Dark Qiviut

In-show stereotypes and cliches: Subvert and fix

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Subversion is a really great strength in this show. Several episode take existing concepts and twist them up to make the conflicts and characters feel more authentic. The Best Night Ever is a fantastic satire of Cinderella stories. Starlight Glimmer ain't no monster, but she's their best villain so far. Green Isn't Your Color and Sisterhooves Social tackle jealousy and sisterhood conflict realistically. Cheese Sandwich is Weird Al in a nutshell. Each of the Mane Six are subversions of common archetypes, especially Rarity, Dash, and Pinkie.

 

However, for each couple of clichés and stereotypes subverted, at least one of either is played straight.

  1. Snips and Snails: Stupid, annoying little boys. Their concept is a stereotype.
  2. Bridle Gossip: This episode plays off the cliché that white supremism comes from white people being scared of blacks. Whether it's intentional or not, I don't know. (I'm going to assume it's not.) The implications come from how convenient the plot is laid out.
  3. Swarm of the Century: Despite the clever Star Trek reference, the whole episode is a cliché played straight: a character doesn't tell them ahead, but does at the end, and the whole conflict would've been over before the theme song.
  4. Owl's Well: Unlike Green Isn't Your Color, OWtEW is the "jealousy" cliché, in which the jealous character plays as the antagonist.
  5. Teenage dragons: Misandrist and misogynist stereotypes of male bullies.
  6. Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon: Flat antagonists. Written simply to be stereotypical bitches.
  7. Equestria Girls: Way too many to count.

    Flash Sentry is a combo of several clichés and is the stereotypical hunk for Twilight.

    As a villain, Sunset Shimmer is the stereotypical alpha bitch.

    The while school is a cliché, including the divisions within their school and the Fall Formal.
  8. Spike at Your Service: The "life debt" cliché played straight.
  9. Make Friends, but Keep Discord: The storyline is the same as Owl's Well, but a little better. Tree Hugger is the stereotypical hippie.

You get the point. For a show designed to be pro-feminist, the fact that several clichés and stereotypes are played straight damns this show's credibility. Despite a really fleshed-out mane cast and some really great secondary characters, FIM complacently uses clichés, often with no success. Stereotypes don't work because they create false representations of certain people. Clichés have a lot of difficulty working because the journey has been done before too often and feels like a waste of time afterwards; if the journey is bad, I'll hit the remote.

 

With that, I have some groundwork. Keep in mind, they must've taken place in FIM.

  1. What clichés and/or stereotypes do you recognize?
  2. Why do the clichés and stereotypes not work and/or bother you? Is it due to their convenience, unfortunate implications, filler, etc. Please explain the problems.
  3. How would fix them? In other words, how would you take the clichés/stereotypes and subvert them? How would you make the cliched and/or stereotypical concepts from FIM unique and captivating? Please explain the solutions well and spend some time thinking about how it would work while staying true to the show's atmosphere.


 

 

I have a couple in mind, both from this season.

  1. Tree Hugger

    Problem: Stereotypes have no business in any family product today, and TH's biggest problem is how convenient her character is. She was a plot device for Discord's jealousy. But what makes her not work even more is how one-dimensional she is. Yes, she helped present various humor, but it comes at the expense of making her a unique character. By making her so stereotypical, her friendship with Fluttershy is as convincing as a young kid who claims to be selling dollar candy in the subway in order to fund for his school's basketball team.

    Solution: Borrow from the Rarity Micro and make her fully-fledged. Rather than make her the typical hippie, she branches out from the culture. Rather than look high all the time, her personality is silly, but knowing, and her eyes are never half-shut. A good reader, craftsmare, and hardworker. But rather than make Discord feel jealous because 'Shy gave her the ticket, Fluttershy gives up her ticket so Discord and TH can spend the time at the Gala. The purpose is to present the conflict, make Tree Hugger's friendship with Fluttershy more genuine, and present Tree Hugger as a character instead of a plot device.
  2. The yaks

    Problem: I have no idea what this is about, but these three yaks feel a lot like stereotypes of one or both of the following: Natives, vikings. Natives due to their pride of their culture, the location of their country, warrior personality, and broken language. Vikings due to their war-first ideology, lack of knowledge of current technology and other cultures, and violent reactions. Like the dragons, they paint false impressions on the entire yak race. I don't think the racism is intentional, but there's a reason why some on EQD decried their portrayals.

