Pixel Stick

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About Pixel Stick

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  • Birthday 01/27/1977

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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  1. I think you're actually hitting on the exact point that the writers were trying to make with this episode. The episode is a very direct take on the concept of communism, and has strong references to "Animal Farm" and other allegorical works about communist society. It is, in my opinion, the core strength of the episode's story that Starlight is artificially trying to impose "equality" on her subjects in the most ironic of ways - by wielding power over them while trying to make herself look like one of them. The fact that (a) this doesn't actually work, and (b) Starlight is caught in her ruse and immediately turns villainous in an attempt to keep her power, show just how flawed her plan really is. MLP has already established multiple times before that one's cutie mark directly impacts their abilities and desires. Having a cutie mark changed seems to change the pony's behaviors. We saw this when Applebloom got lots of false cutie marks all over her body, essentially forcing her to do everything the mark suggested. When the Mane 6 had their cutie marks swapped around due to Twilight messing up a spell (just before she got her wings), everyone was TRYING to do each other's jobs, and badly. In this episode, having everyone become an "equal sign" seemed to remove their ability to do anything well, which matched Starlight's propaganda of "to succeed is to fail", etc. The thing to understand about communist power is that, if you're the ruler, you have to convince your subjects that you're one of them. Once you've sufficiently done that, you then convince them to follow your way of thinking, and then you reinforce that more and more. You turn your subjects against each other, which reinforces the group-think mentality that you want. So, publicly, everyone does think the same way. But of course, "underground", they may not think that, and may quietly plot a rebellion. Unbelievable as it might seem, this story is a rather accurate retelling of how many communist regimes in the past have actually failed due to civilian uprising. It of course involves magic and magical ponies and such, but that's why it's called allegory. And as a kid's show, it has to tell the story in a kid-friendly way, which means making the story simplistic, and making it super obvious who the bad guy is and why they're doing it. In reality, such moves are far more subtle and pervasive, and that's why they actually work to such a degree that they have throughout history.
  2. Personally, I was really confused by this episode. It pulled in elements of "Green Isn't Your Color", "Putting Your Hoof Down", and several other episodes where the main character is asked to do something they know nothing about. And it felt incredibly schizophrenic as a result. I came away not at all sure what they were trying to accomplish. There have been a few episodes throughout the series that I think were actively bad, and thus worse than this one. But it definitely was not one of my favorites.
  3. I was thinking a bit more about this over the weekend and just wanted to mention that, in general, I still find myself going back to the first two seasons for examples of how the writing was usually much more on-point. At that time, the series seemed a lot more innocent and slice-of-life, and most of the episodes (with a few notable exceptions) seemed to be focused more on the day-to-day issues with smaller life lessons. Granted, they still beat us over the head with the morals, but in most cases the stories weren't rushed, they made sense, they were relatable, and they didn't require "prior knowledge" or depend on continuity. There also wasn't a focus on fan service at the time either. I kinda miss those days. As the show has aged, it seems we have more of an emphasis on the larger story arcs, and the lessons and plots are more complex, and as a result we see more of these cases where there's just too much to cover in a single episode. I think Magical Sheep is a great poster-child of that problem - the plot calls for high drama, but the drama seems ham-fisted. It requires that we either already know about Luna's past issues or be able to fill in the details because there's not enough time to detail them in a meaningful way. It wraps up too quickly because, again, there's not enough time. And the presentation gets mired down by too many conflicting priorities, one of which is the obvious fan service (Flutterbat, the conjoined ponies, etc.). I feel like this kind of episode should require the producers, writers and Hasbro execs to sit down together and figure out if they're still really meeting their goals. Remember that at its core, MLP:FIM is (and always has been) an advertising vehicle for Hasbro's toy line, and we've seen some rather obvious places where Hasbro has stepped in and said "You need to create THIS thing so we can sell a new line" - e.g. the Rainbow Power series and the Crystal Castle play set. While we always have and will always have to contend with that, I wonder how far out of touch with their target audience they're getting. Don't get me wrong, I love the fan service and I think it's great that they're sending shout-outs to the Brony community periodically. But as I said, episodes like Magical Sheep feel (to me, anyway) like symptoms of them trying too hard and losing focus. I can't help but think that kids would be entertained by the flashy animation but confused by the overall plot, and obviously us older fans have had mixed reactions, particularly around how much projection and "filling in the gaps" each of us is willing to do. Kinda rambly, but hopefully I've articulated my point well enough. Thanks.
