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So I'm on spring break and am catching up more on Season 8, and I just watched The Hearth’s Warming Club. I notice that for five out of the six students, their holidays and cultures were portrayed as being pretty nice and wholesome, even from an outsider's standard. Yet the Griffons' holidays was portrayed as being objectively shitty. Then I remembered, pretty much everything about Griffon culture is portrayed as objectively shitty in MLP. Moreover, other cultures have been portrayed as this way too (e.g. the Changelings while under the control of Queen Chrysalis); objectively bad until they adopt Pony values.

Is this a massive rejection of cultural relativism on behalf of the writers? Do they support ethnocentrism, where certain cultures are deemed better than others and should be spread? Am I reading too much into this?


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Ya know, some time ago I had the same thought on Tolkien and Orcs and Goblins.

They're ugly, uncultured and live in a wasteland. But what's it like to be an Orc?


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Yea, they're kinda just portrayed as being automatically bad. It's a little fucked up. Like why should I be happy that they're all being killed?


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ponies had this gem!


Ethocentrism and moral relativism are hardly the only two options.


It's probably better not to analyze a children's show in this way. It's almost certainly not an intentional message.


> Am I reading too much into this?
Yes but then again, FiM tells a loose story around a pretty fixed moral compass. Of course the source of all good, friendship, conquers all.
The portraying of most creatures didn't really strike me personally as picturing them beneath ponies by the way.


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Hasn't this been a thing for a while? Everything from selfish griffons to crude dragons to boorish yaks, evil changelings, reclusive seaponies, scheming catpeople, repressive kirin, they all need to be shown the right path by ponies. Like, it isn't just them learning to be nice, it's specifically pony culture which they must adopt in order to reform. They can only become better by learning from ponies. Heck, this is the entire basis of Twilight's School. The ethnocentrism in the show isn't even slightly hidden.

At least the hardheaded buffalo were pitted against equally hardheaded ponies, so it wasn't just a "Be more like ponies" resolution like all the others.


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The writers are a bit of a pain with the Griffins. It's part of why I stopped watching the show, to be honest with you.
Maybe it is my bias talking, but, I never got the reason to throw in all the angry greediness we ended up getting in the Griffin Stone ark. No other depictions of griffins ever suggested anything like that. Granted we only had two actual characters, and three that we were little more than background characters, but, still.
Griffin Stone felt like lazy writing, probably done primarily to patch the troubles of Gilda being viewed as sympathetic by many.


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I finally got to watch Not asking for trouble again

Yaks are fun


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you know, I didn't really want to give it that much thought, excusing it more as lazy writing, but, now that you mention it... Non ponies are usually portrayed as pretty bad unless they assimilate like people like Spike.
This was present to some degree, I would almost say, even during season 1.

Coincidentally, I always got a bit of a Plato's republic type feel from the way the system is set up in the show.
I'm sure it's just by chance. Surely they wouldn't do something like this intentionally.


>Yea, they're kinda just portrayed as being automatically bad. It's a little fucked up. Like why should I be happy that they're all being killed?
Are you serious or just having a giggle?  The orcs in LOTR are canonically hateful creatures who seek to hurt and destroy.  


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Maybe it is mr Tolkien who is the jerk!


>At least the hardheaded buffalo were pitted against equally hardheaded ponies, so it wasn't just a "Be more like ponies" resolution like all the others.
No, but it was a "ponies are white people, buffalo are Native Americans, zebras are Africans" kind of thing.

So it's always been like this. I'd call it lazy writing, rather than intentional ethnocentrism.


The orcs are just misunderstood, Noble creatures. It's clear that the big bad elves are the evil ones. The orcs will be living in peace and Harmony if it wasn't for them.


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i think the friendship school does a lot to show that all creatures, including ponies, have much to learn from each other.

Let us not forget, Equestria itself was born of three distinct races of pony, and is a multi-ethnic, yet highly harmonious state.

It is encouraging to see an Equestrian Union of species forming, as of this season, to expand upon the culturally relativistic, cosmopolitanism of the greater pony species, as well.

We recall a time when ponies were not called ponies, but were called unicorns, earth ponies, and Pegasi.

It was the embracing of multi-culturalism and egality, the bliss of harmony and union, that turned three races into one. When Equestria shares her culture with her neighbors, she brings union and harmony: elements representing not the culture of any one ethnicity, but the Union of Friendship, from which the future of every creature is built: the universal, internationale that so encapsulates the zeitgeist of this season of the show.

The Equestrian Union does not belong to ponies, it belongs to every creature.

There is a specter haunting Europe. The specter of Communism harmony.


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[an ideology can be painted onto nearly anything that has not itself a clearly stated ideology with merely a few clever words and omissions]


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I'm in contention with the pony culture, ultimately, comes down to the whole cutie mark thing. I find it rather distasteful. there's something about having your future, your life, your assigned role tattooed on your rear that just seems wrong to me.


