• Member Since 13th Oct, 2013
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Jordan179


I'm a long time science fiction and animation fan who stumbled into My Little Pony fandom and got caught -- I guess I'm a Brony Forever now.

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Feb
9th
2016

Sunset Shimmer Is Not A Perfect Pony · 7:05am Feb 9th, 2016

Those of you who have read An Equestrian Gentlemare, Stranded Amongst Alien Barbarians, Consoles Herself, may have noticed that the Sunset Shimmer I portray in this story is morally-imperfect. This is not even because she does sexual things with Flash Sentry -- she does this in love, after all, and "Love Makes Clean" is explicitly part of my Equestria's philosophy of sexual morality. Under the same conditions, Twilight Sparkle might very well do exactly the same sorts of things -- Sunset and Twilight, after all, have had similar moral upbringings.

It is more a matter of her arrogance, her dismissal of Humanoid culture as inferior despite its technological superiority and the ample evidence she has that the Humanoids are capable of finer emotions and more moral conduct than for which she gives them credit. Indeed, she is in love with a Humanoid who displays fine emotions and strong moral scruples -- Flash Sentry. Rather than conclude from his example that her opinion of the Humanoids is too low, she instead decides that Flash must be an extraordinarily-atypical Humanoid. Well, he is superior, but not as exceptional as she imagines.

Sunset Shimmer is also a hypocrite. One of the reasons she sees the Humanoids as morally inferior is that they are inconstant in love and friendship -- but her experience of this comes from a school in which she has been consistently disrupting love affairs and friendships! (She's actually right that the Equestrians are on the average less promiscuous in love and more loyal in friendship than the Federals -- but the difference is less than she imagines, and much of it comes from the fact that Equestrian culture has been influenced by Princess Celestia for its entire existence).

Another reason why she regards the Humanoids as inferior is that they are more aggressively violent than are the Ponies. This is true, and part of the reason why it is true is biological -- the Humanoids have evolved to be more aggressive and violent than have the Ponies. On the other hand, she misses that the Humanoids are also more imaginative and individualistic on the average than are the Ponies, and for similar evolutionary reasons. And the reason why she misses this is simple racial arrogance -- she's looking for reasons to feel superior to the Humanoids.

Also, her basic original plan is to plunder the Humanoid world for magic which she can bring back to Equestria to impress Princess Celestia into making her an Alicorn (she still doesn't grasp that Ascension doesn't work that way). She is perfectly willing to violently attack, and even if necessary risk death to, Humanoids in order to do this. Very few of the other students at Canterlot High School (which, remember, is an elite high school) are this vicious. And of course when she falls into Nightmare, all bets are off -- she actually tries to kill Twilight Sparkle, who is not only another Pony but a Pony from the same background and even House -- Twilight is a distant cousin of hers! (Admittedly, nopony behaves well when Shadow-ridden).

Even in the sexual-moral terms I discussed at the start of the essay, Sunset Shimmer comes off less well than she imagines in comparison with Flash Sentry. Sunset, after all, assumes that she's going to have to leave him for good to return to Equestria -- she fantasizes about bringing him back with her, but doesn't really believe that this is going to happen. Flash, on the other hand, assumes that they can stay together indefinitely -- he doesn't intend to leave her. Thus, she's being more promiscuous than he, and this is despite the fact that she was raised in a LESS promiscuous culture.

Sunset (to her credit) sort of gets this -- she feels bad that she's taking advantage of Flash. But she doesn't feel bad enough about it to avoid doing it.

(Another irony here is that Flash does ultimately leave her, and his reason is that he starts to realize just how malevolent Sunset is being to the other Humanoids, which among other things makes him morally uncomfortable).

So, basically, Sunset Shimmer isn't perfect, and I'm quite aware of this. I am not trying to write her behavior as perfect and having her come off as arrogant, hypocritical and racist -- she is all of those things.

But then, this is pre-reform Sunset Shimmer. Why should this surprise anyone? This is the girl who winds up turning into a she-demon and trying to enslave her schoolmates and kill Princess Twilight Sparkle.

