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Flash Sentry: A Critique of His Character


Dark Qiviut

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Author's Note: Credit goes to critiques from Tommy_Oliver, Silver-Quill, and VoiceOfReason for this critique of Flash Sentry.


One of the biggest elephants in not only Equestria Girls, but FIM altogether. Both movies have a host of problems, and one of them is Flash Sentry. If there's one point where you can narrow down the laziness of the entire alternate world, it's him. Poor writing, lazy direction, character derailment, playing clichés to the letter. Flash Sentry is a lot like the characters of G3: flat, stereotypical, boring, pointless, and receives undeserved praise. On top of that, he's also a Gary Stu.

But that's just slicing through the surface of Flash Sentry's issues as a character. To really get to the roots of the problems, we need to be really analytical with his character. What are the problems? What causes these problems? Any implications his overall concept represents?

Crush on Twilight.

Pedestria's* overarching plot is the ongoing crush Flash and Princess Twilight have on each other. Twilight and Flash Sentry keep bumping into each other, setting off the crush. Each time they do, Twilight's crush "deepens," so to speak.

One very huge issue about the romance angle is how there's no chemistry between them. Twilight Sparkle is a very established character with several strengths and flaws that make her so endearing. During the middle of the first movie, her adorkable side came into play when she got so fascinated over the school library and later read the history book of Canterlot High that night. She may not freak out anymore, but that doesn't mean she doesn't become any less antsy, like her loss of patience over Rainbow Dash's inability to learn through the traditional methods and subsequent insults until Fluttershy called both her and Dash out. She has a passion to learn and is very logical in her approach.

In Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks, Twilight only grows a crush on him because of his looks. Nothing about his personality. Nothing to create common ground. They establish nothing between them. Flash's lack of dimension doesn't mesh with Twilight's studiousness.

Whenever the characters meet, they almost always bump into each other. It didn't just happen once nor was it organically varied. They bump into each other again and again and again. DHX, you're not creating anything unique or original when you have two prominent characters in EQG/RR meet up so predictably. The first time — in The Crystal Empire — was okay because they never met. The second time was pushing it to the point of predictable. But when she bumps him the third time, it was no longer interesting. It was predictable. There's a reason why Twilight spilling her drink on him isn't funny. By Rainbow Rocks, this cliché was beyond tiring. It was obnoxious. Any hopes for a developed relationship died before he bumped into the wall in the Rainbooms' studio because DHX doesn't know how to create FlashLight conversation without making the audience cringe.

Twilight's reasons for her crush is out of character. Think of the implications surrounding teenaged hormones: the idea that teens attach to other people simply for how hot they look. She only likes him because he's hot, nothing else. This is a stereotype of how teenaged girls view their teenaged boy crushes. Even worse is how this universe never subverts this stereotype. Instead, they play it straight. With Twilight as the main character in both films (and an established, three-dimensional being to boot), she becomes very shallow. The crush angle is insulting to her character.

But that's not completely correct; the crush angle is even more insulting to Flash. His a crush on an interdimensional being, one whose true form isn't even human, is his lone source of conflict. But this conflict is bypassed in the first film and only referenced in passing in the beginning of Rainbow Rocks, basically nullifying the plot point. Unlike Twilight, Flash Sentry made his debut much sooner, in EQG1. You could've had the whole movie play off subversions of the hot hunk cliché by giving Flash more originality in his character and time for Twilight to have a very tiny crush on him that could eventually build over time. But both movies hammer in their relationship when they offer nothing to make the audience legitimately believe they like each other.

The biggest irony about this angle is how Flash's crush on Twilight actually feels more genuine than Twilight's crush on Flash.

Think of the romance between Princess Cadance and Shining Armor. A Canterlot Wedding hammers in how much both loved each other, wanted to get married, and were basically made for each other. One major problem: The source of chemistry is exposition only. They have very little in common to create any organic perspective of both characters actually loving each other beyond that one asspull in the climax. When Chrysalis's brain was replaced with the Idiot Box in order for them to perform their counterspell, their credibility is more damaged. Show, don't tell.

Past relationship with Sunset.

One element from Equestria Girls that had literally no impact was the dumbest dialogue exchange in the first film:

Quote

Rarity: Don't even think about it! You're already trying to get her crown. Who knows what Sunset Shimmer would do if you ended up getting her ex-boyfriend too?

Twilight Sparkle: I'm not trying to. I don't even know... We just accidentally... Ex-boyfriend?

Fluttershy: Flash Sentry broke up with her a few weeks ago. I can't believe she hasn't done something awful to him yet.

What made this scene so stupid was twofold:

  1. It was totally pointless. It had ZERO impact in the context of both this scene and whole film. It wasn't referenced again until Rainbow Rocks when Sunset admitted to using him for fame. Cut out this little piece of information, and nothing changes. Hell, it would've been a lot better if Flash and Twilight introduced each other after he helped her up.
  2. Instead of subverting the vile high-school-drama clichés, Flash Sentry fulfills one of the most obnoxious simply for that explanation. How? Because the evil alpha bitch (Sunset) has an ex-boyfriend (Flash) interested in the protagonist (Twilight).

Sunset's character had no impact with her relationship with Flash. Because it was dropped as soon as it started, him being her ex-boyfriend never affected his friendship with Twilight, either. Instead of dropping it out of nowhere in the middle of the film and later pretend it never happened, why not do something to make their triangle feel interesting? Why not have Flash express his friendship with Twilight and Sunset, but not romance? Make him more focused on his studies and ability to excel in one of his fields (music) before he decides to get involved in romance again.