    Solution: Give them pride for their culture, but come with it at a cost. Rather than make the yaks act like they're in the wrong, portray the Mane Six as in the wrong with good intentions. Rather than be war first, make the yaks rough, firm, proud, but not have their language be broken and not act so violent. Frustrated, but not war-first and certainly not declare war. Yakyakistan is difficult, but more accessible with a variety of diplomats. When the Mane Six realize what went wrong, they realize their mistake and share to the yaks what they cherish. That way, the yaks can share what they cherish and show each other the best of their cultures.
Edited by Dark Qiviut
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Starlight Glimmer is a stereotypical communist. First starting out friendly and then evil to the Mane 6 for not following her orders. Also forcing everypony to be equal.

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Starlight Glimmer is a stereotypical communist. First starting out friendly and then evil to the Mane 6 for not following her orders. Also forcing everypony to be equal.

Glimmer's many things; "stereotypical" ain't one of them. Although there are communist undertones, Glimmer's a cult leader. She's friendly to other ponies to give them a very solid first impression of the town. Her manipulation is less physical and more emotional and psychological; authentic brainwashing techniques force her cult to believe her philosophies. But when Double Diamond found her keys, he implied how he willingly gave up his talent to be a part of her village.

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Has female protagonists = Is feminist

 

I no understand.

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@, No. One of modern feminism's goals is to challenge social and gender norms in both women and men. Friendship Is Magic openly challenges the norms with each of the Mane Six, many background characters, and several plots (including Suited for Success). It teaches many ways to be a girl/person without being stereotypical. Despite its successes, its failures hurt the show's underlying message of being yourself.

 

With that, I have another:

  1. Dragon Quest dragons

    Problem: Two major issues. Firstly, they're male stereotypes. In order to make Spike reassure himself of his identity, he's the only one with a genuine personality; his "friends" are cardboard. Secondly, these male stereotypes paint a very broad generalization on the entire dragon race. The episode stated that these dragons represent everything about dragons: stupid, ruthless, greedy, murderous, gluttonous, and careless. Spike is the only one not like them.

    Solution: I could kill off the whole angle, but that's just being cheap. Instead, how about making these dragons help learn dragon qualities. Many can fly, but Spike can't. Dragons can be greedy, but they also can be noble. Many have an inherent level of honor they abide by. Don't make every dragon male. Have female and non-binary dragons and treat them all equally. Have the teenage dragons represent varying unique personalities rather than be the same under different scales.
Edited by Dark Qiviut
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You get the point. For a show designed to be pro-feminist, the fact that several clichés and stereotypes are played straight damns this show's credibility. Despite a really fleshed-out mane cast and some really great secondary characters, FIM complacently uses clichés, often with no success. Stereotypes don't work because they create false representations of certain people. Clichés have a lot of difficulty working because the journey has been done before too often and feels like a waste of time afterwards; if the journey is bad, I'll hit the remote.

 

So you're saying that nobody out there in the real world perfectly matches a stereotype to a T?

 

Riiight.

 

I think your exaggerations about cliches and stereotypes are uncalled for.  Because you are basically saying it's impossible for anyone to relate to those characters.  And that's a load of malarkey.  Stereotypes are not bad inherently.  

 

Calling Tree Hugger one dimensional is an obvious display that you actually lack the knowledge of culture diversity that you are attempting to show that you have.

 

Saying that these stereotypes need fixing to make the episodes better completely dismisses the fact that the episodes might actually help people learn lessons about very similar situations they've encountered in real life.  Cliches and stereotypes DO happen in real life.  They aren't fake.

