Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nitpickery: My Little Pony

Hey y'all.  So I saw fit to write a blog on that whole Equestria Girls thing, and so why not talk about the show My Little Pony itself?  Like I said before, I'm not a brony.  I saw the show on Netflix because I was bored, and it was there.  I wish they would put Trading Spaces available for streaming, but what are you going to do?

So the show.  Yeah.  It's there.  Much of it is fairly standard kid's fare, what with learning a simplistic lesson at the end.  It's the story of Twilight Sparkle, a purple pony, and her candy colored friends, who together must operate the "elements of harmony" to stop bad guys and to learn lessons of friendship along the way, an obvious reference to the subtitle "friendship is magic".  This is the ultimate theme of the show.

While the ponies do have their adventures, most of the time they're just going through life normally, as normal a life as a magical pony can have.  They deal with things like bullies, sisterly conflict, worrying about careers, and making sure Ponyville has enough apples.  Okay.  Stuff.

The trouble with this concept is that people seem to have flocked to it rather insistently.  It's like the second coming of Star Trek, only cuter.  While I theorize that most franchises have some sort of loyal fanbase, until this point no fanbase has come to be known as so obsessive as Star Trek.  Even the rival Star Wars has fans that don't take their series as seriously as the Trekkers (though that may be George Lucas' fault).

The thing that made Star Trek unique was its philosophy: the idea that people in the future will overcome their petty bigotry and become super moral humans.  I personally feel that this is a silly, unrealistic goal, because morality does not evolve, as ancient child sacrifice and modern abortion prove.  Each person born knows nothing, and is only able to learn the lessons of morality from his sires.  Therefore, morality can't really progress all that well.  There are actually other problems with the Star Trek philosophy, but we'll get to that some other time.

What is both good and odd about My Little Pony is that it has a moral much more straightforward and harder to argue against: friendship is magical, and makes people better.  I would venture to say that the wrong friends are as harmful or worse than being alone, but y'know, whatever.  It is true that good friends make you a better person, so yeah, a good thematic basis there.  This, according to my estimation, is the source of the bronies' love.  They like all that love and tolerance schmuck.  There's only one problem with that.

This is a children's show!

Seriously, guys.  I can understand liking a child's cartoon.  I have a certain fondness for Arthur the Aardvark and Spongebob Squarepants.  However, to obsess on a show such as My Little Pony with lavish fanart, excessive and unrealistic pairings, and even a show convention, is ridiculous to say the least.  At least with Star Trek one can say it deals with realistic themes: there is violence, tragedy, and the good guys don't always get things their way.  As a kids' show, My Little Pony can't be particularly violent, avoids tragedy, and even when Twilight Sparkle accidentally bewitches the entire town, her only apparent punishment is a lecture.  Heck, one pony even stole from the Princess of the pony lands, without any negative consequences.

Thus, the buying into the show's philosophy is flawed from the start.  A children's show, especially a modern one, is not generally equipped to have a strong philosophical background that can stand up in the real world. As a show for children, I don't mind it, as My Little Pony has some good things to say.  As a show for grown men who have better things to do with their lives...buh?!

However, I sympathize, to a point.  Many shows for adults these days are just pretty stupid.  They're obscenely violent, have too much smut, are demeaning towards women, and are all alike.  Shows like CSI and House are more or less the exact same, with the same basic formula for every single episode.  Even things that started out good, like Doctor Who, have become bogged down in depressing, uninteresting plotlines that are closer to horror than science fiction.  There is very little out there for someone who just wants to watch something happy.  Sure, there's Duck Dynasty, but there's that whole controversy about reality shows being scripted and whatnot.

My Little Pony is mostly okay.  Like many children's shows, it's an extremely moralistic, idealized version of reality: magical ponies live in the world of Equestria, lead by the peaceful Queen...I mean Princess Celestia.  Dunno why she's not a queen.  Maybe the implication is that she belongs to a pantheon of similarly powerful beings, none of whom is king.  Whatever, not that important to the plot.

