• Episode Followup - Fame and Misfortune: Meta Soup

    Borg here with the followup to a surprisingly controversial episode who some say attacks the brony fandom. I wouldn't go as far as to say 'attacks' but the tropes and lessons are real and at the same time the episode is real fun.

    Let's dive in!

    So before we begin I'll put out the moral lesson as I usually do. Now, this episode is loaded with lessons and tropes but bear with me. The episode points out within a few minutes the age old adage that you should not judge a book by its cover. Explained further, you shouldn't judge something or someone based on one angle or aspect. Arguably, the episode expands on this by seemingly calling out the Brony fandom as being guilty of being too critical and analytical of its characters, even to the point of missing out on the moral lesson involving friendship.

    So that's today's moral and theme: Don't focus on one point so much you miss out on the message, brought to you by real people with real emotions just trying to do the best job they can.

    To better appreciate this theme, I will proceed to over analyze this episode!

    Your meta has been served...

    Confident Princess of Friendship. What's interesting about this moment is what we learn from it much later. Throughout the episode, there is the criticism of the mane6's characterization. Twilight almost goes out of her way this episode to not be flawed in her title. We see her not only preaching the teachings of Friendship but succeeding as well. Most notable with these two..

    Meet Toola Roola. She may have a blind bag of her but I'll go over her interesting design in a couple screenshots. Super cute though.

    Let's meet her ex-friend..

    This is Coconut Cream who definitely has a blind bag of her. I'll talk about her more below too.

    This scene triggers me because who wastes ice cream like this. Like, do they not understand how sacred ice cream is?

    One of the major themes of the episode is pointing out how critical fans can be of the show's characters. One of the fandom's first judgments was actually not Friendship is Magic's characters, but those and the designs of those from older generations. G3.5: kill it with fire. Sound familiar? So it's interesting that they choose these two formerly G3 ponies (Toola Roola is in her 3.5 coloration) as the side characters in this episode in all their way-too-many-mane-color glory. Named by Twilight specifically so there was no doubt. These glaring exceptions to most G4 ponies are a blatant call back to that early criticism of MLP.

    Another thing to point out and you can say its reaching, but our G3 fillies are just that, fillies. Likely a subtle reminder that this is a show with younger viewers always in mind.

    Younger viewers or not. This whole episode will be telling you to chill. Like this guy...

    Nice shot Coconut. What does Twi think of this?

    It's so cold! As a dad with a newborn, I can appreciate how much it sucks to be covered in dairy products.

    You may not have noticed but this fully conjured shield is not spherical like every other shield we have seen thus far.

    I'm very okay with skipping the details and solution to this friendship problem. As I mentioned earlier it's nice seeing Twilight being an expert on friendship, able to solve a friendship problem. It really shows how far she's come...

    ...from the super nerdy scholar and librarian, we met all those years ago. On the other hoof, a pro librarian wouldn't need to take out eight books to find the one she wanted. What is Twilight up to?

    'I will now destroy Equestria with my giant book!'

    So this is pretty cool they brought back the Friendship Journal from Season 4 that was used, if you don't recall, to log the lessons learned by the Mane6 that ultimately lead to unlocking the power to defeat Tirek in Twilight's Kingdom. I can see why they point out repeatedly just how old the book is by now.

    As I mentioned earlier, in this meta episode, Twilight (the show makers) spout the idiom of "don't judge a book by its cover" which Starlight Glimmer (The fandom) chooses to ignore.

    Lol. Yes, Rarity. M. A. Larson does have his name on this episode. Rumors have it though that this episode was likely created from a recycled script that Larson wrote when he was still with the show and was altered drastically to fit into the season. It's not an uncommon thing in show biz.

    I guess we are still sticking with the "the book is the show" metaphor in which case the show just called itself "over ripe." Probably not the intention. I think it's literally over ripe...

    ...or literary over ripe. This book serves a quick reminder of the mane6's personalities: Applejack is all about her farm, family, and the Apples that bind them...

    Fluttershy is quiet and will do deeds of kindness in every little thing she does...

    Rarity needs the outside to look as good as the inside...

    And Rainbow Dash is intense. Also, AJ how do you do like the center fold mare?