 

  1. Snips and Snails: Stupid, annoying little boys. Their concept is a stereotype.
  2. Bridle Gossip: This episode plays off the cliché that white supremism comes from white people being scared of blacks. Whether it's intentional or not, I don't know. (I'm going to assume it's not.) The implications come from how convenient the plot is laid out.
  3. Swarm of the Century: Despite the clever Star Trek reference, the whole episode is a cliché played straight: a character doesn't tell them ahead, but does at the end, and the whole conflict would've been over before the theme song.
  4. Owl's Well: Unlike Green Isn't Your Color, OWtEW is the "jealousy" cliché, in which the jealous character plays as the antagonist.
  5. Teenage dragons: Misandrist and misogynist stereotypes of male bullies.
  6. Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon: Flat antagonists. Written simply to be stereotypical bitches.
  7. Equestria Girls: Way too many to count.

     

    Flash Sentry is a combo of several clichés and is the stereotypical hunk for Twilight.

     

    As a villain, Sunset Shimmer is the stereotypical alpha bitch.

     

    The while school is a cliché, including the divisions within their school and the Fall Formal.

  8. Spike at Your Service: The "life debt" cliché played straight.
  9. Make Friends, but Keep Discord: The storyline is the same as Owl's Well, but a little better. Tree Hugger is the stereotypical hippie.

 

1.  Plenty of little kids act just like they do.

2.  It doesn't matter what cliche this plays off of.  Shit like that happens in real life a lot!  People who lack diversity who come from isolated societies may sometimes be irrationally afraid of an outsider, regardless of whether that's because of their race, religion, style of expression, language, or whatever.  

3.  You've got it all wrong here: Pinkie tried to tell them but they wouldn't listen to her!  It's their fault for not letting Pinkie explain, not Pinkie's fault for being unable to do so until the end.

4.  ???  How can you say that cliches like that are bad?  Do you seriously think "this never happens in real life"?  Because it does!  And that's the whole point of the lesson/moral that the episodes are trying to teach us.  

5.  I'll give you this one because I don't like them either.

6.  As if people don't deal with stereotypical bitches in real life, sometimes even on a daily basis?  I just dealt with one yesterday at my job.  Acted just like DT, despite that she was in her forties.  I had to bite my tongue and check her out as I would any other customer.  Being a cashier at a grocer, I can tell you that you'll see many kinds of people come through the front doors, some of them are total pricks, some of them are nice as can be.

7.  I agree about Flash.  Sunset Shimmer is a very loved character by many folks; I highly doubt they think she's an alpha bitch.  And that school is not a cliche!  Lmao, it's normal.

8.  I can agree to this one the most out of all your examples.  This is my least liked episode of MLP out of all the seasons.  

9.  If that's true, then all hippies are stereotypical.  And that isn't logical.  So, no, she is not a stereotypical hippie.  Just because hippies tend to follow similar styles does not make them all a stereotype or a cliche.  They are who they are, deal with it.  

 

The yaks:  I think you actually make a good point about them.  But I still liked the episode a lot, despite that.  

 

The dragons:  This is one of your few good examples that I think would benefit from a change.

 

---

 

I think if you're going to critique something, it ought to be about episodes that bring 2 (or 3) of the Mane 6 together as the central focus.  

 

We've had some good ones, but not all of the options have been used yet.  They should try to get through all of the pairings.

 

One of my favorite episodes that utilized that logic was "Look Before You Sleep."  I loved Applejack and Rarity together.  The episode was great.

 

~ Miles

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The Mane 6 are all based off stereotypes witch is kind of a shame :(

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So you're saying that nobody out there in the real world perfectly matches a stereotype to a T?

Damn right I am. Stereotypes are extremely bad because they paint very broad generalizations of certain people. They're snap judgments of people, and people use them to create generalizations of them. "Positive" stereotypes are also bad. Why? Because like the negative stereotypes, these create a generalization of groups, as well.

