and now, is that there is a then and now. Its poor character development for RD to regress to a Season 1 n00bie of herself in Season 4. Unlike say, Donald Duck, RD isn’t an animated actor bounced from role to role, but a character with a running herstory. Some scenes between RD and DD were hilarious, with RD uncharacteristically humble. Far less cool is when RD is humiliated by performing incompetently then filled with self-pity to the point of wanting to abandon DD to danger so Twilight can turn her around with a lecture on self-worth. But RD’s problem was having too much self worth.

      RD learns to get over heroine worship to realize the heroine within, but she kind of already learned hero humility in S.2, Ep.12, “The Mysterious Mare Do well”. RD proved she could be amongst her heros and still excel as herself in S.3, ep.7, “Wonderbolt Academy”. “Daring Don’t” might have worked better, had DD remained fictional and a new story constructed about the difference between make-believe inspired ambitions and realistic ones. RD doesn’t learn to let go negative fangirlism, and needs to ‘beat’ Daring Do. Its reinforced; by extracting DD’s concession to her aid, RD was able to validate herself at DD’s expense.

      Did the ponies learn to respect the privacy of others, or to ignore respect and get whatever they want? Season 4 MLP:FIM doesn’t build on the past so much as cannibalize it to kitbash new tales. The predictable effect is losing the character development that makes MLP special and scramble morals of the story. Rainbow Dash going fangirl with the drop of a pith helmet might have worked early in Season 3 – before RD become a Wonderbolt cadet. To do so in Season 4 RD, throws away the growth and maturity of RD’s character since that time, reducing RD to a caricature whose empty personality can be reset to zero any time like a sociopath.

      This ties to the unusual ‘moral of the story’ message; the importance of placing your trust in somepony else. This is even worse than the privacy abuse subtext, although encouraging people to give trust freely plays into it. In the real world, no-one is too old to learn and keep good streetproofing habits. Twilight and co. never exchanged names with Yearling/Do or otherwise identified themselves. Daring Do didn’t recognize them, nor was she in Alicorn awe. Strangers demanding trust, obsessively craving it, is usually the disconcerting sign of being tagged by bad mojo. Naturally its written to work out, but in real life, playing fast and loose with trust is a dangerous gamble for anyone. Including adults, but especially the ‘official’ target audience of young girls.

  34. S.4, Ep.11, “Three’s a Crowd” continues with the Discord storyarch. The premise is, the spoiled brat faking a cold for attention. Its a premise with positive potential, but the setup quickly falls apart as just wrong at so many moral levels. Its an example of the high art of hazing topping S.1, Ep.21 “Over A Barrel”. “Over A Barrel” used cultural awareness of America to attack America’s progressives right under their noses. Now MLP:FIM’s creative team shoots overseas.

    The episode is a psych bomb, first airing over the last week of January 2014 as the Gregorian calender enters the week of the Chinese New Year. Its a time to contemplate family, friends, health and prosperity for many ethnic Asians, to whom MLP:FIM is now also sold. Many in the West more than happily join in. Discord is modeled after a qilan, a Chinese unicorn; for him to fall ill at New Year’s isn’t very auspicious, and the setup is insane. MLP:FIM graduates from playing with memes to playing with serious real psychological triggers.

    Asians have been dealing with a deadly strain of avian flu, and what does Discord do? Well, run around spreading a contagious flu he made up, playing ‘oopsie, sneeze on you’. This is probably the first episode staged as a cheap shot by patriarchal whiteness at a foreign cultural rival, but Western flu hysteria has also loudly sounded alarms over superbugs, pandemics, and to using handwash, all to sell flu vaccinations. So, this episode comes off as deliberately, willfully, asocially, poison in candy in a grossout game. But everyone just calm down and normalize a cleverly ruder, cruder reality. Not.

    Discord wants to test Twilight’s friendship, but Twilight has planned a weekend with her sister-in-law Cadence. Fluttershy, Discord’s therapist, is providentially off to visit a rare animal species, and not around to check him. Rainbow Dash wisely bails early as Discord weaves the next threads of his plan, removing the remaining Mane 4 from running interference for Twilight. Pinkie Pie bounces off chasing a balloon, then Discord sneezes on Applejack and Rarity before abandoning them by the train station, both instantly sick with highly contagious blue flu. At the train station, where ponies come and go to and from all over Equestria, all the time.

    With the Mane 5 all out of the way, Discord then focuses on Twilight and Cadence, who are visiting a Starswirl the Bearded exhibition. Discord drops in and threatens to spread flu all over the fair if Twilight and Cadence don’t drop everything to care for him. Twilight doesn’t believe Discord is (physically) ill one bit, and Cadence, the experienced foal sitter, calms them both down, reassuring Twilight that they can humour Discord and get back to the Starswirl fair. Discord makes a huge fuss in song, before revealing there is a magical cure made from a giant flower. Its on the far Equestrian frontier, and Twilight and Cadence fly him there.