Part of the reason why Sunset Shimmer is crying when she finds herself in that crater, at the denouement of Equestria Girls, is because she's just had a tremendous Heel Realization -- freed from her Shadow, she grasps not only that what she was doing in her Nightmare but a lot of what she has been doing all along was morally wrong. She grasps that her presumed moral superiority over the Humanoids was largely an illusion born of arrogance.

Now, post-reform Sunset Shimmer isn't perfect, either (in particular, she's still bad-tempered). But she's a lot more virtuous, and less-vicious, than she was before. In particular, she's a lot less arrogant about being an Equestrian Pony, and a lot more tolerant and even appreciative of the Humanoids, than she was before her reform.

I'm not sure why any of this should surprise anyone. Yes, I love Sunset Shimmer. She's one of my favorite characters. But I also know her limitations.

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Comments ( 27 )

She isn't perfect but she is one sexy Waifu!!! XD I love senpai. She is senpai!

3742729

I love her too. That's why I am writing a story about her. Which, come to think of it, is Mature rated.

The story shows some of her good points and some of her flaws. Even before her reform, she wasn't just pure evil. Even after her reform, she isn't just pure good either. But she's better after her reform.

We also have to take into consideration the fact that religious norms vary between the two cultures. While I don't have a real handle on either owing to the limitations of the source medium, the fact that a state cult that Celestia finds a mildly distasteful but useful thing is absent in the human world might have colored how Sunset saw her potential victims.

I'm assuming this is a comment-inspired blog. This all seems fairly obvious to me.

3742783

Yes. Not so much the Celestia-worship itself, as the philosophy of The Harmony. One of the ironies is that Sunset Shimmer, during her unreformed exile, is personally-bitter toward Celestia herself, but she does take The Harmony very seriously. It's because she realizes that she has behaved dis-Harmoniously, and that the Humanoids have actually behaved beter that she has her Heel Realization at the end of Equestria Girls.

3742923

In part, yes. Also, it occurred to me from comments in the story itself that some people may be assuming that I necessarily agree with every opinion I have Sunset Shimmer think. I don't -- I'm quite aware she's seriously flawed.

3742923 I assume this as well. I never for one second thought that pre-reform Sunny was a nice pony/woman.


3742940 Also, it occurred to me from comments in the story itself that some people may be assuming that I necessarily agree with every opinion I have Sunset Shimmer think. I don't -- I'm quite aware she's seriously flawed.

Ah, that old bit of nonsense that authors must deal with -- and I must admit I've done it myself at times to various writers, though as a rule only when I've seen the same attitudes presented in their works as "right" and "good" again and again. I never thought you shared in any of Sunny's attitudes, myself.

Now I wonder if anyone thinks I agree with the ideas of my wolves (and some griffons, minotaurs, dragons, etc.) that Luna and Celly are really murderous tyrants "keeping the other species down" so their ponies can rule everything.

I have to ask... What is the evolutionary history of the Humanoids? They are specifically not Humans, so I would assume that human evolutionary history does not apply.

ADDENDUM: I completely forgot to post this comment last night after writing it. No wonder I didn't get a reply :derpytongue2:

I enjoyed your story so far, because to me it was perfectly clear that Sunset Shimmer is an unreliable narrator, which I love in stories. This post, however, made me realize something new: Sunset Shimmer is in many ways the most humanlike pony we know of, even before she came through the mirror. She's aggressive, selfish, and even her good points like ambition and imagination, are traits that humans tend to be stronger in than ponies. (A lot of this could apply to Trixie Lulamoon as well, or the FlimFlam Brothers, who would probably do pretty well in EqG world as well.)

Maybe part of the reason she never goes home, even when she's allowed to, is because on some level she recognizes she fits in better on Earth than she did in Equestria.

3743249

Ah, that old bit of nonsense that authors must deal with -- and I must admit I've done it myself at times to various writers, though as a rule only when I've seen the same attitudes presented in their works as "right" and "good" again and again. I never thought you shared in any of Sunny's attitudes, myself.