  4. I dunno, I think the dream itself simply reflected the sudden feeling of peace she had when she realized she was in a safe place. Have you ever had a toothache, or hurt yourself, and then experienced the sudden relief of a painkiller that made you want to just fall asleep after having been in pain for that long? Obviously just taking a painkiller isn't going to solve all your problems, but if you're short on sleep because of that and you get some relief, you'd probably sleep peacefully and get a chance to catch up so you're in a better place to deal with your problem the next day. I don't see how Luna's dream implies that she's totally and instantly cured - I think it's reasonable for it to just be a respite.
  5. I agree to some extent. I don't think it was a movie-length plot, but it certainly could have (and should have) been done in a two-part episode - the subject matter was just too complex and too big of a plot to tackle in a single 22-minute episode. I personally felt that the story was solid and, even with the fan-service bits, helped to explore a big issue for Luna in a way that I personally can relate to. But I also agree that we didn't get a good sense of its resolution because it was just too hastily done, and it gives viewers the impression that Luna just did the pony equivalent of snapping her fingers and *boom* everything's all good now. Nobody, not even little kids, can realistically relate to that. I firmly believe that the writers fully intended to show everyone that Luna realized that the first step to healing was to forgive herself and to stop punishing herself. In fact, they had the Mane 6 more or less whack her over the head with that point repeatedly. But in my opinion, the reason this wasn't clear was that they simply ran out of time - perhaps because they focused more on the fan service than they should have. Luna forgives herself, she destroys the Tantibus, the Mane 6 wake up and wrap up the episode, and we see Luna sleeping peacefully, all in the last 30 seconds of the episode. Even if this had been extended by another 20-30 seconds or so, they could have slipped in an extra line that would have redeemed this conclusion perfectly - something like: Pinkie Pie: "Look, Luna looks... happy!" Twilight Sparkle: "I guess it worked!" Rainbow Dash: "ALL RI-" Everyone else: "SHHHH!" Rainbow Dash: "Uh... (whispering) I mean, all right!" Twilight Sparkle: "She's going to have a long way to go, but for now, let's let her sleep. I'll go wake up Princess Celestia." Zoom in on Luna, then show the final shot of her dream. See, if they'd done something like that, I think we wouldn't be having this discussion at all. I'd be willing to put money on the writers and directors having considered something like this, and cutting it because they were just plain out of time in the episode. And I've seen that happen in a number of other episodes as well.
  6. You're probably thinking of Dragonshy, where she gets angry at the giant dragon she spent the whole episode being terrified of, when he hurts her friends. She was also seen in "It's About Time" wrestling a bear in what appeared to be an extremely aggressive manner, though just after Twilight decided to move on, we saw that this was just her way of giving the bear a back massage, and he felt much better afterward. (I'm of course not counting the Season 2 opener where she became mean to everypony else - that was due to her being mind-controlled by Discord, not from any of her own behavior.)
  7. I do think you're reading too much into this, sweetie. It's just another term of endearment. When she's shown any romantic interest in anypony, she tends to use much more flowery language.
  8. I think I understand some of your confusion. The chronology of NMM extends far further back than just the pilot episodes - if you recall, Luna became NMM, what, a thousand years before that and was banished to the moon? It's obvious from how the show has progressed that Luna/NMM festered in resentment that entire time (I mean, they pretty much beat us over the head with that), so the idea that she bore open hatred toward her own sister and to her subjects was pretty plain to see. Again, she apparently didn't get very far in her takeover of Equestria, at least by what we've been shown, but much has been said, and what's more important (at least to me) is that there's a lot more that hasn't been said. I feel like your entire argument is that we can only take what we've been directly shown and should not read anything more into it - you're basically saying (if I understand you correctly) that good storytelling can only be good if it shows you everything. I disagree with you on that - that, to me, is shallow storytelling, which discourages imagination and interpretation. Many of us see Luna as a deep and complex character, even though that seems to be a contradiction given her screen appearances. It's precisely because the writers aren't spelling everything out to us with her that we can read more into her character than we can with Celestia and Cadance. And as such, there are many different theories and beliefs as to what makes her tick. My experience has been that many of her fans identify with her guilt, her isolation and her persecution complexes (all of which have been shown directly) because they've experienced those kinds of things themselves. And by not spelling out the exact cause of her guilt, not showing us every minute of her time as Nightmare Moon, and not making us privy to her every thought, the writers are allowing us to fill in the blanks, and even encouraging us to