    What about Pinkie?

    Pinkie is the pink party pony. Let's add an extra layer of meta in that even the Mane6 know a surprise Pinkie canon isn't actually a surprise. I like how this reaffirming of characterization was done using scene rather than exposition.

    Let's move on to Glim Glam solving all her problems with magic...

    This is how Glimglam did her homework as a filly...after Sunburst did his.

    The continuity this season has been amazing. This episode really has to draw on the full canon to pull it all off. Starlight talking about her "manifesto" is great. In case you've forgotten, the book she had to duplicate a ton of...

    ...was this lovely work of printing. Is this a reference to the fandom being sheeple? I bet not.

    Flashback over...

    As I just said, the references to past events are great. Daring Do and Cheese Sandwich.

    I love the idea of taking these books to print. I would have had them heavily edited to make more sense but hey, it's just a show.

    Now let me show off some neat book stands...

    So in a city built of clouds, are tent stalls considered more or less permanent?

    "See anything you like?"

    A Canterlot news stand. I wonder if Twilight talked to her friend Minuette back there. Let's build the marketing further...

    Their publisher went all out. Either that or Starlight is currently having an aneurysm after conjuring that many books. Let's check out the public reaction....

    Sales look good. A quick reminder of our cast of Ponyville foals.

    Nice playground. That's the same one Diamond Tiara helped build with the CMC. That was the same episode, Crusaders of the Lost Mark, where the CMC get their cutie marks. We'll see the CMC and their cutie mark plans in a sec. Also, Dinky's magic is getting stronger.

    I hope Twilight doesn't run out of books to give out before Diamond gets one.

    I hope these two fillies return in a later episode. Their voice actresses do a great job.  Twilight gives them a book as the second lesson of friendship. Needing more than one lesson; we'll see that again later in relation to Fluttershy.

    Another fun fact about Toola Roola: In G3 she was considered part of the Core 7. How fitting for her to play a supporting role to an episode about the Mane7.

    Spoiler Alert for an upcoming episode. Just skip this paragraph.

    So this is a cool bit of foreshadowing to an upcoming episode. A cutie mark crusading summer camp for foals. I think the fandom is starving for a CMC episode and I think this is a really cool idea. I have read a few fanfics that have roughly the same idea; create a summer camp for foals to try and earn their cutie marks. This episode should air the week before My Little Pony: The Movie premieres on October 6th.

    Meet the fans of the Mane6. Let's call them Journies, fan ponies of the Friendship Journal.  This is a tongue in cheek reference to when MLP staff first met bronies: A collective "Not sure if want". Also, what is with that bread and butter cutie mark. I guess collecting is his bread and butter.

    Well, what do these Journies want?

    Signatures for their collectibles. Who collects a hardback and then just puts in on the shelf in dust protectors?

    Oh. Right. I do. That's Princess Luna by the way. No, not on the cover of the book. The dog. She wouldn't get out of the way for the picture.

    Back to ponies...

    First, that's Peter New talking. I'll let that sink in. Second, this is when things really start to get crazy. Here, we have these ponies talking about Rarity as a bad character and specifically reference her role in Ponyville Days celebration; the MLP comic story arc for issues #30 and #31. With out spoiling it too much, Rarity wasn't really a protagonist in issue #30 so the ponies' comments are not unfounded.

    Update: Ponyville Days likely instead refers to Simple Ways, in Friendship Journal filled season 4, where Rarity was in charge of the theme. Funnily enough, Rarity was still facing off against Applejack here too. Thanks to those in the comments who comments who pointed out the flaws in my writing! The meta deepens!

    How does Rarity feel about this?

    Just a smidge upset.

    Whether the metaphor is alluding to show staff or show staff's work, some criticism can be too harsh, especially if we are talking about a family show. A lot of times writers or other show staff and even comic staff don't have the time to learn every facet of the show, its settings, and characters and some fans who live and breathe this stuff won't just call out a "mistake", but use unkind words to do so. It's neat that they reference something in the comics, going the extra mile to show the staff does try to build a complex and canonically sound world.

    So Rarity runs off sad, and Twi follows. What does Glimgilm do?

    Scary Glim Glam is scary. I'm surprised I see these ponies later as ponies and not orange frogs. We'll see later whatever 'chat' she had with these ponies failed to work.

    Let's get back to Twi...

    Remeber way back in 2012 when auto captions would offer little pieces of gold to giggle at when it got something wrong? I was reminded of this...

    Good times! Back to the present...

    Pinkie seems fine but she's about to lose it because absolutely everything she says is funny to these ponies. Pinkie is #HorseFamous now. Too bad she won't like it. Another fandom call out? Yes. This is a Misaimed Fandom trope where Pinkie is being admired through misunderstanding. I'll let a longer editorial explain it further.

    Let's check in with Rainbow Dash...

    DJ Shamrock's face as featured in Ponies the Anthology 6.

    "You don't want to disappoint your fans" That's a low blow. Fans should never try to guilt trip their idols. As lazy as RD can be, you can see very clearly she wants to get away and do her job moving weather back in place.

    Also, what is she doing controlling the weather? Is this the Wonderbolt's off season and she needs the extra cash? Just helping out because she's loyal? Or is she faking it to get away? All possibilities are likely.

    Flutters is next...

    Fluttershy backed into a corner by a bunch of ponies. In human land, Fluttershy would be reaching for a whistle. It's a shame the episode only shows, or has time to show, the negatives of fame or fandoms. There are a lot of positives. For another editorial though.

    Anyway, Purple Smart to the rescue...

    Is there not some taboo thing about unicorns using their magic to lift other ponies out of their way? Is magic tingly?

    "We're entitled to know!" Said every worst fan in any fandom. This is big part of the Fan Dumb trope we've been seeing thus far. Fans are not entitled.

    Let's take a look at some of these new ponies while I got them here. Starting from the left we can only assume is Glasses Half as in glass-is-half-empty; A large, possibly overweight pony, who is dirty and really loves some microwave pizza rolls; a 3rd whiny pony I can't really make the cutie mark out on who finds Starlight's magic extra tingly and runs off; and a freckled, spectacled, nerdy Crystal pony with an atomic model cutie mark.

    Back to them harassing Yellow Quiet...

    Fluttershy unloads with her spectacular point about not being able to change one's personality after just one lesson which really just falls on deaf ears. 

    Some fans don't know what to think when a character acts, well, out of character. That's really fair. Sometimes it may seem like it falls flat but other times it turns a "Spike Episode" into an enjoyable one. Please leave me your hate in the comments.

    Also, I love Twi's comment about everypony "missing the friendship part of the Friendship Journals." Never miss out on the moral lessons of show ya'll. That's why I point them out and explain them in my followups. 

    Let's check in on Rarity...

    She's doing fine. Everything is fine. I love Rarity's "stress sewing!"

    "No pony likes me anymore!" This will be my reaction after reading the comments to this followup.

    This is next level character hating here.

    I wonder how background pony is doing...

    Everything is also fine....

    'Oh hi Mark. I did not see you there.'

    Let's go check in on AJ's popularity...

    I want to imagine that Carrot Top is just laughing her plot off at all this.

    What is even happening here? Fluttershy no longer wants to be a tree...

    How my mother in law feels when she's taking care of my new born son...

    Basically, the Apple's iconic hospitality is being taken advantage of. Even Apple Bloom sees this sucks.

    Also, pony drinking glasses are dumb. They need koozie hats and bendy straws. Geez DHX animators. Get it right.

    See what I did there?

    When you get a selfie with Peter New at 2am...

    Oh I get it now. In reality, she's just a background pony with a few episodes that fell short of expectations. That's why the fans in Equestria think she's the best. Highlighting the opposite of what is true to prove a point. Alternative Applefacts.

    Applejack's reaction to these "yeehaw"s is likely a call to how uncomfortable Larson felt when everyone was saying "Thanks for the wings" to his face to every con he went to.

    Thanks for the script M. A. Larson...

    If I don't see that balloon at the next con I go to, I will be very disappointed. I need 2 dozen to deliver to Cereal Velocity...

    Do your ears hang low?

    I love this face. I make this face when trying to run conventions.

    When the vendor hall opens late at a con.

