Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Friendship is Magic

Well colour me in yes then.

It's been a while since I posted on here with anything other than beer. And for that I apologise. The recent funk has also meant that I have avoided the blogs of others, which is similarly no good, and haven't really kept in touch with dear friends who have reached out. Basically, I have behaved rather badly and used my funk as an excuse and a shield.

A horse riding picture that is also a bridal picture.
Yep, definitely my blog!

Also, barefoot. Hmm.
When one falls off a horse then one must get on as quickly as possible or else face the prospect of losing nerve and never horse riding again. I have been rather guilty of letting that little fall prevent me from getting back on, and if I want to be able to ride side-saddle then I really need to actually get back into the saddle in order to do it. Consider this an attempt to get back in the saddle and learn how to look graceful doing so. I rather doubt grace will be the first word that people bring to mind when looking on, something about my gangly frame, poor grooming and general disposition will probably lend itself more to something along the lines of "there but for the grace of God..." rather than "graceful". No matter, I've had thoughts about this swirling for a while now.

What on earth am I babbling about?

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Yes, it would appear that I am, in fact, an adult fan of the show. I'd hesitate to go any further than that as I have no desire to write any fan-fiction or look up any pictures created with Rule 37 in mind. I could try to claim that I only watch it because both of my children enjoy it but I know that this is not true. I have collected the episodes assiduously and have paid enough attention to them that I can name episodes on plot points, follow the plots of different characters and actually care about plot arcs. Let me reiterate that, not only are there plot arcs in a cartoon aimed at preteen girls (mainly) I actually care about them.

Some time in the last week, amongst the welter of late nights and such (more on which later) I finally saw the last episode of Season 4 with my children. And I'll admit that I had a bit of a lump in my throat with the plot. Now, on the face of it, I know that this is silly: the stories are written for children, aimed at children and have a particular aim point for girls, if anything. I happen to think that the way the stories are put together is pretty genderless and that the recipe they use is consistent enough that it would appeal to any children - there are shades of the best cartoons from the 1980s but they are better balanced and, arguably, better written. The fact that the writers are clearly revelling in the opportunity to relive their youth, but with savvier and funnier writing also plays a part. But it is not aimed at adults.

Known as the Mane 6.

If you don't know them, I shan't be so boring as to explain
who each of them are in turn. Instead I shall simply
say that I think I identify most with Twilight Sparkle (of
course) and that my Boy identifies most with Rainbow Dash.

My Girlie... I dunno. I think she identifies too much with
Elsa and Rapunzel to contemplate being a pony.
What set me reflecting on this is the fact that it is a very Feminist show, and I mean that as a compliment. It is a show that takes as its premise the idea that friendship is the most powerful magic one can muster, master and use. Most of the episodes carry little or no peril or threat and, instead, revolve around imaginative ways of showing standard human interactions. Furthermore, the saccharine stylings of shows that I remember are gone, replaced by quite mature and subtle handlings of genuine complexity. For example, in the first season episode Griffon the Brush Off it looks as though the show is going to focus on the fact that one shouldn't play pranks on people that can't take it, standard moral fare, but it rapidly becomes obvious that all the ponies already know this lesson (as would most of the people watching to be fair) and so the moral of it actually turns out to be about how bullies are generally the most paranoid people of the lot. It offers solutions on how to deal with this but ends with the fact that the bully in question may not be receptive. Indeed, in the episode the bully chooses not to join in and remains a bully and aloof. And that kind of maturity is rare. I mean, you could equally argue that the ending is hardly happy stuff or that in cartoon-land there ought to be a positive end to such a tale or even that the episode misses a trick in having such an ending that practically ignores the bully, but I choose to interpret it in a positive way.

Why then do I choose to recognise this as a Feminist show?

Well, she's clever and she's pretty.

After the finale of Season 3 she's also an Alicorn.

And, yes, apparently I care.
Well, mainly the fact that nearly all of the characters are female, I guess. And it passes the Bechdel test hands down. I can't think of any plot line or episode that actually revolves around, or even includes as a major plot point, female ponies wondering and swooning over (or even getting romatically entangled with) male ponies. There are love stories in there. Shining Armour and Princess Cadance get married in one episode that deals, on a tangent, with the jealousy between a little sister and a potential mate and another episode deals with an old pony whose lifetime love was unavailable and then has to deal with the fact. In fact, the main plot point was someone helping him get over it without a romantic resolution. For these reasons, if no others, I am prepared to label it Feminist. It's not that there aren't male ponies with stories of their own either, it's simply that the show is very much about six female ponies and a male dragon and so those stories necessarily fade into the background - they aren't the point.

Some may argue that the lack of male involvement means that the show is somehow discriminatory, but I have to call bullshit on that. The vast majority of shows, cartoons, and the like, focus almost exclusively on the male story, with female stories carried as sub-plots or additions (even stuff I love, like Sherlock, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and more). As a consequence, having a single cartoon that focusses exclusively on the female stories in a particular universe does not strike me as being discriminatory at all.

Tilly is less enamoured with the show, it's become very much a Daddy duty to watch it with my children and discuss it afterward. Both Girlie and the Boy have toys connected to the show (I would like to get them proper size ponies, but we haven't done that yet) and both of them enjoy playing with them. The Boy even went through a stage of referring to himself as Rainbow Dash and still very much identifies with the character. Now, a sporting and derring do female character for a male to look up to? I call that progress and I think I quite like it.

All of which is essentially a way for me to get back into blog posting. No doubt there will be further beer reviews, I do seem to be back doing those semi-regularly at the moment, but I also hope to get back to writing things that aren't blogging or beer reviews, y'know, actual writing over at my other blog. In short, I am back, for the moment, and glad to be so. I hadn't realised how long it had been since I actually spent some time here!

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All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!