• Member Since 4th Aug, 2011
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redsquirrel456


He who overcomes shall inherit all things.

More Blog Posts193

Jul
29th
2018

Twilight Sparkle Is A Heroic Fascist, or: Why School Daze Part 2 is MLP's Post-Mortem · 11:49pm Jul 29th, 2018

Pictured: Prometheus Sparkle stealing the fire of Friendship from the gods, becoming the ultimate culture hero of all ponydom.

There’s an interesting article by Ursula K. LeGuin that posits the human story as one of a masculine hunter, who goes forth and achieves an objective in a penetrative, aggressive fashion. There is always a target, and a hunter who must hit the target, and anyone who gets in his way is an obstacle to be destroyed or removed. He hits things, breaks down barriers, and leaves the old world in pieces. He doesn’t need to build a new world out of those pieces. He is the new world. We will say that this is the story of "Hero." Other characters are not very important in this story.

On the other side, we have the more feminine, if you will, story of the carrier. The one who picks up pieces and puts them back together. The one who holds, who nurtures, and most importantly, who shares. It is less active, this opposite story. Less exciting.

This story is not about the "Hero," but about the "Community." Community being the relationships characters have with each other and the world. It is more character-driven than a Hero's story. A Hero's story is driven by objectives, events, and archetypes. The Community's story must, by definition, be driven by what a community of people does with each other. Who wants to hear about how, after Luke defeated Darth Vader, he had to sit down and think about the itinerary for his Jedi students?  Now, you personally might want to hear about the common and the everyday and the mundane, but Hollywood and TV in general has conditioned the majority of people to… not want that. Which is why instead of actual Jedi teaching we usually just get Jedi sword fights. They want to skip all the boring stuff and hear about how Rey has to defeat Kylo Ren by hitting him with glow sticks.

Hit. It’s such a violent word, isn’t it? And yet it defines most of humanity’s storytelling. We are, after all, a violent species, with a history defined by achievement at the cost of everyone around us. Sure, we like to say there’s no “I” in “Team,” but then, why do we prize the quarterback above the defensive lineman? Why do we make celebrities of the driver and not his pit crew? Why is the president seen as the “face” of America despite the tens of thousands of hard working joes who, in the end, are just as essential? Why do we fixate so much on the individual Hero, and not the Community that gave birth to one?

And why, oh why, have the show writers come to prize Alicorn Twilight as the be all and end all of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? Why is Twilight Sparkle... the Hero? And also a fascist?

I recall early episodes of Friendship is Magic were almost painfully banal, at least compared to what the show is today. None of these stories are particularly ‘active’ apart from the season openers and finales. Just look at some conflicts I recall off the top of my head:

How will Twilight have a successful sleepover with her friends?
How will the community of Ponyville clean up their town after winter?
How will Apple Bloom learn she has self-worth apart from her cutie mark (and not defeat the bullies but learn their words mean nothing)?

Early pony episodes were not very heroic at all. Many of them had a clear objective, but the story ultimately wasn’t about solving that one specific problem, but the problems that rose along the way to solving that problem. They were not about any one pony in particular; Twilight drove the story, and we saw it from her perspective, but she was not the story. It was Equestria’s story. We glimpsed a fully realized world and happened to follow some characters in it. Even the episodes with villains, like Trixie, Discord, and Chrysalis, were not about “how do we destroy this villain?” but ultimately “how do we preserve our harmony in the face of this crisis?” Remember the dragon episode? It was not about defeating the dragon—the dragon was incidental. The real dragon of the story was Fluttershy’s inner demons, and how she overcame them to the benefit of her friends. It was about how the Community around her reacted to her decidedly un-Heroic actions.

Except now, episodes are self-contained to the point that they are irrelevant to the larger tale of Equestria. Every single new writer has their own ideas, their own concepts, their own vision for what the ponies are and what they represent. Celestia and Luna are all but gone. The Pillars of Harmony are similarly discarded the very season after they were introduced (I discussed their problems in another blog HERE). And episodes are less about learning the mysteries of friendship and more about… ponies doing a thing.

Defeat the Shadow Pony. Defeat Starlight Glimmer. Babysit Flurry Heart. Impress Sugar Belle. Kick Zephyr Breeze out of the house. Like early episodes we have a clear problem to solve, but that’s all there is. Learning about friendship is now secondary to removing the obstacle between us and the end credits.