Quote

But what about the fact that he broke up with her?

That doesn't change anything. Again, the SunLight background romance had no impact in either film. It was there simply to fill in the formula mentioned above. The fact that he broke up with her is very similar to his car: It's not a personality nor is it a hint of his personality. You could've had her break up with him; it wouldn't impact either characterizations whatsoever.

You see, when you play such a cliché down Broadway, even in passing, then you're weakening the characters even more. Having both movies mention SunLight in passing weakened Sunset's credibility as a villain and Flash's as a secondary protagonist (this I'll get back to later).

But it's here where Flash Sentry's credibility gets permanently damaged. Even before the cafeteria scene, Flash was already a one-note character. Rarity's line to Twilight reduced him beyond that.

He became a stereotype.

Before anyone comes here to lie about stereotypes aren't inherently a bad thing, take a look at its most important definition:

Quote

1. a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

"the stereotype of the woman as the carer"
synonyms: standard/conventional image, received idea, cliché, hackneyed idea, formula
"the stereotype of the rancher"
 
2. a person or thing that conforms to a stereotypical image.
"don't treat anyone as a stereotype"

Stereotypes aren't three-dimensional characters. A stereotype is a very clichéd formula of a character. Instead of being genuine, the character becomes flatter than cardboard. They're predictable in the way they react, say, and do. Stereotypes aren't just typical formulas. They're insulting because they create a representation of certain characters as a whole. Stereotypes are caricatures of certain archetypes.

The fact that Flash Sentry was Sunset's ex-boyfriend relegated him to less of a character. His potential as a character jumped the shark.

There's no such thing as a good stereotype, period. For a generation that all but brags about how it can avoid stereotypes, having him play so straight to it is beyond shameful.

No conflict.

Outside of his interdimensional crush on Twilight, human!Flash has absolutely no conflicts. Let's break it down.

  1. Flash Sentry is really good at playing the guitar and is passionate about it. We saw this during the cafeteria song when he worked on it with the rest of his band with plenty of fervor.
  2. Financially, he's stable. Take a look at his car model:
    800px-Flash_pulls_up_in_his_car_EG.png
     
    That car looks eerily similar to this 2010 Chevy Camaro:
     
    2010ChevroletCamaro-05.jpg
     
    (Image credit.)
     
    Since Chevrolet revived the Camaro in the late 2000s, they aren't cheap. They can range from $25,000 for the coupe to over $40,000 for the convertible. Plus, Flash's fancy coupe has some intricate decals, which can cost plenty of money. So it's not like Flash makes end's meet.
  3. He's got a very stereotypical "bad boy" look. Think about it: jeans that reach the ankles, a shirt that's partially worn out, a black jacket, spiky hair, and plays the guitar. His attire fits the "rebel."
  4. How generically nice he is to Twilight. When he talks to or about Twilight post-interrogation scene, he stutters, becomes clumsy, and is just a plain goof.
     
    In case you're wondering, him being clumsy is not an organic flaw, because it doesn't affect his character nor any "conflicts" he comes across. Currently, his clumsiness is pure humor.
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But why do people not like him when there are several background ponies with huge fanbases?

The answer is very simple.

Take a look at not just what the background ponies are doing, but also how their popularity started.

For a few examples, Derpy, Lyra, and Colgate.

 

 

800px-Pinkie_Pie_excited_S01E01.png

 

800px-Lyra_Heartstrings_sitting_on_a_bench_like_a_human_S01E07.png

 

640px-Crowd_watching_S2E04.png

 

You notice any similarities of the popular background ponies?

Each of them stood out and did something.

Derpy's eyes were wall-eyed.

Colgate was dressed as a dentist (yes, dentists do use stethoscopes if their patients are older and/or have a medical history).

Lyra sat on a park bench like a human.

Vinyl Scratch had wild hair, wore big glasses, and bobbed to the tune as the record played.

Dr. Whooves looked like The Doctor from Dr. Who and later contained many Dr. Who references like the tie, hourglass in SSCS6K, and 3D glasses as he jogged with Rose Luck.

Octavia played a classical instrument.

The list goes on and on. When characters in the background do something, it catches the attention of the fanbase. The community in Equestria feels very alive when background characters are active. They offer insight to their character; sometimes they're a part of the conflict, even for a split second. Headcanon is developed to flesh them out. For example, it's no surprise that many bronies love OctaVinyl; the tropes are there. Vinyl scratch's style of music playing is more modern. Visually, she's boisterous, loves to have fun, and just doesn't give a crap what you think. On the other hand, Octavia is very classical and formal due to her hair style and the playing of an instrument that dates back several centuries. They're perfect visual foils.

Remember, they're called background ponies for a reason. They're there to fill the background.

Conversely, Flash Sentry is a secondary character. Both movies billed him to be just as important as the ReMane Five. In other words, his character and actions become influential to the entire plot.

Instead, what do we have? A one-dimensional piece of cardboard. For bronies who like and dislike him, they have no choice but to flesh out his character in fanart, fancomics, and fanfiction.

Quote

What about pony!Flash?

The very same thing. Princess Cadance revealed Flash Sentry to be a new hire for the Royal Guard, but he was the one to announce Princess Twilight Sparkle's arrival. Later, he becomes a royal escort for Cadance (and presumably other ambassadors, if going by T'sK1).

