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This topic wasn't working out so well... sadly I'm not taking requests any more.
Revenge Return of the Dashite, Stallions and Gentlemares. Shall we begin? If I am ever to drive a stake through the heart of this fanfic, or the damn subfandom and rabid following it has garnered, I am going to need to stop harping on the negatives. Sun Tzu wrote about the importance of knowing your enemy, and to know this enemy, I will need to take a step back from how horribly it butchered the sacred art of storytelling, and look instead at what the fic did right. My Little Dashie is popular as hell. That's a fact. But why? How did a story so utterly devoid of any saving grace or redeeming value get to be on the top of the fanfic food chain so early in the fandom's history? The answer actually isn't as complicated as you'd expect, and it comes down to three simple factors. Factors that, I will concede, My Little Dashie does very right: Brevity, accessibility, and Tabula Rasa. Brevity is fairly straight-forward. Dashie is a fairly short fic. It's really no longer than those short stories they made you read in middle school, and even includes an hour-long audiobook (and now a movie) to boot. It is an exceptionally light read, and you could literally knock the whole thing out in your lunch break. That's part of why MLD can't be compared to proper fan novels such as Of War and Friendship. It would be the same as comparing Candy Crush to the Mass Effect Trilogy. They are incomparable works which appeal to different audiences in different moods for different reasons. Because My Little Dashie is so short, when good word spread about all "teh feelz" it packed, its prospective audience was neither intimidated by its length, nor did they risk losing interest in the middle of a long read. And, in Dashie's defense, brevity is certainly not a bad thing. Sometimes, 15,000 words or less is all an author needs, and trying to pack in more would only make it feel bloated. I recommend you check out the short story There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury. It's a very chilling, lonely story about human technology in an apocalyptic future. Very fascinating, in my opinion. This transitions neatly into accessibility. Accessibility is how easy a story is to just jump into and run with. Though accessibility is certainly related to both brevity and Tabula Rasa (which we will get to soon), there's a bit more to it than that. Accessible stories are written in very simple terms, and have very simple storylines. No fancy Shakespeare balogna, it's just the same sort of conversational English we all use everyday. Boiling down a major plot point to a two-word description may be a fucking terrible idea to anyone writing to any audience with even an iota of taste, but when we're marketing to the lowest common denominator, that's exactly what we need to do. Contrast Glee with Breaking Bad. Rather than demand your full attention, My Little Dashie simply fills you in on what you missed. It's rather incredible at keeping its audience half-awake and only barely paying attention as they daydream in the background while the audiobook plays. You really aren't going to miss anything important if you zone out, because that's the way the fic was written. If the fic wants to say something, it doesn't go through the trouble of painting you an elegant picture, it just says it and gets it over with. But, again, neither accessibility or simplicity are inherently bad things. One of my favorite movies ever is Star Wars: A New Hope, whereas one of my all-time least favorites is Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. A New Hope is an amazingly simple movie. The storyline is literally a farm boy rescuing a princess and destroying a superweapon! It doesn't get any simpler than that. Meanwhile, Attack of the Clones is a convoluted shitflick about boring interstellar politics and idiotic prophecies. It's far too complicated for its own good. See, here's the reason why A New Hope succeeded, and why MLD will never have that kind of awesomeness, despite being similarly simple. A New Hope may have lacked complexity, but it was swimming in depth. The environments felt alive, the characters were vibrant and easily identifiable, the film's style and substance were just oozing out of every last frame. It was a labor of love from a (then) great director and storyteller. You didn't need to know any backstory, you just had to start watching, and the film would take you on a rollercoaster every step of the way! That's how you make your story accessible the right way. You open it up to both the casual and more demanding viewers simultaneously. You make that connection with your audience subconsciously, and engage them with the depth that they may not have even known they wanted. Dashie, on the other hand, has zero-dimensional characters, no attempt whatsoever at a setting, and utterly nothing in the way of plot. Its simplicity may have garnered it popularity, but it certainly doesn't make it good. Finally, we come to the dreaded Tabula Rasa. Where brevity was a very universally good