Let’s Talk About: Fluttershy

I’ve gotten caught up with nearly all of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I watched the movie in theaters, but I stopped mid-season 7 and I doubt I’ll finish. However, I won’t rant about that. I’d need to make an entirely new post.

Fluttershy is the embodiment of kindness. Or she’s supposed to be, according to the show. And while she does live up to much of the time, I think there’s another element of personality she seems to fit better.

Foolish kindness.

Let me say right now I do like Fluttershy and, up to a certain point, she was my second-favorite character (the first was Twilight; was, as Starlight has now become my personal preference over Twilight). However, I have an issue with what the writers deem to be “kindness”, and there are times when it seems “kindness” is confused with “naïveté”.

The worst example I can think of the top of my head is an episode where she’s chosen to reform a godly chaotic creature precisely because she embodies kindness. Unfortunately, “carpet” would be more accurate. Her way of reforming him is to allow him to abuse her kindness (and I say allow because she’s fully aware of what she’s doing), to get angry with her friends when they attempt to protect her, and allow said creature to endanger one of her friends’ homes (and means of survival; said friend runs a farm), her friends themselves, and by extension, the entire country. In other words, her way of reforming him is to allow him to unleash whatever chaos he wants with zero consequences, in the hopes he’ll change if she tolerates it long enough.

First of all, taken out of context – actually, even in context – this is ultimately an episode about a woman enduring a man’s abuse in the hopes she can change him. Thank you, MLP writers, for giving little girls that lesson. I’m sure the real world abusers weren’t already doing a good job. That troublesome fact aside, this episode emphasizes better than any other what the issue is with Fluttershy supposedly embodying kindness. “Kindness” should not equate to letting someone walk all over you, and while there have been episodes about Fluttershy learning to stand up for herself, they tend to be forgotten, likely to work for episodes like the one I just described. In fact, a common complaint of the show is the lesson fails to stick (though it seems it eventually does by the latest season), something the writers created an episode to say they were tired of hearing (again, a rant for another day). It’s not unkind to refuse to be a walking carpet. It is, however, very unkind to endanger your friends’ lives and refuse to see what your negligence is creating. The only reason she’s successful in reforming the creature is because she eventually snaps at him when he finally makes it clear he was using her all along. In other words, she does something unkind to reform him. Ironically, she called her friends out moments before she snapped on apparently thinking she was a “silly, gullible fool”. Let’s just say when she asked that question, I said yes to the television. If you need someone to spell out they are abusing your kindness when they’ve already done every conceivable action that would make it obvious to anyone with working brain cells and minimal perception, yes, you’re a fool.

The other example I put high on the list is one that involves the aforementioned friend’s farm (yes, out of “kindness”, Fluttershy endangered her friend’s way of living twice). Her friend’s farm was invaded by pests and the friend, understandably, wants to get rid of them. Despite that she only wants to move the bats away from her farm rather than outright kill them, Fluttershy acts as if she does want to kill and insists she should instead give the pests part of her farm as a sanctuary.

First off, anyone who is a real animal expert (annoying fact: Fluttershy admitted she knew nothing about the creatures; meanwhile, her farmer friend did) could probably write a list of reasons as long as their own body about why that’s not a good idea. The episode itself fails any kind of logic in animal expertise. Instead, any logic whatsoever takes a backseat to “kindness” because it seems disregarding a threat to your friend’s home, livelihood, and family’s means of survival is very kind. Keep in mind the pests essentially trespassed onto her friend’s farm, but Fluttershy is supposed to be right because “they’re just hungry”. Never that moving them, like her friend wanted, would solve that issue. The implication here is innocuous reasons excuse bad actions. Fluttershy is “right” because she’s the kind one, despite she knows zero about the pests and farming in general, and if the show didn’t need to have a “kindness always wins” moral for its target audience (no matter how wrong it really is in its context), her friend’s sound reasoning and logic would’ve rightfully won out the argument.

Many people excuse flaws in shows like MLP because “it’s a kids’ show”. The problem is that’s why it deserves criticism. Name me a parent, especially a parent of a daughter, who wants their child to learn the lesson that putting up with mistreatment is “kind”? That you can change even the worst people by letting them walk all over you? That it’s good to push away your friends who are rightfully concerned for you? What parent would willingly teach their child taking in random creatures is a good idea? That all creatures are okay to keep around? That “kindness” means ignoring all logic and potential consequences, even if you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about? If I had a child, especially a daughter, who liked MLP, I would filter out the episodes like crazy. Kids are not dumb and, contrary to popular belief, capable of seeing problems in media, whether or not they have the words to express them. And eventually, those kids will grow old enough to talk about them.

As I said, however, Fluttershy’s repetitive lessons about being more assertive do seem to have finally stuck as of late, so hopefully, the writers will be more careful with her “kindness”, and consistent in differentiating being kind and being a doormat. After all, “this is a kids’ show”, so let’s have some more careful evaluation of what we teach and aim at kids.

The Poison of Fandoms

First off, I want to say thank you to all those who still visited my blog, in spite of zero posts last month. A life of work and sleep leaves you little time to juggle all of the other parts of your life.

My last post was about Twilight Sparkle of MLP. I’ve watched more of the show in bits, and though she is still my favorite of the main/mane cast for personality, my most favorite characters are the setting’s rulers. However, this post isn’t about that.

I’ve been a part of fandoms, starting with the Sims, for seven years. I found out later on it was a grave mistake. Every fandom I’ve joined, especially those with a large following, proved itself to be a cesspool of poison. Essentially, there were rules about what made you a “true fan”, certain opinions were not allowed, and admins of certain areas proved to be extremely biased. Knowing this, it was very much against my better judgement to join a Facebook group for MLP, but in my new love for the show and excitement for the movie, I did. Within two days, I resigned. I suppose that’s a record.

The reason I left is, apparently, a fictional movie about ponies is serious business. So serious, any posted spoilers about said movie warranted banning any member who did so, and the admins, unsurprisingly, refused to consider they could be acting unreasonably (then again, I suppose that’s to be expected from someone who considers being the admin of a Facebook group a job). Remember, we are talking about a film of animation. Not poverty, war, hunger, homelessness, crime, abuse, or any other truly serious issue. A film aimed at under-aged girls. I love cartoons, something I’ve made very evident over the years, but it is not that serious. And I say this having bought an MLP shirt from the kids section at my job because it could fit me.

While the bright side is I wasn’t alone in my opinion (other members of the group agreed and were probably shortly kicked out, and members of the Disney group I’m in agreed that was out of line as well), it saddens me how difficult it is to find a community of any fandom that is rational and tolerant. It seems the only exception to this rule are small communities, which truly is a shame. Having had my love of so many things murdered by their fandoms, one of which I ranted about for a good while, I certainly didn’t want my merely one-month-old love of MLP to fall to the same fate, especially not at the childishness of Facebook warriors in a group I was a part of for two days, and with the movie coming out so soon. I left before my love for the show could take a heavy hit. But I can’t say I’m not disappointed with how poorly things turned out. Perhaps it was deserved for allowing my excitement to cloud my better judgment against joining the group to begin with.

I realize it is the internet, and social media websites in particular are notorious for being wells of addictive, yet poisonous muck. As much as I dislike it, it makes me understand the stereotype of people in fandoms being anti-social recluses with little going on in their lives. It’s a painful thing to admit, possessing so many loves of so much light-hearted media myself, but the toxicity I’ve found across so many fandoms isn’t allowing me to deny or be confused about why the stereotype exists. After all, why would someone who is content and enjoying their life feel the need to be controlling over something so trivial? The internet permits a huge amount of imaginary power, and power is addicting.

Of course, in the end, fandoms aren’t needed to keep a love of something going. I still have every intention of seeing MLP’s film and I am still very much fawning over the show. While the show’s lessons are occasionally questionable, perhaps the admins of that group missed the second half of the title: friendship is magic. I’m sure Twilight Sparkle, the princess of friendship, would be disappointed.

Let’s Talk About: Twilight Sparkle

Wait, what?

Yes, I mean the main protagonist of My Little Pony. I had zero intention of ever watching this show, but my boyfriend is a fan of it and urged me to watch it. Eventually, I gave in and watched the first episode. I was instantly in love with Twilight. But I don’t like what happens to her.

Let me make my annoyance obvious. In the episode summary on Wikipedia, she’s referred to as an anti-social pony. Anti-social.

I hate this. I despise introversion and being reserved are seen as negative traits. Why? The second episode revealed why these events were necessary. That doesn’t help because it still portrayed Twilight preferring her alone time as a bad thing and her preference only changed because of an emergency matter (I’m not going to rant on why Celestia thought it was a good idea to form an entirely luck-based plan instead of be directly upfront with Twilight, or I won’t shut up). I know it’s a common thing in cartoons for lifelong bonds to form instantaneously, and I’d absolutely expect that in a cartoon with friendship as its theme. Except maybe that’d be a reason to have the friendships form more realistically instead of in such a cliché way. I love my best friend like she’s my sister, but I sure didn’t feel that way a day after meeting her. But cliché formulas are also common in cartoons, especially ones intended to have lessons taught through the episodes.