Rather than being shown hard work to join the rankings, Flash Sentry becomes one of the top guards simply because whoever's working behind the scenes wants Flash shoved in the spotlight. Consequently, Flash's character progression dissipates: Why confine all of his progression in the background when he was a secondary character and stated to be a recent hire? Don't leave it up for the fans to decide. Place in some effort to reward him for his efforts.

Because his source of conflict is naught, bronies had to create some for him. One was through a look-alike featured in both Pinkie Pride and Twilight Time, unofficially named First Base.

 

flash_sentry_and_first_base_by_dm29-d78r75r.png

 

(Link to fanart.)

In fanon circles, many bronies saw this as an opportunity to take a "character" into someone you can relate to. A big brother having a great relationship with a little brother. This isn't the first time, as these fanon relationships have been around for some time, most notably Dinky being Derpy's daughter (my favorite brony fanon), Snowflake being Featherweight's big bro, and Screwball (a.k.a., Topsy-Turvy) being Discord's adopted daughter. Despite being somewhat repetitive, this fanon doesn't get old because it's something each of us can relate to; many of us have very close relatives. The sibling bond is one great way for the characters to connect. For Flash and First Base, immediately it generates some form of conflict, and you can expand Flash Sentry in many ways:

  1. Does he miss his family? What does he feel about family in general?
  2. Where did he live? Where did he come from?
  3. How long did it take for him to climb up the ranks?
  4. If you mold the FB/FS fanon, what was their relationship? Do they write any letters to each other?

Can you see the ample opportunities to evolve Flash into a living and breathing character? It's there, and Flash definitely has the background. Unfortunately, DHX evolved him to a point where they basically couldn't care less about him. With no visible goals in sight, Flash becomes a blank prophecy.

Quote

Are both Flash Sentries different characters?

Yes and no. I've made this point quite often in other blogs and posts, so for those who haven't read them, it's like this. Even though the characters have perpendicular counterparts, they each still represent that character. What do I mean? Even though the HuMane Five are different from the ReMane in Equestria, the HuMane Five should have some common sense, dignity, intelligence, ability to talk organically, and maturity. The HuMane Five's characterizations should match the ReMane Five — if any differences, keeping them subtle. Instead, the HuMane Five (Pinkie Pie exempt in EQG1) are flanderized versions of the ReMane Five. They're a lot shallower with a primary focus on one trait, and the vocabulary is simplified to the point where characters like Dash utter "awesome" several times.

Flash Sentry, too. Albeit seeing little of him as a pony, the first movie suggests that their personalities are one of the same, too. If you saw Flash Sentry as a human personality-wise, you know his personality as a pony and vice-versa. If pony!Flash is completely different from human!Flash, then pony!Flash is out of character.

Filler.

I bet you've heard one criticism of some of FIM's episodes: "*character* is pointless. He or she can be cut out entirely, and nothing would've been lost." This was used a lot during several season four episodes like Rainbow Falls, Filli Vanilli, Equestria Games (although the criticism is for the deceptive setting instead); and several main IDW comics.

Neither movie is exempt, especially Flash Sentry. Once more, his whole identity is Twilight's love interest. There's literally nothing about him that directly affects the conflict in any way aside from being a distraction. If you take away that drawn-out subplot, what differences would you get with either movie? Nothing. You can cut him entirely and not alter the story one bit. It could've been someone else who helps her get up. Twilight would buy the drink and sit by the lounge without the HuMane Six gossiping bull rubbish about Flash's past relationship with Sunset. Someone other than Flash would've retrieved the cutouts so Luna can end the interrogation. You could've erased him from Rainbow Rocks.

Flash Sentry is the character version of Spongebob, You're Fired! There's a gigantic lack of quality simply by how pointless he is.

Quote

What about the scene where he rescued Twilight?

"Someone other than Flash would've retrieved the cutouts so Luna can end the interrogation." (Then again, the whole scene was so stupid, it wouldn't alter the quality.) He's there for one reason only: to attempt to make the romance subplot convincing. As if there are other ways for Twilight and Flash to hook up. But when the results are the two babbling and blushing, the "chemistry" turns into a virtual checklist.

Filler tests your audience's patience. Flash is filler.

Gender politics.

Silver-Quill made that point really clear in After the Fact: Flash Sentry (a great analysis and a basis in this critique; go watch it if you haven't). Other people were very critical of this, too.

One gigantic issue with Friendship Is Magic is how it enforces a very sexist implication of how any form of entertainment with a specific gender or attitude brand in mind either can't have the opposite sex in a dominant yet positive role or can't have the opposite sex involved at all. We see this all the time in entertainment. Anime and manga have whole genres dedicated to presenting their products with a cast with one prominent gender, usually with the idea of pandering to one gender. MLP Tales, G3, and G3 also shove this sexist mindset in the audience's face.

