• Let's Review: G5 #4

    It's Pipp's turn in the spotlight! Something which she's more than happy to receive.

    But how real should our social media diva get? Find the answers, a review, and some spoilers after the break!

    Princess Pipp Petals. The social media one. The pony whom I find it hardest to understand due to–ironically–less screen time than the others. She didn't have a great deal of development in the movie, and even less in the Make Your Mark special. Her roles in Tell Your Tale have so far been limited to chasing the latest social media trend or running her musical salon. So as impatient as I feel to find out what's going on with Discord, I am curious to see where this story will lead us.

    So now she's spreading the word about Discord, but also describing
    what they're doing to stop him. An improvement!
    One aspect I'm already enjoying is the artwork. Trish Forstner really knows how to depict our newest equine generation, with plenty of angles and expressions. The aspect I enjoy most is how she's able to convey a relationship by panel spacing. Pipp and her mother may be in different cities, but their actions show how close they are emotionally. Conversely, Zipp and Pipp can be in the same room and yet feel much more distant.

    These are my favorite panels for the issue.
    Color-wise, however, there's a problem of Pipp getting swallowed up by the environment. Much of her room and other environments with which she interacts are rendered in violet and pink hues. Given her own coat and mane design, it's hard for her to stand out in such an environment. Consider this opening panel. I'm betting the first item that jumps out is the golden-framed clock on teh wall. It's the brightest element alongside Pipp's bed sheet. Pipp herself doesn't stand out quite so strong.

    My eye keeps getting pulled away towards the bed.
    That, or I'm just sleepy.
    Perhaps the idea is to convey how much time she's spending indoors while her excursion into Maritime Bay features a much more vivid array that helps her stand out. If that's true, I think it would help to add some brightness around Pipp and her computer. It could emphasize that while she's locked in physical isolation, she feels very connected through social media.

    So connected that she wants to share one of the most vulnerable moments in her life: being outed as a false flier. Pipp has built a brand around being bright, happy, and musical. Yet she feels the need to connect with her friends on a more vulnerable level. It's worth noting that even social media in MLP seems far more idealized that what we have. Compared even to the Equestria Girls holiday special, there are no harsh comments or anonymous users mocking Pipp. She doesn't have to contend with stalkers or drama hounds seeking to bring up dirt. The worst we'll see is a lack of metrics. I'll have plenty to say on that shortly.

    I don't think Cloudpuff is an "emergency hug" kind of dog.
    Unsure of her post, Pipp seeks out friend and familial advice. Her mother is the only consultant before Pipp starts typing, and the message is strong here. No matter what Pipp choses to do, she has her mother's full support and love. Perhaps the Queen is being a little too indulgent with her youngest, but I appreciate this depiction as it helps further distinguish her from her introduction. She's worried about this total honesty after having carried the big lie for so long, but she doesn't fight it either.

    Hard day for mommy too. She did jail time!
    Pipp then suffers the worst possible event: oversleeping. As a night owl myself, I don't mean that the act of getting some extra winks is a bad thing. But now she's interacting with her friends as individuals rather than a cohesive group. They aren't able to bounce ideas off one another or challenge their perceptions. It's one opinion at a time, often contradictory. It does, however, allow us to get some further insight into these characters.

    So is Sunny just asking about Discord while vending smoothies?
    Sunny is a big-picture pony. The problem being that she has difficulty focusing on or even recognizing other "smaller" issues. She may be running her smoothie cart but her mind is completely dedicated to Discord and the threat to the pegasus crystal. So the only advice she can offer is to go talk to Hitch.

    Still want to know if Hitch's dance got a remix online.
    Hitch's view is a bit like Queen Haven. He's not against change, but he's often a force that supports the status quo. Hence he's often enforcing the rules in Maritime Bay but faltering whenever something new comes up. He knows Pipp's brand and is hesitant to change things up. He's not actively discouraging Pipp, but he's not encouraging the change either.

