Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Is This, I Don't Even

By Meghan B

Oh my god
Since the dawn of time, since humans have started to doodle on caves and paint on walls, there have been cartoons. As the medium got more advanced, the cartoons themselves took on a life of their own. They gained warped senses of humor, injokes, strange fan cultures... ultimately showing and teaching people that cartoons can still be for adults, even when they are marketed to children.

This is all a very fancy way of saying I've seen all twenty six episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Can I blame the internet on this one? I blame the internet on this one. After reading article after article about how amazing the lives of plastic Technicolor ponies were, I had to see for myself what all the hype was about.

Go under the jump to learn about my love of weird, cracked out children's cartoons and why My Little Pony fits right in.

I'm a big fan of cartoons. I love watching them, I still laugh at them, and the more demented they are, the better! I have fond memories of watching Ren & Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life, Animaniacs and Ahh! Real Monsters when I was a child. I was glued to the TV whenever the hilariously wrong Beetlejuice cartoon came on. As I got older, I progressed to equally demented fare like the Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Lab, as well as the lovably insane Invader ZIM. Soon I was sitting in my dorm room, missing out on valuable college drinking time to watch Camp Lazlo, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Fairly Odd Parents and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.

Sure, at some point I progressed to "adult" cartoons like Daria, Futurama, The Venture Bros, Frisky Dingo and Archer but they were never enough. I always came back to cartoons aimed at children. They were always weirder, somehow. The "adult" injokes always more subversive. Look at the latest offerings on Cartoon Network: Adventure Time, The Misadventures of Flapjack and Regular Show. All are aimed at children, but are way more hilarious to adult minds. Adventure Time even made a Caturday joke! They have a hipster vampire and a princess made of bubblegum who does horrific experiments on people. What's not to love?

I seem to make this face a lot while watching cartoons.
Was I embarrassed the first time I watched My Little Pony? Completely. Did I keep the volume down on my laptop and keep looking at my door, as if I was watching porn and praying no one would walk in? Oh yes. Was I immediately hooked and laughing myself sick? Yup! What the hell, I thought to myself, how are these ponies so damn FUNNY?

What I thought was going to be twenty minutes of second hand embarrassment and misplaced nostalgia (I had tons of those plastic ponies when I was little) turned into a lost weekend of learning and laughing with the ponies. The songs lodged into my head and I caught myself humming them in the shower. I was impressed by the storylines and just how many pony-related gags the writers could make (Filly-delphia! Cloudsdale! Gentlecolts!). Each character has a fleshed out background and unique personality. They were quirky (one has a toothless alligator as a pet!), gave each other the "bitch, please" look pretty often and acted strangely human.

Part of the charm of the show is the animation. It's bright, unerringly cheerful and incredibly expressive. You catch ponies rolling their eyes pretty often, as well as some hilarious facial expressions. Honestly, the entire show is so bizarrely well thought out. There is almost SCIENCE involved. Pegasus ponies can fly and walk on clouds because they're born with a helium sack. I mean, who comes up with a detail like that? Additional details (like a fashion pony who looks like Karl Lagerfeld and another who acts like Lady Gaga) just add to how deliciously wrong and funny the show is. Sure, a fair amount of the show is juvenile and stupid. There are moments when you realize it's meant for seven year olds and feel sort of bad for watching it, but those moments are few and far between.

The genius behind this show is a woman named Lauren Faust. She has a history of making cracked out cartoons. We owe the Powerpuff Girls and Foster's to her. (God bless her). She seems to have a talent for making strange and strangely relate-able characters. I still fondly remember every Powerpuff villain (including the weirdly creepy HIM) and all the wonderful imaginary friends from Foster's. Faust has outdone herself with the ponies and seems pleased by the reaction from the internet.

Ah yes, the internet loves the ponies. Male fans call themselves bronies and 4chan has exploded with pony memes and macros. Song remixes appear on youtube and fanart is plentiful. It's not every day a cartoon aimed at little girls takes the internet by storm. Faust has noticed this too and loves it, including internet favorite characters (like the cross-eyed pony nicknamed "Derpy Hooves" by 4chan) into episodes to be broadcast later this year. Even Bill Clinton has gotten in on the fun, correctly answering three My Little Pony questions on NPR's veritable "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" radio program. To advertise for the new season, Hasbro seems to have catered to it's adult fanbase and made a promotional poster that mocked the popular and ribald Bridesmaids movie, as well as a TV ad using a pony-fied version of Katy Perry's "California Gurlz". 

Mock me if you like for my amusement over this trend (and I'm sure I'll be mocking myself in about six months), but I still find My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to be a strangely compelling and completely hilarious experience. If you don't believe me, you can follow me down the rabbit hole and check out an episode. Youtube is littered with tons of accounts showing all 26 episodes, something pony parent company Hasbro seems to have no problem with.

I warn you. Here there be ponies. You may never be the same again.

(Oh dear god in heaven, I've written a lengthy article about My Little Pony. I blame the internet. I think I need to go outside and take a walk or something...)
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  1. "Was I embarrassed the first time I watched My Little Pony? Completely. Did I keep the volume down on my laptop and keep looking at my door, as if I was watching porn and praying no one would walk in? Oh yes."


    Damnit, Meghan. Now I want to watch it.

  2. PS, I loved The Grimm Adventures of Billy and Mandy. I'd watch it in the middle of the night when I couldn't fall asleep.

  3. Haha, me and my fiance recently got into ponies too, after a big family debacle that resulted in me crying. He kept showing me silly My Little Pony internet pictures and I slowly started to stop crying, sniffle, and then giggle. We watched the entire show that week.