    Cadence and Twilight pick the giant flower and appear to damage the home of a giant Dune sandworm creature in technicolor. A battle ensues as it tries to eat them, and they blast away with horn magic before covering its burrow with boulders. Discord is so elated they do all this for him, he drops the sick act to gloat over spoiling Cadence’s day with Twilight. Cadence doesn’t act jealous at all and says she welcomed the adventure. Discord is miffed that he can’t bait Cadence, and the giant sandworm attacks one last time. But the sandworm has suddenly fallen ill and spits up on Discord before collapsing, making Discord sick for real. Maybe.

    The story ends with Discord in hazmat containment at Fluttershy’s cottage, forgiven and cared for by the cool girls who support him unconditionally as he stubbornly refuses to admit he’s learned a lesson, in bad boy heaven. Obviously there are some problems here; a little hazing of Chinese New Year celebrants is the least of them. Working back from the end, Discord is getting all the attention he wants and more. What lesson does he learn, exactly? Blackmail everyone to extort love and attention? If Discord needs hazmat containment, why is he in Fluttershy’s cottage instead of Ponyville hospital?

    Somehow, this isn’t just a parody of a house full of sick kids. Maybe that’s how it started out, but its been warped.

    How is it possible for Discord, Master of Chaos, to get sick (if he’s not still faking)? This is more character nerfing to make a story, and when that happens, the story is usually broken already. The worm flu is kind of gross and not MLP-cartoony at all. Couldn’t Discord just turn bright green with red stripes or something similarly clownish? No, he’s turned dead rotten meat brown from a death metal album cover, recalling visceral music and screaming barely discernible lyrics of disease and despair pounding into the psyche. The sort of stuff some parents might want to protect childrens’ innocence from.

    Hasbro can’t put anything too obscene in MLP directly, but fishes for a back door, mining their extensive knowledge of America’s pop culture for a ‘fun’ way to proxy obscenity in and make this well-masked ugly party even worse.

    Cadence and Twilight pick a potentially rare flower, wreck the home of what might be a rare wyrm, and appear to have gotten it sick. Hint: its ecologically unfriendly to vandalize nature in 2014, what with so much of it being killed off already. Fluttershy leads the story visiting rare endangered species. So, isn’t this a ‘gotcha’ like S.1, Ep.21, “Over A Barrel” all over again, with Applejack’s treehugging opening the episode then ponies killing trees ending it? Take that, eco-lovers?

    Cadence has combat magic similar to Twilight now, and flashes a hint of wanting to be a bad girl. Is this useful to girls who aren’t laddette wannabes, or are laddettes what girls are supposed to want to be now? Is this a lad’s guide on how to fool caring girls by women who know? What am I watching here?

    Neither Twilight nor Cadence express concern for Rarity and Applejack lying sick somewhere with a mystery flu. Nor are they angry at Discord for doing this. The implications go right over their heads. Discord deliberately infected Rarity and Applejack to render them helpless, then just left them, too sick to warn Twilight and surely needing help themselves. This is a funny prank? Run around playing tag, you’re diseased? Biowarfare can be fun, get over it? The animation is amazing; the look in AJ’s and Rarity’s eyes when they see what’s coming is spot-on. For a screamer flick when the first helpless victims disbelievingly meet Mr. Chainsaw.

    Loyalty to friends!? Loyalty to the viewers? What’s that compared to pulling a fast one hard on the trusting under-informed sheeple, zombie. Like when the Mane 6 were nagging nags in “Over A Barrel”, an open inside joke that only gets better with inside knowledge of the pun. Like “Kick me” written in a foreign language on an unwitting pretty girl’s nametag at a party, only more surreal and a lot meaner.

    Discord is supposed to be reformed into reforming, but the writing team gleefully made him as irredeemable a psychopath as possible for a kids show yet duck censor. S.3, Ep.10 “Keep Calm and Flutter on” happened, but it didn’t. Discord’s a caricature too now, empathy reset to zero as the writers cheer asocial behavior, then turn on him as well. Some of these gags could have been funny, maybe, were some hint of conscience evident, but there’s none to be had.

    This episode freaks me out the door, really not wanting to watch MLP:FIM any further. There isn’t any redeeming quality to the S.4 creative team and no way to remediate the franchise. MLP:FIM is just a mean spirited platform where cleverly bigoted bullies use cultural knowledge, psychological science, and animation science to play ‘gotcha’ mass head games. MLP:FIM is without conscience and spreading it around.

    The raw mechanical appeal of MLP:FIM has often been tested against the conscience and good taste of its viewers. The experiment now? Ramp it up. What messages won’t viewers accept from this delivery system, and what kind of reactions can they provoke from the few who can see through the media spell. Upping the propaganda routine to lay psych bombs at this level bodes ill, and Rainbow Dash has the right idea; its time to bail.

  35. “Why can’t a woman, be more like a man?” – My Fair Lady (1964), Pygmalion (1913).

    So how did MLP:FIM get to this point of no return. There are a few interpretations. MLP:FIM buffs its S.4 storytelling machine with the agenda introduced as early as S.1, Ep.7 “Dragonshy”, by concluding to the above question, “Why not.” What can’t not be said through the mouths of My Little Ponies.

    S.4, Ep.5 “Flight to the Finish” returns to the ‘Equestria Games’ storyarch introduced in S.3, Ep.11, “Just for Sidekicks”. The elitist agenda promotes the Olympics, the poster premise is a sporting take on ‘the show must go on’. Poster and agenda elements are narrowly complimentary in sport cliches. Meritocracy of action and spirit must convincingly prevail in the myth to deny the reality that that isn’t elitism’s preferred reality of being rewarded no matter what. Where MLP:FIM sticks to the cliche, it’s really got heart. Where it departs to elitist triumphalism, MLP loses the FIM part.

    The premise has the Cutie Mark Crusaders (CMC) trio of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, participate in a cheerleading competition. The prize – becoming ‘Games flagbearers for Ponyville. The setup follows the rivalry betweeen the CMC and ‘Spoiled Mean Girls’ (SMG) team of Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara. Note the numerical disparity. Despite teams of three on the chalkboard, none of the rival teams form trios. Twist doesn’t join the token guys, Snips and Snails, and the SMG don’t grab a random 3rd wheel. Familiar background characters somehow don’t matter enough to form the power of three; that’s ingroup prerogative. The fix is in.

    The CMC cheer theme is, Ponyville is a town where friendship reigns. Despite only the self-involved playground cliques being shown, Ponyville is special because its an integrated pony community. However, the rest of Equestria isn’t segregated save for Cloudsdale, since earth ponies and unicorns can’t easily fly or walk on clouds. Pony unity and harmony was explained in S.2, Ep.1, “Hearth’s Warming Eve”; genuine cross-pony friendships are normal but nameless others don’t count.

    A running joke is ‘professionalism’, but Hasbro missed the joke. Professionalism simply means mercenary with a smiley face; success at doing something for money. Quality is incidental, as the free market is rarely free to choose what to choose. Amateur sport is about the love of sport activity and positive ideals of amateur sport above and beyond their free market value. ‘Professional’ profiteering from charity, has a controversial place in not-for-profits.

    A more appropriate word for professionalism in a not-for-profit context might be ‘decorum’, a formal standard of behavior upholding integrity and fairness. Rainbow Dash was coaching all the teams, and was right to go out of her way keep the CMC together. However, she failed to maintain decorum when she openly tells the CMC she wants them to win. In contrast, Ms. Harshwhinny is lampooned as Ms. Stuck-Up-Funny-Face for behaving correctly – impartial and not indulging favoritism. Ms. Harshwhinny wasn’t a good little insider… so, maybe that’s the point.

    The main conflict, Scootaloo dropping out of the competition because she can’t fly, makes no sense. The CMC cheerleading routine needs all three ponies; Scootaloo’s trick riding makes the show, but the loss of any one pony breaks it. Scootaloo’s selfless ‘you go on without me’ meme has no rationale but self-pity, but somehow its pushed to look self-sacrificing. Then, Apple Bloom angrily leads Sweetie Belle to abandon Scootaloo for quitting, which also makes no sense. Scootaloo was the victim of a psych-out from team SMG for not being able to fly, hard as she tries. For her friends not empathize with her is unconvincing. Scottaloo even led Sweetie Belle to Apple Bloom’s defense against social bullying when they first met in S.1, Ep.12, “Call of the Cutie”. The CMC have a herstory of close empathy, but the plot rides on Scootaloo’s closest friends not noticing her visibly tearing herself to pieces over being flightless. (Where were Scootaloo’s parents during her crisis?)

    The girls complain instead, that the new flying routine is all about Scootaloo. But, either routine has Scotaloo jump through a hoop; take out trick riding, and its less about her than before. The CMC relationship is reset to zero for nothing. The CMC has had spontaneous conflicts before, but not like this. Like Pinkie not covering Rarity from being hit by a vine in “Princess Twilight Sparkle’, or RD and AJ competing again in “Castle Mania”, “Flight to the Finish” follows a pattern of ‘guy-ness’ governing girls’ Season 4 relationships thus far. At one point Scootaloo refers to her friends as ‘guys’, not girls or fillies – a freudian slip. “Flight to the Finish” was essentially a guy teambuilding story.

    Drawing loosely from an article by Lisa Wade, “American Men’s Hidden Crisis: They Need More Friends!”, some researchers believe guy relationships are built around ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ (s2s) external activities; emotions may contribute to getting things done but must never get in the way. Girl relationships are built around ‘face-to-face’ (f2f) emotional supportiveness. Amongst guys in an s2s relationship, quitting would be taboo because ‘gettin ‘er done’ proxies for intimacy; intimacy itself is unmanly, weak, and feminine distraction. Amongst girls in a f2f relationship, there is no proxy for intimacy but intimacy; trusting in knowing someone’s heart. F2f is a bond applicable over a range of f2f and s2s activities, but s2s relationships may limit bonding to just that activity and never approach f2f depth.

    Socializing and rewarding girls to be more like boys in their relationships is attacking the root of girl culture. This episode’s villains, team SMG, were exponents of girl friendship, the CMC, guy friendship. Although united in meaness, Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara don’t fight and bicker like cartoon villains, but remain on their own, win or lose, truly supportive of each other. The CMC would drop a friend to win, need RD to overcome this, and only to complete a winning team. True friendship, like true sport, exists for its ideal of itself, whether shoulder-to-shoulder or face-to-face.

    Its no secret western guy culture has a few problems. What Wade doesn’t cover well, is that intimacy can become a weapon of psychological advantage, deception and lasting emotional harm. The article claims North American white males are the most friendless lot in society. Alienation concerns are nothing new. MLP:FIM capitalizes on this potential emotional vulnerability by commodifying its version of friendship as a must-have. A male cultural crisis brought about by unhealthy elitist masculinity (patriarchy) is not going to be solved by women socialized in the image of men, or rewarding elitism in women (matriarchy). Patriarchy now angles for the sincerest form of flattery – imitation – from girl culture.

    Mature face-to-face relationships are a powerful defense against the antisocial. Kept immature, f2f is a weapon mimicking prosocial behavior against itself. The lasting rewards of healthy f2f are desired for the s2s priorities of misogynistic patriarchs and matriarchs which deny the responsibilities of f2f. The classic war propaganda formulation with a new set of words and masks.

    • I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt. I honestly tried. It is painfully obvious that you have such a huge problem with the show that anyone that likes it is automatically a whitist apologist and a tool for the patriarchy in your not humble at all opinion. I think that is what has bothered me the most about your rants. The heavy handed holier than thou approach, as if no-one BUT you can POSSIBLY have an opinion that matters. Not only that, you do believe that every little detail in the show is planned and plotted to be the most effective propaganda possible. Here’s your tin-hat and ‘I hate the Illuminati’ T-shirt.
      You are expecting perfection, from your point of view, from the writers. Problem is, not only is no-one perfect, I rather suspect that your world view is more than a little misandric, hateful of western culture and racist against whites, judging by the rants that you entered here.

      I’m not going to bother trying to debate detail for detail and point for point on the show, after all, you don’t get in the mud to wrestle with the pig. Several people already did and made reasoned discussions that you promptly wrote off as ‘propagandist oversimplification teaching talking’ or some other such ridiculous nonsense. Not only that, I can tell that anything I can come up with you will explain away as my “programming” to support the patriarchal agenda and the militarist indoctrination.

      And yeah, I do recall that I chastised Wolfarmor for yelling at you. I owe him an apology.

      Good luck with your life AT. Something tells me that you are going to need it.

      • There was never any honest benefit of the doubt from Bronydom, though it was very white of you to offer. Its regrettable that people like you leave no other word to convey the meaning of your patronizing race-and-gender-based assumption of power and control such that your arbitrary personal approval would have any bearing at all on universal objective definitions of right and wrong drawn from science and philosophy. It brings decent white people down even as it conveys that sense of taint by the few upon all. Like when a woman uses the word “men” as a curse, and what an indulgent male smile in return means.

        Nonetheless I’m pleased you have stopped arrogantly faking neutrality, and openly admit support for Bronies like Wolfarmor.

        Aggressive male posturing faintly layered with implied threats I’ll need luck to deal with, isn’t exactly humble. Carrying the ad hominem a little too far with a vague appeal to force follows in order of escalation from other earlier attempts at ‘rebuttal’. An earlier friendly-appearing condescension to be ‘loved and tolerated’ for being offended by the innately offensive was treated accordingly. Parochial scolding, mansplaining and smart-shaming also lacked humility, so dismissed in kind with cause. Nitpicking fantasy fiction is a pop tradition; ask any Trekkie. MLP:FIM introduces a juicier moral dimension to reasoning fails in popular fantasy.

        MLP:FIM is also a commercial; it’s propaganda by default. Analyzing it as hostile propaganda art reflective of its time, selling more than plastic ponies, breaks no rules. Including informal rules of courtesy as this is not a Brony forum. Anne Lappe has vid called “Busting The Myth Of Parent Choice: Food Marketing And Its Impact On Kids”, an overview of the propaganda effort just to sell junk food, literally from the cradle. Art informs. Art reflects. The science of commercials – propaganda – is our dominant art form.

        Whatever hat you’re wearing has prevented you from noticing that far right conservatives, ultra left liberals, and radical libertarians have all been proven correct where it matters. There is out-of-control state-corporate spying, banksterism destroying the financial system, and wars without end, all breaking the Western middle class and dissing civil rights and freedoms at home and abroad. Western civilization in North America is destroying itself from within, and anyone it can reach without. Social values and actions are cultural outcomes; MLP:FIM is a highly successful cultural product in this age of decadence and decay, and so worthy of examination.

        My core positions are guided by enlightened Western thought. Individuals have rights and freedoms and should not be lied to, cheated of, or stolen from, people have value as human beings, and our common good is achieved in upholding those rights and freedoms as inalienable. The Western tradition of rhetoric and logical debate was applied in my arguments. A Western aesthetic of beauty and truth are the lens through which the real and fictional worlds were interpreted. Your position appears at best regressive and at worst hostile to that Western heritage. A heritage that’s part of world culture now; universal. It belongs to all who accept its light on truth. The Enlightenment can’t be taken back just because you don’t like it any more or think it applies only to people like yourself.