I probably seem strange to have a rant about this. After all, I have a best friend and a boyfriend, so why would I be bothered by a loner character learning about the “magic of friendship”? Easy. I just said it. It only happened because of an emergency matter. No relationship works like that! Friendship and love (of all types, not only romantic) are amazing things, but they don’t happen instantly (before you argue with parenthood: oxytocin). Strong bonds don’t form overnight in any situation. I am more outgoing than I used to be, but that took years. I wasn’t suddenly no longer an introvert or reserved because I met my best friend one day ago. Guess what? I’m still introverted and reserved, and I still despise most people, something working in retail has actually made stronger due to being in constant contact with people. Whatever percentage the number three is of the human population is the percentage of people I like having around.

These two episodes would’ve worked better as a season finale, not a season beginner. I could almost understand these traits being portrayed negatively if Twilight was evil, but she’s not. In fact, despite being obviously unhappy about being sent to the festival/party, she was polite to the others while trying to get away from them as quickly as possible, and if memory serves, she did help when one of them almost hurt herself by accident. She’s not mean, and wanting only her books as company doesn’t make her mean, bad, or evil.

I’ve yet to watch another episode because this kind of treatment with introverted characters puts me off watching anything more of whatever media it is. However, I went through her character list on TV Tropes and it seems, for the most part, she still keeps her introverted personality and she does slowly change over time instead of instantly. That sounds much better, though it doesn’t change my opinion about the first two episodes. The downside is, if TV Tropes is accurate, she rivals Pinkie Pie in exuberance by the latest season. I hate to admit it, but I find Pinkie Pie annoying, as I greatly dislike overly energetic characters who behave like they’re drunk on happiness. Of course, I doubt I’ll get as far as seven seasons anyway. It took me over three years to get to the fourth season of Sailor Moon, and I’ve only watched three episodes of that.

If I do continue watching MLP, I’m hoping to find Twilight’s friends aren’t the pushy type who will continuously try to “pull her out of her shell” and nag her half to death about “opening up”, and will instead respect her wishes if she wants to be alone to study, read, or whatever else. I don’t think it’s wrong (however cliché it may be) for loner characters to go on to learn about friendship and love, or even for their personality to eventually flip a 180. I do think it’s wrong if the path that gets them there portrays that part of their personality as an issue and to be dealt with by forcing them into such situations (as with Twilight) instead of letting them develop willingly. And for heaven’s sake, I hope Celestia is more direct and upfront instead of continually being cryptic and secretive, but since when have mentor characters ever done that? But that’s a whole different rant for another day.

Dead On Drawing

About two years ago, I got into drawing. I hate to say it, but I started for a really bad reason. I wanted to eventually draw fan art of my favorite show. Stupidly, I wanted to learn a particular language for the same reason. While it’s not entirely meaningless because I now genuinely do want to learn, I’m still kind of hooked on drawing fan art.

The thing is I haven’t really done anything for months. Last year, I had an art class, but it bored the heck out of me. Not because it wasn’t about fan art or anything like that. I just couldn’t seem to get anything out of it and I mostly remember movies. Specifically Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

I don’t like to draw in school because it’s too noisy and I don’t like to draw at home because I don’t want anybody seeing. And by the time I can be alone, it’s late and I’m tired. I occasionally do stuff online, but not from scratch.

On top of that, it’s not just fan art I’m hooked on anymore. Now, I find myself wishing I could draw so I could send pictures of my friends for them at birthdays or Christmas or even just make a silly comic of us all. But it takes practice – years of it – to get to any decent level. Notice I said “decent”. I could start drawing again tomorrow, continue everyday until I’m twenty-five and still be drawing stuff that looks worse than a toddler’s scribbles. Yeah, that’s discouraging.

Still, I want to do it, but I’m going to need a better reason than a TV show. I have a sketchbook I haven’t touched since the day I bought it because I don’t want it filled with ugly pictures. I don’t care about being professional, but I want to be a good hobbyist at the very least.

So I will get back into drawing. Perhaps over spring break or perhaps during my gap year. But maybe I’ll do flowers instead of characters.