• Member Since 13th Dec, 2014
  • offline last seen February 1st

JLBDreamer


I’m a Pegasister and so I have limited time to devote to fandom being busy in real life most of the time. I’m opening a business as a writer/graphic artist while caring for my elderly parents.

More Blog Posts63

  • 144 weeks
    Update 5/9/16- I'm Back!

    Hi Everypony,

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  • 172 weeks
    [no title]

    I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post but several things that have been looming on the horizon and kept getting delayed in real life finally have started unfolding. I won’t bore you all with details but jury duty, helping my sister get some things straightened out and putting desert landscaping in the backyard all have happened with the past few weeks. I had to postpone my jury duty to

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  • 178 weeks
    Update 9/12/15

    Good morning! Its been a while since I really have posted any anything here on my account accept for odd articles. As you know I was taking a break to try and finish getting my media sites, blog and webpage up. I just was out of town for 5 days last week and since I had some things to catch up on at home I haven’t been able to complete anything.

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    0 comments · 175 views
  • 179 weeks
    I'm Back!

    I'm sorry I disappeared for a while but I had a very wonderful, unexpected trip sprung on me by a family member who knew I needed a break from caregiving. I needed to get things together and it was so rushed when it went through I didn't have time to post everywhere. I wasn't able to finish everything I was working on, including My Fair Draconequus, but I will have it up and finished next week.

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    1 comments · 207 views
  • 183 weeks
    JLBDreamer’s PMV of the Month (August)

    Title: Don’t Stop | PMV Collab
    Editor: RapidBeta; JakeWhyman; MrDeloop; TheLightLeavesThee; TheeLinker; Sambohh; Pixel3000Nerd; Alanj2007Games; JackDC93; GrayFur; LordPony; TheAcleps; Tisteve; Racecarghost1
    Song: “Don’t Stop (The Fat Rat Remix)” by Foster the People
    Series: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic

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    0 comments · 193 views
Jul
17th
2015

Why Slice of Life Was Not Pandering to Fans · 10:05pm Jul 17th, 2015

I absolutely had to comment on the 100th episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This was not only because I enjoyed the episode but because I was surprised with some of the criticism I saw. Namely, I was surprised that not all fans of the show enjoyed seeing the staff canonize some of their fan head canons. I also saw many call it “all over the place” and too wacky at times. Then there are the Bronies who say this was their favorite episode ever and find no fault at all. Over all most fans are examining this episode with either a nit-picky mind-set or with rose-colored glasses and very few seem to be finding a middle ground. By far, the biggest bit of criticism I see is that it is "fan pandering" and many seem to dismiss it off-hand for that reason.

So why is there such an extreme reaction from both perspectives? The few I’ve heard talk about it in a more balanced way still seem to look down on it viewing it as an exercise in pure fan pandering. Are any of these assessments fair?

What is Fan Pandering?

This term is being thrown around too often by people who don't really know the full extent on what it means so let’s start off this discussion with a definition of what it truly means. You see this term doesn't merely mean fan service or fan acknowledgement but a catering to the whims of a fan base. Basically, it’s a symptom of a staff desperate to please everyone in the vocal portion of a fan base in the hopes that they will have a hit on their hands. This often happens if a show is in seasonal rot and wants to milk things and includes many over-the-top jumping the shark moments.

When looking at the episode objectively does it really fit this definition? Can anyone accuse the staff of MLP:FIM of bending over backwards for the fan base? Arguably we've seen some of the best-written episodes in the show in this season. We are seeing the staff try and balance the slice-of-life stories with the adventure more extensively. These aren't signs of a creative slump so there is no motivation for the fan service in Slice of Life other than fan service itself. So does what we see fit the definition of pandering?

A Zany Romp

This is honestly a good episode for what it’s meant to be but I think the confusion comes from the fact that it’s incredibly different than the usual type of episode. This, at its heart, is meant to be an ensemble piece. Its not meant to have a narrative or have striking continuity in the season. It’s a set of stand-alone stories with a central event that connects them all. When examined for what it is meant to be this episode is well written.

The structure of this episode reminded me of an old-style of classic comedy called a screwball comedy. This was a romantic comedy story with a loose narrative where in the main protagonist is thrown into a crazy over the top situation and tries to cope while the zaniness keeps increasing around them usually beset upon them through the actions of a romantic interest. The climax usually is in a completely insane, over-the-top event where the entire ensemble casts’ individual plot threads converge. (If you want to see how crazy these can get take a look at this scene from my favorite screwball comedy “Bringing up Baby”.) The descending action and the tying up of the loose ends allow you to take a breath and say goodbye to the cast and usually reward the protagonist for putting up with the insanity.

In this episode the protagonists are Cranky and Matilda so I suppose this is why I find some similarity to a screwball romantic comedy. They are thrown into the crazy situation of having to have their wedding a day early. This is compounded first by a bugbear attacking the town, the lack of flowers and finding a new wedding planner (since Pinkie Pie is busy battling the beast). The writers chose to include the background ponies that the Brony fandom adopted as favorites. These ponies were paired off with stories that complimented the over-all theme, which is that everyone can make a difference. This was highlighted by each of the “back-ground six” having helped make the event a success in different ways and by Mayor Mare’s speech. The speech not only was relevant to the plot and characters in the episode but also was showing appreciation to the fans.