thing, and accessibility depended on an author's skill level, Tabula Rasa is never, ever, EVER a good thing. If you're like me, and you don't know the first thing about Latin, a Tabula Rasa refers to a blank slate. In the context of storytelling, it's something that the audience can unconditionally project themselves on top of, and live out the story through the eyes of the empty husk that is the audience surrogate. Contrast Twilight to Superman. Dashie's main character is not only devoid of anything vaguely relating to substance, he is purposely that way. If Bella Swan has taught us anything, it's that the LCD doesn't like it when a character has thoughts, emotions, or (even worse) actions. It gets in the way of their wish fulfillment. Hell, I'll even go as far as to say that wish fulfillment as a concept isn't a fundamentally bad thing. The problem comes when it's done lazily, or when you use a Tabula Rasa protagonist. Superman is wish fulfillment, and it's rather blatant at that. Come now, who here wouldn't like to fly around the world faster than a speeding bullet and beat up bad guys with a single punch? But the reason why Superman is good is that Clark Kent himself (spoilers :comeatus: ) is a very compelling character in his own right. He's the last survivor of a dead planet, he crash landed in rural Kansas in his birthday suit and lifted a truck with his bare hands. He was taught truth and responsibility all throughout his childhood, and he lives a double life every single day. Superman is a character who can fulfill the everyman's raging power fantasies, but he's not just some vacant lot to rent out and live in as you please. He has his own personality, his own quirks, his own strengths and flaws. He's a man you can identify with, and that makes him a perfect pair of shoes for the audience to step into. But MLD instead goes the Twilight route. Tell me, what good is it to be able to step into the main character's shoes if the character isn't interesting in the slightest? As a wish fulfillment author, it is your job to sell me this pair of shoes, and you aren't going to do that by advertising them as being bland and uninteresting. If they're a more boring pair than my regular shoes, then I think I'll just fucking stick to my regular shoes. And no, before you say it, Tabula Rasa characters don't work by letting the audience inject their own personality. This isn't madlibs. You can't replace the lines that the author already wrote with ones that fit your personality better. Storytelling doesn't work that way. If an author wants a character to have personality, even if it's a multiple choice personality like we see in video games, the author needs to write that character a personality themselves. Failing that, you have created a dull and boring character who I wouldn't give change if I passed them on the streets, much less take a walk in their filthy shoes which have obviously stepped in far too much bubblegum and would probably give me blisters. In conclusion, exploiting the lowest common denominator is one of the easiest things a writer can do. Even an abysmal writer can look to the common pathos that all human beings share, and exploit it for all its worth. ======================================= Will I do another MLD post in the future? Three's a crowd already, wouldn't you say?
You all know what I thought of the original fic, which is why I'd like to say that I'm going to be reviewing this movie as I am going to put aside my vitriol for the source material, and judge its merits unironically. As a story, it was broken from its inception. But how does it fare as a movie? Somebody just had to go make a movie out of the most overrated shitfic in the brony fandom. And that somebody is Youtuber StormXF3, well known for his MLP In Real Life series, and his Green Screen Ponies series. In either case, Storm's work shows some very technically impressive animation and editing. He clearly has a knack for film making, and in some respects, he shows it in this movie. Little Orphan Blue was edited almost seamlessly into the live action footage, and doesn't really seem to have any glaring animation bugs. The cinematography, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. Storm used a great camera to film this movie, but didn't really do a damn thing with it. Most camera shots are static, lifeless, and dull. They certainly show what needs to be shown, but with little to no added creativity or flair. Supposedly, the story takes place in a city, but there may have been only a couple city shots in the entire film. Most of where the movie takes place is obviously suburban, or even rural. There are even times when the main character is talking, and the camera just boringly focuses on his torso. No angling, no depth, no technique or finesse whatsoever, just a plain old frontal, centered shot of the actor's torso. There is also one rather curious design choice that stems from the cinematography, but I'll get to that in a minute. The story is exactly what you'd expect. Guy finds Blu Pone in a box, guy watches Blu Pone grow up, fuck-all is accomplished, and in the end, Celestia goes all CPS