I figured you understood this, yes. The reason someone might misunderstand is that I really like Sunset Shimmer, and I think that she's in many ways quite admirable, even pre-reform. She's intelligent, imaginative, couragous and determined. The problem is that all her admirable qualities are in service to mostly-misguided aims.

Now I wonder if anyone thinks I agree with the ideas of my wolves (and some griffons, minotaurs, dragons, etc.) that Luna and Celly are really murderous tyrants "keeping the other species down" so their ponies can rule everything.

Some people might. I've noticed that some fans are willing to interpret the actual series this way. Doesn't make a lot of sense given what we see, of course.

3744684 Now I wonder if anyone thinks I agree with the ideas of my wolves (and some griffons, minotaurs, dragons, etc.) that Luna and Celly are really murderous tyrants "keeping the other species down" so their ponies can rule everything.

Some people might. I've noticed that some fans are willing to interpret the actual series this way. Doesn't make a lot of sense given what we see, of course.

The only way I can see it work is if we thin that Celly and Luna were to be working to keep the ponies safe from the many dangerous races of predators we've seen around the in the series by putting them at the apex. Which is an idea that has some truth to it IMHO; were it not for the sisters, and if the ponies were less organized, they'd probably be a race of servants for the griffons, dragons, Diamond Dogs, etc., at best if not out and out prey animals.

Having scanned that thread on the Sunset group...yeah, bias & bigotry can be expressed in various ways & degrees, including perceiving different cultures/races/species/groups through a veneer of patronizing 'benevolence'...or, in pre-Nightmare SW!Sunset's case, paranoia regarding humanity's supposed lack of said virtue. Which Sunny, strung out by the demands of solo survival in an alien world, treats as an unstated excuse to (metaphorically) horn-and-hoof her way into a form of herd dominance.

3742940
3743249
I've noticed a fair number of self-styled FIMFIC critics who project like a high-school overhead based on authors' portrayals of antagonist (or even morally grey) characters' thoughts/actions; some of the backlash FOME received for Discord's shenanigans in A Crazed Gleam struck me as passing a disproportionate degree of personal judgement, and ditto for those reading real-world political binary into your rendering of pre-reformation Sunny's headspace. Writers should be able to explore nuance & dire concepts without Fandom Purists darkly hinting at their lack of character/goodthink/Proper Digestion of the Show's Concepts(R).

3747510

Readers should also remember that -- for all her ability to think clearly regarding issues of science and strategy -- pre-reform Sunset Shimmer's not entirely rational. She's definitely not so regarding Flash Sentry -- she veers between thinking of him as a "barbarian" whom she is only using for social cover; and making love to him and imagining futures in which they marry and have children. And she's not regarding the Humans in general, whom she sees as far more evil than they are to justify her own aggressive cruelty toward them.

Her racism and cultural chauvanism toward them is limited. She doesn't want to kill all (or any!) of them, or enslave them. Before the NIghtmare takes her, she just wants to find something magically-valuable to steal from them to empower herself and return to Equestria in triumph. She's not evil -- just misguided. Had she been truly and deeply evil, she wouldn't have been able to reform as rapidly and completely as she did.

3747672
Agreed that Sunny's relatively mild, fixable brand of bigotry is leagues removed from the hoods-and-crosses-and-colonization variety. As for that rebuttal over on the Shimmerthread...seems like semantics-driven goalpost shifting to me. Bigotry may be rationalized, systemic, profit/goal-driven, evasive or aggressive, but the core 'othering' effect strikes me as key. Plus, we haven't seen nearly enough of griffonkind (or other non-pone, sapients) to say which traits are culturally ingrained & which instinctive.

3747510

Thing is, Sunset Shimmer acts crazy and desperate and vicious in Equestria Girls. She obviously has some fairly irrational premises. I'm not sure why it offends people to point this out.

She's a lot saner, calmer and nicer in the other two movies. But An Equestrian Gentlemare ... takes place before the first movie.

3749632

Sunset is mostly afraid, because she's surrounded by non-Ponies raised in an alien and (she believes) amoral and brutal culture. Much of what she does is in reaction to this.

3750708
I get the impression you're bumping into that fictional-analysis bias wherein pointing out a character's variance from the Current Discourse Osmosis gets conflated with active attack upon said Discourse's conclusion(s).

And yeah, nuthin' says 'desperate' like enlisting Humanoid Snips & Snails as Jasper & Horace to your Cruella, cheeky talking (temporary) canine foil & all. Makes me wonder whether confabbing with those two compromised Sunset's spot on the food chain, not to mention why more capable henchteens weren't an option. Paranoia again, perhaps?

3751180

I think that they are horrified by the word "racist" and imagine that I am saying that Unreformed Sunset Shimmer wants to exterminate Humanity or something like that. Even in Nightmare, she has no such objective. She just feels irrational superiority to Humans, and indeed this irrational feeling of superiority is why she has these opinions; she's frightened being cut off from her birth culture and surrounded by omnivorous aliens, and feeling like the only sane and civilized person among crazy barbarian ape-things makes her more confident, since she knows she can outwit and dominate a lot of crazy barbarian semi-beasts.

Sunset Shimmer is more afraid than she is wilfully evil.

3751180

I'm guessing that Snips and Snails were the only ones desperate and easily dominated enough to follow Sunset Shimmer. They both admire her attitude: furthermore Snips may lust after her (he has no chance at all) while Snails may want Glittershell to copy her style.

3751343
Wait, Glittershell? That's spun off that Tumblr comic where Snails is working on an MtF transition, right? Interesting fanon, though a link might help peeps who weren't in the know.

Just as well most of the school was too put-off by Sunny's aggro for Mean Girls-style clique assembly, though Crystal Prep might've been a whole 'nuther story...to say nothing of pre-reform Sunset & isolated, put-upon Sci-Twi trading notes.

3742923 A lot of it seems highly debatable, to me. Highly debatable.

3768027

Well, this is SWSV rather than vanilla canon, but I did have reasons from vanilla canon that inspired SWSV fanon in this regard.

3768039 Well in the first line I found something that I balked at. Equestria is not technologically inferior. In fact in many ways it's our superior aside from what doesn't appear due to the necessity not being there.

3768045

They have a different technological mix. They can do some things by inherent magical ability which we had to figure out how to do with machinery, and they can do some things with both inherent magical ability and advanced spells that we haven't yet figured out how to do. However, they are only starting to develop internal combustion engines and electrification, and they do not yet have fast powered road vehicles, supersonic aircraft, spaceflight, atomic energy or computers. Though it is fairly obvious that they are on the paths to developing all of these.

3768045

Sunset Shimmer, who is immersed in the Humanoid culture, has no choice but to acknowledge its technological superiority. She considers that Equestria's philosophical superiority more than counterbalances it.

She actually has a point, though not to the extent she tells herself.

3768050

They have a different technological mix.

You seem to have a bad habit of rewording the things I had just said and acting like it furthered the conversation.

The casualness by which the Crusaders assemble one flies in the face of internal combustion being a brand-new technology. In that respect I'd say they're about 20's-30s considering they have tanks.
Electrification, new? Hardly, given that there's things that exist that first require electricity to be hanging around, and pretty much every house we've seen the inside of is wired. Including Starlight's. Somehow.
They don't require supersonic assisted flight, because Rainbow Dash isn't the only one that can surpass the sound barrier. She's just the only one to do so with a rainbow attached to the spectacle. Necessity.
Atomic energy? Maybe not harnessing the power of the atom, but they do fuck with them enough to require NBC suits to be available to the general public, as well as the previously mentioned pony with an atom cutie mark (implying his special talent is something to do with atoms)
Computers? We've seen specialized computerized equipment and objects that assume computers exist in some form. Arcade games are programmed on a computer, and essentially have a lot of the same guts, and Twilight's fucky equipment in Feeling Pinkie Keen.

3768053 But Sunset Shimmer is intelligent to be able to tally up what exists and is relied upon in each world, and then look at the physiological differences between humans and Equines, then shrug and say that Equines are superior because of their adaptive terraforming (which is a technological marker of a post-scarcity society, beyond the computer singularity proposed to happen sometime this century), but that the things Equestria doesn't seem to have is readily explained by necessity being different.

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