My first pithy little reaction to the episode “The Maud Couple” was essentially “Maud is dating Sheldon Cooper now and we got to deal with it”. Feeling the need to elaborate on that more, however, is what has finally motivated to actually write out an episode review, something I haven’t done since the Season 6 Finale “To Where and Back Again.”
Look, PhD programs don’t leave a lot of time to write pony episode reviews. But nothing tends to get my urge to analyze something going as much as a show attempting to make the audience have to like or tolerate a character without actually putting in the work. That is, essentially, the major flaw I have with the episode “The Maud Couple” and is what makes it an ultimately inferior episode to its most easily comparable one, “Maud Pie”.
After over 100 episodes, I finally found an excuse to combine two of my favorite things in the world into one: the cartoon series Steven Universe and John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian ethics. That it took so long to do so is more of a testament to the high quality of the show than anything else. The sheer expanse of the show and the topics it deals with – from basic lessons about friendship to in-depth explorations of grief, loss, and trauma in the aftermath of relationships and war – kind of makes it a bit intimidating to get a grasp on it. What finally inspired this long-awaited excuse to stuff utilitarianism into yet more cartoons (see my long, long list of utilitarian ethics inspired analysis of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) was the two-parter episodes of Beta and Earthlings, the 100 and 101the episodes according to the Steven Universe wiki.
At the end of the two part season premiere “The Cutie Map”, Starlight Glimmer is exposed as having never given up her own cutie mark despite her claims that possession of a cutie mark leads to fighting and breaking friendships. This, of course, turns the entire town against her as they call out her “hypocrisy.” As she points out, however, it wouldn’t have been possible to remove every-ponies’ cutie marks without her magic, which requires her cutie mark. The town doesn’t buy it, but what if, assuming her morality was correct, she had a point? Is it possible that hypocrisy like this can be moral? In this article we’ll investigate by asking if morality must be public or can there be justified reasons for it to be secret?
The moment I saw the trailer for the Season 5 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I figured I was going to have to do a post like this. A villain goes around talking about equality and everybody being the same? In the culture of the United States, with its histories of “Red Scares” and the Cold War behind it, this sort of rhetoric immediately equates to “communism” or “socialism”, whatever word you pick. But is Starlight Glimmer, the antagonist of the two-part premiere, really supposed to be a representation of actual communist thought? In this article I’ll be giving what basically amounts to a brief “Marxism 101” lesson as we investigate Starlight Glimmer’s philosophy.
In Part I of this two part exploration of Discord’s reformation, I drew upon utilitarian philosopher Henry Sidgwick to argue that Discord’s reformation could be viewed as a story of the conflict between egoism and utilitarian ethics. Sidgwick argued that this conflict was logically irreconcilable as the decision to be one or the other came own to one decision: the willingness to put your own interests aside for the greater good.
In Part II of this exploration I will analyze Discord’s reformation through the lens of Sidgiwck’s view of the role of sympathy and the duty of benevolence in the utilitarian ethic. In doing so, I argue that Discord’s story can serve as an example of how one can transition away from the egoistic philosophy. In doing so, I can also explain why Fluttershy was the best choice of pony to reform Discord despite my arguments that Pinkie Pie is already a utilitarian of sorts. Continue reading
In this first part of a two-part exploration of Discord’s reformation, we’ll explore Discord’s egoism in the context of utilitarian philosopher Henry Sidgwick’s dilemma of the irreconcilability of egoism and utilitarian ethics. This sets the the stage for the exploration of Discord’s reformation in part two.
The article, but in video form!
Everyone knows that Fluttershy loves animals taking care of them is her special talent after all. But does the episode Bats! suggests that she might have a lot in common with preference utilitarian Peter Singer? In this article I will attempt to argue that, like Peter Singer, Fluttershy is acting on the belief that animals deserve equal moral consideration when decisions have to be made.
So, I’m sure by now we’re all quite familiar with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. This group made up of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo have been together since the season one episode “Call of the Cutie”. United in their status as “blank flanks”, the main goal of the group is to work together in an attempt to find their special talent so they can all gain their cutie marks. This is usually done by shouting “CUTIE MARK CRUSADER INSERT PROFESSION NAME HERE YAY!” and then running off to do whatever it is they just shouted about. So far, however, they’ve pretty much had no success outside of the occasional moments like their showcase for the Equestria Games.
The question is, then, why is it that they have yet to get their cutie marks? As much as we might tease them for following Rainbow Dash’s advice to try “as many things as possible as quickly as possible”, it’s honestly not that inherently bad of an idea. If you’re not sure what it is that you want to do with your life or what you’re good at, taking the time go out and try new things and experiences is probably a good thing, especially for children where play and exploration is a big part of their learning process.
I think one possible way to think about this problem of theirs is to argue that, in a sense, the Cutie Mark Crusaders how found themselves running head first into a variation of what is known as “the Paradox of Happiness.”
A collaborative video I did with Nightsphere the Gnostic about whether or not Discord was chaotic and, if not, what ethical systems does he follow?