Starlight was not defeated by friendship. The only revelation she had is that her revenge went too far for her taste. Twilight did absolutely nothing to show her why Starlight herself was wrong. The entire universe is just naturally incompatible with her ideology because… well, it it just is. Sorry Starlight. I could literally have an entire other rant about why the season 5 finale was hot garbage.

The Pony of Shadows was done in by a bunch of combined magic grappling; Starlight’s entreaty did nothing to rectify anything since the real problem was not Stygian himself but the DARKNESS (blurgh) attached to him.

Did anyone actually care if Zephyr became a better person or not? The fandom forgot about him so soon after his episode. All Fluttershy did was stand around waiting for his life to get so bad that his epiphany was inevitable, not interesting. “Gosh, I better shape up or I’ll die in the woods” is about as compelling as Starlight’s “Gosh, I better stop trying to destroy the world or I’ll destroy it too much, I guess?”

The less said about any Flurry Heart episode the better, but in the babysitting one, Twilight did nothing but accommodate Flurry’s temper tantrums until the episode came to a close.

None of these episodes were about learning, but asking: Do the ponies Do The Thing? Friendship does not spring organically from interaction. The overemphasis on an antagonist, centering the conflict on a character or an object, robs the entire cast of agency and emotional maturity. What they think and even what they do doesn’t really matter. What matters is the One Thing to Rule Them All.

In these scenarios nobody really learns anything, because nobody is allowed to learn anything. If they did, they would exercise agency beyond the confines of the single script with a single writer, and the writers who come after them would have to refer to earlier episodes rather than make up a new one whole cloth. have seen that this lack of vision is now obvious. Nobody is certain what or who MLP is supposed to be about, so we have the “Starlight Glimmer replaced Twilight” memes fluttering around, on top of the people who insist that Equestria Girls has replaced My Little Pony.

Now, I’ve heard it said contracting writers is typical, even during MLP’s early run. This is true. But the lack of a real team leader, the lack of a passionate group trying to make one distinct vision come to life? We’re seeing the effects of that now, and without that oversight, MLP reverts back to the toy commercial it always was.

With School Daze Part 2, My Little Pony has ceased to be the story of Twilight and her friends. It is now exclusively the domain of Twilight, and everypony else is ultimately a non-entity. Her friends have achieved their, uh, “dreams” if they can be called that, and their episodes, if they have any, are more often than not simplistic filler that kills time rather than a deep dive into their characters. They have ceased to make a real impact on the world, and are no longer the collective Hero.

Twilight is the one who started the school, a much more permanent and overarching presence than anything her friends have done in entire seasons. Twilight is the one with a goal that impacts direction the show is taking, and Twilight is the only one who we are told to care about. The feelings of the mane six? Irrelevant, they are just teachers and are given zero chance for input or direction. The feelings of the EEA? Not only irrelevant, but evil. Neighsayer was literally cast as a goatee-sporting villain for even thinking he could get in the way of Twilight’s plans. His traditions? His worldview? His opinions? We can safely discard them. The new, the dynamic, the ever-changing, ever-nebulous ideals Twilight wants to foist on everyone? That is what we must trust in.

And that’s how I decided Twilight has literally become a fascist. I’m going to start borrowing heavily from an article by Umberto Eco >>>HERE<<< which is an interesting read on its own, and has some interesting parallels I just could not ignore.

Look at how the episode starts. It zooms right in on Twilight, and her feelings. How do YOU feel, Twilight, about this ultimately pointless and ridiculous institution that will not even be featured in many episodes, and yet will always be hovering in the background as a constant reminder of its presence? Let’s have every single one of your friends, who were never consulted or even acknowledged as particularly important, absolutely fail at being your friend. After all, friendship isn’t what the Princess of Friendship needs.

No, what she needs is a pep talk from Starlight Glimmer, explaining that your failings aren’t the result of anything you personally did, but the result of forces totally beyond your control, but you can bring them under your control if you just run roughshod over every opinion except your own. You are the Hero, Twilight! Nothing else matters except what you want! The rest of the world just doesn't understand that yet!

