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"It's for kids/little girls!" is a STUPID excuse!


Dark Qiviut

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Have you ever seen a half-assed excuse used so much, it drives you crazy? Way too many drive me nuts, and one of them is "it's for kids" — specifically "it's for little girls" in and out of the fandom — as an excuse for shortcomings. As far as FIM (and this message board) is concerned, when making an in-depth analysis or review of something, the most common response I get and see is the "FIM is for kids/little girls" excuse. Friendship Is Magic's show and IDW comics are for all ages, enjoyable by anyone. But even if it was simply "for kids," it doesn't change the fact how that STUPID argument should forever be quelled.

Why should it never be used again? A few reasons:

  1. It goes against the foundation of Friendship Is Magic. Back when Lauren Faust helped lead the show, she wanted to create a feminine-looking television product with brand new archetypical standards. Instead of school, the mane ponies are adults, some of them with full-time jobs. (The first part of the pilot — Twilight being transported to Ponyville from Canterlot — is a response to this cliché.) Rather than focusing on crushes all the time, every single mane character is independent and free-willing with more important things to do. Faust tells its audience there are many ways to be a girl in media besides the stereotypes. For the most part (outside of A Canterlot Wedding, Twilicorn, and EQG), it succeeds in subverting those archetypes and create new, feminist rules of intelligent, hardworking, independent females in media.
     
    By using the "it's for little girls" excuse, you're spitting on those foundations. You're telling everyone these foundations have no merit; they're pointless. It talks down to Faust and any single person who actually comprehends the standards they — DHX and Faust — instilled on the product as well as the standards they (the people behind the scenes) are responsible for helping build and raise.
  2. It's very ageist. By throwing around the "it's for kids" excuse, you're saying kids are inherently stupid and will eat up any shit they see. This mindset is dangerous, because kids are like magnets. They observe their surroundings and respond accordingly, sometimes acting like their idols. Yes, including fictional characters. Quality family-friendly television is important because you want high-quality protagonists to be well-written and suitable for kids to love and idolize. Three-dimensional characters who stay in character, mature along the way, and properly learn their morals through the right context are vital in family-friendly entertainment. If adding to that, intelligent conflicts, intelligent humor with multi-layered referencing to appeal to a wide audience, intelligent graphic design, great music scoring, and so on. Writing that respects multi-demographical audiences regardless of age, sex, or culture. The excuse patronizes kids.
  3. By patronizing kids, you're embracing mediocrity. Even if you claim you don't, dishing out the "it's for kids" excuse shows otherwise. Do you know the basis of why this fandom grew and sustained it? Because the quality of the storytelling reaches out to people young and old. Objectively good writing doesn't segregate demographics. The embrace of mediocrity does.
  4. Whenever you use "it's just a kids'/little girls' show/*whoever audience*," then you're passively calling Friendship Is Magic — and every single product with an audience in mind — inherently weak. Any product worth our time and money respects demographics across the board. Including periphery demographics! Products that do use this excuse are often to be complete garbage.
     
    You want examples of the latter? Fine.
     
    a. My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. You already know how much how I hate this overrated, idiotic, antifeminist piece of shit (along with its sexist toyline), so I'll move on.
     
    (But some don't know this, and I'm not joking, either. I actually respect Tales, G3, and G3.5 more than Equestria Girls. While they're all garbage, EQG tries and fails to mask its bold-faced lie that it's FIM-related [when it genuinely isn't]; but the other three actually show it's MLP, minus the audiences they're pandering to.)
     
    b. My Little Pony Tales, G3, G3.5. Just like Equestria Girls, obnoxious toyetic pandering to little girls at its worst. Tales also deserves the scorn for making the characters unlikeable, stupid, and overly cynical for the sake of "realism."
     
    c. Modern Spongebob. Watch A Pal for Gary, One Coarse Meal, Are You Happy Now?, The Splinter, Pet Sitter Pat, any modern episode that tortures Squidward, and so on. The writers for Spongebob today don't know nor care what made classic Spongebob successful, and Nickelodeon itself doesn't care.
     
    d. Nickelodeon's Breadwinners. There are reviews (both video and otherwise) bashing the show apart on sites like YouTube or TV.com. Or at the very least, you can read my rant. How the FUCK did this insulting piece of trash become the #1 cartoon on Nickelodeon for a bit? I don't get how anyone can enjoy it unless they want kids to enjoy quality equivalent to JERSEY SHORE! (And, yes, I compared that "reality" monstrosity to a Nick cartoon "for kids." I won't take it back.)
     
