Saturday, July 21, 2012

Updates and ponies!

Wow, what an exciting time to be me. Not only have I defeated Baron VonDoom's plan to invade the world from his Moon Fortress, solved the case of the Jade Claw, and aided in the defense of the Frost Academy against the dread Eater-Queen Acheron...but, most importantly, I've found that the second season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is on Netflix insta-que.

Clearly, this is the most important part of my week, and I should devote an entire blog post about it.

MLP:FIM (or just MLP from here on out) is actually a really really good show. I won't say it's the best show ever (Babylon 5) or a perfect show (Firefly) or even a super revolutionary show (The Original Star Trek). Hell, it's not even the best animated show ever...that is a tossup between Batman Beyond, Cowboy Bebop and Captain Simian and the Space Monkies.

...okay, we all know it's Captain Simian. Seriously, how can you go wrong with a children's cartoon show that stars Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi, Babylon 5), Michal Dorn (Worf, Star Trek TNG), Maurice LaMarsh (Almost every single worthwhile animated TV show ever) and Malcolm McDowell.

Yes, Alex DeLarge voices a cybernetic rhesus monkey whose primary mode of attack is to launch his disembodied brain out of his head. And then it strangles you. With the spinal column.

And the jokes were amazing. Seriously, they had an entire episode that was an Alien parody. And a really well done, funny, witty alien parody.

Such a great show. Should have lasted 5 seasons, not 1.

...what was I talking about? Ponies? OH RIGHT!

What I'm trying to say is that I'm not being hyperbolic here. MLP is liked by many people because it is a good show. Which is, in and of itself, an interesting thing. Not that MLP is good - anything can be good, for gods sake, one of my favorite shows has a guy whose head looks like a Japanese war-fan and talks like a very drunk member of EuroTrash - but rather peoples REACTIONS to it being good.

See, there is this really insidious cultural artifact in our country (our country being the United States of America, the only country that matters) wherein a boys story is for everyone. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, most of Pixar's work, these are all archetypal boy stories. Manly men doing manly things. There's something for everyone!

But if you do something for "girls", it becomes a freaking memetic ghetto: Princesses? That's girl stuff. One is implicitly inclusive, the other is explicitly exclusive and both are alliteratively awful (at least to me). There is no real reason why stories about princesses and pastel colored ponies and friendship and magic should be exclusive to girls. All that such a story requires is quality.

The saying goes that a good comedian can make reading the phone book funny?

(It's true, just make Christopher Walken do it!)

Well, the same is true of writing: A good writer can make any idea appealing. It is all about execution and skill and craft. And, well, MLP takes the IDEA of Equestria - a magical land where three distinct forms of ponies live in harmony, where they tend to the land using magic, where baby dragons are used as walking I-phones and a sun-goddess alicorn rules for thousands of years due to her ability to raise and lower the sun on a whim - and totally SELLS THE HELL OUT OF IT.

It just takes thought. I mean, it's easy to go, "Well, girls like dresses. Make a character who likes dresses. BOOM. DONE! Lets snort cocaine off the breasts of a hooker!"

(I imagine all TV writers to be the corporate guys from RoboCop. It makes watching the latest inane soap opera make way more sense.)

But the hard thing to do is to take a character and actually make her liking dresses (and fashion) not just believable but also interesting to people who, normally, would never be interested in dresses at all. That requires thinking of clever and interesting character notes, possibly writing a catchy song and top notch animation and voice action. It requires good writing and good craft, in the same way that making an archeologist who punches nazis interesting requires good writing and good craft.

Apply this level of good writing to each of the characters, the world, and the plots, and you have a show that doesn't just escape the girls-only-ghetto, but it blows down the walls. Maybe we'll have a generation of men who have realized that princesses are things worth being interested in...and a generation of writers who won't dismiss "girl stuff" as things you can just phone in on the way to a dump-truck of blow.


Me, I'm optimistic.

Till then, if you've seen an airship that's on fire and contains the soul-devouring army of immortal, psychopathic killers, me!

No reason. Just...uh...

Where did I put my Legacy Blade...

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