        That latter sort of elitism was the sticking point of various incarnations of Illuminati. The 16th c. Spanish Aluminados, and Adam Weishaupt’s 18th c. German masonic Illuminati, styled the teachings of Jesus to only apply to them, and were squashed by the Inquisition and the Jesuits respectively for heresy. Since I’m arguing against bigotry and support freedom of association, accusations of hating occult groups are neither accurate nor appreciated. Should any group foster bigotry and abuse freedom of association against human rights, obviously good people will disapprove. An Eye of Horus did appear in S.2, EP.12, “Family Appreciation Day”. Anyone can use that symbol; its part of Egypt’s substantial legacy to world culture for anyone to study and determine for themselves if its used true or false. The loss of ancient libraries and art in Egypt, in Syria, and Mali are as much a crime against humanity as the great loss of life – destruction sponsored by those who backstab peaceful Westerners and weaponize the fruits of their knowledge and labour. Those same destructive forces also strive to kill expression of the Constitution of the United States of America, a product of the Enlightenment that has informed every other modern constitution for the better.

        So which of us really hates the West and white people? Myself for defending humanitarian truths held self evident, or you for selling them out. Planting seeds of prosocial values and awareness for the next generation is expected of any childrens’ TV show. How hard could entertaining honest decency be at that level with a foolproof vehicle like MLP? As conflicted as S.1 was, there was an underlying thread of prosocial idealism throughout its episodes S.4 lacks. Support for the original creative leadership always appeared mixed and opposition dishonest in its methods. In “Over A Barrel”, that sincerity of prosocial intent highlighted its betrayal.

        In “Daring Don’t”, topper in sequel to “Over A Barrel” gags, there was nothing to betray. S.4 is sincerely antisocial. Even “Pinkie Apple Pie” is interpretable as a dancing marionette, setup for a ‘gotcha’ hazing episode to follow in sequence if not sequel. Deliberation is practiced enough for blue flu to vomit forth naturally.
        I’ve read and watched Brony reviews; mine are hardly rants within that spectrum, except that I’m not a Brony. Ten episodes into S.4, and only Ep.9 “Pinkie Apple Pie” stands out as a good episode, with only a minor red flag for Pinkie and Apple Bloom doing some cheerleader-y military snap-to homage recalling the military’s spin to be a family. Dysfunctional abusive families into hazing, corruption and omerta for the convenience of corrupt politics don’t count as positive examples.

        Dismissing a basic standard of right and wrong as ‘too perfect’ to expect is a nonsensical reason to discard ethical streetproofing. MLP:FIM is rarely able to tell a story straight without tying in some pop culture reference, but their standard has moved from cool to cruel and ugly. For a show officially targeting 3+ year-old girls? Something’s wrong. Sociopaths lie, but the way to catch them out is to observe the plot holes in their tall tales. The vacuum in moral reasoning skills in particular. In S.4 Ep.7, “Bats”, Twilight botches a spell then deftly passes blame as ‘ours’ rather than ‘hers’, recalling S.2, Ep.3, “Lesson Zero”. Those Twilight interpretations are in sharp contrast and denial of the more responsible Twilight in S.1, Ep.10, “Swarm of the Century”.

        You haven’t presented any counter argument, just accused me of racism to hide behind white people, tin-foil hatting to hide behind smart people, and ranting to hide behind polite people. That’s slick use of the ad hominem. I’m guessing you sat around trying to make an argument that could stick, and realized, you couldn’t. My world view isn’t misandric; it just won’t recognize neoconservatives or hardcore bronies as true manly men. Bullies rarely are.

        • And yet, despite all your rhetoric of being “superior in thought” you continually blast all bronies as racist misogynists. Such a broad brush to paint with, one might think you were prejudiced. Physician, heal thyself. By the way, thank you for proving my point quite clearly. You promptly asserted that my neutrality attempt was “arrogant” I had no idea that trying to be neutral on a topic was somehow arrogant. How strange a position for an “enlightened” thinker to take. You also assumed that I am a brony. I’m actually an animation enthusiast. I’m much more interested in the technical aspects of the animation itself.

          If you can be bothered to recall, I had previously stated that you were making valid points, but the constant harangue of vitriol you spewed was clouding your point and removing it from consideration from those that would otherwise listen. Well, congratulations, chalk up one more that will not listen to your acidic tongue.

          The propaganda I was referring to was your tendency to find any little thing that could be interpreted as supporting militarism, NSA spying, etc. Of COURSE the show, as a toy advert is a form of propaganda. How silly of me to think otherwise.

          The luck statement was not a threat, just an observation that you have a tendency to bring out the worst in those around you simply by opening your mouth and insulting all within earshot. If I wanted to threaten you, I’d be direct.

          As far as your world view not being misandric, well, you fooled me! I don’t think there is a single post that you made that does not disparage men in general at least once. As for bullying, you should talk. Any that disagree with you is intellectually pummeled into submission, surrender or retreat. Is that any way to wield that superior education? Of course you think it is. After all, any that disagree are smart shaming sexists, aren’t they?