Interestingly enough, Starlight’s very sentence is where the problems start.

“I’m not gonna cheer you up, I’m gonna tell you what you did wrong.”

I have to wonder what exactly Twilight even did wrong. Ignoring the fact that the mere concept of the friendship school is an insipid assault on the very foundation of the show itself, looking back we saw Twilight do exactly what we’d expect of Twilight. She went to the EEA, attempted to create her school according to the standards of Equestria, which, again, Princess Celestia herself must have noticed or overseen in some capacity, and made a curriculum that would make sense in any other universe, that being the kids sit down and learn stuff. But this is not Equestria, or any other world where logic holds sway, this is loopy ga-ga land where a school is not a school, it is a Princess’ personal playground, and if the Princess tries to treat it like a school, she is wrong.

But it’s the second sentence I have a real problem with.

“You gave up too easily.”

Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.

This is something I find interesting. What exactly does Starlight mean by ‘give up’ and ‘too easily?’ Twilight was told by the supposed highest authority in the land, Princess Celestia, that the EEA is what makes or breaks a school, and the EEA tells Twilight her school is unfit. So what is Twilight giving up, and to whom?

Well, The Man as represented by the EEA, clearly. The out of touch intellectual class that clings to time-worn traditions that need combatting for combat’s sake. The disgusting snobs who live in ivory echo chambers, who refuse to accept that a new era has come, a new way of thinking, of being, a bright and beautiful blaze that will sweep o’er the land and by its light, enlighten all with the radiance of purity and friendship!

Does this sound like hyperbole? Well, keep listening. Starlight’s advice continues down a distinctly iconoclastic path the more she keeps talking. I know, I get it, she’s the radical “free thinker” who is unshackled from “closeness” to the situation and is capable of generating brand new ideas on a whim. But it sounds like the writers just took that concept at face value and turned everything she shits into gold.

“You showed me that when you know in your heart that something is right, you stand up for it. You did that for me. Why not for this?”

For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare.

That’s right, Twilight! Starlight somehow knows what you know in your heart! Starlight, not anyone else, a character who honestly hasn’t been around all that much and isn’t even a very close friend of yours except she is because the writers say so. And what Twilight knows in her HEART (they use the word heart to emphasize that the Friendship School is happening whether we like it or not) is that her Friendship School is THE Friendship School! It is the ONLY Friendship School that matters to anyone, anywhere, and her ideas are the best ideas and no one else has the right or intellectual capacity to tell her otherwise!

“I can’t go against the EEA! They’re in charge of all the schools in Equestria!”

“And you’re in charge of all the Friendship in Equestria! Why should you let somepony else stop you from doing your job?”

Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view—one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter.

Why should somepony else stop Twilight from doing her ‘job?’ I dunno, Starlight, maybe because they’re a respected institution that’s been around for an indeterminate length of time and the ruling elite all the way up to the Goddess of the Sun has given them authority over education?

Oh, wait. That’s precisely why they must be fought against, at least according to Starlight. They are not You (Twilight), they are Them (everyone who disagrees with Twilight). Starlight is being incredibly classist by implying that Twilight’s position as the divinely mandated judge of all social constructs in Equestria, gives only her the impetus, and indeed the right, to force through whatever changes she wants. She is the Hero. She is the ultimate elitist, who needs no correction or alteration.

In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm.

“But the EEA rulebook—”

“Doesn’t matter. You can write your own rules, because you’re doing something new. Something important.”

The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.

“You’re right! Why we’re doing this is way more important than how we’re doing this! And we aredoing this!”

Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Goering’s alleged statement (“When I hear talk of culture I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” “universities are a nest of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

We need the Hero. We need Twilight Sparkle, the best who ever lived.

Do her ideas need to be explained consistently and thoroughly? NO! Disagreement with Twilight is treason against Twilight!

Does she need to consult any other authority on these matters, like the Princesses who probably helped found the EEA? NO! Twilight is the ultimate authority due to her divinely mandated appointment as Princess of Friendship! She is the expression of Equestria’s collective will, even if they didn’t know it!

Does she need to step back and consider that maybe those who disagree with her have good reasons for acting the way they do? NO! Neighsayer’s blatant racism and paranoia is typical of an out of touch intelligentsia that must be eradicated for the will of the People, which is to say Twilight, to be carried out!