If you review this series yourselves, observe the roles of the male sex. For instance:

  1. Snips and Snails are stereotypical idiots in a character design. They're annoying, unlikeable, and one-dimensional. Boast Busters would've sucked much less if they didn't exist.
  2. The Diamond Dogs are the cliché villain of having plenty of brawn yet little brains. By writing them as stupid, it gives Rarity the edge to outwit them. This type of writing is very contrived because you're giving the protagonist the easy way out of the conflict. The moral itself is fantastic, but it's hurt by the lazy writing.
  3. Discord is extremely likeable even as a villain. Yes, he's evil, but a clever brand of evil. A villain with morals, he doesn't pull back punches while simultaneously not attempting to land them. His lone goal was to conquer Equestria while having fun. (I'm seriously thinking of a Return of Harmony analysis of his morals. Knowing how long I write them, it might be really long. :lol:) When he became more chaotic neutral instead of evil, the writers had him play several hilarious mind games with the Mane Six.
  4. Spike is the longest running male character in the series. Unfortunately, FIM often puts him as the punching bag for humor, and most of it for no good reason. When he's written really well, he's normally the supportive character. But when he stars the episode, it's often terrible, like Dragon Quest, Equestria Games, and Just for Sidekicks.
  5. The dragon clan in Dragon Quest suffers from being so sexist, it's not funny. They're stereotypical bully characters, all of whom male. They do stupid things, steal, mock Spike for his size and femininity, and disregard life. DQ is one unfortunate implication of how it implies every single dragon other than Spike behaves like the stereotypes.
  6. Trenderhoof… *sighs crossly* Everything about him is so unlikeable. His personality is obnoxious. He's incredibly rude. He relies on trends just to fit in. How the bloody hell did Rarity ever get the crush on him?
     
    So what about her fantasy with Blueblood? Is that okay, as well? No. But there's a big difference between Twilight's on Flash and Rarity's on Blueblood.
     
    In The Ticket Master, Rarity presented a very stupid fantasy of wanting to be married to her prince charming. Here, her reasoning was blatantly recognized as being stupid. Why? Because every reason from the ReMane Five made just as little sense as hers. There was irony to her logic, and TTM played it as a joke tut-tutting the characters (who didn't know it) and the audience. Even though what Rarity did was in character at the time, it was stupid.
     
    In Equestria Girls, Twilight's shallow crush was considered pivotal to the story even though it was filler. Simultaneously, her lack of logic wasn't critique. It was praised.

There are very few likeable males in this show. Discord is one, and so is Spike regardless of his characterization consistency. Cheese Sandwich is possibly the most likeable male character in the show for some fantastic reasons, one of them being how thorough and convincing his dedication to others' happiness is. He wants to deliver not just a great party, but an epic party. Big Mac is the most consistent stallion and is full of dimension despite his "eeyups" and "eenopes." (The two-part comic starring him is one hilarious way of delivering his character without having him say much.) However, his trademark remark is also a common punchline. More of him saying more words without confining him to singing, please!

Flash Sentry has a strong sense of integrity. When there's something he believes is wrong, he's not afraid to get involved. Unfortunately, this positive trait is shared among the rest of the protagonists, so he needs another unique attribute to differentiate him from the rest of the cast. Otherwise, he remains relegated to being Walking Cardboard instead.

What's really unfortunate for this show is how whenever a three-dimensional male is shown to be a positive role model, he's typically a one-shot. Cheese Sandwich, Fancy Pants, and Cranky Doodle Donkey are such examples.

The gender politics are prevalent in EQG, Flash Sentry in particular. To quote from earlier:

Quote

You see, when you play such a cliché down Broadway, even in passing, then you're weakening the characters even more. Having both movies mention SunLight in passing weakened Sunset's credibility as a villain and Flash's as a secondary protagonist (this I'll get back to later).

But it's here where Flash Sentry's credibility gets permanently damaged. Even before the cafeteria scene, Flash was already a one-note character. Rarity's line to Twilight reduced him beyond that.

He became a stereotype.

As mentioned previously, stereotypes are bad enough for they create one-dimensional caricatures. But that's not all. Presenting stereotypes and treating them as a good thing are damaging to society, especially kids. How? By delivering false perceptions of archetypes at best and lies at worst. It gets especially bad when stereotypes are used to spread morals; you risk creating a straw man, exemplified by Praiser Pan being a stereotype of critics in the Fluttershy Micro.

Do you think that Flash Sentry, as he currently is, benefits kids by being a sexist stereotype and having Equestria Girls embrace it?

I don't think so.

Character design.

(Credit goes to Silver-Quill for this segment.)

If there's one final nail to confirm Walking Cardboard's status as forced love interest, it's the use of the color wheel.

Here's what I mean:

art-factory-color-wheel.jpeg

(Image credit.)

When you see one color on the color wheel, its complementary is located on its opposite curve. There are three most-known complementary pairs: red & green, orange & blue, yellow & purple/violet. When these complements are near each other, the eyes play games. In design, a complementary color located in the background can make the foreground jump out, like a very subtle sky blue background behind a firm orange foreground. On the other hand, if the complements touch each other and are equal saturation, then they battle for visual attention, which can hurt your eyes. There's a reason why you often won't see red and green side by side in one design.

Twilight Sparkle is a lavender alicorn — her natural complementary is yellow. Flash Sentry's fur or skin is predominantly yellow. Visually and psychologically, Flash is connected to Twilight. In essence, Flash's whole character is tied down to their crush.

Now, I'm going to lay off the critiquing for a minute and analyze some color choices. The ponies in Equestria are visually versatile. Each of them has specific fur and mane/tail colors to give each of them an identity. When they're an animal, the color choices make connotative sense. As such, they don't stand out or create implications. Conversely, when translated to human form, they look uncanny at best. As a pegasus, Fluttershy's yellow fur feels normal, but when translated to human skin, it makes her look rather unhealthy.