          A friendly word of advice, even though I know you won’t listen… Not everyone has an ulterior motive. Not everyone fits into those nice, neat little labeled slots you love to put people in. Some people simply do not lie. And finally, people are more likely to listen to you if you aren’t busy telling them they are racist, sexist pigs.

          Good day, AT.

  36. MLP:FIM S.4, Ep.6 “Power Ponies”, repeats the ‘gotcha’ pranking formula introduced in S.1, Ep.1-2, “Princess Twilight Sparkle”, in which something dramatic appears to happen – the Mane 6 retire the Elements of Harmony, but ‘fooled you!’ nothing did – they just put the Elements back where they belonged and should be able to access them at any time. Its kind of like hutzpah, but sad. This premise, the Mane 6 and Spike have a LAN (Local Area Net) party, the nerd version of a rave. The setup, Spike bought an enchanted comic book with an immersive spell allowing readers to enter a superhero scenario. MLP:FIM also has a real comic book line, so its surprising Spike wasn’t product-placing comic books sooner. The moral of the story is self worth and confidence in one’s ability doesn’t need special powers.

    If one is familiar with the ‘holodeck malfunction’ storytrope of Star Trek “The Next Generation” fame, and the underdog/sidekick superhero cliche, then its clear where this episode is going. The Mane 6 beat the scenario to escape the program, and underdog Spike will prove himself, to himself and his friends.

    Coincidentally, NSA chief General Keith Alexander had his office decorated in a stainless steel interpretation of the Star Trek: The next Generation bridge. ST:TNG is famous for its ‘technobabble’ assault on scientific literacy, but also introduced Starfleet’s Section 31, the United Federation of Planets very own NSA. This bit of trivia may mean something, or nothing at all. In any case, this episode feels like a company team-building exercise playing ‘City of Heroes’. The NSA was revealed to have infiltrated ‘World of Warcraft’, while CIA venture capital ops have tangential links a buyout of ‘Runescape’. All wonderful uses of the taxpayers’ money.

    “Power Ponies” falls apart early as the Mane 6 enter the LAN venue, usually an underused building basement. In this case, its the Castle of the Two Sisters. They are apparently there to fix up the ruined library… but why? The castle is in dangerous ruins, in the middle of dangerous Everfree Forest. Preparing to move books back to Ponyville or Canterlot makes more sense, as none of the Mane 6 are qualified castle engineers. A thousand-year old heritage property and historic battle site just needs new curtains and a little soap and water, all so Spike can feel left out. Because, we all know women are natural domestics.

    Spike is reset to zero from Twilight’s assistant to redundant seventh wheel, without even a checklist to check. Still, its not as bad as S.3, Ep.9, “Spike At Your Service”, where Spike couldn’t handle domestic chores at all, even though he clearly maintains the Ponyville library while assisting Twilight’s studies.

    Enchanted comic books must be a very new Equestrian magic technology, because none of the Mane 6 including very well-read Twilight recognize the effect. For the most part they have a ball RPG-ing superheroes in a multiplayer spellgame. Ever straight adorkable Twilight has trouble making her super powers super, while frivolous Rarity has a ball, spellcasting with ease. Rainbow Dash homages Thor, Pinkie moves like The Flash, and Applejack slings her lassoo like Wonder Woman. Fluttershy becomes She-Hulk, taking out the villainess Mane-iac, a ponyfied Dr. Octopus, in a fit of ‘Flutter Rage’ because Mane-iac injured a firefly. This last bit is oddly forced, and Fluttershy fed (live!) worms and fish (a gift from the bear?) to animals, a scene that should have never happened in S.1, Ep.7, “Dragonshy”.

    The climactic big fight is made possible by cartoon supervillain lapses. Mane-iac didn’t capture sidekick Spike when she had the chance, leaving him to rescue the Mane 6. Then, she didn’t use her hairspray of doom weapon to re-freeze the Mane 6 when they escaped, relying instead on bungling minions.

    The ending was anti-climatic; the ‘enchanted comic book’ gimmick was nothing more than that. The sense of this adventure going somewhere big was deflated, but so were any face-to-face character developments from the shoulder-to-shoulder experience. Spike supposedly learned he was a valued team member, but did little more than accidentally host a pony LAN party. “Power Ponies” ends returning Spike to irrelevance. The official politically correct moral of the story, a friend doesn’t need super powers to be a super friend, is cleverly undermined with little subliminal satire; the ideal is just make-believe.

    An MLP superhero episode going nowhere is not surprising. The superhero tradition celebrates self-empowered individualism motivated to go to town for justice. The Mane 6 operate with far less independent initiative than G.I. Joe. Perhaps the least obvious error, was the lack of vision. Since none of this was ‘real’, short of copying “The Last Starfighter” and the comic book being a recruitment game/test, the Power Ponies are also done after one episode.

    Relatively few superheroes, even female, have been designed by women. As the ancient Goddess Athena was conceived whole from the head of Zeus, so Wonder Woman was created by a man. My Little Ponies have the distinction of being originally created for preschool girls and boys by a woman, an ingenious achievement by any measure for innovative simplicity, patentable brandable originality, and mass market potential. Toy horses were changed forever. MLP Generation 4, Season 4′s MLP:FIM may have female names in the credits, but the stories produced aren’t much different than any non-feminist show, worse for knowing what qualities to deny for guy appeal, MLP’s new unofficial audience.