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>It was the embracing of multi-culturalism and egality, the bliss of harmony and union, that turned three races into one.
Heh, that's what the show tells you. But if you read the Journal that the show is now directly referencing as canon, they quickly just abandoned that multicultural union once Starswirl told everyone "Hey, these two Alicorns represent unity and harmony and all that nonsense, so they should be the true master race to lead us all." And then all the ponies decided to put their entire culture in the hooves of two children because of racial stereotypes.


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i don't think about it too much. i suspect the writers just wanted an in universe explanation for something that My Little Ponies have always had. i never give pony too much worry in that way. i just love my cute little ponies they are so cute and lovable.

...but less seriously...

i always felt the cutie mark debate was just more or less the Calvinist vs. Lutheran predestination question.

If God is all knowing, does he give us life, predestining us for Heaven or Hell? How does that interact with free will? ...does it matter, if it is all inconsequential considering what we know and perceive?  (We don't know which we are predestined for so it doesn't matter really)

Does the pony pick the cutie mark, by discovering something they love? Or are they born, with cutie marks embedded in the soul, waiting for the correct moment?

...does it matter?

In the same way, i should say, no... Not really. The pony cannot perceive the difference, or know if they are predestined or not. And as long as it doesn't make any perceptible diffence, to the conscious pony, it may as well not exist.

Each pony can only live their lives as they would, and the cutie mark comes. It seems to work out in one way or another, so the predestinatory nature of the mark is of no consequence


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Every Union requires a vanguard party! Thr union was still young and undeveloped. With the princesses leading, the Union shall find it's way towards the dream of utopian harmony!!

(Note: please don't take this seriously)


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This is precisely how I like to look at it, but that's why I get really salty when the show introduces a character like Troubleshoes, who got his cutie mark without knowing why and it messed up his entire life.

Least they could have done is elect them Presidents.


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A very respectable argument, I would say. And I largely agree, overall.

My major problem, though, is what happens when you have a cutie mark. It's sort of stops any potential movement you might be wanting to me. At least, that's how I feel. It is less to do with getting a mark, more to do with having a Mark, I suppose.

This is actually a major reason of why I prefer griffons, if I'm honest.


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Originally I think the writers navigated this question with a level of ambiguity fecund and appropriate to children's literature; only later, to propitiate the "world builders" of their audience was it pressed so hard in a literal sense that it produced ugly political associations. My take on cutie marks has always been that they share the same symbolic space that "marriage" does in fairy tales: a union between the individuality of the hero and the world-process of which he/she is also inextricably a part.


I'd like to add to this by pointing out that in early interpretations, cutie marks really just... didn't seem to matter. They were basically the symbol of an epiphany that occurs in adolescence, the epiphany being the real value of the experience. Note how when most of the mane six got their cutie marks, they barely even noticed? That's because what they'd accomplished and learned was so much more important. The cutie mark itself is, in comparison, just a "You Did It" sticker to remind them.


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There's definitely some holes and gaps in the stories.  People are always asking what you'd expect from a Hasbro branded kid's cartoon, but honestly this is what I expect from most things.  I can't name many productions that have had really coherent worldbuilding, and a lot of them fare much worse than MLP did.


Part of why Adventure Time is so popular!


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Thank you all for the interesting comments.


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Yes, and yes.


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My friend! How have you been? I haven't talked with you in a while!


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This is true, unfortunately. Most shows don't bother with worldbuilding at all.
But, then, that's why I don't watch most western kids shows, anyway.


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>objectively bad until they adopt Pony values.

I noticed this too and it bothered me for a while particularly regarding the attitude towards saddle arabians etc.  However, alongside the presumption that pony=good, there have been numerous instances of how pones fall short as well so the values are not automatically pony=good so much as even pone must strive to achieve them.

Such as:
Everypony replaced by everycreature
Compensating the buffalo for stolen land (with pies?  Hm well still falls short but, baby steps...)

What are some more examples?


>Do they support ethnocentrism, where certain cultures are deemed better than others and should be spread?
I would hope so!  Consider two cultures $C_1$ and $C_2$, where $C_2$ is just like $C_1$ except that:
- in $C_1$, it is considered morally acceptable to stone gays to death
- in $C_2$, gay people have their human rights protected.
Would you not consider $C_2$ to be better than $C_1$?


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Yes. But, that's because my values align with culture 2. If they aligned with culture 1, I'd probably say the first one's superior.
But, mind you, I've still got no real problem saying "X culture is better than Y culture", it's just important to recognize that's because of one's particular values.


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Yaas, I've been busy being Turkish. How have you been?


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Glad to hear! I've been busy with...a lot of things! When's the last time I've seen you? I think May of 2015. Since then, I have:

-Graduated college.
-Worked for two years at the Department of Justice.
-Got married.
-Enrolled in law school.

Currently in my second semester of law school, though I'm on spring break!


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I recall all but last of those steps, heck good maaaan.


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What have you been up to in the land of Turkey?

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