Is it conceivable in this or any other universe that maybe the Friendship School is actually a useless and silly idea that won’t even be featured in the majority of episodes this season? NO! Twilight Sparkle only ever has good ideas, and even when we don’t talk about them and forget they ever happened, they will still be good ideas!

Are we going to sit back and let this supposed Chancellor ruin all that our great Twilight has built? NO!

"This stallion... if he can be called such... rejected the truth: that Friendship is given from Us, for All! He says your Princess did not know how to run a school without treacherous and subversive Oversight! Let this... this institutionalized rhetoric be stamped out forever by the combined hooves and talons and fins of Equestria United!" Twilight said, pulling the lever that sent Chancellor Neighsayer catapulting over the horizon.

So yeah. Twilight starts the school again. Of course she goes back to her friends and says that they will “run the school the way friends should: together!” Totally dismissing the fact that nopony was even asked whether or not they even wanted to be a teacher.

Just remember:

I still hate you, Big Jim.

“We’re behind you 100%, Twilight!” says Loyal Applejack, confirming that the will of the People is inextricably tied up with the will of Twilight. Why even give them a chance to say no when no isn’t an option?

So then we learn that all the students are missing, and for some reason, they are all so absolutely important to the safety and stability of the world that literally everyone will immediately go to war if they are not found in a certain timeframe. Celestia herself says “Our world will be at war!”

Does anyone else understand how utterly stupid it is that a worldwide conflagration will be sparked over the disappearance of a bunch of stupid kids who we didn’t even know existed until this episode? The logic behind their importance is circular: the story tells us they are important, therefore they are important to the story, and they are important to the story because the story tells us they’re important. Never mind that we, again, didn’t even see them until just now. And there was no real reason to actually send them all the way to Equestria to learn friendship, because we established in the last couple seasons that friendship had already come to them when the Mane Six went traveling all over the place.

The point is, nobody cares about these kids. I sure as heck don’t.

If the show is trying to tell us that Neighsayer is wrong for assuming that every other species besides ponies is dangerous, why do we have a scene in the throne room of every species besides ponies blustering and threatening to ACTUALLY KILL PEOPLE if they are not IMMEDIATELY SATISFIED?

And what does any of this have to do with Twilight trying to reopen the school? I don’t have an answer. I’m just floating the question.

Let me just cut through any other arguments in favor of this plot device right now: the students all left notes saying they ran away together so they can stay friends.

Here’s what the Hippogriff dude says verbatim:

“The students left us notes before they disappeared. When the school closed they didn’t want to say goodbye to each other. They claim they ran away to stay together. The students couldn’t have done this by themselves! Somecreature is hiding them!”

I can’t even begin to fathom why someone would look at that script and not immediately burn it. You have the adults… the leaders of the known world… all getting letters from their kids saying exactly what they did and why… and they immediately decide that can’t be the case, there’s an international conspiracy and we must kill everyone right now. I feel stupider just thinking about it.

So to tie this back to what I was saying at the beginning… this is the irrelevant conflict that exists only to uplift the status of the Hero. The Thing That Must Be Done. It has nothing to do with friendship. Zilch to do with any other conflicts going on. Doesn’t require any real input from the characters, both protagonist and antagonist. It is just a dramatic event suddenly introduced as filler to wind down the clock until we hit the next commercial break, and when Twilight Sparkle is given credit for solving it, she will be the Hero.

So a bunch of unimportant stuff happens and they find the kids again. Obviously.

The climactic final act comes when Neighsayer steps out of a particularly evil looking portal to try and keep the school from opening. But Twilight steps back in and says that EEA accreditation is actually not important.

“It’s not an EEA school. It’s a Friendship School, with its own rules. I should know. I wrote the book. These students reminded me that every friendship is special, so the way we teach has to be just as unique. My school is going to do things differently.”

Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak. Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people of the world, the members of the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

Twilight steps in and immediately sweeps away all trace of the former way of doing things, re-establishing all that is Good and Right and True in the world. We have proven beyond a doubt that Equestria is the only place that one can learn friendship—indeed, through the other seasons and introduction of other, less intelligent, less friendly races that have no hope of peaceful culture-building without the presence of ponies, Equestria is the only place that deserves to spread friendship.