    You think Fluttershy would have some helpful hints for the girls avoiding fans and crowds from her stint as a fashion model.

    Yeah, I know what you're thinking: No one can love Twilight that much...

    Oh. Right. I can. Also, you know what I said earlier about Larson probably getting sick of people saying "thanks for the wings" to his face? That plushie in the back left, with the sign, sat on his shoulder while I grabbed a selfie. I have no shame.

    I love Pinkie just being Pinkie.

    Fluttershy will eat you Rarity. Even if she has to chew through the clown outfit of the emotions you're wearing.

    This face of repulsion. The face of Hasbro execs when they first learned of bronies all those years ago. Now they make us dope toys. Let me know in comments if you want more toy reviews.

    I haven't pointed out yet just how many hats Rarity is wearing. Also, I find it interesting, I don't think there has been an episode when the whole Mane6 have been this miserable nearly the whole episode. Oh, wait. Now I can think of one. It's when Starlight ripped off their cutie marks, imprisoned them, and replicated a few books for them to read. It's funny now when Glimglim is correct in saying its every pony else's fault...

    Let's check out everypony else who's at fault.

    Let me pause here for a second and say how ridiculous I felt, a fandom editorialist, who oft times too deeply analyzes a show full of ponies, as I was about to analyze a fictional pony editorialist who was too deeply analyzing the same ponies. So I'm not going to. I won't play your meta game.

    Moving on...

    "Your character would have been much more interesting if she stayed in Canterlot" Oh wow that was really meta.

    Also, I want that Rainbow Dash hat.

    "We are real ponies!" This is about to break me. Also, Fluttershy will never hug you.

    Should I feel bad for wanting to punch a pony in the face? Good job Peter.

    "Twilight was better before she got wings." Yes, Larson did write the first version of this script.

    "Are Pinkie Pie and Applejack related, or what?!" The reaction of all the ship fic writers when faced with the dread of having a kinky twist added to their ApplePie plots.

    I'll point out the Death of the Author trope should be considered. Writers can't also supply an interpretation to their creation. Interpretations are for the consumers of the creation. Works that come with their own interpretations are called textbooks.

    Calling out a fandom for taking things too far is one thing but they wouldn't dare not put Lyra and BonBon together.

    Yeah I'm gonna call BS on Twilight acting like this with a book face down on the ground like this. Think of the spine! She is way out of character here. She would freak out.

    See what I did there?

    Yay song! We've been missing these this season and this is why.

    Sing along if you'd like...

    "♫ We're not flawless, we're work progress "

    I'd ship it.

    My ego is also the size of a whale.

    A whole song about the mane 6 pointing out their flaws. Really on the nose.

    I have been glomped like this before. Also, this song is really catchy.

    This is very Pinkie. The song is trying to point out that flawed characters are the only ones worth making entertainment about.

    Get it? She came out of her shell? I don't know how I feel about that.

    I wouldn't ship this.

    Gah! It's like they are trying to make me criticize the episode! Notice the animation error on her face? No, I see what they're doing. They are trying to goad me into saying something too analytical because if I do it's proved their point! I'm onto you!

    Starlight did good. As I mentioned before Twilight was successful as a Princess of Friendship even if Starlight had to rub her nose in it. And Twi is right that for better or for worse it takes only a couple of people to tell you, genuinely, that you are doing a good job to make you keep at it.

    The end. The crowd is still mobbing around but yeah, screw them, right?

    To take a step back it's not just MLP show and comic staff that have to deal with overly harsh critics, exuberant super fans and everyone in between. Any creator of anything, art, music, shows, comics, acting, editorials, can be faced with these same issues. Even us Blogponies get people who trash talk us or our work and sometimes we get perfect strangers who come up to us and act like they've known us our whole lives.

    Some people get paid to create and some do it for the passion and a lucky few get to do it for both. I write for a pony blog, run pony conventions, got engaged and married at pony cons, and own over $10,000 of pony merchandise and I'll agree with this episode; Don't take it so far that you make someone uncomfortable.

    Copy/paste your pre-written reviews, disqus, criticize and tell us about what you thought about the episode below. Also, let me know what you thought of the followup.

    I'll see you next week.