do so. As you've seen, some of the ideas that the fan community has generated have even become canon, and it's happened enough times and with such precision in some cases that it's clearly not coincidence. So believe me, the show's writers are watching for our reactions, while still making a show that little kids will enjoy. I guess my point is that, rather than looking to the writers to answer all your questions, what is stopping you from answering them yourself? I'd like to add one other thought to this: It's clear in the episode that Luna blames herself for far more than she's actually guilty of. Yes, she attacked her sister, and she later banished Celestia and threatened to create eternal night. Even if that nighttime only lasted a few hours, the fact is that she did disrupt that cycle. But it's easy for us, as outside observers, to say "Oh, it really wasn't all that bad, you should just forget it happened and feel better." But IMO, that's kinda like having a kid steal a pack of Skittles from a store, making him go back and pay for it, and then saying "Oh, it was just a little candy. It's not like you burned down the store." Most kids who've been caught doing something they knew was wrong feel absolutely terrible for it, and some can turn it into far greater self-punishment than is deserved, to the point that they believe they actually seriously harmed someone in the process. My point here (again, this is me reading into her character because the writers didn't tell me what to think) is that Luna evidently let her guilt get so far out of control that she might as well have dropped a nuclear bomb on Manehattan and killed everypony there. And she evidently believes, wholeheartedly, that she actually DID do many terrible things of greater magnitude to Equestria than she actually did. Again, people who suffer from this and who are prone to anxiety and depression tend to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to things we perceive as wrongs to others. So I think it's entirely reasonable that Luna punished herself unnecessarily and didn't even realize that it was unnecessary to do so to the extent she was. Without others knowing or understanding what was going on with her, she had no outside influence to redirect her away from that cycle. This is what I mean by being able to read between the lines with a character like this. I personally would have been more disappointed in this episode if they actually did spell out exactly what Luna felt guilty for and how her guilt was out of proportion with her actions. Because they didn't beat us over the head with that, they allowed me to interpret all this in my own way, and to share it with others. For the record, my wife has her own separate ideas about what happened as well. I want to encourage people to exercise their imaginations - after all, that's what shows like this are about, isn't it?
  9. I'm honestly not sure how you can say she didn't do those things. Perhaps it was night for only a few hours, and perhaps her rule wasn't in fact all that bad for those few hours. But that doesn't make what she did any less of a crime against Equestria. Had the Mane 6 not stopped her, she WOULD have done far more. And Luna knows this. In other words, the point is not what she got away with. It's what was in her heart. What she intended to do. What she would have done had she not been stopped. Well, honestly, I can only say that if you don't identify with or understand Luna and her history (and particular what has been said about her outside of her direct appearances), and you don't feel you should care, then this episode really wouldn't speak to you. As someone who does like Luna and does feel there was a message here, I really disagree with what you're saying. But as I said, that's okay. They're not going to please everyone. I have my issues with their execution on the story, but I liked the story and the message themselves and frankly would like to see them take on more stuff like this. Perhaps just not in quite the same ham-fisted way. I mentioned before that this season went really heavy on the fan service, and that served more to the show's detriment in some cases. But I don't necessarily let that get in the way of enjoying a good story.
  10. "Tanks for the Memories" was perhaps not my best choice for comparison. It was a pretty weak premise if you ask me, and that's one case where 22 minutes was actually way too MUCH time for the plot. But you get my drift, at least. I'm not going to say that this episode was truly excellent or that it did resolve Luna's issues completely (either for herself or as we fans see them). It does have its flaws. I just feel that the criticisms of it are going a little far in terms of whether they did justice to the topic. The show similarly has a history of polarizing the community with other topics that, IMO, we generally find uncomfortable to deal with - the other most relevant example I can think of is "Putting Your Hoof Down". I found that one to be particularly polarizing because Fluttershy's depiction there was so counter to her normal character. That's personally one of my favorite episodes, since I believe she actually demonstrated what it's like to let power go to your head, and to mistake assertiveness with abuse. But I know many people didn't like it for various reasons, and hey, that's okay. I'm just pointing out that this episode seems to be in the same general category - namely, that when it deals with a topic that actually ISN'T easy to explain to a child, people tend to be more strongly polarized in their opinions about it.