 

For example, take a look at this common stereotype (parodied by Cracked, found on I Was a High School Feminist):

 

sig-3903538.ccrvoxl.jpg

 

There's the dumb stereotype that Asian students are focused, intelligent, disciplined, and high graders. It sounds positive, but it's terrible because of several reasons:

  1. You're going to inherently treat various classes, races, ethnicities, etc. differently without even knowing it.
  2. The Asian student who knows this stereotype suddenly begin to feel very pressured into succeeding in school and believe how anything other than an A is a failure.
  3. If he or she fails or doesn't do as well as he liked, then he feels he did a really bad job representing their cultures or social norms.

People sometimes follow various stereotypical keys, but no one is ever a stereotype. This is what we as a society should celebrate, and this is what this show should celebrate. But Friendship Is Magic has a tendency to be very convenient with their works. Stereotypes in fiction are convenient. It's bad enough to have stereotypes in family shows because kids are smart, yet also impressionable. But this show is supposed to be about teaching valuable lessons; if you use stereotypes as a crutch to send these messages, then these messages feel tacked on at least and hypocritical at most. But if you make the characters feel unique and not stereotypical, then the characters don't feel trapped in generalizations, thus helping out the rest of the story, including the moral.

 

There are two good links about why they're bad, even the "positive" ones, both of which I used for this response:

  1. http://iwasahighschoolfeminist.com/2014/04/11/even-good-stereotypes-are-bad/
  2. http://www.aauw.org/2014/08/13/why-stereotypes-are-bad/

Clichés in stories are similar. If you subvert them or put in a twist to make them unique, then the episode doesn't feel wasted. But if you play the clichéd story straight, then you're just going to waste people's time. Playing the cliché straight undercuts the base demographic, target audience, and the value of the moral.

 

This is the purpose of this thread: How do you take clichés and stereotypes from the show and twist them to make something brand new without degrading the show itself.

 

The Mane 6 are all based off stereotypes witch is kind of a shame :(

Not quite. On one end, they're subverted stereotypes and cliches: The common tropes are critiqued and twisted to create fresh characters. On the other, the Mane Six's personalities are archetypes: the background characterizations/tropes of their characters. They're many things, but they're not stereotypes.

Edited by Dark Qiviut
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@@Dark Qiviut,

 

Well, to save you and I from needlessly going into a spiral argument...

I will just tell you this:

It is of my opinion that not all stereotypes are bad.  Yes, I'm saying: I believe some stereotypes are harmless.  In fact I would go so far as to call myself a stereotypical country boy gearhead.  

:bedeyes: 

But, now that I understand where you were coming from, I realize that your take on the matter [of stereotypes themselves] is perfectly valid, and quite righteous - as, you want to help people from being victims of over-generalizations.

And that's fine.  Power to ya...

But the reason I feel differently is because I've been a part of a stereotypical country town my whole life, and have seen and heard jokes about country folks a lot.  It doesn't bother me one bit!  I think it's funny!

Thus, because I can laugh when I'm stereotyped, I don't feel that there's any negative consequences of "good stereotypes."  

So, on that note, just know that I do understand why you think the way you, but that I don't personally have any issues with what I feel to be harmless "good stereotypes."

---

Now...  having said the above...

Because I've come to the realization that our definitions are different, I can change some of the things I said to suit your understanding of stereotypes being bad...
 

 

 

  1. Snips and Snails: Stupid, annoying little boys. Their concept is a stereotype.
  2. Bridle Gossip: This episode plays off the cliché that white supremism comes from white people being scared of blacks. Whether it's intentional or not, I don't know. (I'm going to assume it's not.) The implications come from how convenient the plot is laid out.
  3. Swarm of the Century: Despite the clever Star Trek reference, the whole episode is a cliché played straight: a character doesn't tell them ahead, but does at the end, and the whole conflict would've been over before the theme song.
  4. Owl's Well: Unlike Green Isn't Your Color, OWtEW is the "jealousy" cliché, in which the jealous character plays as the antagonist.
  5. Teenage dragons: Misandrist and misogynist stereotypes of male bullies.
  6. Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon: Flat antagonists. Written simply to be stereotypical bitches.
  7. Equestria Girls: Way too many to count.

