The Burden of Being Responsible

I am going to say right now this post is essentially one long whining rant. Maybe satirical, but whining because I’m in a foul mood. If that won’t amuse you, please skip.

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Let’s Talk About: Fluttershy

I’ve gotten caught up with nearly all of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I watched the movie in theaters, but I stopped mid-season 7 and I doubt I’ll finish. However, I won’t rant about that. I’d need to make an entirely new post.

Fluttershy is the embodiment of kindness. Or she’s supposed to be, according to the show. And while she does live up to much of the time, I think there’s another element of personality she seems to fit better.

Foolish kindness.

Let me say right now I do like Fluttershy and, up to a certain point, she was my second-favorite character (the first was Twilight; was, as Starlight has now become my personal preference over Twilight). However, I have an issue with what the writers deem to be “kindness”, and there are times when it seems “kindness” is confused with “naïveté”.

The worst example I can think of the top of my head is an episode where she’s chosen to reform a godly chaotic creature precisely because she embodies kindness. Unfortunately, “carpet” would be more accurate. Her way of reforming him is to allow him to abuse her kindness (and I say allow because she’s fully aware of what she’s doing), to get angry with her friends when they attempt to protect her, and allow said creature to endanger one of her friends’ homes (and means of survival; said friend runs a farm), her friends themselves, and by extension, the entire country. In other words, her way of reforming him is to allow him to unleash whatever chaos he wants with zero consequences, in the hopes he’ll change if she tolerates it long enough.

First of all, taken out of context – actually, even in context – this is ultimately an episode about a woman enduring a man’s abuse in the hopes she can change him. Thank you, MLP writers, for giving little girls that lesson. I’m sure the real world abusers weren’t already doing a good job. That troublesome fact aside, this episode emphasizes better than any other what the issue is with Fluttershy supposedly embodying kindness. “Kindness” should not equate to letting someone walk all over you, and while there have been episodes about Fluttershy learning to stand up for herself, they tend to be forgotten, likely to work for episodes like the one I just described. In fact, a common complaint of the show is the lesson fails to stick (though it seems it eventually does by the latest season), something the writers created an episode to say they were tired of hearing (again, a rant for another day). It’s not unkind to refuse to be a walking carpet. It is, however, very unkind to endanger your friends’ lives and refuse to see what your negligence is creating. The only reason she’s successful in reforming the creature is because she eventually snaps at him when he finally makes it clear he was using her all along. In other words, she does something unkind to reform him. Ironically, she called her friends out moments before she snapped on apparently thinking she was a “silly, gullible fool”. Let’s just say when she asked that question, I said yes to the television. If you need someone to spell out they are abusing your kindness when they’ve already done every conceivable action that would make it obvious to anyone with working brain cells and minimal perception, yes, you’re a fool.

The other example I put high on the list is one that involves the aforementioned friend’s farm (yes, out of “kindness”, Fluttershy endangered her friend’s way of living twice). Her friend’s farm was invaded by pests and the friend, understandably, wants to get rid of them. Despite that she only wants to move the bats away from her farm rather than outright kill them, Fluttershy acts as if she does want to kill and insists she should instead give the pests part of her farm as a sanctuary.

First off, anyone who is a real animal expert (annoying fact: Fluttershy admitted she knew nothing about the creatures; meanwhile, her farmer friend did) could probably write a list of reasons as long as their own body about why that’s not a good idea. The episode itself fails any kind of logic in animal expertise. Instead, any logic whatsoever takes a backseat to “kindness” because it seems disregarding a threat to your friend’s home, livelihood, and family’s means of survival is very kind. Keep in mind the pests essentially trespassed onto her friend’s farm, but Fluttershy is supposed to be right because “they’re just hungry”. Never that moving them, like her friend wanted, would solve that issue. The implication here is innocuous reasons excuse bad actions. Fluttershy is “right” because she’s the kind one, despite she knows zero about the pests and farming in general, and if the show didn’t need to have a “kindness always wins” moral for its target audience (no matter how wrong it really is in its context), her friend’s sound reasoning and logic would’ve rightfully won out the argument.

Many people excuse flaws in shows like MLP because “it’s a kids’ show”. The problem is that’s why it deserves criticism. Name me a parent, especially a parent of a daughter, who wants their child to learn the lesson that putting up with mistreatment is “kind”? That you can change even the worst people by letting them walk all over you? That it’s good to push away your friends who are rightfully concerned for you? What parent would willingly teach their child taking in random creatures is a good idea? That all creatures are okay to keep around? That “kindness” means ignoring all logic and potential consequences, even if you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about? If I had a child, especially a daughter, who liked MLP, I would filter out the episodes like crazy. Kids are not dumb and, contrary to popular belief, capable of seeing problems in media, whether or not they have the words to express them. And eventually, those kids will grow old enough to talk about them.

