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"Inspiration does not come to the lazy. It only comes to those who call it." - P. I. Tchaikovsky

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  • 5 weeks
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    Dear Bronies and Pegasisters,

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  • 10 weeks
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    Dear Bronies and Pegasisters,

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  • 20 weeks
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  • 26 weeks

    Dear Bronies and Pegasisters,

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Editorial: In Defense of "Putting Your Hoof Down." · 9:46pm Aug 19th, 2020

Stands up to adjust my tie before clearing my throat.

Mares and Gentlecolts of the jury, as the Devil's own devil's advocate, even I agree that Fluttershy's behavior in this way, to a degree, meanspirited. The way she used, or, misused her newfound ability to try to stand for herself was probably going too far. Yes, perhaps Iron Will didn't foresee how his method of being assertive could backfire. However, what I would wish to submit to this court, is a different perspective. Something that most of the fandom might have overlooked with this episode. Now, my intention isn't to try to justify the actions of Fluttershy but to at least try to explain how someone as nice as her could be such a... (for lack of better words) a monster in this episode.

Now, I know there are those out there who would say that Fluttershy's actions seem so out of character with the element of Kindness she represents. However, is she- HOLD UP! Before you fire your one-sided opinions to shoot me down in oh how wrong I am, at least be the grown-up to hear me out. Again, my intention isn't to justify her actions but to show how someone like her could behave like this.

What if I told you, the jury of this episode, that being nice, is not what you think it is? What if I said that Fluttershy is the nice mare because she's learned not to say everything? Ask a psychologist, and they would tell you that most nice people are the kind where they've learned to filter what they say and do, to choose the appropriate response that would cause the least amount of conflict. Of course, with Fluttershy, there is a lot of stuff that goes on in her head that she's learned how not to express in fear that it might upset someone. She would rather be kind than honest, Fluttershy would probably feel (quite understandably) that she can't be both.

This poor mare has grown up with a sense that if she did express what was on her mind, with all the things that would make her plans difficult, it would only make things worse. Have you ever noticed that she is very easy to shame into submission? She would rather inconvenience herself than to do the same to others. After all, why do you think she didn't try to chastize Angle over making something so extravagant for lunch? Why do you think she didn't try to point out to the mare with the asparagus that she cut her? Or the two mares that stood in the way during their chat? Or even the vendors? She would rather be a nice mare than be a pain.

By now, you might be thinking that Fluttershy isn't nice at all, that she's a fake and a liar. But no, she really is nice, but it's not what we think it is. Being nice isn't about the inability to have any bad thoughts or do bad things. It's knowing how to keep all of these things quiet. In Fluttershy's case, if being nice is an achievement in anything - it's an accomplishment of self-repression. If one sees it in the context of the whole show, Fluttershy doesn't ever have the temptation of doing something naughty, but she's very good at keeping all of these things quiet. She wants to do everything she could to avoid paining those she cares about from the more troubling sides of her.

If anything, it could be argued that if this episode never happened, I wouldn't be surprised that she would become a ticking-time-bomb.

Yet, what Iron Will did in this episode was to give Fluttershy a way to lift that muzzle off of her to allow her to say what's really on her mind. At this point, I do have to agree that while Fluttershy did take the advice in which she carried out to be graceless. However, I sometimes wonder if her going to the extreme was the point. If the point of the lesson was to show a balance between being walked over and being too harsh, don't you need to show those extremes to find out what's the best balance between the two?

And then, there's the infamous scene where she talked back to Pinkie and Rarity.