  11. That's completely fair. Like I said, the show's format does cut down on their ability to tackle in-depth stories like this. And yes, I also agree that the plot could have been paced differently so as to give the situation the time it deserved. But at the same time, there is something to be said for their simplistic approach. The issues around holding onto guilt for past wrongs are more complex than little children can really be expected to take on. What you and I as adults would consider a good, fair treatment of that issue would likely completely baffle Hasbro's main target audience, especially given the contrast with simpler topics (like Tank's hibernation and Rainbow Dash treating it like death). Of course, treating an issue this complex like it was as simple a thing as "Tank's just going away for a while" doesn't appeal to our more sophisticated mindset, and we're right to fear that the simplistic treatment could give young kids the impression that dealing with this really is as simple as that. But I believe their core message is sound: Many people who have made mistakes, even big ones, punish themselves far more than the people around them do. Even if they've done their time, paid their penance, etc., they still look back on their actions and kick themselves for it long after others have forgiven and even forgotten. Heck, I do it to myself over even tiny things I said years ago that were of no real consequence to anyone, yet I felt stupid for having said. And the message here is that you don't HAVE to do that - you CAN forgive yourself and move on, and in most cases all you really have to do is allow yourself to do so. It's the allowing yourself to move on that is the hardest part. I should know - I've been in counseling for years (as a patient). The goal is to forgive myself, and to get to a point where I am comfortable enough to move on and to stop living in the past. The hard part is getting there - I see the goal, but I don't know how to get there. But I know that once I find a way to do that, I will essentially have "gotten over it", similar to how Luna is depicted doing so in this episode. Another thing to keep in mind: I interpreted the ending of this episode as not a permanent solution to Luna's problems, but rather to simply depicting her immense relief in understanding that her friends and subjects had forgiven her for her past wrongs. She was punishing herself, and I think it was at least implied that she did that because she believed her subjects were still afraid of or upset at her. She had to be shown that she was only bringing this pain upon herself, and when she realized that nopony else was holding it over her as well, she finally took an important step to accept that she no longer needed to punish herself. I relate to this ending in a way: That journey and goal I just mentioned for myself. At one point during my counseling, I had what I considered a breakthrough - I've always had difficulty expressing my emotions, and in fact have kept them bottled up so much that I often appear robotic and unemotional toward others. I've been called "Spock" and "Data" multiple times. During one counseling session, I had a very sudden and unexpected emotional breakdown where I cried almost nonstop for half the session, and I felt INCREDIBLY much better for a while afterward. I could equate that feeling of relief and even elation over that outburst with Luna's peaceful slumber at the end of the episode. And if she's anything like me, that'll last for a few days before she begins to doubt herself again and the problems start creeping back into her life. But now that she's more aware of it, she may be able to start working on better ways to deal with these problems, just as I am with mine. *shrug* Just some rambly thoughts on this.
  12. I agree with you on the resolution being too quick, but this is really more of a general problem with the show's format - we've seen lots of episodes that have simply had too much story to tell and not enough time. I think the writers would have loved to have even just one or two more minutes to show Luna facing her issues and actually defeating the Tantabus, instead of it just going "poof!" and everything's happy again. But the reality is, the 22 minutes or so they have to actually tell their story is just not quite enough to do a topic like this justice. I'm afraid this statement here sets up a big misunderstanding of Luna's character (at least, in my view). Nightmare Moon didn't just do small things. She tried to plunge all of Equestria into eternal darkness, she banished Princess Celestia, and she took over as a totalitarian ruler. Given how other villains (particularly King Sombra) have been depicted as enslaving ponies, I think it was at least implied that Nightmare Moon would have done the same had she had enough time. It was also meant to establish that the day/night cycle was extremely important to ponies, and thus taking that away could in fact destroy them - not just make them unhappy, but cause serious permanent harm. I wouldn't characterize that as "little", and it's pretty clear to me that nobody thinks it's a little thing. In Nightmare Moon's callouts throughout the show, she's seen as a pony to be feared. And I think they did a good job of establishing early in this episode just how seriously Luna takes this. She knows she was Nightmare Moon - it's still not clear if her transformation was her own deliberate decision or was the result of some illness, or even possession by an external entity. But whatever caused it, she bears the guilt for it, and she's apparently been kicking herself for it for her entire life since it happened. This episode is all about the impact of her letting that guilt grow out of control - it takes a literal form in the Tantabus and its ability to merge into the real world. And while I agree that the presentation may have been a bit ham-fisted, I believe it does a good job of showing just what kinds of effects this sort of rampant guilt can have on a person if they allow themselves to wallow in it for too long. I identify with how Luna felt in this episode, though again, her means of dealing with it was a bit over-the-top. And I agree with AlexanderThrond above in that the resolution was awfully fast, though as I mentioned, that can be explained by the fact that they had to cram this whole story in 22 minutes. I just wanted to point out that I believe your reasoning for your opinion may be a bit off given the show's treatment of Luna/Nightmare Moon.
  13. Dear Princess Celestia: Rainbow Dash just asked me how to get to "California", "Arizona", "Florida" or "Mexico". She said they're nice and warm during the winter. I've never heard of these places. Do you know anything about them? Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle.