What a fright!
Give me something good to bite!
Happy Nightmare Night, everypony!
(And happy Halloween, non-bronies!)
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.
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 them 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 mind 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.
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).