• Editorial: Theories of Magic: Hopeless Magic

    While there are numerous times throughout the series where we notice a distinct fading of a character’s color, Rainbow Roadtrip is the first episode/movie/special that turned the fading into a plot point. We also got the name for this effect: Hopeless Magic.

    This, of course, got me wondering; What is Hopeless Magic and what are its properties? Can any feeling of hopelessness change a pony’s color? Does Hopeless Magic do anything else? Is it too late for me to change careers?

    Wait . . . Let’s talk Hopeless Magic!

    What is Hopelessness in Equestria?

    The mane 6 visit a town that seems completely devoid of most color. It’s said to have been caused because all the pony folk in town lost hope in each other.

    It’s not exactly clear what their hope in each other was (maybe to be neighborly or connected) or why they quit having the hope suddenly, but regardless the pony’s lost hope and thus color.

    Hope is one of those concepts that each person defines differently. And though I hope to spurn a philosophical discourse on exactly what Hopelessness in Equestria is, let’s set our working definition as:

    The mistrust that a desire will come true.

    These ponies had the greatest town; the treasure at the end of the rainbow, and it was their friendships.

    They did just bump into him without saying sorry, so maybe his anger is justified. 
    Somehow these ponies lost the ability to trust in that. They didn’t talk to each other or when they did they assumed it was simply for selfish reasons.

    Again we don’t know what caused this, but in losing hope in their community the town lost the ability to truly express themselves as well.

    The mayor believed that the festival rainbow would restore everypony’s kindhearted nature, but instead, the failed festival just solidified everyone’s newfound skepticism.

    Without the possibility of connection and friendship, restoring the towns former glory was hopeless; even if they did have a really cool light show.

    Hopeless Magic Properties and Trigger

    Look at that personality completely unaffected by a change in pigmentation.
    Hopeless Magic (HM) seemed to only drain the colors from the residence, it didn’t alter their state of mind. Ponies were still themselves, it was their emotional hopelessness that prevented them from reaching out to each other, not the HM.

    In other words, the magic didn’t ruin their trust in friendship, they had done that on their own and the magic responded to it. HM is activated when a pony loses trust in their abilities or friendships more than in their situations.

    It’s the little moments that show the greatest character depth.
    Rarity in Canterlot Boutique faded realizing the practical implementation of her dream would never let her connect to her customers or create again, which is important to her identity. (Of course, none of that was true but she thought it was and that’s all that mattered.)

    If a pony can't do what they were meant to do and share that with others, they fade.

    If only Sunny Skies knew all hope was lost before assuming it was all his fault. 
    HM seems to be a neutral party in all respects. It doesn’t harm, it doesn’t really help. It just shows up as a result of hopeless feelings linked to relationships but not really circumstances.

    You may be a failure/about to die, but you're still able to be you. And that's what counts? 
    It’s also worth noting that HM doesn’t always appear during sad moments. As long as a pony doesn’t lose hope in who they are or their friends, not even the prospect of imminent failure activates hopeless magic.

    What is Hopeless Magic?

    To never be able to be yourself is pretty hopeless.
    Losing trust in safety and freedom may seem to trigger the fading response, but I’d like to offer the idea that HM is the loss of self-actualization; a damaged relationship with self.

    If a pony can't connect to who they really are because of a situation, the hopeless feeling about their self might bring about HM.

    Hopelessness as a state of being causes a gray effect that can grow worse. When a pony is completely cut off from their full potential, HM works in tandem to other issues they have.

    The Discorded 6 were disconnected from the element of their true personalities. As AJ explains when she gets her mind back, she started lying because she was scared of the truth; telling the truth being important to who she is.

    Likewise, the mean 6 were only the negative parts of the mane 6 and thus could never hope to be anything more than incomplete.

    When a pony can’t reach their full potential or live up to their cutie mark, HM will be there. Which begs the question:

    Is Hopeless Magic Dangerous?

    Ponies didn't need their work for years, why now?
    We don’t see much evidence that HM is life-threatening now in Equestria, but there’s a hint that it might be dangerous. I think that’s why the CMC exist the way they do. They help pony’s figure out their full potential and thus combat HM.

    You can't look at all the optimism in this picture and say Hope's not important to Harmony. 
    Hope was necessary for the Tree of Harmony to grow. Hope is vital to friendship.

    Without hope in relationships, ponies wouldn’t build friendships at all. Without any relationships, relationship-based magic wouldn’t work.

    Theory: Assuming most Equestrian magic is relationship driven, there wouldn’t be much magic left in Equestria. Ponies would potentially lose their ability to control the weather, earth, and celestial bodies.

    "No More Shall Anypony Say, Happy Hearth's Warming!"
    Even though HM is presented as neutral, perhaps in the past it wasn't. Windigos supposedly feed off arguments, but those disagreements couldn't exist if the hope of friendship was around.

    In the ep A Hearth's Warming Tail, ponies imagine Windigos even in their literature simply because a tradition that builds relationships might vanish.

    Not connecting is cause to feel in danger!

    Being hopeless is awful no matter how you define it or what it looks like. The movie was a great reflection of just how subtle hopelessness can be.

    It’s not always easy to spot because it isn’t just one feeling. Losing hope doesn’t always happen all at once. Rainbow Roadtrip was about how a town paused to remember who they are as a community and drawing closer together. That's what ended their hopelessness.

    Hopelessness is such a large concept, no one post could do it justice. So, what do you think Hopeless Magic is?