I have to say, it's not all that bad.  Granted, being a girl means I can watch without being judged, but it's honestly interesting at times.  Often the show will take very conventional tropes and plotlines, but then add something to make it special.  Sometimes.

Two examples of this are Rainbow Dash and Rarity, two of the main characters.  Rarity is perhaps the most well-developed of the main six ponies, as she seems very competent and gets written about very often.  She's a bit of a trope, as someone who is obsessed with fashion, however this is twisted, because the old stereotype goes that girls who are stuck up on fashion are usually jerks.  This, however, is not the case.  Rarity's element of harmony is generosity, and she is frequently kind on the show, even giving up her own beautiful tail for kindness' sake.  Also, her fashion ambitions contradict her element, making for great character potential with all that conflict.

A similar concept exists with Rainbow Dash, the tomboy pegasus who is obsessed with flying fast.  Her element is loyalty, despite that fact that she is somewhat arrogant and is frequently tempted to dash ahead of her friends from impatience.

However, this isn't played as well as Rarity's conflict is, and Rainbow Dash heavy episodes risk being boring.  There's this one episode where Dash is forced to spend time in a hospital, and she there learns that she likes to read.  This is where the show failed to bring anything new to the trope.  They stuck to the stereotype that athletic = non-reader and failed to add anything interesting to what turned out to be an extremely boring episode with more Indiana Jones references than charm.  The episode where she gains a pet and another where she is outshined by a masked hero both have extremely obvious themes where the ending can be predicted within the first ten minutes.  Yawn.

While we're going along talking about the main ponies, let's swing around to Fluttershy.  She's a timid pony whose element is kindness, and she spends all of her time taking care of animals, despite the fact that she is a pegasus and probably should be living in the clouds.  She's pretty cute, and her pink and yellow color scheme reminds me of yogurt.  Banana strawberry yogurt.

Fluttershy is okay, and her popularity comes from being adorable.  However, there's a couple of problems with her.  Unlike Dash and Rarity, Fluttershy is much more of a trope.  Like her name says, she's shy, but the show translates her shyness as cowardice.  See, being shy means you don't like to be around people or meet new friends.  Being cowardly is running from any sign of danger.  Seriously, there's one episode where Fluttershy literally freaks out because a leaf falls on her.  This is not being shy, that's being a wimp.  Fluttershy has approached dangerous monsters with no more concern than an anxious mother (if that) and yet somehow she's afraid of dragons.  She even continues to be afraid of dragons despite the fact that Twilight has a baby dragon as a friend (slave, but more on that later), and that she once even talked down a full grown dragon.  You'd think she'd just get over it at this point.

Also, and this is more of a personal thing, I don't like how kindness is portrayed as softness.  Sometimes the kindest people you know are hard and sarcastic.  They're the "meat and potatoes" type of kind.  They're the ones that run beside you when you want to give up.  The kind that asks if you want them to beat up your ex when your heart is broken.  The type that stubbornly pulls the mop out of your hands and tells you to get some rest, because they'll clean the kitchen for you.  It's not actually necessary for Fluttershy to have this kind of characterization, but it'd be a more unique take.

I'm not that attached to any My Little Pony character, but if I had to pick a favorite of the leading six, I'd say Applejack.  She's a bit of a trope like Fluttershy, being the redneck farmer type, but I like rednecks.  I also like that the show chose not to portray rednecks as stupid, because that's just an old lie, reminiscent of the kind of thing hicks say about "stupid city folk" -- it's regionality, not an actual accurate statement about the person living in the country or city.  Huh....maybe that explains why the ponies in Canterlot are so stuck up...

Anyway, back to Applejack.  I love her color scheme, and I like that she's responsible.  She's frequently the voice of reason, so much so that some of her screentime has been partitioned off to her little sister Apple Bloom, just so the show can have more antics when the Apple family is in focus.  To be honest, maybe this is why I like her so much: since she's not focused on so much, she ends up doing fewer foolish things -- if you notice, in most shows or stories, the protagonist makes dumb decisions and gets hurt a lot.  Not the focus?  Not the problem.

Applejack is still awesome.  I like how she has trouble asking for help, and my favorite episode of the show is where she runs off because she feels she has disappointed her friends.  However, my only problem with her is that she's the element of honesty, and at no point has she ever faced a conflict concerning it.  Sure, one time a villain temporarily turned her into a liar, but that wasn't her own choice.  She's only ever been tempted to be dishonest during one episode, and that was about cheating on a race, not a serious event that hinges on her honesty.

What should have been done from the first is make her element trust.  Trust not only implies honesty, but it implies responsibility, which Applejack has portrayed from the beginning.  Another person suggested that Rainbow Dash and Applejack should have switched their elements.  However, it's too late for now, so simply writing some episodes where her honesty is at risk would do better, or where her honesty would cause trouble.

Pinkie Pie is the element of laughter, and she shows it.  To be honest, she is sort of one dimensional.  However, when that one dimension is interesting, it works.  Pinkie is hyperactive, super pink, and has the ability to predict really random things, like falling into a ditch or a potted plant falling on someone's head.  She frequently breaks the fourth wall, and almost never takes life seriously.  She sings a lot, and works as a baker and party planner in Ponyville.  That's really all there is to her, and quite frankly, that's for the best.  The less she makes sense, the more fun she is.  It's interesting to know that she comes from a family of rock farmers.

I have to say, my least favorite of the main ponies is Twilight Sparkle.  In fact, when I saw that her first action on the show was to slam Spike in the face with a door, I outright hated her.  There was something about her self-absorbed stubbornness that I absolutely despised.  She's the main protagonist of the bunch, and yet she's the most selfish out of all the girls, Rainbow Dash included.  Many times when a problem is going on, like the town is flooded with all-devouring parasprites, she's worried more about what Princess Celestia will think rather than what sort of damage the parasprites will do to the town.  She freaks out irrationally when her brother gets married, and has at times seen other people's problems as solutions to her own.

The episode I'm referring to is Zero Lesson, where Twilight realizes that she hasn't written a letter to Celestia that week, as is her habit.  She realizes that she hasn't learned a lesson about friendship that week, and thus has nothing to write about.  What does she do?  Does she sit in a cafe and watch other people to observe the things they do?  Ask an older pony about their adventures in friendship?  No.  She goes to her friends, hoping that they have problems so that she can fix their problem and write about it, disregarding the fact that this is technically her using a lesson she's already learned rather than learning a new one.

Twilight is sad to see that Rarity finds a lost item, or that Fluttershy has somehow gained a spine.  The trouble with this is that she's witnessing Fluttershy appear to attack a bear, and is so caught up in her own problems that she doesn't realize how weird it is that someone as calm and kind as Fluttershy would be beating up a bear.  For all Twilight knows, Fluttershy is under some sort of cruelty spell.  Fortunately for her, Flutter is just giving the bear a massage.

However, the irony about Zero Lesson is that it got me to cut Twilight some slack.  She's being tormented the whole time, and by the end of the episode she has not only lost her mind, but she's bewitched most of the town into being obsessed with an old stuffed animal, which Celestia herself has to come in and stop.  This is hilarious to me.  And I also like the lesson that Twilight's friends should have been more sensitive to her fears.

At that point, Twilight became more normal to me.  I don't know, maybe she was just too much of a Mary Sue before, or something like that.  The writers of the show seem to have understood this about Twilight, and so from time to time she'll go through some sort of torture, like being turned into stone or stressing out over something that just isn't worth all the bother.  In any case, I no longer hate Twilight, and can accept her as she is.

However, I will say that it's nonsense that anyone was surprised that Twilight became a princess.  This was foreshadowed from the second episode (technically the second half of the first), where Twilight's element of harmony, magic, is portrayed as a crown where the rest of the girls have necklaces.  She's Celestia's student, and she's a friggin' Mary Sue.  Clearly she was intended to be a princess from the beginning, and this is only bolstered by Celestia's frequent trust in her.

So that's the primary cast.  They're a good bunch, generally pretty good for telling stories.  I will say that episodes that focus on Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash can be very boring.  Too Many Pinkie Pies was good for her, but MMMystery on the Whatever Express was pretty tedious, and depended too much on references to movies.  Applejack has also had some bad episodes, such as Apple Family Reunion, where both the plot and the moral are extremely boring and obvious.

That's the weird thing about this show.  Sometimes it will turn tropes on their heads, but other times it follows sitcom stereotypes to a T.  Episodes like Bad Seed, Mare Do'Well, and Read it and Weep are examples of this.  My least favorite sitcom trope is where someone is forced to babysit, but it turns out to be more than they can handle. My Little Pony not only has this trope, but has it THREE TIMES.

Baby Cakes is the worst of these episodes, where Pinkie Pie has to babysit the twins of the bakery's owners.  This is not only exactly typical to the cliche, but also portrays a one month old pegasus and unicorn pair using magic that older ponies have not achieved yet.  The only entertaining part of the episode is where the Cake family is asking other people to watch their child instead of Pinkie Pie, because she's so flaky.  At the point where they finally accept it is where you might as well switch the channel.  Any given person could write an ending equal to or better than the extremely typical way professional writers chose to do so.

Another episode that concerns overwhelming babysitting is one episode where Twilight Sparkle's baby dragon servant, Spike, volunteers to watch everyone's pets in exchange for gems for a cake he wants to bake.  While Spike's gem side plot does save the plot from being entirely typical, it's also boring so it doesn't really matter.  One reviewer mentioned that he simply would have liked it if the episode were about the pets instead of Spike, but it's hard to see how that's possible without it being a babysitting trope.

The best of the babysitting episodes is probably where Fluttershy offers to watch three younger ponies, the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  These girls were intending to have an overnight session to discover their cutie marks, the special patterns on their butts that symbolizes what special talent they have.  However, this ends up taking place at Fluttershy's house, and yet somehow Fluttershy thinks they're just having a regular sleepover.  Sheesh.  She could at least have the girls help her with the animals and say it will help them find their talents.
At this point it proceeds more or less like the stereotype, as the girls are clearly too loud and energetic for the suddenly wimpy Fluttershy.

However, the end of the episode saves it, as this is the episode where Twilight get turned to stone, and heck, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Twilight torment.  Fluttershy also talks down a cockatrice, saving Twilight from her stony fate.  It's really awesome to see Fluttershy staring down the monster while her back legs are being turned into stone.  It's a very brave moment.  However, as a brony pointed out, this is the third time Fluttershy has impressed others by standing up to monsters.  Thus, the episode avoids the babysitting cliche by following its own monster acceptance cliche.  Lovely.  I actually don't mind this, though.  The imagery of Fluttershy nearly turning into stone and bravely facing this is a fascinating bit, and certainly less tedious than the other babysitting plots.

My absolute least favorite episode of My Little Pony is Bridle Gossip.  The plot is extremely cliche, first of all.  It's your standard "there's a weirdo in town so let's all be afraid of her instead of getting to know her" plot.  Zecora the Zebra behaves strangely, leaving all the other ponies other than Twilight afraid of her.  This is one of the episodes that fueled my dislike for Twilight, as it showed her self-righteousness.  This is further emphasized by the fact that all the other ponies, besides perhaps Fluttershy, are completely out of character in their fear of Zecora.

Fluttershy is apparently a coward, so her fear is justified.  However, Rarity is generous, and even showed tolerance for the parasprites only one episode before, waiting until they did something gross before condemning them.  Why is she more merciful to a bug than a sentient zebra?  Applejack might be a hick, but she's also shown to be extremely friendly, accepting Twilight Sparkle after just meeting her.  Suddenly she's hiding in the bakery and telling her little sister not to associate with Zecora?  What?  Pinkie Pie does not properly know what normal is, and therefore should not really be able to tell if Zecora is strange or not.  She's usually obsessed with making friends.  Rainbow Dash is most likely to be harsh to Zecora, but isn't one to wait in the shadows.  She'd just go dash in and ask why Zecora was digging in the dirt in the middle of town.

Zecora herself I find annoying.  First of all, she has the appearance of being a mystic, voodoo type magician.  I'm not sure I want my hypothetical children and sensitive man-children watching a show that talks about magic that can correlate with the real world.  Unicorn magic is fine, because unicorns aren't real.  Voodoo magic?  That exists I'd really rather they didn't know about that until they were old enough to have an understanding of how dangerous messing with that kind of thing is.

Secondly, she rhymes.  I hate characters that rhyme when they talk.  It forces them to use awkward words, and makes it hard for them to understand.  The show continues this tradition, despite the fact that it only really works on the "Halloween" episode where a dressed up Zecora is explaining the story of Nightmare Moon.  It's actually pretty fitting there.  All the rest of the time?  It's annoying as crap.

The ponies in this episode accuse Zecora of cursing them, and then Twilight Sparkle gets all self-righteous again by saying that curses aren't real.  One, yes they are.  Two, like voodoo magic, is a child's cartoon really the best place to discuss things like curses?  Three, in a world with unicorn magic, a curse can be something as simple as bad magic, or magic used in a negative way.  After all, King Sombra cursed the Crystal Empire by hiding it away for a thousand years, right?  To be fair, the writers probably included the whole "curses aren't real" thing as a bit to contradict the voodoo magic implied by Zecora's house and belongings.  However, I'm pretty sure voodoo involves curses.  Seriously, writers, your choices are pretty dang questionable at this point.

The real saving grace of this episode are the "curses" (affects of a magical plant) that happen to the ponies.  Rarity has horrible hair, Applejack shrinks, Twilight's unicorn horn wobbles and bends, Pinkie's tongue is swollen, Rainbow Dash can't fly straight, and Fluttershy suddenly has a deep, mellow jazz voice.  These are all hilarious and ironic given the ponies' interests and personalities.  It's the only thing not insulting about this episode.  Sadly it doesn't make up for the rest of it.

But let's talk about some of the better episodes.  My personal favorite is The Last Roundup, where Applejack leaves town for mysterious reasons.  I love this episode because unlike many, you can't see the end from the beginning, and it's ironic that the usually reliable Applejack is suddenly running away from her home and friends, despite the fact that working on her apple farm is what she wants to do the rest of her life.

Another good episode is the one where Rarity makes dresses for her friends, only that by listening too much to their nitpicks and annoyances, she ends up making things that she despises and are totally unacceptable in the fashion realm.  Technically this is quite standard as a plot, but it's enjoyable all the way, and I love seeing the flops.  And I actually quite liked Rainbow Dash's failed outfit.  It looked like armor, and that was pretty cool.

I definitely enjoyed Feeling Pinkie Keen, as it reveal's Pinkie's pinkie sense, where she can anticipate random accidents.  Twilight's self-righteous perceptions are really challenged in this episode, and her over-zealous efforts to disprove Pinkie's power end up violating the scientific method of observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, and concluding.  See, no true scientist can be emotionally invested in one specific result, or else he'll end up bending science just to support his pre-conceived notions.

Twilight shows that even the "scientific" can suffer "religious" problems -- problems that are not in fact "religious", but simple human nature: nobody likes their deeply held perceptions to be contradicted.  These perceptions need not be religious in nature to be deeply held.  This is strangely enough proved by the bronies themselves, many of whom seem to be having a hard time accepting that Luna will apparently be evil in season 4.  Does it matter to their lives whether or not a fictitious pony is evil?  No, but it's a deeply held belief that Luna won't be, and thus they don't want it contradicted.

Anyway, the lesson in Feeling Pinkie Keen is great, in that we shouldn't judge someone's abilities or beliefs simply because we don't understand them.  It's like a parallel to Bridle Gossip, only the ponies are in character and voodoo isn't in the picture.  And there's no rhyming.

The animation on this show is good.  It's obviously computer work rather than hand drawn, and I guess that's fine.  That makes it easier for the show to have different scenes and angles, I suppose.  It's not the most marvelous animation in the world, but I prefer non-HD stuff anyway.  You know, that whole thing about not wearing your eyes out.  The ponies are cute and colorful, and stuffs.

I will say that I dislike the songs on this show.  I generally hate bubblegum pop sung by stereotype teen female voices.  However, this is a personal problem, apparently.  Many people seem to like the songs, and I can't really judge them on matters of taste.  If they like the songs, there they go.  The only place where the songs are objectively bad is in the final episode of season 3, where good storytelling has been replaced by songs.  People like these songs too, but the point remains that this episode, with the important event of Twilight's ascent into princesshood, has a scrambled plot and bad pacing, and the songs don't help the problem.  I still don't get what that spell Twilight was studying really was, and the bronies debate it even now.  Maybe they have competent theories on the matter, but in the end the show's writers were no help.

And now to bring up the one thing that is most offensive in the show: their treatment of males.  I'll say up front that I don't care that there are more female ponies than males.  I don't believe any show should be forced to have a quota of gender, race, status, or any other demographic.  Each show should have the characters it needs to reach its target audience and achieve the artistic aims it set for itself.  This show is for young girls, so whatever characters they see fit are go.

However, it's gotten to the point where the males in My Little Pony are in poor taste.  Few of them are ever shown as competent, and quite often they are crude stereotypes.  Many times these are simple tropes that have no depth simply because they are background characters, but other times they're very skewed characters that portray males in a bad light.

The main such character of this is Spike.  He's essentially Twilight's slave, as since the very moment he hatched he seemed to belong to Twilight, and spends his days serving her.  The show makes it look as though he enjoys his life, but at the end of the day it's odd that a baby dragon is the responsibility of a growing, immature pony.  He has no parents, you see.  Do ponies regularly steal dragon eggs to test young unicorn magicians?

And so, Spike is showing pouring tea and going around in a pink heart apron, cheerfully enjoying his life of servitude to Twilight.  The one episode where we could have learned about dragon culture and how they live when they were not stolen away by unicorns, instead we are greeted with stereotyping.  Dragon stereotyping?  No, thug male stereotyping.  Spike wanders off to join the dragon migration and interact with his own kind, only to find that these dragons (all of them male, no less), are all common bullies that do stupid stunts and antagonize peaceful forest creatures for the fun of it.  They appear to have no way of life beyond violence and doing stupid things.  At the end of this episode, Spike declares himself a pony and swears that dragonhood is wrong.

Notedly, a few bad examples do not "dragonhood" make.  This is what we call bigotry over here in the human world.  Also, this episode seems anti-cultural, as if the pony way of life is the only one that is right to live.  Has anyone else ever read about dragons, and their huge impact on mythology?  Their detailed history and behavioral "observations"?  Even in Western cultures where dragons aren't revered, they have interesting backgrounds and histories.  In Equestria?  Nope!  Dragons are stupid males that push everyone around for the fun of it, and Spike won't be a part of that!