As I said, however, Fluttershy’s repetitive lessons about being more assertive do seem to have finally stuck as of late, so hopefully, the writers will be more careful with her “kindness”, and consistent in differentiating being kind and being a doormat. After all, “this is a kids’ show”, so let’s have some more careful evaluation of what we teach and aim at kids.

The Poison of Fandoms – Part 2

Because one reminder wasn’t enough.

Even when I try to avoid fandoms, it seems I’m not always successful.

Tonight, I was having a marathon of MLP’s second season while playing Pokemon Moon, and I was rather enjoying. While it was going on, I paused my game to post a small annoyance on Tumblr I had with one character. She’s not a bad character. Just not really to my tastes. One episode portrayed her really nicely and had me warm up to her, but a following one had me annoyed again. Keep in mind there was nothing hateful about it. Apparently, however, even minor annoyance is too much for this character’s fans. Later on, I received this message in, as well as these posts in reply to some I’d made days ago. Interestingly, this person brought up my love of another character, despite one has zero to do with the other. They also deleted one of the replies. Typical. (Edit: This message came as I was writing this post)

Note that I do not even hate this character (or, at least, I didn’t until now). I was annoyed at her portrayal is in one episode is all. One episode I watched out of twenty. The irony of a show about friendship having such an awful fandom will never escape me, but then again, that’s fandoms in general. Even if you say you do like some things of that character, it’s not enough. Any annoyance with her whatsoever is perceived by her fans as hate. Basically, if she’s not your favorite, you’re a hater.

For those curious, that episode that irritated me had to do with her trying to befriend someone who made it clear he wanted to be left alone and she was not getting the hint. The episode ended nicely, but I was irritated because she was incredibly pushy, doing things like going into his home and rummaging through his things without permission (and even damaging some!), and those actions are portrayed as okay because she wants to be his friend. That was my problem with the episode. If the message I received in my inbox is any indication of her fans’ mentality, it seems they believe invading someone’s home and possessions is “friendliness”, and respecting someone’s privacy and wishes to be left alone is a bad thing to teach children. No wonder people hate my generation. And here, my friends have never so much as touched something of mine without my permission. They must not be real friends.

Sarcasm aside, it’s a shame I’ve liked this show for a total of three months and this is my introduction to it. I have my boyfriend, thankfully, and I’m starting to understand why he did want to me enjoy this show. I have no doubt the bad reputation of “bronies” and the show itself comes from its fandom and had I tried to get into it without him, I probably would’ve been turned away very quickly by its fandom. And no, my run-in with these jerks did not taint my love of the show, but it did make me angry enough to cancel my mini-marathon earlier than intended. I’ll continue it another time. Perhaps.

Let’s Talk About: Twilight Sparkle

Wait, what?

Yes, I mean the main protagonist of My Little Pony. I had zero intention of ever watching this show, but my boyfriend is a fan of it and urged me to watch it. Eventually, I gave in and watched the first episode. I was instantly in love with Twilight. But I don’t like what happens to her.

Let me make my annoyance obvious. In the episode summary on Wikipedia, she’s referred to as an anti-social pony. Anti-social.

I hate this. I despise introversion and being reserved are seen as negative traits. Why? The second episode revealed why these events were necessary. That doesn’t help because it still portrayed Twilight preferring her alone time as a bad thing and her preference only changed because of an emergency matter (I’m not going to rant on why Celestia thought it was a good idea to form an entirely luck-based plan instead of be directly upfront with Twilight, or I won’t shut up). I know it’s a common thing in cartoons for lifelong bonds to form instantaneously, and I’d absolutely expect that in a cartoon with friendship as its theme. Except maybe that’d be a reason to have the friendships form more realistically instead of in such a cliché way. I love my best friend like she’s my sister, but I sure didn’t feel that way a day after meeting her. But cliché formulas are also common in cartoons, especially ones intended to have lessons taught through the episodes.

I probably seem strange to have a rant about this. After all, I have a best friend and a boyfriend, so why would I be bothered by a loner character learning about the “magic of friendship”? Easy. I just said it. It only happened because of an emergency matter. No relationship works like that! Friendship and love (of all types, not only romantic) are amazing things, but they don’t happen instantly (before you argue with parenthood: oxytocin). Strong bonds don’t form overnight in any situation. I am more outgoing than I used to be, but that took years. I wasn’t suddenly no longer an introvert or reserved because I met my best friend one day ago. Guess what? I’m still introverted and reserved, and I still despise most people, something working in retail has actually made stronger due to being in constant contact with people. Whatever percentage the number three is of the human population is the percentage of people I like having around.

These two episodes would’ve worked better as a season finale, not a season beginner. I could almost understand these traits being portrayed negatively if Twilight was evil, but she’s not. In fact, despite being obviously unhappy about being sent to the festival/party, she was polite to the others while trying to get away from them as quickly as possible, and if memory serves, she did help when one of them almost hurt herself by accident. She’s not mean, and wanting only her books as company doesn’t make her mean, bad, or evil.