How lucky, that yaks who are so dumb that they literally make a sport of smashing their heads against the ground have a school for their hapless children! How quaint, that hippogriffs who suffered the obliteration of their home and such a thorough erasure of their culture that others forgot they exist now have a superior nation to attach their glorious history to! How sensible, that dragons who grow with their greed and desire only to burn and pillage can send drakes to a school that teaches them noble and upright civilization!

Also, can I just say, the final confrontation makes Celestia look like a really conniving, weaselly character?

From the first episode, and I quote:

Celestia: “The Equestria Education Association is a board of learned ponies that oversee every school in Equestria.”

Spike: “Even your school? But you’re you!”

Celestia: “Not even a Princess can do whatever she likes when it comes to shaping young pony minds. The EEA ensures that whether it’s unicorns studying magic, pegasi learning weather, or earth ponies researching agriculture, all schools are held to the same high standard. They’ll need to approve your plan before you can move forward.”

So let me get this straight. It was Celestia’s specific instruction that Twilight go to the EEA and get their approval, and then in the second episode she dodges responsibility by showing up out of nowhere to tell off Neighsayer for doing the job she gave him? There’s a term for that, Princess.

It’s called ‘passing the buck.’

Grandpa Gruff asks “How’s this school gonna be any different from last time?”

Don’t worry Gruff. It will be so different that most of the episodes of season eight won’t even concern themselves with how Twilight actually runs the school, or what it teaches, or how students interact with each other when they go there. In fact, it will be like the school doesn’t even exist outside of a few chosen episodes.

I don’t think I need to state how clearly and egregiously this new way of writing ponies flies in the face of everything Faust tried to create when she put her team together. Everything, from the story’s concept to its execution, is the absolute antithesis of almost every single lesson we’ve learned from season one onwards. There are no more Heroes and Villains, only Plans and Obstacles. There is no more explanation, only action. There is no more continuity, only momentary entertainment.

Will there be other good episodes after this? Of course there will. Here and there we will see flashes of inspiration. Now and again the embers will flicker back to life. But with season openers like this setting the tone, and so many new writers and directors coming in to replace even genuinely good ones, the show in general simply will not and cannot have the burning fire it once did.

But don’t worry. Everything I have just said is irrelevant. Nothing I wrote here matters. The episode is now over. The credits have arrived, the Hero’s arrow has found the Target, and the obstacles have been removed. Twilight’s use of Power is justified because she has Power, and Power is made for using. Now that this episode is done, a new writer can step in to write a brand new story completely disconnected from the last one, because as Starlight said:

“You’re doing something new. Something important.”

Everything can be safely forgotten except this one overriding lesson: Twilight Sparkle is your Hero.

Ursula K. LeGuin once conceived of the story of the carrier.

Whatever My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic used to be carrying, it was dropped at the side of the road a long, long time ago.


Tl;dr, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from the intense, almost tangible irony of contradictory dialogue from the premiere.

From episode 1:

“Not even a Princess can do whatever she likes when it comes to shaping young pony minds.”

Then in episode 2:

“But the EEA rulebook—”

“Doesn’t matter. You can write your own rules, because you’re doing something new. Something important.”

Comments ( 16 )

I believe the Friendship Map is the one behind all of this, with Twilight as its Prophet. Because really, it's not a real cult until someone claims Divine Right of Kings.

There's something that bothered me about your entire approach in this analysis.

I suppose I'm confused as to the purpose of it. Are you trying to express how you view the direction of the show using the analysis of the episode as a kind of window dressing? Or were you trying to justify your views of the episode through it? Was it both?

Sorry if I come across as weird and rambling but its very late for me but I want to type anyway.

The main thing that you seemed to be trying to get across was the change in direction you think the show has undergone. You're doing that by showing the similarities between Twilight as she is now and a Ur-Facist, right?

Its just... really weird to me how you're going about this. I'll try to explain.

Your introduction's focused very much on this very odd view of what makes a story. The differences between the two approaches you described aren't really explained in depth enough to me. Main thing is, you don't really explain well how exactly previous seasons of the show fall under catagory 2, while the current one is now in catagory 1. There doesn't really seem like much of a change to me when you were describing the goals of certain episodes now to old ones. Only main difference I can see is scale.

You're making the assertion that previous episodes were more about the journey than the destination I think? What constitutes that to you? What makes previous episodes more about the journey, and what makes the newer episodes more about the goal?

Your comparison of Twilight to a Ur-Facist is very... selective, and I'm not certain whether or not this is justification of your first point or a separate point entirely.

Like, I understand that one can see parallels but, the main thing that jumped out at me is that most of your quotes are from Starlight Glimmer, rather than Twilight herself.

One could make the argument that its like, the showrunners portraying this message, but if you're getting that meta than I'd say a far likelier explaination was that they were trying to portray the simple moral of not letting tradition get in the way, especially when it forces people apart. One could then make the argument that this was a completly unintended moral presented, but it was still presented, but I'm just gonna stop here or I'll just keep this self initiated argument up all night.

You're ignoring all of their external motivations as to why they think the guy is wrong. As if your own point is the only one that matters.

Your lack of care toward the kids is also very odd. Even if you don't like these particular characters, that doesn't justify the EEA guy's racism. You know, previous characters that were different species that were explored in the past should be enough to tell you that this Pony is not justified in his beliefs.

You keep ignoring the actions of the antagonist that justify the actions of the protagonist, seemingly to push the message that she is... unjustified?

Damn I'm tired, I hope I explained that last point well enough.

But yeah, your analysis seems kinda wack yo. Please tell me if I misinterpreted anything.

Don’t worry Gruff. It will be so different that most of the episodes of season eight won’t even concern themselves with how Twilight actually runs the school, or what it teaches, or how students interact with each other when they go there. In fact, it will be like the school doesn’t even exist outside of a few chosen episodes.

This, I think, is my greatest annoyance, harkening back to S6(?) Starlight Glimmer. We have a new lead character, a thing to change the show's dynamic vastly more than alicorn wings ever did. We have her instantly redeemed and placed in a realm of equivalent importance with the others, and... she just kinda doesn't exist for like 20 episodes. Then with Where and Back we're supposed to be invested in this minor character trying to save the world, with literally everyone we've known and cared about removed off-camera just so Starlight and the Chucklefucks can have their time to shine.

The Friendship School could have been interesting. See folk of different races and cultures becoming friends while managing their differences. Maybe an ep about residual anti-changeling feelings (perhaps stoked by Chrysalis), or Yona trying too hard to be like ponies. A new set of main characters, giving the series the soft reboot it needed like two years ago. Because while the Mane 6 are hardly played out, they're totally played out because the writers are letting it happen. This could have been exactly what the franchise needed to stay poignant in its elder years.

Instead, we mention the school in like half the episodes, actually see the students in maybe a quarter, and again we're supposed to be invested when these minor characters get abruptly called up to save the world.

This is a very apt analysis. This premiere actualized Twilight's princess-hood in a way no other episode did (even though they tried to tell us that's what happened with Tirek, we know she doesn't need to be a princess to save the world). I would quibble with your example about Dragonshy. It was a cutie map episode in all but name, but none the worse for it. My favorite episode, Top Bolt, is similarly contrived but also wonderfully executed. Likewise, even though I didn't care about Stygian, I did care about Twilight, her adoration of Starswirl, the other pillars (most people will like at least one) and Starlight overcoming her deference to her teacher. It was very well constructed for all its moving pieces. But the cutie map does lend itself to conflicts arising out of the ether, and we see that in all of the forgettable episodes it instigates. It's remarkable there are so many gems of episodes given the rotating stable of writers, to be honest.

Strangely, given Word of Hasbro that Twilight needs to open a school (it wasn't enough that she turned into a human and went to one or that the CMC still go to school or the many flashbacks and episodes about her time in school, more school school school how can kids relate if everything isn't about school?!?) the EEA plot thread was as interesting as it could have been, with all your critiques granted.

How insane is it that Starlight still gets more episodes than the students lol

There’s an interesting article by Ursula K. LeGuin that posits the human story as one of a masculine hunter, who goes forth and achieves an objective in a penetrative, aggressive fashion. There is always a target, and a hunter who must hit the target, and anyone who gets in his way is an obstacle to be destroyed or removed. He hits things, breaks down barriers, and leaves the old world in pieces. He doesn’t need to build a new world out of those pieces. He is the new world. We will say that this is the story of "Hero."