on his ass and brings her back home to Equestria. There's some differences from the original, but somehow they seem to be for the worse. In the fic, Blu Pone developed an interest in Nascar, and Mopy took her to an off-screen NASCAR rally. In the movie, they could have chosen to show the rally, but instead, they just dropped everything relating to NASCAR altogether. This makes Blu Pone even more bland and distant from her namesake than she was originally, since what scarce little personality she had in the first place has been completely wiped away. I wish I could say that's the film's worst problem, but it's not. Picture this, aspiring film makers: you round up all these great voice actors to portray Blu Pone, Celestia, and the Mane 5, with Celestia in particular being an almost dead-on sound alike, but when it comes to casting the most crucial role, the voice that we hear throughout 99% or the entire movie, the narrator AND main human protagonist, whom the story almost entirely revolves around, you pick the most unintentionally hilarious voice of all time. The narrator is awful. He is not only awful, he is The Christmas Tree "You always win when you are good" awful. He almost has the voice for the role, but his acting is so fake, so disconnected from the plot that it sounds like he recorded his lines without even knowing what the story was about. He flubs the inflection on almost every line, and you could tell Storm rarely, if ever, asked him for a do-over. It would be an understatement to say he is difficult to take seriously. But it gets even worse. Remember that peculiar design choice I mentioned back when I was talking about the cinematography? Someone apparently had the brilliant idea to hide the main character's face through the whole movie, have the live actor (who, BTW, is Storm) never utter a single word of dialogue the whole time, and instead have the narrator just provide his voice as well. And I don't mean he's a silent protagonist and the narrator is describing his actions, I mean they LITERALLY dub over Storm's headless pantomimes with the obviously disembodied narrator voice throughout the entire movie. If the movie was impossible to take seriously before, now it's reaching Birdemic levels of amazing. Literally everything the main character does is filmed by taking pantomimes that even the silent era would find awful, with absolutely zero facial expressions to go with them, and dubbing it over with the most comically ridiculous narrator voice of all time. I can't even do justice to how mind-blowing this looks in action. You just need to see for yourself, it's truly something to behold. Imagine a comedy show wherein a Morgan Freeman impersonator read aloud the script of The Room, while his partner dressed up as a mime, put a bag over his head, and then mimed all the adorable goings-on between Wisseu and friends. That still wouldn't be as funny as watching My Little Dashie: The Movie. In conclusion, when you separate this movie from its abysmal source material, it still fails hard on its own merits. Heck, even as an adaptation of the fic, it somehow manages to have even less emotion and less personality than the crapfic it was adapted from. If there's one good thing that came out of this movie, it's that it finally crosses MLD over into "so bad it's good" territory. The original was condescending and manipulative, which made it about as fun to read as Kanye West's autobiography. The movie, on the other hand, is so obviously devoid of any legitimate value that it succeeds solely on camp value. If Dusk's Dawn was our fandom's The Room, then MLD: The Movie is our Plan 9 from Outer Space. Now can someone get to work on making our Citizen Kane?
EDIT: A mod asked me to tone down some of the language, so I cut it down to only one F-bomb and two S-bombs. EDIT: Edited again, cuz mods. EDIT: Had to replace the text after the server crash. Minor changes, but it still complies with mod regulations. As a guy who loves pony fanfic, I am often asked what I think of My Little Dashie. Fact is, I hate it. On my steam group, I even wrote a lengthy rant on everything that was wrong with it. For anypony interested, here is said rant, with a minor edit I made to keep it up to date. Warning: contains spoilers and vitriol. You may be surprised to hear this, but I do not like My Little Dashie. Yup. I am among the <5% of the brony population that thinks this fic is anything less than God's gift to writing. This is especially odd when you consider the fact that Rainbow Dash is my favorite canonical character, and the magnificent praise I give to other fanfics such as Of War and Friendship or Fallout: Equestria. In fact, one could even say that I hate My Little Dashie. Considerably. Every last putrid, manipulative, poorly-written word of it. In some ways, this is actually the single worst fanfic I have ever read. Why is this? Surely there must be far worse fanfic out there, right? Well, take My Immortal, for instance. The infamous Harry Potter fanfic known for its terrible "goffik" writing. During my time with My Immortal, I enjoyed it for the same reason that the Nostalgia Critic enjoyed