    Flash Sentry is a combo of several clichés and is the stereotypical hunk for Twilight.

    As a villain, Sunset Shimmer is the stereotypical alpha bitch.

    The while school is a cliché, including the divisions within their school and the Fall Formal.
  8. Spike at Your Service: The "life debt" cliché played straight.
  9. Make Friends, but Keep Discord: The storyline is the same as Owl's Well, but a little better. Tree Hugger is the stereotypical hippie.

[---]

  1. Tree Hugger

    Problem: Stereotypes have no business in any family product today, and TH's biggest problem is how convenient her character is. She was a plot device for Discord's jealousy. But what makes her not work even more is how one-dimensional she is. Yes, she helped present various humor, but it comes at the expense of making her a unique character. By making her so stereotypical, her friendship with Fluttershy is as convincing as a young kid who claims to be selling dollar candy in the subway in order to fund for his school's basketball team.

    Solution: Borrow from the Rarity Micro and make her fully-fledged. Rather than make her the typical hippie, she branches out from the culture. Rather than look high all the time, her personality is silly, but knowing, and her eyes are never half-shut. A good reader, craftsmare, and hardworker. But rather than make Discord feel jealous because 'Shy gave her the ticket, Fluttershy gives up her ticket so Discord and TH can spend the time at the Gala. The purpose is to present the conflict, make Tree Hugger's friendship with Fluttershy more genuine, and present Tree Hugger as a character instead of a plot device.
  2. The yaks

    Problem: I have no idea what this is about, but these three yaks feel a lot like stereotypes of one or both of the following: Natives, vikings. Natives due to their pride of their culture, the location of their country, warrior personality, and broken language. Vikings due to their war-first ideology, lack of knowledge of current technology and other cultures, and violent reactions. Like the dragons, they paint false impressions on the entire yak race. I don't think the racism is intentional, but there's a reason why some on EQD decried their portrayals.

    Solution: Give them pride for their culture, but come with it at a cost. Rather than make the yaks act like they're in the wrong, portray the Mane Six as in the wrong with good intentions. Rather than be war first, make the yaks rough, firm, proud, but not have their language be broken and not act so violent. Frustrated, but not war-first and certainly not declare war. Yakyakistan is difficult, but more accessible with a variety of diplomats. When the Mane Six realize what went wrong, they realize their mistake and share to the yaks what they cherish. That way, the yaks can share what they cherish and show each other the best of their cultures.

 

 



1.  Okay, so they are stereotyped as being stupid/dorkish little kids foals.  But do you really think this will offend anyone legitimately?

 

2.  I think maybe you're looking too far into it.  I agree that it has the potential to be critiqued as being xenophobic, maybe borderline racist, but don't look too much into the "where it's coming from" part.  Plus, if you did anyway, what you said the show assumes as the rationale isn't totally false.  Nonetheless, aren't you glad that they took on the subject of xenophobia/racism and made the moral "don't judge a book by it's cover"?

3.  No change from what I said before.

4.  Okay, but, why is it bad to use the jealousy cliche?

5.  No change (I agree with you).

6.  Silver Spoon is not a bitch.

7.  How can that school be a cliche?  Lol, honestly, that doesn't make any sense to me.  It's a typical school.  There's a difference between "typical" and "stereotypical."

8.  No change (I agree with you).

---

The yaks:  Yeah I agree with you.

---

Tree Hugger:

NO.

She is NOT a stereotype.  

~ Miles

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Read it and Weep - Suggests that invalid people/ponies are prone to become addicts and mentally unstable. Better execution: Having Rainbow Dash actually cope with her invalidity without drowning her sorrows in alcohol/text.

Edited by WriteCodes46

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