Ironically, though, this isn't the kind of story written in the bad old days of patriarchy. You could try to argue The Iliad was this kind of story--it wasn't, because the destruction of Troy was tragic and pointless, not victorious--but you couldn't claim that the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Aeneid, Beowulf, the Arthurian legends, or Don Quixote were about tearing down the old world. Quite the opposite--they were all either about trying to build a new community, or to preserve or restore an old one.

The story LeGuin calls "masculine" is, rather, the type of story that AFAIK was first told in 1896 in Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, and was increasingly common thru the 20th century, told by radical leftists who wanted to tear down the old world without really caring what replaced it.

None of these episodes were about learning, but asking: Do the ponies Do The Thing? Friendship does not spring organically from interaction. The overemphasis on an antagonist, centering the conflict on a character or an object, robs the entire cast of agency and emotional maturity. What they think and even what they do doesn’t really matter. What matters is the One Thing to Rule Them All.

This clarifies what made seasons 1 & 2 special, why they're on a different level from everything that came after. (Though Swan Song has a good story on why he thinks season 7 was great.)

That Big Jim quote encapsulates everything that went wrong with the show after Faust left. "Logic? Characters? Consistency? Fuck it. It's just a kid's show."

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You know, previous characters that were different species that were explored in the past should be enough to tell you that this Pony is not justified in his beliefs.

Let's see... Diamond dogs... parasprites... dragons... hydras... gryphons... changelings... yaks... the schmooze... the Pony seems to be pretty thoroughly justified in believing that non-equines are usually dangerous.

Comment posted by Solar Solstice deleted Aug 6th, 2018

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I'm convinced that Starlight is only beloved by as much of the community as she is due to sheer saturation. It's impossible to ignore her, so, when in Rome...

Season 7 was a mixed bag for me, but it was definitely better than the nausea I feel when I think about season 6. Season 8 is not faring much better, though.

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A new set of main characters, giving the series the soft reboot it needed like two years ago. Because while the Mane 6 are hardly played out, they're totally played out because the writers are letting it happen. This could have been exactly what the franchise needed to stay poignant in its elder years.

In any other alternate universe where the show writers weren't a constantly rotating Lazy Susan, I think I could have grown to at least tolerate the Friendship School. But it's true, we aren't even given that opportunity. The entire concept is here and gone again in a flash. It's sad knowing season 9 will have an all new gimmick and basically all of these characters have to be forgotten except for pointless bit appearances or the cast will be too crowded.

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I'm afraid I don't really understand your issues with the blog. I explained just about everything you asked in it. It sounds like you just disagree with my entire assertion in general, and you're free to do that, but I can't explain my own point even more than I have.

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Iiiiit's maybe not the most balanced article I've ever read, no. I brought it up more to introduce the general concepts of these two methods of storytelling because cribbing from other famous authors is how you make your own work appear more sophisticated.

I can see a lot of logic in this post, but I feel like you're letting Faust off the hook a bit too much. I mean, Powerpuff Girls always came off as fairly facistic to me. I mean, 3 superhuman children are the ultimate arbiters if right and wrong because they are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, minus the occasional introspection superheroes occasionally try to add in to sidestep this?

If Faust were still writing for the show, maybe she would have done a better job of fixing plotholes and getting the rest of the Mane 6 assistants in their day jobs, but I think its just as likely she would have made Twilight the heroic leader before whom the rules must be ignored.

Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter.

Isn't this an inherent conceit/problem with My Little Pony from the first episode though? This shows leads with the Elements of Harmony, meaning the universe itself rewards certain character traits by transmogrifying virtue into a huge laser with visible effects on the world, and it's enemies. It's arguably a problem with fantasy in general, where you can tell someone's the bad guy because they'll have grown horns and have fire behind their eyes. This also leads into why morality makes for such a shallow game mechanic for many videogames.
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I've never seen Powerpuff Girls as a fascistic, just as a lighthearted take on superheroes. Although there's an argument to be made about the concept of superheroes having fascist undertones... and overtones. But you bring up something interesting about Faust's intent. When she was first plotting out Friendship is Magic, hasn't she said her vision was more adventure orientated, and then Hasbro curbed the series into having a greater emphasis on slice-of-life and staying in Ponyville? It seemed like Lauren was more set on stories where the cast "goes forth and achieves an objective" and "ponies doing a thing." I stand with others' assesments that Lauren's strong suit is unmooring the audience in wonderful worlds and imagery, but her writing for dialogue and character interaction could fall flat. I might actually compare her to George Lucas. Which is actually meant to be in an endearing way.