At worst, the colors are offensive. Big Mac's red fur feels very natural. But if Big Mac has red skin, then the public is reminded of something like these:

 

 

791px-Cleveland_Indians_logo.svg.png

 

Washington-Redskins-Logo.jpg

 

 

Natives/Indians are some of the most oppressed people worldwide, and making Big Mac's skin red would perpetuate stereotypes so racist, FIM would've been canceled.

Why is Cheerilee's skin a lighter purple instead of the deep purple? Very same reason. Cheerilee's fur color would trigger stereotypes of Natives on one end and — because she's voiced by a white woman — blacks on the other through subtle blackface.

What does this have to do with Flash Sentry?

Plenty.

Pony!Flash's fur color has the hexidecimal value of FCC862 and CMYK value of 0/21/61/1. In other words, his fur color is a very bright yellow, almost a gold.

Human!Flash's (Brad's) skin color has the hexidecimal value of F9E64A and CMYK value of 0/8/34/2. In contrast to his fur color, his skin tones are a very pale, dull tan. When comparing it to natural skin, it's near-accurate.

Why is this so significant?

Look at human!Flash's face, specifically his eyes:

800px-Flash_Sentry_smiling_at_Twilight_EG.png

It has a very Asian appeal.

Based on his looks, if you change his skin to that gold saturation from his fur, you'll trigger yellowface/yellow peril, an extremely racist Asian stereotype. If Friendship Is Magic had a character with yellowface, chances are you'll get a reaction worse than this from How I Met Your Mother.


Flash Sentry has been a very problematic character from the start. Even if you ignore his characterization, his concept is based off being Twilight's love interest. Him being Twilight's visual complement, the clichés spewed in both films, and their poorly executed romance trigger the elongated subplot even when they're not conversing with one another. The crush damages Twilight's character because her reasons devolve to his looks. But it damages Flash's character moreso by having the narrative cling so hopelessly onto it with no end in sight. With his lone goal being her shortchanged love interest, Flash is beyond simply a Gary Stu. He's a one-dimensional plot device and stereotype. The stereotype label is what makes him offensive to the show. His character jumped the shark once Rarity revealed he was Sunset's former boyfriend, if not the minute he debuted.

But to make it worse (from Part 2 of my RR review):

Quote

Flash was blander and flatter in Rainbow Rocks. It was bad enough last time because he was a sexist stereotype. Now not only does he retain that sexism. DHX didn't even try to redeem his character! It's as if DHX knows Flash's character jumped the shark, so they made him more useless as a protagonist and let the egg-eating snake swallow him whole. The only time he had any personality whatsoever was when he was under the Sirens' trance, but when they were defeated, he was back to his old self.

And I didn't even mention nailing in the most obnoxious, clichéd piece of slapstick in MLP history. Other than after the climax, each time Twilight and Flash meet, they bump into each other. The only reason Twilight has the hots for him is because she likes his looks. She cares so little about his personality, and no chemistry between them exists. Twilight is a fully-fledged character whose personality is warped to make both films pace itself. The first movie forced in a romance so pointless, it'd change zippo.

"A better love story than Twilight"? Until the snake throws up Flash Sentry, FlashLight is a serious competitor.

By how little DHX cares for him, Flash's character has become almost irredeemable, and that's a damn shame.

But it's not too late. There's still a little hope left to make him a three-dimensional character, but it'll require a lot of work. Sure, retconning's the easy solution, but both pony and human Flash have established characterizations. If you retcon them, then you're creating a completely different character, not Flash Sentry. Consequentially, a retconned Flash Sentry will be just as bad as the current Flash Sentry. The best solution is to revise his current character. Loosen him up so you retain his character foundation, yet don't lose who he is.

What suggestions?

  1. Ditch the crush subplot. It offered nothing to the show and only holds Flash's potential back. Remember, it's Friendship Is Magic, not Clichéd Romance Is Magic. Obviously, DHX won't try to develop their relationship romantically. In conclusion, having Flash Sentry no longer crush on Twilight would give him a fresh start.
     
    Seriously, if a quick concept of Flash being a fanonical brother to First Base gives him much more dimension to his character than Flash in two 70-minute movies, then you're doing something really wrong.
  2. If Princess Twilight Sparkle returns for the Friendship Games, then the movie should give both of them some common ground. Rather than hammer in the obnoxious bumping, why not have Twilight and Flash meet in some other way, like a classroom, school cafe, or even Pedestria's version of Sugarcube Corner. Twilight's a geek. Flash Sentry is a mild geek himself. What interests do they have in common? Do they like some science? Complex theories, for example? Perhaps Flash Sentry needs to buy a better guitar because his old one is damaged beyond recovery, and his friends — both Twilights, the HuMane Five, or even Sunset Shimmer — help him locate an affordable guitar that can play just as well as the old one.
  3. What about his ethnic background? Don't throw it in there for keeps. Expand his background. Have him explore the rest of Pedestria. Maybe his family, other friends. For fanon-loving bronies, this is where you can use First Base and expand their fanonical relationship.
     
    What about his relationship with the rest of the characters? Flash Sentry and Sunset Shimmer haven't talked to each other much on screen since her character reset and redemption. Have them make permanent amends by having them talk amicably as friends. Have them get to know each other more and establish common ground.
  4. As for pony Flash, what is his relationship with the rest of the Royal Guard? How does he feel about them? How does he view the world in peace, peril, or in between? What has he done to gain in the royal ranks? For Celestia's sake, how did he get hired?
     