As you can see there was indeed a structured coherent plot and theme running throughout the story. All of the wacky and over-the-top moments that occurred around the plot didn’t ruin it even if it didn’t have a direct bearing on the events. Perhaps this isn’t the type of humor or story structure many associate with MLP: FIM and that is why it confuses so many fans and analysts. This may not be the best or most impactful story but it does what it sets out to do. It’s funny. Its verbal humor was well written and its site gags were easily recognized. The pop culture references didn’t detract from the flow of the episodes even if you aren’t familiar with what it’s referencing. It is a good episode even if it doesn’t meet every fan’s tastes.

Did Hasbro Sell Out to the Brony Fandom?

Also, I hear some people thinking that Hasbro was selling out and to feel it was including too much of the fanon to the point of distraction. This really isn’t the case though when you look at what they did objectively. The writers don’t canonize everything in the fandom about the background six but embraced only a few details. They took some of the fan ideas they thought were fun, included and expanded on them making them their own thing. That doesn’t seem like over-the-top fan service to me.

Let’s take Time Turner as an example who has been dubbed Doctor Hooves by the fandom. He was featured pretty heavily and its obvious that M. A. Larson was familiar with the fan work “Doctor Hooves and Assistant” giving him scenes with Ditzy/Muffins in several instances (one with strong ship teasing vibes). Though they gave him an interest in time travel and science they did not embrace the idea that he was indeed Doctor Who himself. He relates a back-story in which he is a foal, doesn’t understand what the word “man” means and never directly mentions anything from the Doctor Who universe. Thus the staff isn’t making Time Turner a Time Lord but he is a time traveling eccentric professor (he was addressed as “Doc” by Derpy) who just might be prolonging his age somehow. What we are given is the staff’s version of the fan created persona and not a direct adoption of “Doctor Hooves” into canon.

The second example I’d like to site is Octavia and Vinyl Scratch. Again we see a sort of staff version of the personas created in the fandom. Octavia and Vinyl are indeed roommates as the fans speculated but they are portrayed as more of an “odd couple” than really close best friends. We got a jam session with these two and a sort-of canonization with a “Base Cannon” like Vinyl mobile DJ Booth. Another big difference is that Vinyl was portrayed as mute. The resemblance to the fan versions of these characters is there but its not directly lifted from the fandom. The staff was inspired by the fandom but not directly lifting the characters as they are portrayed in fan works.

The last example is Lyra and Bon Bon and its last for a good reason. This is because the version of them presented here is the least like the fandom’s version of these background characters. Lyra Heartstrings (now that we’ve heard her backstory) is not an anthropology nut but she does still sit very human-like. Bon Bon doesn’t own a candy store but is a secret agent called Sweetie Drops (her original name given in Hasbro merchandise). They do get an unmistakable ship-tease though and are portrayed as close best friends. This shows that the staff isn’t bending over backwards to canonize all fan ideas.

In Conclusion

The episode was a little wacky and over-the-top in a zany comedy way that made it a delightful romp. We got a ton of visual gags related to the fandom (I died laughing when I saw the “Twilicane”). The existential Gummy monologue clear out of no-where; The incredible dueling dub step of Octavia and Vinyl; The flameless fireworks and wedding vows; Mayor Mare’s speech: All of these events aren’t easily forgotten.

The writers most definitely showed they are aware of and grateful to the support of the fandom by acknowledging the staples of the fanon and adopting portions of its ideas into canon. It was a fun ride and the slapstick, witty dialogue and shear craziness will make it enjoyable for anyone and not just those familiar with the fandom. Looking at it objectively I have to say M. A. Larson and the rest of the staff crafted a successful episode. Was it the best episode ever? Is it the best episode of the season so far? Maybe not, but its definitely in my top 15 for is whimsical zaniness and the clever nod to the fan base.

Report JLBDreamer · 287 views · #slice of life
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Comments ( 2 )

Nicely said, as always! I was afraid this sort of thing might happen with the episode and I really like your response to it all. If it's up to me this episode seemed to have destroyed more fanons than it has actually pandered to. All the characters here are their own characters and , while they are some of the most 'famous' background ponies, they are vastly different than their fanon counterparts. And one more ething: they had Steven Magnet! I mean who, except the show creators, still remembered that guy? It was obviously a screwball comedy and a small nod to the fandom, while the show giving its own take on it. it isn't the first time the show has done it (see Discord giving Celestia flowers and similar) so I think it was mostly biased by some people who heavily panned this episode. They watched the episode with a predetermined dislike measure without actually seeing the content.

3249660 Thanks so much. I really think people just didn't understand some of the comedy in this so I just had to say something about it. I'm glad you enjoyed my analysis.

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