In a previous episode, Spike's aspiration to save Rarity from danger is squashed by the moral that just because someone isn't a lady doesn't mean they can't take care of themselves.  On the one hand, I like this idea and Rarity's way of saving herself was hilarious.  On the other, Spike's aspirations were noble and deserving of respect.  Just because a female "doesn't need" help doesn't mean that it's wrong for a man to want to help.  Men desire to be strong and to be appreciated, and when these desires are encouraged, men become noble.  When they are disregarded, men become bitter.

If it were just Spike, I could get over it and just write off the dragon episode as stupid.  However, there are two more characters that are even more offensive: Snips and Snails.  These two ponies are drawn significantly different from the rest of the cast to look awkward and stupid, and their actions match their design (what, judging people on their looks?  For shame!).  They constantly kowtow to ponies only a moron would admire, and everything they do is in some way stupid.  At no point do they ever do anything useful for Ponyville; they do, however, lead a monster into town.  It's bad enough that these guys are useless, but to do it with characters who are named for ingredients to make boys as listed in that old rhyme is just something else.  It's clear that the message behind this show is a little more than simply girl empowerment.

The thing is, even the inoffensive males are uninteresting and in one way or another weak.  There's Featherweight, a young, malnourished pony who spends much of the episode in which he appears working for a school bully.  Another pony sells an obviously dangerous magical artifact despite knowing its background.  One pegasus is a mass of muscles, with only teeny tiny wings.  A trio bullies make fun of Rainbow Dash, and apparently have done so since Dash's childhood.  A handsome prince turns out to be a rude scumbag.  The dog creatures greedy for jewels are all male.

Granted, these would be inoffensive and even interesting in most contexts, but it's difficult to take this in stride when there are so few competent males on the show.  The leaders of the country are both female, and Ponyville has a female mayor.  The only male in authority, Shining Armor, gained his princehood, by marrying a princess, and two of the three episodes where he's included he gets showed up by his little sister.  The third time the day did not require saving.  That, and his obnoxious surfer dude voice renders him completely unrelatable.

Big Mac, Applejack's brother, is a pretty good male character, and in fact if his character were ever disrespected by the writers, there would be a fan backlash.  However, he's primarily background, and the writers just had to make him interested in a little, raggedy doll.  Sigh.  At least he's pretty good as is.  Another good male character is Discord, a bizarre creature who thrives on chaos.  However, he is an antagonist, and is generally interested only in his own aims.  That, and he's a bit of a Star Trek trope; he's even voiced by John DeLancie, the character that played Q on Trek.

You know the only character who has never fallen victim to the female chauvinist?  Mr. Pie.  That's right, Pinkie Pie's rock farming father.  Not only did he allow his daughter to go to Ponyville to expand on her talent, he even showed mercy to an outcast unicorn by letting her work on his farm until she got back on her feet.  He's actually a competent male character.

Maybe I'm taking all of this too seriously, but tearing men down does not equal raising women up.  We're not talking about a zero sum situation here.  Treating men respectably makes them respect women.  We work together, you know?  Besides, look at all the guys watching the pony show.  Surely they want to see male ponies working competently together.  Surely the bronies would like a male representative of their kind on the show.  Can't there be a male as powerful and as intelligent as the main six?  Even if he's a background or side character, it would at least just show that men can be masculine and not suck.  Actually, we'll compromise.  Erase Snips and Snails from existence and we'll call it even.  How about it?

So overall, this show has its flaws.  Sometimes it's brilliant in its uniqueness, and other times it's as dull as dishwater, representing the tired idea that children will watch anything.  Sometimes it's offensive, and other times it makes a good point.  It's a fun, candy sort of show, and it's nice to be able to talk about it when little girls come in asking for My Little Pony books at work.

Overall?  It's a show.  It's not magnificent, nor is it utter trash.  It's just one of many shows on television.  Admittedly, it's far more tolerable than most of the stuff on Primetime, but at the end of the day it's not something I feel smarter for watching.  Because it is a child's show.

And then came the bronies.  This is going to require another Nitpickery.

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