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This shows leads with the Elements of Harmony, meaning the universe itself is reward certain character traits by transmogrifying virtue into a huge laser with visible effects on the world, and it's enemies.

That is true, however I don't think when the Elements of Harmony were around there was ever a particularly special emphasis on Twilight as there is now. She was the Leader, but she is not the only pony who could ever matter. My point is that Twilight is now usually the only pony anyone really cares to ask about anything. Her will is everyone's will by virtue of her being Princess Twilight.

The universe bending to enforce virtue may or may not have been a problem story-wise at the start, but I actually found that part fun to work into head canon, as it made villainy all the more interesting as well. What kind of monsters exist in a world where love is a laser? Well, like we saw with Chrysalis and Discord, the solution is to try and destroy not the heroes, but the love they have for each other. Incidentally, that made things "safe for children" without a lot of physical violence, and yet made it mature enough it was not restricted by being "safe for children."

And yeah, more adventure plots may not be what the show necessarily needs, but... in my opinion, at least if Faust took us down that path the show would have a plot to follow, instead of puttering around like it is now.

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Going off your point about Powerpuff Girls, I'd say at the very least the show gave the girls distinct personalities and made episodes that were about them as much as they were about beating up monsters. And at least, as superheroes, they had that excuse to be so direct. My Little Pony does not, and yet many episodes treat the conflict of the week as a "villain," who is defeated only to restore the status quo rather than learn a lesson.

As for if Faust would definitely also take the show where it is now, well, I'd say you're half right. She just might have. I think losing focus is just a common ailment with any show that goes on too long, and MLP has been pushing well past its own expiration date for a while now.

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That's an interesting perspective. Certainly Lauren's current work on the DC Super Hero Girls adds to the idea that super heroes and action (leavened with comedy) is her preferred type of story. I certainly agree her stuff is high quality, but I could also see an MLP where Faust had been there all along getting the Crystal Map by Season 3 and then being sent on a friendship mission against some recurring band of anti-friendship villains almost every episode.

Not that I'm saying that's a good or bad thing, mind you, just that she really loves that kind of story.

4917782 Yeah, the show is definitely feeling long in the tooth right about now. The Friendship School in particular feels like a group meeting where everyone said "what's the new thing we're going to do for season 8 that we can sell toys around?" And no one had any better ideas than a friendship school. You can always tell when a show is nearing the end of its life when it starts focusing mostly on the newer, younger characters. If this were a sitcom the Young 6 would already be in talks to do a spin-off.

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Certainly Lauren's current work on the DC Super Hero Girls adds to the idea that super heroes and action (leavened with comedy) is her preferred type of story.

Friend, do you not know of Galaxy Girls? Lauren Faust's passion project she first dreamed up close to a decade ago?
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This was the toy line and series that she went to Hasbro for to pitch, before they let her know they needed a project lead for the My Little Pony revival. She's still shooting for it, and it was her efforts that lead up to us having Friendship is Magic in the first place. This is very much her wheelhouse. Although Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends was a somewhat different creature. She also has a liking for Greek mythology, which probably drove her to Sony's Medusa project, along with the story of a young female lead on a hero's journey. Sadly she parted ways, diminishing my hopes for when it finally ever comes out (if it's even still in production).
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The Friendship School in particular feels like a group meeting where everyone said "what's the new thing we're going to do for season 8 that we can sell toys around?"

The writers themselves don't design the toys, the bean counters send those down the pipeline and they have to plot around them.

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If I remember correctly, in an interview she said that originally one third of the episodes were going to be adventure episodes like Dragonshy but the team couldn’t get them done in time or come up with enough ideas or something. Basically, it wasn’t possible for them to make many of them, not so much Hasbro curbing it.

With both the Left and Right embracing fascism, this post sends chills down my spine.

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