Another fortnight, another pony episode. I find it funny that I have so much to write about this. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m actively writing a My Little Pony FanFiction, and I’m following so many My Little Pony fanartists on DeviantArt. So I constantly have ponies on the brain.
Before I begin to talk about this week’s episode, I’d like to talk about one of my favourite background characters. She’s a mint green unicorn who likes cake, and hates it when a bug eats her cake.
She likes hay shakes and using backrests.
…and she’s way too happy!
…and her name is Lyra!!!
Oh…Okay, well…so much for that. Yes, the latest news rocking the My Little Pony fan community: turns out a background character doesn’t have the name we thought she had. The pony formerly known as Lyra is now called Heartstrings. Why this is shocking, I still don’t know. I don’t really think this is such a big deal, but people are acting as if this warrants a crusade, and I’m beginning to think this is endemic of a larger sociological problem. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
For starters, let’s talk about the name ‘Lyra.’ Given said character has a cutie mark of a lyre, and Lyra is a constellation of a lyre, that’s one hell of a coincidence. A pony get their cutie mark once they’ve learned what their unique talent is, which doesn’t happen very early in life. So, that means her parents would have named her Lyra, and one of either two things happened: a massive coincidence meant she loved playing the lyre, and got a cutie mark of it. Or, her parents forced her to play the lyre because they wanted her name to match her cutie mark. Like one of those parents who force their kid to play the violin. “You’re gonna play it and you’re going to like it!!!”
So that would be odd, it’s like if Pinkie Pie was actually named Balloons. So giving her a name that has little to do with her cutie mark makes a lot of sense. Besides, everyone knew ‘Lyra,’ like all fan-made names, was merely a placeholder. A name we could use to quickly and easily refer to a particular pony that otherwise didn’t have a name. But now she has a proper name, granted by the copyright holders. We no longer need to use the placeholder name, we can use the name dictated by an official source: Hasbro!
Here’s the problem: people are refusing to acknowledge the new name as legitimate. A few reasons have come up, the most honest being, “I’m used to calling her Lyra and don’t want to change.” Others include: “Only the show is canon, not the toys,” and “They are not the same pony at all.” Both of which I’d like to tackle now.
Let’s rank canon regarding a fictional story. First, would be the primary source, for instance, the Doctor Who television series, the Star Wars movies, et cetera. Followed by the supplemental materials that have gone through the copyright holder, like Doctor Who novels and audio dramas, and Star Wars novels and the fucking Christmas Special! This is also known as ‘Extended Universe.’ Last and most certainly least, shit the fans made up to fill in the gaps!
So, for instance, if a Doctor Who novel talks about the Time War, and said someone named Faccinon was the President of Gallifrey during that time, that would be acceptable as canon. Until The End of Time airs, which established that Rassilon was President of Gallifrey. So the official source trumps the secondary source. But if earlier, the fans decided that Romana was President of Gallifrey during the Time War, even with consensus, when that book is released (that establishes Faccinon as President), they would have to be out of their minds to say, “well it hasn’t been established in the TV show yet, so we’ll stick with Romana!” But for some reason, with regards to My Little Pony, this is exactly what has happened. The toys went through Hasbro, just like every episode of the show, which means they qualify as a secondary source, or ‘Extended Universe.’ Their word is much more official than yours.
But even if that argument made any sense, it falls apart when you realize that if they are ever to name the green pony in the show, it most certainly won’t be Lyra. Her name will be Heartstrings, because it’s likely Hasbro wants a certain level of consistency between the show and the toys. Remember, in this case, the toy company runs the show…literally. The show is merely a vehicle for promoting the toy line. If they want kids to buy the new Heartstrings toy, they might insist the writer’s name the pony that looks exactly like the toy, Heartstrings. They’re not idiots.
Of course, some have argued that it’s unlikely the character will ever be named in the show, so their name stands. I refer you to two paragraphs back, because I’m not going to rewrite that.
Now, I’m not saying the fans shouldn’t make things up. If there are a lot of gaps, it’s probably worthwhile to at least try to fill them. But don’t assume fan theories trump what has since come out of official sources.
Of course there has been another argument. “They’re not the same pony, they don’t look anything like each other. Heartstrings is a Twilight recolour.” Which is technically true. The only things they have in common is identical cutie marks, identical colour schemes (coat, mane, eyes), and identical horns. That could all just be a coincidence. Seriously? Okay, I’ll admit the mould they used for Heartstrings was the same mould they used to make Twilight and other similarly shaped unicorns. But think about it, if you were a toy manufacturer, would you really spend the thousands of dollars necessary to make a new mould for a toy that is unlikely to give you much profit? Or would you just change the colour of plastic in a mould you already have? As a business leader, I know what I’d pick. Now, as for the card that’s supposed to depict Heartstrings, which has the artwork of Twilight in a different colour. If they used the look she has in the show, it would only confuse the consumer. They would see artwork that looks nothing like the toy. They used different artwork out of necessity. Although I will admit, some may be confused anyway because the artwork used is of a darker shade than the toy. So…I’m not sure. They probably should have used the show’s artwork.
Let’s look at this honestly. If this Heartstrings toy was released when the show had just premiered, the fans would declare Heartstrings to be the green pony with a lyre on her ass. But because the name ‘Lyra’ sunk in so much, it has become holy dogma. Some people have been trying to negotiate a middle ground by saying Lyra is her first name and Heartstrings is her last name. But that doesn’t solve the problem I mentioned in the beginning. You want middle ground? How’s this: Lyra is her nickname. It came about like this:
[Heartstrings and Pinkie are at a restaurant eating pie. Twilight arrives]
Twilight: Hello, Pinkie!
Pinkie: Hey Twilight!? Want some pie!? [buries her face in the pie]
Twilight: Oh, and hello…umm…uh…er…[looks at Heartstring’s ass]…um…Lyra!?
Heartstrings: It’s Heartstrings you ass!
Heartstrings: I know it doesn’t match my coat or cutie mark, but it’s not that difficult to remember!
Pinkie: OOO! I like that!
Heartstrings & Twilight: What?
Pinkie: A nickname! [points at Heartstrings] Your nickname is Lyra!
Heartstrings: Uhhhhgh. [very sad]
There we go! That’s an argument you can make!
But as I’ve said, this is endemic of a bigger problem. I’m reminded of Christian apologetics. Which tries to rationalize Christian beliefs and criticize opposing views. Think of Intelligent Design. Of course it’s not like ponies are a religion…yet. But here’s my point: if we can’t agree on the name of a fictional character, how can we agree on how to fix the crap economy we find ourselves in. We get stuck in our dogma and can’t admit when we’re wrong. Now some argue the middle ground approach, and that doesn’t work. At least not in this case. As I mentioned earlier, how could her name be the same as her cutie mark!?
Wow, I’m 1,400 words in and I haven’t even started on the episode proper: Sisterhooves Social. Better make this quick.
First time we get to see someone’s parents outside of a flashback. That’s fantastic! Though I can’t tell if Rarity’s father is a unicorn or not, thanks to his hat. He should be, but if you think about it, it would be really cool if he was an earth pony. It’d be nice to see some interracial parents in this series! It would certainly explain why Fluttershy is so good with animals and has wings! It would also explain why Scootaloo can’t, or at least doesn’t, fly! They’re both half-earth-pony.
How can Sweetie Belle be so bad at cooking, and why doesn’t Rarity at least try to teach her? While we’re on the subject, why can’t Sweetie Belle use magic? I guess only older unicorns are able to, but has Rarity even tried to teach her little sister even a bit of magic? Like some telekinesis? She knows nothing!!!
You know, I wanted to say this is the first episode where Celestia is referred to in a god-like manner. “As Celestia is my witness…” But apparently this also happened during Bridle Gossip. So I guess I’m the idiot. I once thought that Celestia’s god-status was something the fans projected. But turns out I might be wrong. Though I doubt it. It could just be a cultural thing that has more to do with her royal-status and not her god-status.
Rarity freaking out over Sweetie Belle cleaning up her mess, I can understand, to a certain extent, but for entirely different reasons. She preferred the mess, I just don’t like people touching my stuff, and I’m also afraid they might accidentally throw out something important. I know some people prefer clutter and work better with clutter, but to freak out over it, seems a bit irrational. Just let the mess come back on its own Rarity, it’ll be fine.
Now, as for Sweetie Belle disowning her sister. Funnily enough, I’ve seen this happen before. I know someone who disowned her whole family. Changed her name and everything…anyway…
I guess Rarity was too busy focusing on the fact that Sweetie Belle glued gems to a sheet of paper to actually look at the picture she drew on it. But what bothers me is Rarity’s reaction to it. You can scrape the glue off the gems! It really shouldn’t be a big deal but she acts as if she needs to get a whole new set. Salvage what you can girl! There’s no need to buy things brand new if you don’t have to. If some of them were cut in half or ground to dust, I could understand.
Alright, spoilers! If you haven’t watched the episode…what the hay is wrong with you!? Get to it, because ahead are nothing but spoilers!
The skills Rarity showed during the race at the end were extraordinary. I’ll bet she trained with Applejack for a bit the night before. But even that wouldn’t explain the accuracy she had. Though I’d like to point out: who saw the final twist (that Rarity replaced Applejack)? I noticed it near the end, because the night before Rarity was saying she knew how to win back her sister’s love, then we don’t see her at all during the big event. So I figured she had to be somewhere, and I couldn’t see her so she must’ve been in disguise.
Though the revelation that the Apple sisters were in on the plot is not exactly how I would have written it.
[Rarity is revealed to have taken Applejack’s place]
Sweetie Belle: Where’s Applejack!?
Rarity: OH! [runs over to mud pit and dives her head in next to where a yellow tube is sticking out, she pulls out a tied up Applejack wearing a yellow snorkel]
Applejack: [spits out snorkel and coughs a bit] What the hay Rarity!?
Rarity: Well I wasn’t sure that you’d go through with the plan!
Applejack: Well great! Now, can you untie me now, so I can kill you!?
Though that might not have been as TV-friendly. I do find it odd that the character who freaks out the most with regards to dirt, ends up getting soaked in mud, and then shakes it off like it’s nothing. If she can do that, why did she ever freak out about it in the past!?
This is the first episode in the entire series that Twilight does not make an appearance in. I’ve said before that this was likely to happen, and I’m glad it did. Inserting Twilight into this episode would only have ruined it. She would have had no purpose other than to write the Aesop at the end. I’m glad she wasn’t there. The recent change in structure has given the writers more freedom, and that is certainly a good thing. But while we’re on the subject, is Spike now scribe for all six main ponies? If so, he’s going to be one busy dragon!
I’d like to close by talking about a few interesting revelations. Turns out Sweetie Belle doesn’t live with her sister, as some people assumed, she lives with their parents, which actually makes sense. Other revelations: Berry Punch (the new toy is called Berryshine, but that’s a unicorn), her daughter is actually her sister. She’s not an overprotective parent, she’s an overprotective sister. Also, Dinky Doo’s sister is around the same age as Derpy. Whom others have identified as her mother. Yeah, that’s unlikely. So basically what I’m saying is, turns out the fans are wrong on a lot of things. I wonder if they’ll try to lawyer that too!
Next week: a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode. Apple Bloom finally get’s her cutie mark, and then another and another. I have a feeling she’s been playing in the Poison Joke! Here’s what I think will happen: at first the other two will worry that this will divide their friendship. Something they never thought of before. Then they realize something else is going on…