Rarity: Fluttershy! What are you doing?! That's no way to behave!
Fluttershy: Didn't you see what he did to new Fluttershy? And he thought new Fluttershy was a pushover!
Rarity: No, sweetie, he didn't. We saw the whole thing. We think that you've taken your assertiveness training a little too far.
Fluttershy: What?! You just want new Fluttershy to be a doormat like old Fluttershy! But old Fluttershy is gone!
Pinkie Pie: New Fluttershy? Old Fluttershy!?
Rarity: What happened to nice Fluttershy? We want that Fluttershy back.
Fluttershy: No, you want wimp Fluttershy. You want pushover Fluttershy. You want do-anything-to-her-and-she-won't-complain Fluttershy!
Pinkie Pie: Nyaaaaah! Too many Fluttershys to keep track of! Make it stop!
Fluttershy: Things getting too complicated for your simple little brain, Pinkie Pie?
Rarity: Now, stop right there! Let's not let things descend into petty insults!
Fluttershy: Why not? I thought 'petty' was what you're all about, Rarity. With your 'petty' concerns about fashion.
Rarity: *gasps*
Pinkie Pie: Hey, leave her alone! Fashion is her passion!
Fluttershy: Oh, and what are you passionate about? Birthday cake? Party hats? I can't believe that the two most frivolous ponies in Ponyville are trying to tell new Fluttershy how to live her life when they are throwing their own lives away on pointless pursuits that nopony else gives a flying feather about!
Pinkie Pie: *starts crying* Looks like nasty Fluttershy is here to stay!
Rarity: *starts crying* I cannot believe what that monster Iron Will has done to you!
Pinkie Pie and Rarity: *crying*
Fluttershy: Iron Will's not a monster, he's a minotaur! *growls* *whimper* I'm the monster.

Do you want to know what the most damning thing about this is? Believe it or not, I can actually relate to her anger here. Coming from a guy who rarely raised a complaint, who does what he's told, who can't raise an opinion out of the fear that it might cause turmoil to those I love, not having the ability to get angry and voice a complaint where everyone just walks right over you is the most frustrating thing in the world. It hurts in real life. I can understand what Fluttershy wants, to be heard, and given a voice to her wants and needs when being nice only guarantees that nobody will listen to you.

What Fluttershy says to her friends, her criticism of Rarity and Pinkie Pie... as much as I know this is going to get flack for... she's technically right. At this point of the series, Rarity has an obsession with fashion while Pinkie seems to be too obsessed with parties. Now, could Fluttershy have put her criticism in a more constructive, elegant way? Absolutely. But when one has been feeling that they haven't been given a voice for so long, is it that unusual that their impulse is to scream?

The ending moral is something that is a tricky tightrope to cross over. But for those who find it difficult to voice their complaints in a constructive way without coming across as mean, it is a tightrope that has to eventually be crossed.

Comments ( 2 )

I 100% agree with this assessment.

Yeah, Fluttershy's behavior was over-the-top, but I didn't see it as being non-canon either. It's obvious from the very first episode that she had problems with socializing with others, and how difficult it was for her to assert herself. Heck, it wouldn't be surprising if Fluttershy was never able to stand up for herself before the beginning of the series. And with that, it can be easy to fathom that she wouldn't have much experience with handling such a newfound bout of confidence.

After her session with Iron Will, Fluttershy was able to be more upfront and direct for the first time in her life. Is it really that surprising to think she wouldn't have much of a filter? In later seasons, we're able to see Fluttershy better cope with her sheepishness, and stand up for herself in multiple situations (the Breezies, her brother Zephyr, Friendship Journal critics, the dragons in the final season, etc.). And even in the argument with Rarity and Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy immediately realized she screwed up.

If anything, Putting Your Hoof Down was one of the first episodes to really show the amount of character growth Fluttershy would develop later on.

However, I sometimes wonder if her going to the extreme was the point. If the point of the lesson was to show a balance between being walked over and being too harsh, don't you need to show those extremes to find out what's the best balance between the two?

That's what I presumed the episode was about, so I definitely agree with everything you said here. It's pretty common to take the other extreme of something when you are rejecting the original end of it you started on, and (hopefully) you find a good middle point to rest on that makes the most sense. Some people do end up jumping between extremes, unfortunately.

I'm kind of surprised people would not be able to see that. Maybe because it's been a long while since that episode, but yeah.

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