    How is he like when he's not so busy? Apparently, the guards protect Canterlot and all of royalty 24/7, but they're bound to take a day off or two to recuperate or merely enjoy life. Like what Jeric once suggested by letting Twilight "run her hair down" and have a great time being the the adorkable, friend-seeking geek that many of us got so invested in. As an equal, make him enjoy life. Maybe Flash is very innocent and childlike when he isn't so focused on being a royal guard.
     
    You can take these immature tendencies for human Flash, too. Think about it; he's a teenager, so he's going to be somewhat immature. Both versions can have their immaturity be a strength in their character for having the gift to defend and take things seriously in his schoolwork or job, but have it become a very distinct flaw. For human!Flash, his immaturity could affect his status in school and back home: rushing in his instrument work, homework, grades; being a little impatient with life back home; and wanting to feel a little freer.
     
    Pony!Flash could have this immaturity bite him on the plot, too. Perhaps he suspects a call of distress, and he rushes in to help before Shining Armor or Celestia create a plan and give him permission. It could turn out that the call for distress is either something so trivial, it'd make him feel or silly or something so serious, he's the one who must cry for help.

Over a year ago, I conceptualized a fanfic adaptation of FIM by merging events from both Thomas & Friends and its adaptation basis, The Railway Series. Entitled The Equestrian Series, you can read the latest blog submission (Book 1 from over a year ago) here, which contains links to Book 0 and the overarching concept.

My recent idea of adding Flash Sentry would be something similar to one of the later Railway Series books, Mountain Engines. Its leading character, Lord Harry, doesn't get introduced until the third chapter, Danger Points. Lord Harry was very arrogant — in Thomas fandom terms, too puffed up in the smokebox :P — and takes risks unnecessarily. One time, he decides to pay Culdee back for teasing him. Unfortunately, while pulling a passenger train, he derails at the summit, and this part of the Island of Sodor is very dangerous. When he was rescued, he was sent to the shed in disgrace and stripped of his name as punishment. In Devil's Back, he was released, but only allowed to shunt workmen up and down the summit at Devil's Back, a very difficult part of the Culdee Fell Railway. One day, there was an emergency, and #6 was sent up to rescue the workmen. Battling treacherous weather, he rescued the people. He was eventually named Patrick in honor of an injured workman who risked his life to save everyone else. Afterwards, he only took risks if necessary.

In my idea, Flash Sentry would be a newbie training for the royal guard. He was modest, yet sensitive and immature. He'd let other pony's teasing get to him, resulting in him working too hard and being too reckless in his duties. As a consequence, he was scolded by his peers and sent to his quarters as punishment. Next day, he is allowed to return to train, but ignore their teasing and work with a mentor. That evening, it was windy, and other training pegasi teased him for his punishment, resulting in him saying he's brave. One of them dared him to take a load of cargo down the Canterlot mountains into the quayside about 500 feet below and about a dozen miles away.

He would go, but forgot to light the headlamp and taillamp, so he couldn't see. He would stop at a siding and find some way to light up the lamps, but the wind kept blowing out the fire, and the wind was only getting worse. But he would stay until he could light up the lamps and keep them lit. Unfortunately, he couldn't, so he locked up the trolleys and flew around to find any shelter. He locates a signalbox, knocks inside, and asks the signalpony to help him light up the lamps. He gives him some oil to light them up and contains them so the wind didn't blow on them. Even with the nasty wind, Flash keeps on trucking and later arrives at the quay without any further trouble.

Next morning, he returned to Canterlot to receive a warm welcoming for being able to find his way to unload the cargo without being so reckless and minding his safety. His fellow cadets apologize for daring Flash into getting involved, and each of them are demoted and forced to undergo more intensive training as punishment. Flash is invited to have a formal dinner with Shining Armor and Princess Cadance, but Flash declines, saying he must earn his way through the ranks first.


If you other criticisms of his character and suggestions for improving his character, please feel free to comment below.

*One brony on Equestria Daily coined the human world "Pedestria," and I'm going to use it quite a bit now. :P

 

  • Brohoof 12

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It just bugs me how guys, obviously not the primary target demographic, complain about male characters being shown in a less that very positive light. What do you think girls have to struggle with when it comes to many other shows?

I've said this about a hundred times, and I'll say it again. Just because adults are somewhat of a periphery demographic is no excuse for objectively bad quality. It's an excuse that tolerates poor quality programming and an admission that EQG is weak. Kids deserve much better than that.

 

BTW, having boys shown in a bad light in programming is just as bad as the other way around.

  • Brohoof 1
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It just bugs me how guys, obviously not the primary target demographic, complain about male characters being shown in a less that very positive light. What do you think girls have to struggle with when it comes to many other shows?

Two more things:

 

1. FIM isn't specifically for little girls because that's not what Faust nor the founder of the entire franchise wanted. It's an all-ages, family-friendly cartoon. It's for kids AND adults like the classic Disney animations, Steven Universe, and Pixar.

 

2. I wrote a long essay lambasting the "It's for kids" excuse here: https://mlpforums.com/blog/91/entry-10193-its-for-kidslittle-girls-is-a-stupid-excuse/

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I've said this about a hundred times, and I'll say it again. Just because adults are somewhat of a periphery demographic is no excuse for objectively bad quality. It's an excuse that tolerates poor quality programming and an admission that EQG is weak. Kids deserve much better than that. BTW, having boys shown in a bad light in programming is just as bad as the other way around.