    Recalling what appeared to be the original premise, a feminist example of pony career girls finding friendship and high adventure, “Power Ponies” could easily have been reset in the ‘real’ pony city of Manehatten, or Maretropolis introduced as another Equestrian city. The Mane 6 and Spike might have been visiting the museum library for clues to the locked box from S.1, Ep.1-2 “Princess Twilight Sparkle”. There, they instead find museum artifacts imparting the super powers of ancient legendary heroes, still remembered and celebrated in comics books, only to face the modern villainess, Mane-iac. But a different story came more naturally.

    The meaning of superheroes aside, “Power Ponies” clearly goes back to its roots as a shallow commerical. Digital rights management is something the entertainment industry really wants accepted. Its implied Spike bought his comic book, not borrowed it from a library. “Power Ponies” concludes with some sort of ‘digital rights management’ spell disappearing the comic book/spellgame after Spike finished it just once; how magical.

    • Charckles says:

      You have to see the season finale.
      It explain all that happened since Season 3. And, yes, Discord learned the lesson.

  37. MLP:FIM S.4, Ep.7 “Bats!” is an agenda-dominant episode, but unfortunately not to promote apples and apple juice. Constant police and military jargon colours an overtly shoulder-to-shoulder scenario. The poster premise is the ‘B’ horror movie, the setup, the Mane 6 combat vampires – fruit bats, that is. Talking ‘stakeouts’ and ‘action stations’ makes the writing team more suited to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe rather than My Little Pony. Except that MLP has the audience of a war-weary public seeking escapism. Although the overt premise and moral to the story are positive, the presentation emphasizes a negative subtext.

    Applejack’s orchard is infested with vampire fruit bats, and Mane 6 have three choices; round up the pests (and then what?), share part of the orchard with them, or change the bats so they won’t eat apples. Solutions 1 and 3 are complicated by the bats’ high degree of sophont, self-aware personhood; they can even read. Solution 2 is a variation of trap-cropping, or honey-pot planting, wherein pests of one plant are drawn to a more attractive crop. Usually bait plant and protected plant are not the same, but workable because of the bats’ apparent intelligence and Fluttershy’s ability to communicate with them. The writing team chooses all three to fill out the story. The setup starts to go downhill in a hurry from here, as it seems vampire bats aren’t the only ones who “don’t know how to act”.

    Applejack sings the Mane 5 into a witch-burning frenzy without a trace of satirical irony. Some cartoony hint recognizing they are off; that as villains or as protagonists, they’re effacingly stupid and laughable in their antics. However, the Mane 5 are straight up prepared to lay some solution 1 nasty upon the bats. Only Fluttershy opposes on moral grounds. Twilight decides at the last minute to apply a bat-fixing spell for solution 3, setting up the main conflict. Fluttershy turns into a vampire batpony when Twilight’s spell misfires, and must be turned back. Therein lie three more asocial errors.

    First, the fruit bats are portrayed with a high degree of ‘personhood’; they aren’t parasprites (S.1 Ep.10, “Swarm of the Century”). Non-consensual mind control is an unethical violation of free will. For example, flashing “I Love MLP” every few frames of animation faster than it can be consciously seen, yet still be processed by the brain, is illegal subliminal suggestion. Animating and vocalizing a propaganda cartoon with openly detectable prosocial psychological cues to sell antisocial messages is perfectly legal. The difference is the degree to which conscious free choice is theoretically possible. MLP humanizes critters just to subhumanize them. like the sheep in S.2, Ep.5, “Sisterhood Social”, who get the gate slammed in their faces for saying say Applejack could have just asked them to enter the corral.

    Second, there is the antimoral lesson of Twilight dodging responsibility for her spell misfire by assigning the blame all-round as “our fault”. It was Twilight’s idea to find a magical alternative to catching the bats, she chose the spell, and she cast the spell without considering possible unintended consequences happening to Fluttershy, who would be connected to the bats via her own magic. Twilight even said she needed the undivided attention of the bats. The bats did not give Twilight undivided attention, they were giving it to Fluttershy and there was no handoff of control so Fluttershy could disconnect. How could Twilight miss such a basic change to the spell? The primary responsibility was Twilight’s; no ‘we’ about it unless one applauds Twilight for deftly dodging responsibility.

    Third, a canonical error was made, recharacterizing Fluttershy’s ‘stare of conscience’ into a simple hypnotic stare she now can control. This is a major qualitative change. S.1, Ep.7, “Dragonshy”, saw ‘the stare’ used to guilt-trip a misbehaving dragon, establishing it as Mom’s disapproving eye on magical steroids. S.1, Ep. 17, “Stare Master” established that Fluttershy has no control over ‘the stare’; it just happens with the right moral-emotional motivation. S.3, Ep.10, “Keep Calm and Flutter On” appeared to establish that ‘the stare’ needs a reciprocating conscience to work, and Discord didn’t have one. It was probably the most ingenious and artfully resonant special power in the show, recalling Marvel Comic’s Ghostrider, but bright and positive MLP-style. Well, now its junked in S.4; so much for that.

