Derpy Shot First!: The Derpy retcon and “Putting Your Hoof Down” review

Okay, okay, okay. It turns out I’m prone to making mistakes. A month ago, I wrote about the Derpy controversy on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where Ponyville’s resident lazy-eyed pegasus, appeared to be getting retconned out of existence. In the end I determined that despite the fears of the fans, there probably wasn’t much to worry about.

Turns out I might have been wrong on that.

You see, a week ago, Hasbro pulled, what I call, a George Lucas. Which basically means they altered a scene in an already released episode as part of an elaborate retcon. What was this retcon? The re-characterization and renaming of Derpy.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice three major changes: first, Rainbow didn’t call the girl ‘Derpy’; second, her eyes are no longer pointed in different directions; and third, her voice completely changed.

Of course we all know why. A few people were upset at Derpy’s portrayal, because she was retarded mentally handicapped. There is not a big enough face or palm that could accurately respond to that.

See, there are a two problems with this: First off, it’s bullshit! She’s not actually mentally handicapped! She’s just clumsy with a lisp and a serious ocular problem!!! You want to know how I know she’s not mentally handicapped? Because the writer of the episode, Amy Keating Rogers, has a son who’s mentally handicapped! Why would she write a story that’s insensitive to those with this disability when her own son has it? It’s like someone making fun of an amputee after their own child was in a car accident where they lost their legs! It doesn’t happen!

Secondly, even if it was true…so what!? Is it really a bad idea to have a character who’s disabled!? Must everyone be normal!? This is bullshit! Plus, cutting that aspect of the character is what should be offensive to these people! Imagine you’re a kid who’s mentally handicapped, and you see a character on a TV show that’s just like you. Then people start complaining about it. Saying it shouldn’t be this way, and the character needs to be changed and normalized. What would that tell you?

It’s a terrible message to send, and that sentiment is being echoed throughout the fan community. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and point out that little has actually changed. The character herself didn’t change. She’s still a klutz. The only real change was in name and voice, which, if you think about it, is actually appropriate.

Originally, the voice actor for Derpy thought she was voicing a male character. One would think they would get a picture of the character they are voicing, but whatever. So changing the voice is probably a good thing, I don’t know. But here’s one thing that I know for certain is a good idea: cutting her name.

I never liked the name. It never sounded any good. They took a name the fans came up with, and the fans are not very creative. Okay, some are, but as a collective, they aren’t. As a collective, they come up with the stupidest ideas.

The pony with a lyre on her ass? Call her Lyra. The pony who looks a bit like the Doctor on Doctor Who? Call him Doctor Whooves. The pony with the derp-eyes? Call her Derpy. The blue pony with notes on his ass? Call him Blues. Oh, we are so clever.

By the way, if you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic. Those are all stupid ideas. Of course it’s true that only one person probably came up with it, it’s likely they just shared the first thing that came into their head, and everyone else said: “Yeah, sure, whatever…” In case you haven’t noticed: “The internet is almost diametrically opposed to the notion of quality control.” – Yahtzee.

But it get’s worse. According to at least one source, the word ‘Derpy’ can mean ‘retarded’…yes, I was surprised too. So it was probably a really good idea to cut it.

Why did they even decide to use that name? Well according to Rogers, her official name was originally Ditzy Doo, this should surprise no one since Lauren Faust once mentioned making both characters one in the same, but someone asked Rogers to change the name to Derpy as a ‘tip of the hat’ to the fans. Obviously that was a bad idea.

Now, this did not kill the character, as some might think. I know it would make for great headlines if it did, but really, nothing changed regarding characterization. The only thing that changed was the name, the voice, and the eyes; and one can easily assume her eyes, while sometimes fucked up, aren’t constantly fucked up, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to fly or even walk. Forget clumsy she’d be completely useless, virtually blind.

Back onto complaining, the performance itself is half-assed. In the original cut, Ashleigh Ball (Rainbow Dash) and Tabitha St. Germain (Derpy) both put some effort into their performances. A lot of effort in fact! It was fantastic! But for the re-edit, both the characters sound so phoned-in. Obviously they were rushed in and didn’t really care about their performance. In fact, it’s likely for Derpy’s new voice, they just picked some intern at the office and put a microphone in front of her instead of bringing Tabitha back. Not only that, the lip syncing is way off; and when she says, “my bad,” it’s cheerful! Guilt shouldn’t be cheerful!!!

I like the original performance, not to sure on the voice, I’m on the fence about the voice, but the original performance was most certainly better. Why’d they even bother redoing Rainbow’s lines? That doesn’t seem necessary. Cut out the one word if you must, but there’s no need to re-record such a fantastic performance.

Also, as I said a month ago, they are doing it for such a stupid reason, but like any company, they probably want to avoid controversy. This kind of thing can cost them money, which would piss off the shareholders. I don’t like their reasons, but I understand it.

Oh well, at the end of the day it could be worse. After all, there is some good news: apparently, future episodes will not be affected in any way, and this change was made exclusively to the iTunes release. I’m told the version on the Hub website is unchanged, which I can’t confirm because I can’t find the video and I’m in Canada, which is likely blocked; and the recently released DVD, The Friendship Express, is also unchanged, though that’s likely only because they were shipped out before the change was made. I actually went out and bought the DVD on Friday for fear that future cuts of the disc will be edited. I was originally planning on saving my money for a full season box-set, but I’m not willing to take the risk now. It could become a rare collector’s item.

I’d like to point out that despite what some have said, this certainly wasn’t merely Apple’s doing, even though I would be more than willing to put the blame on that shitty company, it could only be Hasbro’s doing. Apple doesn’t have a studio to redub the scene, so the work had to have been done at Hasbro, or DHX.

You know, a week ago, when the news first broke, I was pretty pissed. But now, I just don’t care. I’ve had time to realize it really isn’t that big a deal. The character didn’t change, not really, just some inconsequential minutiae changed. Who really cares?

Now, can we please stop overreacting to this and get on with our lives!? …and by ‘lives,’ I mean ‘new pony episode’!!!

First off, this weeks episode aired at 13:00 (1 pm for you foolish mortals) instead of 10:00 like it normally does. Which annoyed me a bit, but isn’t really worth making a fuss over. I guess the change is due to the fact that the episode used to air at 7:00 on the west coast, when no one was awake. Anyway, on to the episode.

This week, a former B-plot from the season one episode, Sonic Rainboom, gets its own episode as Fluttershy learns to stop being such a pushover.

The episode opens in Fluttershy’s cottage, as she’s feeding all her little animals, including Angel, who refuses to eat, and he’s one hell of a drama queen about it, saying a cucumber will kill him. He refuses the kibble, which I don’t blame him for, and then refuses to eat the salad that Fluttershy appears to have prepared for herself. He wants a complex gourmet salad with oranges, pineapples and a cherry on top. Would you like her to suck you off too you ungrateful git!?

An error I noticed in the cold open: Fluttershy refers to all her little critters as ‘everypony.’ None of them are ponies!

Anyway, Fluttershy agrees to make the gourmet salad for him, instead of doing what I would do, which is tell him to starve to death instead. So she heads to the market, where everypony begins to trot all over her. See, turns out every town has its assholes, even Ponyville. Rarity and Pinkie Pie witness this bullshit, and decide to intervene, trying to get her to stand up for herself.

What shocks me is that they actually use the word ‘doormat.’ Which is apt, but still surprising to hear on a kid’s show. Don’t ask me why, I just think it is.

Her friends demonstrate for her, as they manage to help her get her produce through flirtation and deception. Though I don’t agree with their reasoning. When the tomato salespony says she recently upped the price, Pinkie tricks her into selling them for the old price. Which is probably a bad idea. It’s the salepony’s right to up the price if she wants. It’s called inflation, it happens.

Then they go for the cherry, there’s only one for sale, and when she mentions how important it is that she get the cherry, he decides to jack up the price ten-fold. Fluttershy responds by trying to replicate what Rarity and Pinkie did earlier…badly. Who would have thought Fluttershy was bad at flirting? Everypony in town should be easily smitten by her.

Anyway, somepony else buys the cherry for two bits leaving Fluttershy without. So she tries to make the salad without the cherry, and Angel responds by throwing it out the window. I would respond by throwing him out the window, but Fluttershy’s much nicer than me.

As she runs outside to catch the salad, she hits her mailbox and a bunch of letters fall on her head, including an ad for a self-help seminar by Iron Will, the Minotaur. See, this is your first sign he’s full of shit. He runs a self-help seminar. Anyway, Iron Will claims to teach ponies to stand up for themselves, which you wouldn’t think would be such an in-demand field. Yet it is.

Once again, a character uses the phrase “As Celestia is my witness…” and I still don’t like it. I hear it’s a reference to Gone With the Wind, which doesn’t surprise me. I loved that film!

Fluttershy arrives at the seminar and her timidity causes her to be brought on stage to be given a personal training session, because if she can learn to stand up for herself, then anypony can.

He gives a money-back guarantee if anypony is not completely satisfied. Actually, the way he phrases it, you don’t pay unless you are completely satisfied, which makes me think, “Oh, he operates by donation.”

Iron Will, who sounds a lot like Hulk Hogan, operates in catch phrases like: “Never apologize when you can criticize.” Now, I’m a huge fan of criticizing people, but that just makes you sound like an asshole.

The next day, Fluttershy practices Iron Will’s techniques, and basically acts like a bitch to everypony. At first it seems appropriate when one pony talks down to her, and another two block the only bridge into town with their giant carts. I really like it when she kicks the carts that appear to be full of trash, right on top of them. It’s hilarious. Then she tells someone off for cutting in front of her, and everyone else in line decides to get behind her out of apparent fear.

So, Fluttershy arrives a Sugarcube Corner where Pinkie works, and for some reason, Rarity is with her, which is something I don’t understand. It would make sense if Rarity was just in line, but for some reason, she’s behind the counter.

At this point it’s revealed that Iron Will’s techniques worked too well. When Pinkie Pie begins laughing for no apparent reason, as she normally does. This is Pinkie being normal, which is something Fluttershy should recognize. Instead she assumes Pinkie is laughing at her, and kicks a bowl of punch onto her head. Then she goes outside and beats up a stallion over a taxi!

The next day she continues to beat ponies up over the most trivial shit, like accidentally misdelivering mail, and asking for directions right before she accidentally drops a letter in a puddle.

Pinkie and Rarity once again witness this and confront her on it. Fluttershy responds by disparaging their talents. Rarity’s fashion and Pinkie’s parties. Calling them frivolous and saying they’re throwing their lives away, causing them to cry. It’s a great scene in my opinion because it’s at this point Fluttershy realizes she’s gone too far and locks herself up in her cottage, for fear that she’ll do or say something she’ll regret.

I noticed I hate callbacks on this show, they don’t feel right…ever. I’d like to point out that a callback isn’t the same as a reference to continuity, which is something I do enjoy.

Pinkie and Rarity come back to try to talk Fluttershy down, but she refuses to come out. I love Pinkie in this scene, because much like Rainbow Dash, she’s brutally honest. At this point Iron Will arrives to acquire his consulting fee from Fluttershy. They try to get him to leave, and he mentions he could come back later, after he’s done his grocery shopping. I’m suddenly very scared.

Then Fluttershy sneezes, breaking her cover. She emerges and refuses to pay because she wasn’t completely satisfied, as per the guarantee. I wish she explained exactly why. It would have made a great ending instead of the traditional letter to Celestia.

Iron Will is shocked at this because it’s unprecedented, and he walks away. I like this because it appears as if the student exceeds the master, and he doesn’t realize it. Fantastic end to the episode, as Fluttershy learns moderation…finally!

Next week, Twilight time travels! I assume the Tenth Pony-Doctor will be involved. If he’s not, I’ll be sorely disappointed.


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