The Room. It was funnier than hell! I'm serious. You can't conceivably read a line like "And Lupin was masticating to it" without laughing your balls off. And My Immortal was hilarious like that the whole way through. The same goes for other infamous badfics and shitfics. If you're laughing your ass off, you're having a good time. When I read My Little Dashie, I did not have a good time. In fact, during the entire experience I could think of nothing more than how every individual sentence failed so miserably at being considered "writing." But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. For our look at possibly the only instance in history where I can ever justify the use of the word "overrated," I say we begin at the same place that the author did: the premise. Dear lord, this premise. Hey, have you ever looked at the character Rainbow Dash and thought to yourself "I wish she was an orphan in the human world with a creepy weirdo for an adoptive father"? No? Congratulations, you have just passed Common Sense 101. Collect your diploma at the door. Oh, but it's worse than it sounds. The whole premise is that the human, who was never actually given a name in the fic, plays daddy with Rainbow Dash for 15 years before her friends arrive to take her back to Equestria, and the audience is somehow expected to cry, for some reason. There are immediately three core problems with this premise: 1. It's manipulative. There are ways of making your audience cry. I personally cried my eyes out at the end of Toy Story 3, but I can tell you /why/ I cried. I cried because it depicted a massive, heartwarming change in the lives of characters I had grown to know and love for 15 years. I cried because I saw myself in Andy, and was able to relate to him. I cried because the film, indeed the trilogy, had been building up the themes of moving on and growing up since its inception. I cried for all the right reasons, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. And I firmly believe that a well-written, well-thought-out work of fiction can reduce anyone to tears. My Little Dashie is not well-written. And it is not well-thought out. It doesn't explore themes of fatherhood or family, it doesn't develop its relationships effectively. It just leaves things at "wouldn't it be sad if..." and rolls along from there. It's impossible to relate to the characters, or to their situation. You never get a sense that you know anyone from the story, and you are never legitimately moved by their actions. Indeed, the big "you must cry now" moment is a bloated exposition dump with loads of plot contrivance and no actual participation from either of the two central characters. There isn't any legitimate reason to cry. You just feel like someone is yelling loudly in your ear "PLEASE CRY! I BEG YOU!" instead of actually moving you with a satisfying story. It's the "brute force with a sledgehammer" equivelant of eliciting emotion. 2. It did not need to be a pony fic. It takes place in the real world, the main character is human, the only pony character has no actual resemblance to her canonical counterpart (more on that later), and the "adoptive father" story has been done to death by now. Nothing would have changed if instead of "My Little Dashie," it had been titled "Patrick and me," and swapped out RD for Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants. The author could have told the exact same story, with the exact same characters (with different names, of course), and had the exact same payoff. Rainbow Dash was only added in, once again, for the purpose of manipulation. Rainbow Dash is a character fresh in the minds of every brony due to her role in the show, and beloved for her characteristics and personality. So, naturally, we've already grown to like her. The author simply took this and said "wouldn't it be sad if..." to create the premise of this story. The story isn't sad on its own merits. The story is sad because it's basically just something bad happening to Rainbow Dash. Now, for a counter-example. A fic that actually uses its fanfiction status for full effect: Fallout Equestria. If you haven't read the fic by now, don't fret, I would be damned if I spoiled even a word of this masterpiece. Fallout Equestria doesn't simply look at the Fallout world and say "what if it had ponies?", it merges and blends elements of both universes together to craft a world greater than the sum of its parts. It doesn't try to seperate itself from MLP, it embraces it, and it repurposes the setting to fit the tone of the story. While it does take creative liberties with characters and such, it always respects and admires the source material, and it even stays true to the central themes and messages of the show, albeit in a much more R-rated approach. This is just one of many reasons why I love Fallout Equestria, and just one of many reasons why I despise My Little Dashie. 