Ink and Paint: Hypocrisy Is Magic
So I want to talk about MLP. I know, that way lies madness, especially since only the craziest parts of the fandom are online. Look, if I used that as my barometer, there'd be no blog, as the internet is Crazy Garden. But yeah, back to ponies.
To be precise, I'm talking about the Equestria Girls spin-off that's due to appear. By all indications, it's a movie that will naturally be accompanied by toys and not a series. At least not yet. Right now, it's a whopping 90 second preview. And those 90 seconds are all it took for whole swathes of the internet, including otherwise respectable creators, to declare it the worst thing ever, the most ugly thing ever, and the most sexist thing ever.
I think all of that is not only ridiculous but also incredibly hypocritical. First, let's address the worst thing ever charge. This is because of the perceived notion that the characters will be changed beyond recognition due to a change in appearance. The biggest selling point to me, the one that does lead me to recommend it, is that the characters are distinct, and so long as they stay fundamentally the same (i.e. Pinkie Pie is cheery & crazy, Rainbow Dash is a total ass, etc.), then what I feel is the basic core of the series & its greatest asset will be the same. The second thing is in the eye of every beholder, and while some of it is questionable (doggy Spike just looks rough), my years of reading the Legion & X-books leads me to like anything that has a casually technicolor population. But the one I really wanna address is that last one.
Smart people, including former creatives who worked on the series in the past, have decided that EQ is super sexist by virtue of the new humanoid designs. This I flat-out don't get. Like I said before, MLP has very varied personalities for its heroines, and so far that will remain the same according to the evidence. I've heard the few who bother to explain it site the plot (which to be fair, doesn't seem too inspired outside of the beginning from the trailer), the appearance of a single guy who is nice to Twilight Sparkle & thus must be her love interest, the decision to set it in high school, and the prevalence of skirts in the outfits. I can understand the first two complaints, but apparently I'm in the minority that still believes in "wait and see"; yeah, I'm as tired of forced romances & inexplicably popular bitchy girls as the next person, but this is MLP & there's probably more than meets the eye, since it is a world full of magic (and personally, I thought the guy looked like her brother). But those last two? First, since when is "high school" a girls' only domain? Is Wolverine and the X-Men also terribly sexist for being about a high school, by that logic? The mere setting is enough to have people writing it off now? And second, I thought that judging a female's appearance/worth/tastes/perceived personality strictly through dress was more sexist than merely wearing a skirt. In fact, isn't Rarity that whole lesson embodied, to not write off the traditionally "girly" as something bad like I've seen done here?
The hypocrisy is striking - what is okay and even praiseworthy when the characters are animals becomes awful & bad & regressive when attached to humanoid females. It's the same Goddamned thing, just in a new shape that's closer to our own. That even creators who wanted to improve things, who share the same goal of making girls' animation more than just pink-tinted preschool crap, are parroting complaints that run counter to their own past works is really disheartening. For all that MLP wants to believe it has made things better for female characters, it has instead shown that those improvements are not allowed for anything other than pastel critters. And not letting your heroines be human is more insulting than any tired popularity plot could ever be.