I never said that because it was a kids show, it meant that it was free of criticism. At least, that's not what I intended to imply.

 

And I'm sorry to say but… it wouldn't really be just as bad reversed. With girls, society is often at odds with them with many pressures and expectations being carried over from way back when. General media portrays often portrays female characters as less important than their male counterparts and often have them degraded for the sake of male characters:

 

Heck, even heard of the Smurfette Principle:

 

I'd go into detail here but I think my first post on this thread already did. Please read it if you haven't. Thank you.

 

Also that whole color palette thing and Asian appeal? Really? :/

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And I'm sorry to say but… it wouldn't really be just as bad reversed. With girls, society is often at odds with them with many pressures and expectations being carried over from way back when. General media portrays often portrays female characters as less important than their male counterparts and often have them degraded for the sake of male characters:

 

Also that whole color palette thing and Asian appeal? Really? :/

To say it wouldn't be as bad reversed is a vile double standard. Why? Because it reinforces a sexist, antifeminist attitude toward men AND women. Feminine programming should have men AND women be portrayed in positive lights because that's what feminism is supposed to be. As a feminist myself, I advocate this, too. (Fortunately, season five has really helped by giving stallions a more prominent, positive role.) Making men the butt of jokes DOESN'T empower women one bit. Instead, it demeans them.

 

And, yes, human!Flash does have somewhat of an Asian look simply by his eyes. There's a very good chance his skin color was drastically changed in both color and tone to reflect this. I already debated this a lot in the comments, so I won't do it again.

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To say it wouldn't be as bad reversed is a vile double standard. Why? Because it reinforces a sexist, antifeminist attitude toward men AND women. Feminine programming should have men AND women be portrayed in positive lights because that's what feminism is supposed to be. As a feminist myself, I advocate this, too. (Fortunately, season five has really helped by giving stallions a more prominent, positive role.) Making men the butt of jokes DOESN'T empower women one bit. Instead, it demeans them.

 

And, yes, human!Flash does have somewhat of an Asian look simply by his eyes. There's a very good chance his skin color was drastically changed in both color and tone to reflect this. I already debated this a lot in the comments, so I won't do it again.

Again, how is My Little Pony somehow "anti-male" or an advocate for misandry? Especially when the staff is comprised of both male and female writers and directors. The way male characters can be shown as "less than ideal" is hardly an issue and it's hardly like "hahaha, men are all stupid."

 

I'm only saying that we need to realize that the portrayal of male characters in My Little Pony isn't some form of "reverse sexism." We guys have it great when it comes to media representation and cases where male characters aren't ideally portrayed are very disproportionally small compared to the many case with female characters.

 

Even seen Supernatural where every female character and their mother gets offed? Ever seen Shonen Manga where female characters are regularly sidelined or overpowered for the sake of a male character? How about a superhero movie like Daredevil or Spiderman where the girlfriend dies? Ever seen Digimon Frontier where the only female Digidestined spirit evolves into a lingerie wearing fairy?

 

If you really were a "feminist," you'd be glad more how the show advocates girls of different shades and bucks the trends of how female characters are lazily written (Digibro explains it in the video I posted). Sure there are male background characters who are often the butt of a joke but it's hardly sending a message that "men are all dumb compared to girls." Especially when the rest of the media at large says otherwise, drowning that message out.

 

This whole thing reminds me of how Fox complained about Frozen "not having positively portrayed male characters:" http://leftaf.tumblr.com/post/110223981023/theavc-frozen-is-hurting-boysself-esteem-fox

 

We don't get ourselves represented well enough in one piece of media and suddenly society is sexist against men now.

 

I don't want to imply that somehow male characters on the show wouldn't be welcome for me. They would. But some guys need to stop acting like they suddenly know about sexism when their own gender isn't represented well in a certain piece of media. Women have it harder than we'd even like to imagine.

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First. In regards to Twilight having a crush on him… so what? While I personally would've left them as just friends to quell shippers, crushing on a cute boy is hardly something Twilight is incapable of. I'm sure many have had those sorts of moments in real life (not referring to anyone specific).

To claim "So what?" is to be extremely dismissive of Flash's poor execution. If Flash Sentry had a legitimate personality that didn't revolve around sticking to sexist cliches and stereotypes, then it would've been okay. Creating a male crush who has plenty of unique personality and three-dimensionality would've made the filler inconsequential. But the entire setup in both movies play these stereotypes to a T, and Flash is no exception. It's insulting to adolescent girls (the market of this spinoff) to portray Flash as a Romantic Stu.

 

Look, when it comes to the media at large, there’s a large representation of males in fictional characters (of the straight and white variety). Almost every show out there is aimed at male audiences by default. By no means does this one show somehow "oppress" guys.

 

In addition, many female characters in the general media are degraded for the sake of a male character far too much. Supernatural, superhero movies and comics, Shonen Anime, the list goes on. Compared to My Little Pony and its "misandry," that's a drop in the bucket. Honestly, girls are lucky to have something like Friendship is Magic to show a variety of female characters.

 

Again, how is My Little Pony somehow "anti-male" or an advocate for misandry? Especially when the staff is comprised of both male and female writers and directors. The way male characters can be shown as "less than ideal" is hardly an issue and it's hardly like "hahaha, men are all stupid."

I can tell you're very unfamiliar with unfortunate implications, which I call out a lot, and I call out here. Unfortunate implications aren't done intentionally. These situations are overlooked by the staff and create other messages that become offensive.

