Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy anniversary, MLP

Apparently today is the sixth anniversary of the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I didn't get in "on the ground floor" - I only started watching the show in the summer of 2011, when it was in re-runs from its first season. I admit, I started out pony-skeptic, remembering the earlier incarnation of the show (which probably was not so very bad, but I was a Sophisticated Teenager, or at least someone trying desperately to masquerade as one, at the time, and I mocked the show as a "half hour toy commercial" with everyone else).

But this one....well, I remember one day I sat down to watch it after getting home from fieldwork and thinking, "We'll see how bad this is."

The episode, as I remember, was "Bridle Gossip." a/k/a the Zecora episode, a/k/a the "don't be a bigot, Applejack" episode.

And I admit, I was hooked: for one thing, the designs were so super cute, and I needed something super cute in my life then. But also - and this was something I noticed as I watched more episodes that there was something else about the show that appealed to me.

the show celebrated things I thought of as virtues. And things I thought were all too rare in our culture today - stuff like being true to yourself, dealing graciously with mean people (which I have seen more crudely phrased as "dealing with a b*tch without becoming one yourself"), supporting your friends, and so on, and so forth. There have been anti-bullying episodes, episodes about how former mean-girls can reform, episodes about how you don't have to do things that scare you just because the rest of your friends enjoy them, episodes about how what motivates one person might not motivate another....and on, and on. The overarching themes seem to be "treat other people with love and kindness" and also "be true to who you are" which are both morals a lot of us need to be reminded of.

And on a deeper level....well, I know the show isn't explicitly Christian and in fact tries to avoid any religious references (And it's not even clear if Celestia and Luna are literally goddesses in that world, or if they are merely wise rulers; I know some fanfic writers have experimented with ideas of either an afterlife or some overarching religion of Equestria but it's avoided in the show actually). But often, as I think CS Lewis observed, things of this world may point to things beyond it, and I admit I've referred to the Fruits of the Spirit before, and noted how many of our favorite ponies seem to relate to example being this:

Love: Princess Cadence
Joy: Pinkie
Peace: Luna (princess of the night, and of sleep, and also protects ponies from bad dreams)
Patience: Applejack
Kindness: Rarity, because it is like generosity
Goodness: Celestia, because she is a generally benificent ruler
Faithfulness: Rainbow Dash, because it is like loyalty
Gentleness: Fluttershy
Self-control: Twilight

All of those "fruits" are good things, things we (or at least I) need more of (though maybe I overdo it sometimes on some sorts of "self-control"). But that's another reason I've stuck with the show for five years (as I said: I wasn't in at the get-go) other than just "it's pretty and relaxing to look at" - it emphasizes things that are important to me on a deep level but that often seem to be overlooked in a lot of entertainment today. And I think especially now, given all that's going on in the world...

I suspect a lot of fans of the show (Adult fans, I mean. Not sure what the kid-fans think) like it for a similar reason to me - that Equestria is, by and large, a better world than our human world, and it gives an idealized glimpse of a world where there's more love and kindness and less snideness and rudeness.

And apparently, there WILL be a season 7, so there's that to look forward to. Long live ponies!

(And sometime soon, I want to start a G4-ized version of Minty, using the same old "Friends Forever Fawn" pattern. I saw on one of the pony tumblrs that apparently Build a Bear is actually doing a big stuffie of Minty. And while the BaB toys are nice (I have a Zecora from them, and also a Grumpy Bear), they are also way too huge - I prefer my little, crook-of-the-arm-sized crocheted ponies.

And I think I'm going to take scraps of sockyarn, or maybe a couple of unloved skeins, and knit Minty some socks when I've got her made up. Because she was the original sock-loving pony, way back before G4 sockpony fanart....)

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