    e. Series 8-16 of Thomas & Friends. The stories are far too generic. Several of the newer characters show up once and never again (something that's been rectified with the CGI era). A bunch of trains and other vehicles to pander to young kids and third-party companies that produce their toys. Massive flanderization and derailment of the characters with complete disregard for the Laws of the Railway. Fortunately, the new team from Series 17, KotR, and 18 are apparently pushing the series in the right direction; and I suggest you watch them.
     
    f. Approximately every single anime 4Kids dubbed and mangled. One Piece, I'm looking at you!
     
    g. Many of the Disney animated movies in the late-1990s through mid-2000s like Chicken Little, Pocahontas II, Belle's Magical World, Home on the Range, Hunchback of Notre Dame II, and Cinderella II.
     
    h. Star Wars's prequels, especially The Phantom Menace and Battle of the Clones. Jar Jar Binks, a character with the purpose of pandering to children, was slammed for this along with being a racial stereotype. (There's a reason why he's basically nonexistent nowadays.)
     
    i. As a big Gargoyles fan, The Goliath Chronicles is full of flanderization, lapses of logic, poor animation, and also out of characterization. This product spits on those who watched the first two seasons along with the newcomers.
     
    And this is only the shit marketed "to kids." I can go out and bash horrific entertainment aimed at adults, too.
  5. It's an outrageous double standard that demeans the fandom, its growth, and its sustainment. Since points go through one ear and out the other, I'll repeat it: Do you know or remember why the fandom sustained in its size? Because the show has a quality that bridges demographics together. The characters are relatable. Several high-quality episodes emotionally connect with people on a very deep level, like Suited for Success; Hurricane Fluttershy; Testing Testing 1, 2, 3; Pinkie Pride; Winter Wrap Up; and Sleepless in Ponyville.
     
    You can't say plenty of the content bridges beyond the base demographic, yet simultaneously claim this is a product "for five-year-olds" and that the older voices don't matter one bit. Like what Tommy Oliver lambasted in his Equestria Girls review, these statements are incongruent, and "it's for kids" is inherently hypocritical. It's either for all ages (which it is, and anyone who claims otherwise is lying) or "for little girls" (who, by the excuse, you imply that they deserve the pandering schlock that nearly killed the franchise in the first place).
  6. The people you're talking to doesn't determine the quality of the product. The execution of the content determines the overall quality of your product. The audiences you're trying to attract only determines the content rating — what is allowed or not by law. Friendship Is Magic, for example, is rated TV-Y in the US, by far the strictest rating. Hasbro and DHX can't afford to put in more graphic content in hopes of not having the FCC or standard-and-practices lawyers being sicced on.
     
    A few decades ago (notably the 1990s), several cartoons weren't afraid to step across the boundaries and deliver quality entertainment. Sure, some of them were misses (Powerpuff Girls's Mime for a Change for its out-of-character ending; Collect Her for its mean-spirited commentary towards older fans), but plenty were hits. Hey Arnold! (not one of my favorites) is a great cartoon that took its audience seriously and portrayed many city and child problems tactfully, thus expanding the characters' dimensions. Courage the Cowardly Dog is unbelievably creepy with plenty of great slapstick, but it wasn't afraid to tackle real problems and portray them seriously; check out The Mask for its commentary on domestic abuse, sexism, and homosexuality. Or another Hasbro product: Beast Wars's "Code of Hero." Heck, even pre-movie Spongebob is still remembered because most of the time, it didn't fall into the traps that factually bad animations make.
     
    Then again, if Nickelodeon can get away with close-up shots of ripped toenails, portraying suicide realistically to mock it (twice), blatant animal cruelty, racist stereotypes, and rape jokes in cartoons rated TV-Y7, then— I don't wanna think about that idea anymore! NEXT!
  7. Kids are never a target audience. A target audience is the idea of selling a product to someone. Do you think kids are going to be buying those products? No. So how do they get? By their guardian's approval. The guardians (particularly ones with common sense) decide if the product is suitable in both content and quality for his or her kid(s), not the kids themselves. And what "children's" television works best? Ones where kids and adults are treated with equal respect.

