Chapter 7, Part 1: The Canon World of MLP
(Please note that any images used in this post are by the artists listed. They are placeholders and I hope to have art expressly drawn for this book to replace these images. If you are interested in submitting something, please see this post.)
SPOILER WARNING! THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS CONTENT THAT IS IN THE SERIES.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, WATCH THE SERIES NOW!
The World of My Little Pony, as seen by fans
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has been set up as a “this is how it is, deal with it,” sort of universe. The setting is not normal, as the ponies control the weather, the seasons, and even the orbits of the sun and moon. Ponies have varied types of magic that change based on a their talents. Still, Bronies ask many questions about these topics. The questions serve as fodder for the creativity of these fans and countless hours have been waned away discussing the nuances of a world meant to be simple, but its simplicity is unacceptable to complex adult minds. Some basic questions include:
Are talents determined at birth?
Although episodes have described how some ponies got their cutie marks, it appeares that ponies discover their talents (which they may or may not have been aware of) at puberty. Bronies still argue about whether or not talents lie dormant before puberty, however. Their talent discovery and cutie mark appearance are celebrated with a cutecanera.
Are there deities?
In the show, the two princesses, Luna and Celestia, who control the Moon and Sun, are treated almost as such. The show’s creator, Lauren Faust, once said that Celestia was meant to be a queen. However mainly due to the negative stereotype that Disney movies have given queens and the desire to please the “target” audience of little girls, the queen was instead named a princess. Besides she and Luna being the only known Alicorns in Equestria, their power over the heavens appears to give them the respect of royalty, if not gods. In the show, many ponies swear on Celestia’s name, as humans would to give an oath to their god. While religion is not overtly mentioned, and because the ponies take care of their own seasons, it is logical to conclude that there is no such thing as religion in My Little Pony. There also is no stereotyping or prejudice based on hair color or type of pony, although Pegasi do sometimes stay aloft in their Pegasus-only accessible Cloudsdale, and the races were separate tribes once upon a time.
How is their society structured?
There is a class structure in the world of My Little Pony. There is the ruling class: the elite and ‘noble’ class that lives in Canterlot; an upper class that lives in cities such as Manehattan; a middle class for the likes of Ponyville; the farming class which lives out in the sticks like Appleoosa; and a lower working class, as was seen tinkering with the rainbow works in Cloudsdale. The ability to save ‘bits’ to amass wealth can change classes for ponies, such as what happened to Diamond Tiara’s grandfather, Stinking Rich. Still, others can argue that ponies choose where they want to live, regardless of personal wealth.
Other similarities to the human world include the existence of celebrities and high fashion. There are spas for those that wish to indulge, though the mane cast does go to said spas somewhat frequently. I would argue that perhaps Rarity can afford it, what with being able to find jewels whenever it strikes her fancy.
What is Ponyville like?
Ponyville itself has everything that a normal town does. It has a school, mayor, offices, bakeries, shops and so forth. In fact, fans have actually mapped out the entirety of Ponyville based on what has been shown in the episodes. These maps have been used in the bases for video games that some fans are developing.
This brings me to yet another reason that Bronies love this show. The world is open. While, the basic areas of Equestria have been shown, beyond the borders of the show fans can create new settings, scenery and experiences. They can write stories about these new worlds, or about how the main characters would react in certain situations. Bronies also write stories about their own original characters in the world of pony, keeping in mind the basic setup which I just outlined. These stories are considered My Little Pony fan fiction, or fanfics for short.
Fan fiction is nothing new. Since there have been stories, there have been other people that have taken those story characters and put them into new settings, where they would meet new characters and go on adventures that weren’t done in the original context of the book / show / etc. Pony fan fiction shares these traits, just like any other fandom out on the Internet. Every genre of story imaginable has been written into a pony story, from cheerful adventure to sad tales of misfortune or disaster.
As I previously alluded to, Bronies have written their idea of the history of canon characters, often called their ‘backstories’. For example, Lauren Faust stipulates that the princess sisters have been ruling for thousands of years. Bronies wanted to answer even more questions about that, such as: What happened during that time? What happened to cause them to fight? What did Discord do to them? Why did Celestia have to banish Luna to the Moon? Why did Luna become Nightmare Moon anyways? And what happened when she returned to earth,and was subsequently defeated by the Elements of Harmony? How did she adjust back in pony land, after being on the moon for 1000 years? What did she do on the moon for 1000 years? Etc.
All these questions have answers, as stories written by the fans. Of course, some stories portray the characters in different ways, and there can be different pony personalities depending on who wrote it. The joy and disappointment of My Little Pony still being aired is that the show can canonize answers to these questions as the season progresses, which can completely annul ideas that Bronies created in their fan fiction (fanon).
For Luna, the general fan fiction (and fan art) consensus was that Luna was a very sad, shy pony. Then in season two, the episode “Luna Eclipsed” was announced. The Brony fandom held its collective breath. The show was about to take a character that had been fully fleshed out in stories and show to bronies what was officially ‘Luna canon’. The fanon, or fan based ideas, could be thrown out the window; our ideas of the quiet princess of the night could be officially bashed to bits. Thankfully, whether by accident or through carefully thought-out scenes, Luna showed many of the traits that fans desired her to have – from haughty and royal to shy, outcast, and uncertain as how to proceed in this new world. In general, her characterization in the show was approved of. If the episode writers took the Bronies seriously and developed her character slightly based on the power of the herd, they are to be lauded.
Another example of the canon transformation is with the character of Derpy Hooves. She was embraced because of her silly expression in episode one. Jayson Thiesen, the supervising director, noticed that the fans did appreciate her, and he encouraged the animators to continue the ditzy / Derpy expression on her. From then on, seemingly every time Derpy Hooves was in the show, she had a new trait added to her fan stereotype. At first she was just silly. Then, she said ‘muffins’. She was then a muffin loving pony. Then she was seen delivering furniture, and she became a muffin obsessed, crazy delivery pony. Fans carried the delivery concept, and made Derpy into a mailpony who carried a satchel of mail about with her. Due to her cross eyed nature, fans have varying perceptions of her mental state. She is anything from normal to silly to mentally handicapped. In season 2, Derpy Hooves made a cameo in Luna Eclipsed, as well as having an appearance in nearly every season 2. Due to that, some Bronies now call her the show’s “Where’s Waldo.” Then (to add to this long story) in The Last Roundup, Bronies were pleasantly surprised to see and hear Derpy Hooves in her first speaking role. She was a bit shy, clutzy and slow, but it fit the character well. The fandom rejoiced.
Non-pony entities can also become the subject of Brony fiction. For example, Tom is the name Rarity gave to a rock due to Discord’s influence (she believed it was a giant diamond). Tom became popular with the Bronies, mainly because it was a random name for a rock. Someone gave him sunglasses, and he became an action hero, similar to chuck Norris or Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. Though viral at the time this occurred, Tom’s popularity online has since dwindled.
Even Pinkie Pie’s “friends” from “Party Of One”: Rocky, Mr. Turnip, Sir Lintsalot, and Madame Leflour have a decent following, and they’re not even ponies or real for that matter.
These are but a few simple examples of the descriptions that Bronies have created for the characters in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Next, let’s move on to those original characters that we discussed in the previous chapter.