3. It's creepy! No extended rant this time. No wall of text. Just a simple statement. Brony culture is already considered... eccentric... by outsiders as is. Imagine their reaction when they discover that the fandom's favorite fanfic is about Rainbow Dash living in a brony's apartment and calling him "Daddy." Oh yeah, and she's only a filly in this story. Thank you for doing wonders to our reputation. So that's the premise. But we aren't done yet. We've still got to talk about the characters (all both of 'em), and the abject failure that is the writing style. But what is it about these characters that makes them so very loathesome? How is it that a duo of an adoptive father and Best Pony could make my personal shitlist for atrocious writing? Well, here's how: 1. FYYHSOSS Mopy McAngstysue. Since the human character is never named, I prefer to go with my own name for him: Mopy McAngstysue, the blandest fucking character you will ever meet. Mopy is, unsurprisingly, a brony. More specifically, he's the type of brony that most bronies try to steer clear from during conventions. He's disturbed, he's depressing, and worst of all, he's boring. His backstory includes every tired sad story cliche you could think of, including dead parents, a hatred for cities, lack of friends, and clinging on to a kid's TV show for dear life. I guess the idea is that we're supposed to pity this loser, but we are never actually given a chance to like him. Mopy is never granted human interaction, and his character is unbearably static. Not only that, but the audience is never shown a different side of him. He never grows to be anything relatable or interesting, and he never grows to become an actual protagonist. He never solves any problems, he never involves himself in the plot in any way, and he really only seems to be there so that he can voyeuristically watch as the filly grows up. To be fair, he and her occasionally share some interactions, but even then the interactions seem to exist only to reinforce the mood, and not actually develop the characters. 2. Little Orphan Blue. I refuse to use the name "Rainbow Dash" to describe this... thing! You thought Mopy was bad? You ain't seen nothing yet. Little Orphan Blue is an absolute disgrace to her namesake. She is wretchedly out of character the entire time, her backstory consists entirely of "magic, durr hurr," and once again, she simply did not need to be a pony. Just like Mopy, Little Orphan Blue never actually does anything over the course of the story, apart from going about her life. As such, every major "event" in the plot is simply another milestone in her childhood. Like when she first learns to fly, her first NASCAR race, etc. Except these milestones never serve to alter her character, including the major revelation that she's a cartoon character, and really serve no purpose apart from buildup. But really, that's the least of my qualms with this character. She has absolutely no relation to the character from the show whatsoever. She's frail, pathetic, easily impressed, and loves to call Mopy "daddy." Yeah, "daddy." As if this shit wasn't manipulative enough already. You don't know how horribly violated I felt the first time I heard Little Orphan Blue mutter that word. Such a complete betrayal of everything a character stands for, while not unheard of, is something I would at least like to think is rare. How is it that Cupcakes is closer to Pinkie Pie's character than MLD is to Rainbow Dash's character? You can't really sink lower than "psychopathic murderer" without trying pretty damn hard to destroy a character. And at last, we come to MLD's most greivous insult to literature: its writing style. There is simply no way to defend this fic's writing style. While we've already established that when your characters never actually do anything, it should come as no surprise that nothing is ever accomplished, the shit still doesn't end there. None of the major events (with the exception of the last one) actually occur "on-screen." We are simply told of their occurrance long after the fact. You may have heard the Anton Chekhov quote "Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of moonlight of a pane of broken glass." My Little Dashie prefers to simply give you a spreadsheet of lunar phases over the last year. Why is LOB's first flight relegated to no more description than "she flew"? Why does the NASCAR part focus only on the planning, and never let us see the event itself? One might make the argument that it's supposed to be a "journal" or sorts, but then why is the "cry now" scene (which takes up half the damn fic, BTW) written normally? Why isn't that also part of a journal? It really gives you the sense that the author was single-minded, that he just wanted to breeze through all that story stuff to get to the manipulation. That he didn't actually give a damn about having any sort of plot. In conclusion, I despise everything about this fanfic. But though I loathe its very existence, but I'm still glad I read it. I consider myself something of a writer, and as a writer, I need to understand not only how to make a great story, but also how to make a terrible story. And My Little Dashie is a terrible story. It is a cautionary tale for all writers, a wake-up call for anyone who would use cliches and manipulation over legitimate storytelling. I just hope my plea has not fallen on deaf ears.