MLP:FIM, in terms of the comics and animation, is suitable for all ages. Young kids, teens, parents, and any adult who enjoys quality animation. It's the same audience as the Disney classics, Pixar, several classic children's books, and other current products of today that know what they're doing. If people love and enjoy factually bad shows as kids, there's a chance they'll enjoy factually bad shows as adults, too; that's intolerable. Kids should be directed to quality family entertainment so they can create sets of standards.

Because kids are easily influenced by the voices and sights surrounding them, family entertainment should be enforced with STRICTER and HIGHER standards, not lower. If the quality is good, it should be recommended. On the other hand, if it's bad, it should be called out and criticized sternly — if it's abominable, very harshly. "It's for kids" is no excuse for bad concepts, bad executions, bad animation, bad writing, and bad products in general. The more various sections of the brony fandom and people in general use it to bypass quality flaws that make or break the story; episode; comic; or movie, the more they'll accept any kind of quality, including the really bad kind that Spongebob's going through now and Thomas until last year. The less the lazy "it's for kids" handwave is used and the more the excuse is called out, the better.

  • Brohoof 21

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this!!!!!!

 

This is a terrible mindset that plagues this industry far too much and needs to stop. This whole "lowest common denominator" mentality and its prevalence these days really ruins how things are done in this industry, especially with the heavy corporate influence and "follow the leader" mentality bending to these wills.

 

By all intents and purposes, Hasbro was willing to sit on their asses and let MLP become another one of these works, but thankfully, Lauren Faust, Rob Renzetti, and their seasoned development and production crews have enough of an awareness of the landscape the show was coming out against and tailor-made it to today's audiences. It's really too bad that I can't really find any other show with the meticulous attention to quality and detail MLP has anywhere in today's vast wasteland, despite their success.

 

Executives really have no idea on how to do it right these days. They don't have the experience, nor do they have the will or knowledge to know what makes good shows successful these days. Case in point, Nick. They glance at what made shows like SpongeBob successful in the past, or what makes stuff like Fred or Breadwinners popular on the Internet (for the latter I use that word very loosely) and take it at face value, bastardizing it into unfunny and immature shock humor, awkward pop culture references, and crude humor so abundant that treatment plants wouldn't even be able to handle it.

 

I'm glad that you call for a higher standard for children's television writing. People need to realize how impressionable kids are. The now-defunct YouTuber Lillylivers once said in a rant on the declining quality of feature animation writing that "if you don't give [children] quality entertainment now, they do not build any character." That could not be more true. What they get more influences not only their media choices in the future, but their media choices all throughout life influence their perspectives. If we eventually get to a point where "Ass: The Movie" becomes a thing, who do we have to blame about that?

 

And that goes without saying that it makes perfect business sense, too, as a long term investment. Once these kids grow up and have good nostalgic memories of the media they watched in their younger days, you can bet some of them will continue their loyalty to their favorite characters and maybe even pass them on to their kids. Really, what kind of idiot leaves money on the table like that?

 

Thank you, once again, for this post. We, as analysts, want to keep the show honest. We want nothing but the best, for it and from it, because we know what's on the line here. People need to wake up and realize the implications of the seemingly innocuous things we're spending our time talking about here. It's for our own good.

  • Brohoof 8
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I believe there is a certain amount of truth in the little girls excuse. Especially when it comes to marketing some of the toys and such. 

 

when you say:  "'It's for kids' is no excuse for bad concepts, bad executions, bad animation, and bad writing in general"

I completely and utterly agree.

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I believe there is a certain amount of truth in the little girls excuse. Especially when it comes to marketing some of the toys and such.

That's one of the biggest problems in the toy industry, as well. The toy industry is sometimes very sexist. Far too many of them focus on a specific audience and pander to them accordingly. Sometimes they get plugged into entertainment like cartoons. Thomas & Friends and many of Hasbro's products fall into that category.

 

FIM's animation is mostly good quality, but the first-party toyline is terrible: Quality is sacrificed for quantity.

 

———

 

And going on a tangent, in order to attract these markets, some companies will produce toys in specific colors and designs. Over the last several years, Lego has been using pinks and purples (the typical colors of girls) to attract them. You don't need to pander to girls' parents by using a strict color set or design scheme. Share the colors and designs so the toys become age- and gender-neutral, which was Lego's most nostalgic strength for decades.

  • Brohoof 5
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Don't bash on the previous gens just because they come from more simplistic eras. 

They aren't stereotypes, at least, nor generic. Nor cliché.

 

Except G3.5. You can insult that. But it didn't last that long, so it's harmless.