I’ve yet to watch another episode because this kind of treatment with introverted characters puts me off watching anything more of whatever media it is. However, I went through her character list on TV Tropes and it seems, for the most part, she still keeps her introverted personality and she does slowly change over time instead of instantly. That sounds much better, though it doesn’t change my opinion about the first two episodes. The downside is, if TV Tropes is accurate, she rivals Pinkie Pie in exuberance by the latest season. I hate to admit it, but I find Pinkie Pie annoying, as I greatly dislike overly energetic characters who behave like they’re drunk on happiness. Of course, I doubt I’ll get as far as seven seasons anyway. It took me over three years to get to the fourth season of Sailor Moon, and I’ve only watched three episodes of that.

If I do continue watching MLP, I’m hoping to find Twilight’s friends aren’t the pushy type who will continuously try to “pull her out of her shell” and nag her half to death about “opening up”, and will instead respect her wishes if she wants to be alone to study, read, or whatever else. I don’t think it’s wrong (however cliché it may be) for loner characters to go on to learn about friendship and love, or even for their personality to eventually flip a 180. I do think it’s wrong if the path that gets them there portrays that part of their personality as an issue and to be dealt with by forcing them into such situations (as with Twilight) instead of letting them develop willingly. And for heaven’s sake, I hope Celestia is more direct and upfront instead of continually being cryptic and secretive, but since when have mentor characters ever done that? But that’s a whole different rant for another day.

A Different Jealousy

I’m beginning to wonder if relationship jealousy would be easier to handle than this.

My family is jealous of how I treat my boyfriend. To be more specific, they believe I treat him “like a king” while I treat them “like crap”. The problem here is they were jealous because… I wore a dress.

I very rarely wear dresses, but I chose to for our anniversary weekend. Somehow, my family believes daring to wear a dress for a special occasion means trying to impress someone rather than just doing something special for a day that’s, well, special.

In other words, treating my boyfriend like a king means wearing a dress to his house. Meanwhile, treating them like crap was akin to… not giving them the password to my personal computer.

If there were ever one absolute bit of proof that shows how poisonous my family is when it comes to relationships, it’s this. I don’t expect a date between my boyfriend and me to be of any importance to them, but to be jealous over your family member’s partner? To get upset because I wear a dress for one special day instead of all the time at home?

To be truthful, a small part of me always suspected jealousy from them, but I don’t like to play the “you’re just jealous” card because I see it as immature. But I really don’t know what else to call it. It’s not the first time they’ve gotten upset about me spending time with my boyfriend. It’s just the only time they’ve accused me of treating him better than them. They make the same accusation when it comes to how I treat my friends too.

The kind of funny thing is they might be right. It’s not something I can personally see, but there’s a good chance I do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them. Except what they view as “special treatment” is really just the treatment that results when you don’t demand respect because “well, I say so”. My boyfriend and I have had our pitfalls, yes, but most of the time, we treat each other well and respect each other’s space and feelings. Most of my family wouldn’t know “respect” if it smacked them behind the head, and it’s a generational thing.

To give a recent example, my father wiped out my computer. It’d broken down and I intended to take it to a tech expert to be fixed. Instead, he took it upon himself without any permission from me whatsoever to try repairing it, and worsened the problem. On top of that, he had no idea why I was so upset, which didn’t surprise me since it wasn’t his computer he wiped out. Prior to this, he’d used my computer numerous times without asking, often when I was asleep or out of the house. When I restarted the computer after it was wiped, I set up the personal account again, but did not re-enable the guest account. Yet, he still tried to use it without my permission and asked for my password while I was visiting my boyfriend. I didn’t respond to the messages and deleted them.

This happened after a night where my dad and my grandfather had a heated argument that became physical because the latter intended to drive the family’s car while drunk. The car is under my father’s name and he believed my grandfather would get into an accident, which would result in him being penalized. That’s a legitimate concern, but my grandfather did not care at all. Note that my grandfather also has no valid license, which means he’d be breaking two laws. I don’t believe physical violence is how to solve things (my dad says my grandfather attacked him first; I didn’t see what happened), but look at the link there. My grandfather has zero concern for what could badly affect someone else. Thus, my dad, who was raised by this man, doesn’t either.

Those stories are two of many examples across my family. And yet, they still believe they’re entitled to my respect for no other reason than “family comes first”. If I really do treat my boyfriend better than I treat them, I have no guilt about that. Their jealousy isn’t something I’m going to worry myself about. At this point, I’m genuinely convinced they simply do not want me to realize the way they think of and treat people isn’t a positive thing. I figured that out years ago, but the more I get out into the world, the clearer it becomes. I often think about how my teenage self would be horrified if she knew what she’d be doing in the years to come, but maybe it was so horrifying because I was afraid of what I didn’t know and only had my family’s stories to go on. As it turned out, the world outside of what my family made for me is tough, but not so scary. It’s big and bright and alluring. They know it. And they know they can’t keep me from it anymore.