• Editorial: The Cutie Mark Crusaders: What Now?

    Congratulations, you three.

    It finally happened. After nearly five seasons of searching and exploring, the Cutie Mark Crusaders have acquired their cutie marks! “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” was a very emotional episode, since the group shared the spotlight along with Diamond Tiara. Once Diamond was finally redeemed, it seemed like a homage to the first episode, where Nightmare Moon suffered the same fate.

    We as a fandom have watched these three fillies meet and discover the value of friendship both within themselves and the ponies they helped. Their adventure reminds me of a parent watching their child grow, or watching your own brother or sister struggle with the same problems that you faced. Now that they have found their special talent, we can see them approach new problems, much like Princess Twilight has when she got her wings. Let’s talk about the Cutie Mark Crusaders after the break.

    The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Cutie Mark Crusaders is how relatable they are as characters to people in the fandom and those around me. Everyone in the fandom has their favorite Cutie Mark Crusader because much like the Main Six, the four fillies are both a team and individuals. It might seem self-explanatory, but characterizing individuals that are usually teamed up and work as a team can be difficult since you inherently split the normal characters that they interact with. A lot of people bring up Applejack as an example. Banter between main characters is easier to write because each character masks or props up the other’s opposites or character “flaws”.

    But as we’ve seen from the CMC’s individual episodes, the problems and fears that they faced were inherent to their eventual goals and desires. But there can be some correlations drawn. Sweetie Belle doesn’t fear looking “awesome” in front of Rarity, but she does want to spend quality time with her sister. Neither Apple Bloom nor Sweetie Belle have to deal with being “disabled” like Scootaloo, but they can empathize with her because every other filly (minus a few outliers) has their cutie mark, which they can consider to be their own form of being disabled. I can go on, but the point stands that children characters are extremely hard to write because you have to give them relatable problems, but also not infantilize their roles.

    We discussed this previously in my Spike editorial, where I pointed out that Spike’s child-like honesty was one of the most interesting yet underused parts of his character. That type of honesty is incapable of being realistically portrayed by any of the more mature characters, simply because of their age and all of the intricacies that come with that (societal norms, knowing more about the world, etc). But it’s still honesty, a more mature trait in a form that sometimes shows that the child can be more mature than the adult.

    With the CMCs, their problems were relatable to the Main Six because they used to struggle with such problems, or the CMC’s problems are comparable. All of the Main Six struggled for a cutie mark, but Twilight can also empathize due to her struggles with becoming a Princess. Rainbow Dash could empathize with Scootaloo’s fear of being lame in front of her, because Rainbow feels the same way about the Wonderbolts. Yes, the CMCs are essentially children/teenagers who are facing problems of lower stakes than the Main Six, but it didn’t feel that way because of how they were written. When a problem has gargantuan stakes to the character, their fear and overreactions can raise something simple to one with high priority. “Lesson Zero” or “Call of the Cutie” are perfect examples.

    What a wonderful way to celebrate their five year anniversary.

    Now that the CMCs have their cutie marks, I’d argue that they aren’t going to change much, either as individuals or a group. I’ve seen a lot of doomsayers lamenting the death of their individuality or claiming that they are going to be indistinguishable from the Main Six. For one, we don’t really know until new episodes come out (which is honestly the bane of any argument), and two, we’ve been through this situation before with Twilight becoming an alicorn. Those who said that Twilight was going to become uninteresting or a Mary Sue were proven wrong once Season 4 came out. She simply had different problems or problems with bigger stakes, but they still focused on responsibility and her own individuality.

    The CMCs don’t have to stay as a group just because their cutie marks indicate it, because cutie marks in general are malleable. A cutie mark has been somepony’s destiny and special talent (either to their benefit or chagrin), and the lack of one has meant nothing within the CMCs context because all of the adventures they went through had shaped their personality more than the sudden appearance of one upon their flanks after five seasons. Suddenly getting a cutie mark doesn’t completely change the character apart from how excited they are at that exact moment. Neither does it completely lock the three into being a group considering the Main Six have their individual adventures when they aren’t using the Cutie Map.

    It’s been more than five years since we first saw the Cutie Mark Crusaders cowering under a table in the "Pilot". I’m glad that they have finally acquired their cutie marks after so long. Admittedly, it wouldn’t be long before their episodes would start to feel insubstantial if they would never get their marks, but Amy Keating Rogers hit a home-run on an episode that definitely mattered. The CMCs as a group would have gotten stale without this episode. Now that their arc as a group has been completed, we still have their individual arcs as well as whatever is in store for them as a group. There’s a lot on the horizon for them, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

    That’s about it for this editorial. Thank you very much for reading. I leave you all with this question: what do you think is on the horizon for the Cutie Mark Crusaders, both as a group or as individuals? Will we see the trials and tribulations of the daredevil Scootaloo, singing Sweetie Belle, and soon to be farmer Apple Bloom? Let me know what you think in the comments. I’ll see you all next time.