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 Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side”

Or, alternatively: “Is true happiness really possible?”

Today’s post topic, and existential crisis, is brought to you by ponies! Specifically, the princesses of the day and night.

Yes, I am completely serious. The idea for this post was sparked by a discussion about pretty cartoon horses. I’m unsure of what to think of that too.

I recently ordered a book titled The Journal of the Two Sisters, which gives some much needed background to my favorite ponies of the show. The very first entry states the two sisters dreamed of being princesses since they were fillies/children, so becoming princesses in their adulthood was like a dream come true to them (for anyone unfamiliar with the series, “princess” is an earned title, not one attained through birthright). However, their present lives as princesses, to put it bluntly, sucks.

Of course, that’s not made blatant because at the end of the day, this is a series intended for girls below the age of 7. But both princesses, at worst, have some heavy mental struggles, one more so than the other. At best, they only need a really good therapist. The older sister is hinted to have depression, but fake happiness for the sake of her subjects. She will do things that may result in heavy consequences for the sake of being genuinely happy temporarily. In other words, she’d rather be happy now and deal with the consequences later. The younger sister, partially due to a millennium of solitary confinement, has mental trauma so badly, she resorted to psychologically tormenting herself and attempted to ruin a surprise celebration being planned in her honor because she believed she was unworthy of being celebrated. She’s only able to see her downfalls in herself and the mistakes she’s made. The younger sister’s problems are more evident, but I am able to relate to both of them because I do and feel the same.

As ordinary children, they wanted to be princesses. As princesses, they long for a normal life. And there’s no aspect of life I know of that doesn’t cause a similar internal crisis.

As children, many of us want to be adults. As adults, many of us long to return to childhood. The only reason I don’t want to return to childhood is mine was an awful one overall. But even then, I can list things I miss and long to have back. Yet, if I did return to childhood, even a more pleasant one, I’d likely long for adulthood all over again.

When I worked as a cashier, I wanted to work on the floor because the frequent interaction with people was, to be blunt for a moment, soul-sucking, and I got very easily agitated and hyper from being forced to remain in one place for too long. While I’d still prefer floor work overall, I can’t lie and say I don’t have some complaints. In addition to that I failed my probation (and being truthful to myself, I should never have tried in the first place), I spend almost every day panicking over the work that isn’t finished and how I can’t do six things at once. I don’t know how to fix everything I’m supposed to fix, and being someone who enjoys organizing, I’m extremely frustrated when I can’t organize. In short, the work of the floor is endless, and yet, there are times I cannot figure out what to do, how to do it, or if I even did it correctly. And in eight hours, I can’t do it all. To say it feels crushing is an understatement, and I’ve brought my own self-judgment and self-awareness into heavy question because I thought I was getting better, only to learn I wasn’t. It’s not the first time I’ve made that mistake, and I can’t stop wondering if I’m kind of egomaniac who has yet to realize it, or I’m just a sucker for not learning my lesson about being naive and getting in over my head. The only thing I’ve really learned is to never try anything new, or you’re going down. It’s a lesson I’ve learned more than once, but I plan on letting it stick this time. I can’t imagine it’ll be forgettable.

And yet, if (or when) I return to my original position as a cashier, I’ll be longing to put up with all that frustration again in place of my problems with being a cashier. To be good at what you hate and bad at what you like is truly one of life’s cruel ironies.

And there are many more I can name, from both experience and observation, but this post would get longer than I’d prefer it to. The message here overall is, as my title states, “the grass is always greener on the other side”. But if that’s the case, it leaves me wondering if being happy in life is really possible. Yes, I know everything has its downsides, but if the “inside” is always worse than the “outside” – if we’ll always long for the opposite, only to see we should’ve been content where we are, despite we won’t be content if we return – how is real happiness possible? We’re always going to want something else that seems better, only to discover we were dreadfully wrong, but it’s no better, or may even be worse, than what we had before. I almost question if a life of happiness itself is fictional, like the characters who sparked this topic. Of course, it’s not a new idea I had. I’ve felt this way for a long time. The fictional setting merely brought it out tonight. Perhaps that’s why “happily ever after” is so famous as a story closer in fairytales.

Of course, it’s easy to say I’m overthinking, but why shouldn’t I think about this? I’ve yet to discover anything good come from “letting life happen”, as it’s said, and while I know not everything can be planned, I’ll never be comfortable with the idea life entirely is uncontrollable. After all, we wouldn’t have free will if that were the case. If true happiness is fake, I can stop pursuing a goal that’s non-existent. And if it is real, I suppose I can keep trying. In the case of the latter, trying to achieve it will either end in joy or end in sorrow at the end of my life, whenever that shall be. I’ll know when that times comes, not that I want it to any time soon (or ever, but death is inevitable).

The Poison of Fandoms – Part 2

Because one reminder wasn’t enough.

Even when I try to avoid fandoms, it seems I’m not always successful.

Tonight, I was having a marathon of MLP’s second season while playing Pokemon Moon, and I was rather enjoying. While it was going on, I paused my game to post a small annoyance on Tumblr I had with one character. She’s not a bad character. Just not really to my tastes. One episode portrayed her really nicely and had me warm up to her, but a following one had me annoyed again. Keep in mind there was nothing hateful about it. Apparently, however, even minor annoyance is too much for this character’s fans. Later on, I received this message in, as well as these posts in reply to some I’d made days ago. Interestingly, this person brought up my love of another character, despite one has zero to do with the other. They also deleted one of the replies. Typical. (Edit: This message came as I was writing this post)

Note that I do not even hate this character (or, at least, I didn’t until now). I was annoyed at her portrayal is in one episode is all. One episode I watched out of twenty. The irony of a show about friendship having such an awful fandom will never escape me, but then again, that’s fandoms in general. Even if you say you do like some things of that character, it’s not enough. Any annoyance with her whatsoever is perceived by her fans as hate. Basically, if she’s not your favorite, you’re a hater.

For those curious, that episode that irritated me had to do with her trying to befriend someone who made it clear he wanted to be left alone and she was not getting the hint. The episode ended nicely, but I was irritated because she was incredibly pushy, doing things like going into his home and rummaging through his things without permission (and even damaging some!), and those actions are portrayed as okay because she wants to be his friend. That was my problem with the episode. If the message I received in my inbox is any indication of her fans’ mentality, it seems they believe invading someone’s home and possessions is “friendliness”, and respecting someone’s privacy and wishes to be left alone is a bad thing to teach children. No wonder people hate my generation. And here, my friends have never so much as touched something of mine without my permission. They must not be real friends.

Sarcasm aside, it’s a shame I’ve liked this show for a total of three months and this is my introduction to it. I have my boyfriend, thankfully, and I’m starting to understand why he did want to me enjoy this show. I have no doubt the bad reputation of “bronies” and the show itself comes from its fandom and had I tried to get into it without him, I probably would’ve been turned away very quickly by its fandom. And no, my run-in with these jerks did not taint my love of the show, but it did make me angry enough to cancel my mini-marathon earlier than intended. I’ll continue it another time. Perhaps.

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.