Reader mailbag

After a particularly horrid week at work I ended up picking up the newish game Mark of the Ninja from Steam (after all, the best therapy is virtual murder sprees).  So while I slay my way and catch up on everything, let’s look at some great comments from both of my readers. (hah, just kidding, I really have 3!)

First, the supernaturally talented and divinely beautiful swenson writes about Korra:

:D I love reading people’s theories about things I’ve already seen. You’re… close in some aspects, very far in others. Certain things, I think you’ll like in the end. Other ones, you’ll probably be a whole lot less excited about.

Well good, I wasn’t sure whether to continue with my method or not.  Now not being human and lacking emotions I usually don’t mind anything a story does as long as it’s organic and fits with said story.  There’s been quite a few sci-fi and fantasy tales which give me the heebie jeebies or make me pretty depressed (and other negative feelings) but I actually recommend them because they’re at least well written and logical.

Anyway, I just wanted to talk about the Equalists for a bit… what makes them bad, in my mind, is not that they want equality. It’s the way they want to get it, by actually removing others’ bending abilities. Chi-blocking is all well and good, and I’m totally in favor of non-benders learning it as part of a general self-defense course (especially with all the bending-powered gangs in the city…), but actually removing someone’s innate abilities? That’s different.

I should explain: While I understand how the show is meaning for them to be in the wrong (and can agree with that on an intellectual level) I am mostly calling out that the show isn’t doing a very good job as presented of enforcing the “evilness” of the Equalists.  Though part of this is a tension of audiences.  If the show was geared more towards adults, Amon would probably be the equivalent of a state executioner who takes away the bending abilities of those convicted of crimes.  From there would be a conflict of say… him striking out on his own because he believes the system corrupt or some other reason we could invent given enough time to brainstorm.  The important part is that it would be more subtle and questionable who was in the wrong or right.  Of course, being for teens and younger, the show is a little more forthright (nothing wrong with that, I remember growing up just how unaware I was of much subtlety, it’s not something kids grasp easily).  I’ll also admit some conflict arises from a differing in audience.  Kids and younger are more likely to imagine themselves benders (or the avatar) since they all know they’re special so the horror of Amon and the Equalists strikes a cord with them.  However those of us that are old and ancient, we realizes that no, we’re the muggles; we’re the ordinary folks; we’re not that special.  One of the victim groups’ suffering strikes a stronger cord with one audience section than another is all.  Consider me just observing it. 😉

Then on to the worst MLP episode evar the Last Roundup:

Swenson makes a good point so we’ll just move on to the saintly (and leading pope canidate) Eric:

All I know is that despite this being presumably an Applejack episode, Derpy Hooves’ one-minute dialogue scene stole the show. By the way, Nate, I do hope you got a chance to watch the original version of Last Roundup. I’ve just as soon accept that Greedo shot first than that the new Derpy is canon.

Unfortunately Netflix shows the heretical altered version which I knew was altered the moment I saw it because Derpy was so forgettable (when her 1 second costume and apple bobbing still sticks in the mind).  What’s worse is that from everything I could find, the only people Derpy offended were perpetually sensitive ninnies none from the group that would find her actually offensive.  Look, I’m all in favor of tolerance and not being an insensitive ass to people but can we go back to having only those who have cause to be offended be the ones offended?  Offense by proxy is just stupid!

Then the overwhelmingly charming Foxfier with her heavenly singing voice sings:

Character development. Applejack is a stubborn toot… and still is, doesn’t “Get over it” in one episode. (or… like…five, I think it is now.)

*deep breath*  Ok, as I say all the time (particularly to writers) a character’s “strength” is the exact same as his/her “flaw” what differentiates them is context.  Favorite example: a character is “decisive” and “quick-witted” on a battlefield but is “impulsive” and “foolhardy” in social situations (yes, this is one of the hallmarks of Game of Thrones – the characters are very consistent).  Another way this manifests is what I’ll call (and will come back to if I ever talk about politics) “value priority”: if two or more goods (moral, physical, etc) are in conflict, how does the character choose them?  Say for instance, you value honesty very highly.  Then, even though you’re quite loyal to your friends & family, if one of them asks a question or another situation arises, you’ll respond to it with the truth even if doing so would hurt the listener.  Likewise if you value loyalty the highest, then although you quite value honesty, you’ll lie for the sake of your loved ones if need be.

Thus (as you’ve probably figured out) in MLP in theory, the “element” each of the mane six represents should be their highest value.  Which makes tLR a failure because here we see AJ choosing dishonesty rather than “betray” her hometown.  Yes, if you ask me Rainbow Dash and Applejack should trade elements.  AJ’s demonstrated loyalty without measure while RD has shown she is honest to a fault (no matter if it hurts someone).

Also what earned tLR a coveted “0” rating is it is the first episode (I recall) that has what I call “fractal stupidity”: a moment in a media which gets increasingly dumber the more you look at it (almost as if it’s infinite and repeating).  Yes I’m talking about the “car chase” scene.  The faults I’ve been able to tally so far?

  • Of the mane six, they harness the two pegasi to pull the cart.  You know, the 2 of the 6 that use their legs the least. Yes it’s somewhat excusable with RD who we’ve seen earlier is athletic enough she can keep pace with many of the ground-bound ponies but Fluttershy?  You expect us to believe that she’s in any shape equal to any of the other 3?  She certainly won’t have the leg muscle power of any pony that walks constantly.
  • Then while a stagecoach probably does weigh more than a simple cart (really depends on the materials used in construction), there’s no way that difference is greater than the weight of Twilight, Pinkie and Rarity.  At the very least, two of them should have pulled the cart and put the lighter (which they have to be since they fly) pegasi in the cart or let them fly in tandem.
  • Then we have the two pegasi keeping pace with FOUR earth ponies.  Think about that: AJ had at least twice the horsepower (pun intended) that her friends had but her friends keep pace.  Not to mention, these are four stallions vs two mares.  Sorry but take a look at a horse auction sometime, the males are bigger and more muscular than the females.

With all the extra weight and the greatly reduced pulling power, Applejack’s stagecoach should have left the other cart so far behind I’d have to use advance math to calculate the loss.  As it is, we’re treated to the equivalent of a Yugo running down a Corvette.


2 thoughts on “Reader mailbag

  1. Interestingly enough, Nate, if you’ve watched Friendship is Witchcraft, they make a joke that RD and AJ’s elements were switched at the last minute.

    I also find it strange that the Mane 6 went through the trouble to find one missing friend and came back to Ponvyille missing two. But I guess it allows for more Rarity and Pinkie Pie comedy…

  2. A week late, but who cares!

    “Yes, if you ask me Rainbow Dash and Applejack should trade elements.”

    Friendship is Witchcraft would agree with you. And often does. Hilariously.

    …aww, beaten to the punch. OH WELL, POSTING ANYWAY mostly because you mentioned my Equalist post. 🙂

    I do agree with you that the Equalists are kind of over-simplified and there’s this unspoken assumption that, well, of course the benders would treat nonbenders totally fine if just the nasty Equalists would go away. But there are a few appreciated hints at a more complex world–for example, the bending crime gangs who attack and threaten non-benders. Unfortunately, they’re almost always stopped by benders (the metalbending police or the obviously-bending Avatar). Might do the show good to have just a few more scenes of good nonbenders beating evil benders… or at least have Korra come to the realization that benders truly can treat nonbenders badly, even when the Equalists aren’t a problem.

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