 

Dragon Quest is the most definitive example I have in my analysis: Every dragon presented is a stereotypical bully in the male sex. The episode also plays the sexist trope straight in the very beginning?

Spike: I'm not like other dragons?

Pinkie: Oh, not even close?

AJ: Well, why would you not to, Spike?

Switch "dragons" to anything in real life, such as homosexuals, blacks, Christians, and so on.

 

To make it worse, this implication apparently never came into Williams's or Renzetti's minds. There's a reason why it's one of the three worst episodes of the show.

 

Reconsider the sexist belief in media that I wrote above and SQ mentioned in After the Fact: There's a belief in entertainment that a show with a specific gender market in mind CAN'T have a prominent or dominant role for the opposite sex. The example he featured besides FIM is Assassins Creed: Unity, which is the opposite (female designs were cut.

 

Friendship Is Magic is no exception. There are too many male characters in the show who are dumb, arrogant, plain evil, or a combo of at least two of the three. But it's not done intentionally, hence "unfortunate implications." The writers themselves don't deserve the blame, at least not entirely. Hasbro itself gets its share of the blame, too, particularly in their first-party toyline production: Faust herself admitted to wanting more male ponies, but corporate turned that down.

 

I guess what I have to say is that in terms of how male characters in My Little Pony are portrayed, it’s hard to call it “problematic” when many female characters in the media aren’t treated as well as they deserve to be. From having their agency removed for the sake of a male character’s narrative to killed off in a very cheap way (Women in Fridges, anyone?), we dudes have it good when it comes to being represented in the media. MLP:FiM reverses that and suddenly male fans aren’t pleased with how their gender is portrayed.

I said this in an earlier comment. How media sells out women isn't okay. Companies like Victoria Secret have been largely scrutinized for their "one-size" imagery (the "perfect body" campaign was canceled because it only featured women in model-like bodies), and Protein World's sexist ads have been banned in Britian. Companies like American Eagle and Dove have done a magnificent job portraying beauty and sexiness in a positive, empowering light.

 

But it's also not okay to sell out men, either. If it's not okay for one side, it's not okay for the other. It's extremely sexist for either side to be portrayed negatively just so the opposite can get the better portrayal. Too many shonen anime have this problem, and you mentioned Digimon Frontier; I'd argue it's less with the clothing and more with Zoe's role altogether; she rarely won any fights, and her "empowering" attitude was very generic in the first half. Ranamon is much, much worse thanks to the overload of fanservice in her Beast Spirit design. One of my favorite Shojo anime, Card Captor Sakura, is also no exception: After Takashi Yamazaki is caught lying by his girlfriend Chiharu, she would sometimes assault him slapstick-style to make the audience laugh. This comedy doesn't work. It's not funny if a man assaults a woman; it's not funny the other way around. Believing otherwise is antifeminist and sexist, whether you like it or not.

 

Also doesn't FiM have plenty of male writers and directors on staff?

You can still have misandric or misogynist media and have the misandrist be male and misogynist female. IDW writer Ted Anderson plugged in two anti-bronies in the background, one of them a misandrist, and he supports the misandrist's line of thinking, resulting in a lot of anger in this fandom.

 

BTW, I trust absolutely nothing of what Anita Sarkeesian says. Why? There's no reason for anyone to honestly believe with what she says because she doesn't do her research. She's the type of feminist that doesn't vie for equality, but make women look better. That said, it's absolutely disgusting for her to receive death threats; no one deserves them.

 

If you really were a "feminist," you'd be glad more how the show advocates girls of different shades and bucks the trends of how female characters are lazily written (Digibro explains it in the video I posted).

Baseless assumptions like these are where I would be quick to delete without finishing reading. Not this time.

 

One great thing about this show is the fact that female characters can be a role model to anyone regardless of age or gender. Each of the Mane Six is very likeable, and the show is very good to teach people how to be empowering. But it's not perfect. Unfortunate implications exist in media, Friendship Is Magic has plenty of those, and this belief that I called out here and SQ in his video exist here. This show is objectively good, but it's imperfect and can do better.

 

You're starting to see some of those criticisms addressed in season five. Male characters have played a more prominent role this season even though the Mane Six/CMCs remain the main stars in both the episodes themselves and the show.

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I'm just saying that girls have it worse than guys and their problems in society aren't very comparable to something like how My Little Pony portrays guys. This whole thing is like a blip in the system, a drop in the bucket. 

 

I'm just not comfortable with this when it feels like a bunch of Men's Rights Activist claiming "MEN R OPPRESSED TOO" when responding to issues on sexism brought up by feminists.

 

With Anita, well, when she gets it right, she gets it right. Otherwise she's wrong like with Twilight becoming a princess.

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you just blew my frickin mind.

i had never even thought about the colour scheme thing–when i saw the colour wheel i actually lost my shit im not joking.

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By how little DHX cares for him, Flash's character has become almost irredeemable, and that's a damn shame.

i couldn't agree with you more. they had so much room to play with and so many possibilities, and they went with the worse possible one.

imo flash really had the potential to become a character with at least a good amount of layers to call him a multi-dimensional background character that supports the main cast, but that simply isn't gonna happen since equestria girls basically guaranteed him to be in the backburner (and seeing as he only came back for a brief cameo in twilight's background for that one scene in the last problem, safe to say he's never getting the development he deserves.)

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