    As the archetype of kindness, Fluttershy is often a vehicle for the writing team’s low regard for the value. When Fluttershy overdramatically balks at misusing the stare, wailing “It just feels wrong!”, the writers’ sneering anti-liberal cynicism shines through. As sure as the nice kind girl dies in a ‘B’ screamer movie, Fluttershy’s going to turn. Although peer pressure to do wrong is a realistic dilemma, and Fluttershy learns to say no to friends at the end, would the Mane 5 dis her ‘no’ in the first place? Would Fluttershy yield on a matter of conscience in the first place? Are these characters that morally flexible?

    Fluttershy was willing to steal Princess Celestia’s pet bird to try healing it in S.1, Ep.22 “A Bird in the Hoof”. She lives at the edge of the Everfree forest, not near her pony friends. Doing the right thing by her archetype motivates her. The implied face-to-face strength of the pony girls is constantly used to validate shoulder-to shoulder scenarios f2f wisdom might reject. S2s-f2f dissonance has always plagued MLP:FIM, but is no longer plausibly deniable as accidental bad writing.

    Applejack’s remorse at Fluttershy’s transformation is somehow perfunctory, like the writing team memorized the words, but had no feel for them. Hauling out AJ’s prize apple as bait is a false sacrifice. They could have simply used another basket of apples or better yet fresh apple juice for bat bait. Similarly, Twilight could have used her telekineses at any time to grab Fluttershy for the others to restrain, but instead staged a far less reliable trap. She caught Rainbow Dash in mid-dive in S.2, Ep.3, “Lesson Zero”, and froze 5 panicked ponies in S.4, Ep. 3 “Castle Mane-ia”. Meaningless gestures are, well, meaningless.

    ‘Nerf’ is a gaming reference to dumbing down a game mechanic for no good reason, usually to appease weaker players or an even weaker creative team. Forcing something that doesn’t make sense to appear to work is bad storytelling. Nerfing character powers, for no other reason than to make the story work, breaks the story. It may flatter the creative team’s ego to write for themselves rather than the characters they have been entrusted with, but the insincerity is there for all to see, moreso when ideal story mechanics like ‘The Stare’ are broken.

    The nerfed carricature of Fluttershy only exists to move the plot, not advance her archetype. Fluttershy gains some teeth, so to say, and the story ends with Fluttershy ominously retaining small vampire fangs. By the value agenda of the writers, learning to say no to friends on a matter of conscience has to be officially good to be PC, but with a Freudian ‘gotcha’ by accident or design, its really unofficially bad, a sentiment to be felt and accepted more than consciously understood.

    • Charckles says:

      Well, MLP Episode “Rainbow Falls” has a little anti-militarism scene:
      When Rainbow dash is in the hospital, she sees Soarin (one of the wonderbolts) in one of the beds. It is stated that his teammates decided to not only not visit him, but also considered outright replacing him with Rainbow Dash (not just his teammates, NO PONY HAS VISITED HIM INCLUDING HIS FAMILY). Not to mention that he sounds so sad when he tells Rainbow that no one’s visited him, but then plays it off as them being too busy practicing.
      Yeah, i recognize that Rainbow Dash did not realize how cruel her so-called “heroes” are, but this is one of the reasons of why most of the fans didn’t like the episode itself.

    • Charckles says:

      Oh, and you have to remind that the Bats would have died in starvation thanks to Twilight. Its like a green message.

  38. NorseWarriorPrincess says:

    Even if Rainbow Dash isn’t supposed to be gay would you be offended if I wrote a fanfiction pairing her with AppleJack? They are soooo cute together. BTW I really love your show.

  39. The argument needs to cease to exist. I’ve been in a “nerd off” which basically is a never ending argument ( I’M NOT SAYING anybody’s a Nerd here.). The last thing i need to find two possibly grown men / women in an endless argument.

    P.S im not trying to step on anybody’s toes.

    ~Brady.
    A concerned 15 year old boy.

  40. Scrubbly Wubbly says:

    Dear AT,

    Yes, racism exists in the world.

    Yes, it is important to know history from both sides.

    To constantly point out that someone is ‘white’ in culture is the same as pointing out that someone is ‘asian’ in culture.

    You could find the same stereotypes in anime, and how ‘asian-ness’ is the predominate culture and values are spread throughout the films.

    Congratulations, you can identify ‘culture.’

    The predominate themes of hope, being an individual in your society, and being a girl with different interests makes huge strides against gender inequality. That is a ‘win’ in my book.

    This isn’t the ONLY thing that children watch, or adults for that matter.

    If one or two episodes really cause some dischord in your life, maybe you should make your own animated series with the values you so desperately want in this one.

    You’ll be following Lauren Faust’s footsteps, because if you know anything about the woman who was heavily involved with the first season of this series, then you’ll know that’s what she’s been fighting at it’s core, gender inequality, and has made some wonderful advancements in children’s entertainment that breaks those boundaries.

    One step at a time.

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