My first experience with the fourth generation of the My Little Pony series began right around the time that the episode “Super Cider Squeezy 6000” had aired. Having seen various GIFs, images, and stories about the series and the “brony” fandom – as well as just being a fan of animation in general – I decided to give the series a try.
Several years later it’s 8:00 PM on a Saturday night and I’m watching the series finale with a mixture of nostalgia, excitement, and maybe just a tinge of sadness. In between that first watching and the finale, I had watched the series, started up an analysis site (that, well, you can see how the activity on that has been), ran a successful forum roleplay site for several years, have a fanfiction that I’m still writing, and even had a ponysona.
I think you can say I became quite a big fan of the series.
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”.
Spoilers ahead for the episode “Dewey Wins”.
Another Steven Bomb has exploded, giving Steven Universe fans a series of episodes dealing with the immediate aftermath of Steven’s surrender to and return from Homeworld. The first of these episodes, “Dewey Wins”, has Steven deal with his damaged relationship with Connie, who is mad at him for having surrendered to Homeworld instead of fighting. Steven is perplexed at why Connie was mad: after all, he did it to save her and everyone else, and it turned out alright in the end. No harm no foul, right?
What makes the episode odd in the eye of many viewers, however, is that Steven eventually comes to understand Connie’s feelings through his failed attempt to help Mayor Dewey win re-election. Specifically, after his attempt at trying to take the blame for everything fails, Steven tries to help Dewey in the election against Nanefua Pizza, but when the latter proves a much more inspiring politician, Dewey quits. Steven’s disappointment in Dewey quitting supposedly leads him to gain an understanding of Connie’s feelings, an outcome that had many viewers going “Huh?”
I’m glad to see that, for once, my political science background means I can finally offer some insight on a cartoon that doesn’t involve stuffing utilitarianism into as many things as I possibly can. Specifically, as a person who studies partisan identity, Steven’s behavior and feelings actually don’t surprise me all that much. So, by exploring the concept of partisanship, I argue that Steven learning to understand Connie’s feelings by working on a campaign isn’t as weird as it might seem.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a reaction/review-ish piece for an MLP episode. While there have been episodes of MLP I’ve thought good, I never really got the same sort of spark for wanting to say something about them as I’ve done in the past.
Part of it is burnout for sure, and of course graduate school isn’t exactly known for giving you free time. But a lot of it was honestly just didn’t feel like the show or was offering much that I could work with as someone whose main interest is getting at it from a background in political science and ethics/political theory perspective. Sure, the return of the best background character ever, Trixie, in “No Second Prances”, got me excited, but didn’t exactly give me room to ramble on about introductory Marxist theory like Starlight Glimmer’s first episodes or the countless articles I’ve done on utilitarianism.
But seriously though, this episode alone would have been enough to make the season for me.
Fortunately for me then it appears the somewhat contentious season finale –at least from some initial reactions I’ve seen – finally gives me a chance to dig out the old MLP analysist in me. Because if there is anything that gets the urge to ramble on about something, it’s controversy. So let’s dig in to “To Where and Back Again”, and what the conclusion of the two-parter says about the nature of the MLP Universe.
Is it possible that the episode “Rose’s Room” of Steven Universe may be able to help us determine what it is that we find worth living for? In this article, I compare Steven’s experience in Rose’s Room with the famous ethical thought experiment of Robert Nozick’s “experience machine” to explore this question.
In Part II of my “The Reformation of Discord: A Utilitarian Story”, I made a mention of the episode “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies” as showing the lesson of the importance of rational benevolence to Fluttershy. In this article I’ll explore this concept a little further, returning once again to our good friend Henry Sidgwick and his The Methods of Ethics. By doing so, we can further understand what Fluttershy’s Element of Kindness truly means. Continue reading
It’s been over a year or so since Equestria Girls came out and I wrote my first review of it. And yet here we are yet again with the sequel to the film, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks. As someone who generally liked the first film, I was rather excited about the prospect of a sequel. Did the film meet my excitement? Find out after the break where I review Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks.
In this article I discuss the similarities between the mental crisis of John Stuart Mill in his young adulthood with that of the identity crisis that Pinkie Pie suffers in the episode “Too Many Pinkie Pie’s.” This is done through the use of Mill’s concept on “moral freedom”, which is the state of having a multiple desires capable of trumping others as needed. The Mirror Pool incident, I argue, causes Pinkie Pie to reflect on her own state of moral unfreedom before eventually restoring herself to a state of moral freedom when she shows she can put aside her desire for fun for the desire of keeping her friends.
I’ve decided to come back to the topic of Pinkie Pie and Utilitarianism by discussing an episode that showed Pinkie acting in a manner that is problematic: “Luna Eclipsed”. Her behavior is discussed using the concepts of Impartiality, Egalitarianism, and the Hedonistic Calculus.
Before going further, I might recommend watching this video to get some basic understanding of some concepts I’ll be talking about in the rest of the video:
Is Pinkie Pie an Ethical Hedonist?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-RtJEaWD7A
Applejack: [clears throat] Dear Princess Celestia,
We’re writin’ to you because today we all learned a little somethin’ about friendship.
Fluttershy: We learned that you should take your friends’ worries seriously.
Rainbow Dash: Even if you don’t think that she has anything to worry about.
This part of the “Letter to Celestia” from “Lesson Zero” is, with no doubt, my favorite moral in the entirety of the series. It’s message is not only, in my view, the fundamental lesson behind most of the other major lessons of the show, but it is also probably the one with the most widespread applicability. What exactly about this lesson, however, has me giving it such praise? The reason is because, in a sense, it is advocating for placing sympathy and empathy in a central role in friendship.