Why does everypony hate Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara so badly?
That question came up recently when discussing my latest (clop)fic, Special Talents (NOT foalcon, as you probably already know if you're reading this!) After all - we've got Gilda, Blueblood, Trixie - so many other characters on this show who are portrayed as horribly nasty people, if not bullies in their own right, and they get not just fan appeal, but one redemption fic after another!
So... what is it that makes Di and Silvy different, especially since they're just children, and should therefore be given a little more slack?
First, let's look at what makes most of the "villains" on the show "better" than the Terrible Two. Blueblood, Photo Finish, Jet Set, and other ponies who are stuck up, snobbish pricks are... well, stuck up, snobbish pricks, not bullies. The other three bullies in the show, Trixie, Gilda, and Discord, all have something to make it not quite so bad.
Trixie is a showmare. When she's being a "bully," she's either taking down hecklers and entertaining everypony who isn't being humiliated on-stage, or she's under the magical influence of the Alicorn Amulet. So it's not so hard to see beyond her nastiness and look into why she's nasty instead, which opens up the path to redemption of some sort.
Discord... well, he's a bully, but he's a clown of a bully, not a mean one. He's not walking around, telling ponies that they're worthless. He's walking around, and giving you a mustache because it's fun. Again, he's entertaining - and, of course, he's the villain of the episode. We later see him redeemed in canon, which shows how easy it is to forgive him for prior bad behavior when it's all pretty well fixed afterwards.
The fact he's voiced by Jon deLancie helps too, of course. I have mild hopes that, one day, Patrick Stewart will voice a nemesis for Discord....
And, as for Gilda... well, she's the one who shows up as a villain the most often, doesn't she? She's also the only one of them who, like Di and Silver Spoon, is a bully simply for the sake of being a bully from what we see. On top of that... she's a predator, in a world of prey. One kind of expects she's going to be mean, and given the fact that griffons, in mythology, love to eat horses... Hell, Ponyville's lucky she didn't just grab somepony for dinner!
But there are two things that make Di and Silvy worse than all the others. First, there's the fact that they're recurring bullies. Trixie shows up once, and the second time she's only evil because of magic. Gilda shows up once, and given that Pinkie's annoying her, who can say she's really that nasty all the time? She might just be mean because she was having a really, really bad stretch going on, and Pinkie started her bad attitude rolling downhill by trying to butt in with Rainbow.
By contrast, Di and Silvy show, repeatedly, that they're bullies without provocation, especially Diamond Tiara. Of the two, Silvy's generally the one I've seen get better treatment most of the time, and I think that's because in the show, we'll see that she's not the ringleader - she's the follower. She also breaks away from Di once in a while, like we see in Family Appreciation Day.
There's something even more important though. I think what really makes Silver Spoon and, especially, Diamond Tiara unforgivable to so many people is that... they're children.
Gilda, Trixie, Blueblood - no matter how much you dislike them, they're caricatures. They're adults exhibiting (mostly) childish levels of exaggerated behavior, and that provides a little disconnect for most bronies. But Diamond Tiara is a child bully - she's that much closer to the people so many of us had to deal with when we were kids. Sure, she might grow up and be decent. Sure, she might suddenly have a life-changing epiphany and become a good pony. But until we see that happen, she's the perfect stand-in for the ponies we had all those wonderfully horrifying fantasies about when we were younger, and... well, at least this way, nopony real gets hurt when we indulge that shadenfreude-fueled side of us that wants to see the bully taken down several pegs.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with Babs, and why I dislike her (and her episode) so strongly. Here's the thing - like a lot of us, I imagine, I was bullied when I was younger. A lot. I even got the lecture, multiple times, about how "it takes two to fight" and so it was equally my fault that I was being treated like a human punching bag. I think my favorite was when one of the teachers, trying to help stop the bullying, pulled one of the more active jackasses aside along with me so we could talk things out. My list of problems? The beatings, the taunting, the constant feeling that I couldn't go outside without having to hide. His list of problems?
I used big words. Because, y'know, in the third grade you're not supposed to be able to use the word vocabulary, apparently.
The best part? The teacher treated these as being equally responsible for the bad blood, and said that I'd have to stop using my full command of the English language, and he'd have to stop beating me up. I had some particularly choice examples of my mastery of the English language I wanted to use at that point, but I didn't.
I've since managed to outlast the bastards, and after I learned that it didn't count as "fighting" if they tried to kick you in the face and you grabbed their foot, put it on your shoulder, and walked away, they stopped trying to do all of that too. There was still the general ostracization, and the attempts to get at me by picking on my much more reactive (and autistic) younger brother, but eventually we both got out of the Hell that was the Modern School System and moved on.
I've heard a lot of other people talk about their own troubles with bullies since then, particularly those who never were able to grow quite as thick as skin as I did and who came closer to doing something drastic. And I've sympathized a lot with them, except for the ones who ended up doing the one thing that I... can't say that I forgive, but I have to say I can understand.
The ones who turned around and became bullies themselves in order to deal with it. And this is what I hate, hate, HATE One Bad Apple for. I don't mean the ones who retaliated against their bullies - that's not becoming a bully! That's a desperate attempt to try and make it stop, by making the person who's making your life a living Hell know what it feels like. It's often degraded as being revenge, but a lot of the time, there's a part of the victim that can't accept that they're being made to suffer like this knowingly.
"Surely," that tiny part says, "if they knew what it was like, they'd stop!"
Well, it usually doesn't work, but that's the motivation. What really gets me though, is when somebody who does know what it feels like... decides to pass it on to somebody else. It's the lowest form of bullying, because you should damn well know better. The CMC's didn't become bullies in the One Bad Seed episode - Babs did, and that is damned, damned hard to forgive. It's even harder to forgive when you realize that Babs just had to put up with it for one week, and those bullies would be out of her life forever! Sure, it meant that Ponyville wasn't as safe from bullying as she'd thought it was, but what did she do instead? She didn't even just play along with Di and Silvy while they were around, she went out of her way to make the CMC's lives, especially Apple Bloom's, miserable.
She became the exact thing she probably had to deal with back home, and for no good reason. If they'd wanted to explore the same idea, she could've helped the CMC's start bullying Di and Silvy back, but they didn't go that direction.
So, honestly, I can see why folks have so much trouble with Silvy and Di. But Babs is the pony I really, really can't stand the idea of having to deal with.