    I find this both adorable and terrifying.
    I don't know if I'd want Izzy to look at me like that.
    That's where Izzy comes in. Her creative enthusiasm is enough for ten ponies. I'm not entirely sure where Pipp found Izzy working. There's very little context besides a window, so I guess we can rule out dumpster-diving. Izzy's all for the idea as a creative, but she's also the one giving voice to Pipp's biggest fear. Yet she's so swept up in her creative energy that she doesn't realize she's given Pipp a bigger reason to be nervous. As with Pinkie Pie before her, Izzy's presentation hinges a lot on how aware she is of the situation and the impact of her own actions.

    Zipp has an odd sort of boundary. Concerned for her sister,
    but still keeping distance.
    Which brings us to a pony who is all too aware of the impact of actions: Zipp. She's as cautious of her mother but not as inviting. There's an awkwardness between them as Zipp is actively trying to discourage this idea out of love. She doesn't want Pipp to get hurt and knows that a negative reaction from her fanbase will have a crushing effect. Yet she doesn't offer Pipp a place of refuge or support during this time. Instead, she wants to avert it completely. I appreciate this scene most of all because it shows an argument between sisters that isn't framed by world crisis. This is something uniquely personal and we get to see the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship.

    I've had a few mornings afternoons like this.
    With so many conflicting inputs, Pipp decides to go with the article. For a whole week, her only true feedback is to analyze the metrics. It's worth noting that at some point Cloudpuff returned to Martime Bay. Perhaps a goodwill message from Queen Haven or an emegency therapy source. Either way he's seemingly teleporting between locations.

    Is Cloudpuff imitating the Swedish Chef?
    This brings us to the metrics. Stupid, debilitating, misleading metrics. I've seen them in many forms. Quotas at work. K/D spreads in Halo. Audience surveys on YouTube. Cold, hard numbers that are meant to help focus in on strengths but often invite altered behavior to cheat the system. A worker can cherry-pick jobs that are easy and swift, boosting their work metric while letting the complicated tasks pile up. A gamer might actually hide for a whole match just to avoid dipping that precious K/D. And a like/dislike ratio hardly illuminates why a video succeeds or fails with connecting the audience. To be blunt, I haven't not yet seen metrics used in a way that doesn't turn self-destructive and undermine the very progress one wants to make.

    Silly Pipp. What happens on the internet is archived into infinity.
    So I appreciate that while Pipp is understandably discouraged by the lack of attention on her article, there is a single message that turns the whole event around. It is a very real feeling that a message from one person can mean more than a hundred negative metrics. At the risk of getting personal myself, it means a lot when people say my videos have helped them laugh or think or bond with family. That what we do on social media can extend and strengthen the lives of others. That's not something that can be expressed in metrics.

    This is a likeable side-story.
    Do read the comic for the full experience!
    There is also the potential for harm and misinformation spreading through social media. That a cruel post can dishearten both creator and fan. MLP has yet to set Pipp against the Internet's worst practices and I would like to see how she would combat a negative message spreading through the community. She does seem to believe in the best aspects of the medium.

    That moment when you form a connection beyond the numbers.
    In some ways this story further entrenches Pipp as the social media character. I don't know if we'll see many stories where a cell phone isn't always within hoof reach. But this does better define how Pipp expresses herself and the risks she's willing to take with a large platform. It also offers some insight into other characters and how they view the world and their place within it. A fun experience, but I'm grateful for the hook at the end that reminds us of the greater conflict.

    I haven't seen an antagonist be so clear with communication
    since Handsome Jack.
    Hopefully we'll start getting some answers next month. Until then, please let us know what you thought of the story in the comments. And just for fun: Who is a social media figure you find to be a positive experience? Could be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, whatever. Just someone who you think makes the world a little bit better with their posts.

    Uh, guys?
    You do realize you can see her IRL if you just open the door.
    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

    Silver Quill on Twitter