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@@Darker, MLP Tales panders to girls by writing their love-obsessed mares in episodes that are inherently cynical. Every single character is a completely unlikeable, stereotypical asshole. The storytelling continually relies on them being the lowest common denominator. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would greatly dislike the characters because of the terrible ways they treat each other. And what makes it worse is how the narratives treat this cruelty as a good thing. In other words, horrendous morals with extremely unfortunate implications.

 

Generation 3 is the antithesis of Tales, but writes it just as horribly, if not worse because of their blatant pandering to girls and implications that the people who watch it (and like it) are total numbskulls. It treats the concept of genuine conflict with utter contempt by treating juvenile plots very seriously and completely disregarding continuity. The characters are pieces of cardboard, ooze of antifeminist qualities, and are brain-dead morons (yet are written as intelligent when they're factually anything but). It may be the most "innocent," but it writes as innocence by robbing competence in plot-making. The one big quality from G3, its animation, is marred because the rest of G3 is objectively terrible.

 

I've said it on this board very often, and I'll say it to you. Whether you or anyone else here likes it or not, like G3.5, both Tales and G3 insult the family-friendly, unisex foundations of MLP, which were transferred to FIM. By insulting the foundation, you insult kids' intelligences and, thus, create a product that belongs on the bottom of the barrel.

 

Tales, G3, and G3.5 share the bottom of that barrel. They don't deserve one ounce of praise, period.

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Sorry if I sound like a dweeb for replying to this after almost a year, but you totally nailed it. I've been a fan of the show since I was eleven (fourteen now) and seeing people excuse the more mediocre plotlines by saying that's it for 'little girls' annoys the hell out of me.

  • Brohoof 3
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I'll admit I completely agree with you, there were several episodes of FiM I tried to like but I finally end up disliking them like Crystal Empire, I was analyzing that 2 part episode a lot and in the end I feel like those episodes were tasteless. And even Canterlot Wedding, I thought was underwhelming even though the songs were great. And I realize even an episode that features my favorite characters can be bad. My favorite character in the entire franchise is Cadance because I can relate to her the most.

 

I'm 18 now, and when I was a kid I enjoyed a lot of post movie Spongebob episodes even the worse ones, I mean Best Day Ever was an episode I was so excited for only to be dissapointed after watching it. And I even liked Chicken Little when I was 8 but almost a decade I realize it's bad. Though I've seen G3 MLP and I found myself enjoying it, not sure why but I thought it was cheesy in a good way. But G3.5 is intolerable. I never seen Tales but Equestria Girls was meh.

 

I've been subbed to Mr. Enter for over a year now and he does Animated Atrocities and while abrasive I tend to agree with everything he says. Even a lot of the stuff he reviewed I used to like as a kid, I look at them way differently now like certain Spongebob episodes, Fairly Odd Parents episodes, and Chicken Little.

 

And yeah Breadwinners was bad but Nick has a new show now called Harvey Beaks that's actually pretty good, it's much more innocent, relatable, and less annoying than Breadwinners.

  • Brohoof 1
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I agree with you on this dumb excuse; that 'it's for kids/little girls' malarkey is really ticking us off and I think that this nonsense is gonna have to stop! pKJ4Bl6.png

  • Brohoof 1
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I couldn't agree with you more.

Throughout my life, I've watched cartoons a lot, and I still watch them from time to time. While I've watched them mostly for enjoyment, I also subconsciously earned experience on stories and characters even if I wasn't paying much attention to them. I usually like cartoons for what they are (and this includes shows like Teen Titans Go, though TTG still has numerous flaws), but even then there were things I saw that just make me wish people would be more aware of what they're doing (or at least care about it) when it comes to the plot, morals etc.

Like you said, when people use the "it's for kids" excuse to "justify" all the flaws their shows have, they're essentially insulting the kids' intelligence by implying they're too stupid to notice or care about anything, and these people also fail to take into account that it's almost never just the kids that will be watching. And this isn't limited to shows; things like dubs and other media are just as affected, and alas my own country, Croatia, that dubbed MLP:FiM is (quite possibly) guilty of this. The Croatian dub did a very sloppy and horrible job of dubbing the show (also taking lyrics and sometimes audio itself from one of the Serbian dubs) and gave most characters rather corny names, and I assume their reason for this is "it's for kids and they won't notice".

These people really need to be taught that the "it's for kids/little girls" excuse doesn't justify their flaws and/or make them go away.

  • Brohoof 1
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