There’s been an ongoing debate in the comments of my videos about the nature of Equestrian society. A lot of people have argued that the values of Equestria are meant to reflect American values, and therefore Equestria should be viewed as socially similar to the US (or Canada). I’m firmly in the camp that Equestria has a unique society which isn’t meant to parallel American society, and a big part of that is because of how the show handles the idea of destiny.
American idealism is usually a fight AGAINST destiny. The American Dream is, essentially, that no matter where you’re from or who you are, you can rise to fame and fortune. We say that anyone can become anything, regardless of their beginnings.
But in Equestria, destiny is something to be embraced, sought after, and lived with. Ponies are expected to literally live up to their names, as their parents somehow psychically anticipate what their child will be like when naming them. Some names allude to something specific, such as Rarity or Rainbow Dash or Applejack, while others speak more for potential, like Twilight Sparkle or Applebloom.
Ponies are expected to realize a specific destiny by the time they finish elementary school, and that destiny is permanently emblazened on their flanks. We don’t exactly expect that ponies have a concept of the “midlife crisis.”
Pony society, and pony magical physiology, suggest that the way a pony’s life plays out just isn’t anything like the way an American’s life plays out. Americans are expected to change all the time, never satisfied with the life they have, always shooting for something bigger. Ponies are expected to figure out where their going while they’re still children, and then to follow this career for the rest of their lives.
This, to me, is an incredibly liberating idea, because it means that pony society wouldn’t necessarily reward only the brightest and the best, but would appreciate everypony’s contribution to society. Every pony has their own niche, which they can be comfortable in fulfilling. I want to believe that in Equestria, you could be a one-of-a-kind auteur, and live your life the way you want to.
But of course, that’s me being idealistic. If you wanted to specifically rain on my parade, you could also interpret Equestria as a place wherein everyone is locked into a specific fate, and if you’re a one-of-a-kind auteur who nopony appreciates, then you’re just fucked.
In reality, this is a lot like the real world. I happen to believe in the idea of destiny myself. I think that each of us is set on a causal path through life which is bound to happen exactly one way, regardless of what we think about it. The idea that we’re making choices about who we are and how we see others, is merely an illusion.
But I digress. Whereas American society is all about promoting free will, I think that pony society is more about embracing destiny. These ideals need not be mutually exclusive, but I think that the general systems of Equestria promote the idea of a universe driven by destiny.
Twilight Sparkle is destined to be the most powerful unicorn, because she was born with the ability to summon endless magical power. Rainbow Dash was predisposed to being an incredible flyer from a very young age. Fluttershy has an innate ability to communicate with animals on a deeper level than most ponies. Rarity has a natural magical ability to locate precious stones. Pinkie Pie has a unique disposition, mindset, and memory, which allows her to befriend everypony. And Applejack has followed in her family’s footsteps to continue a generations-spanning passion for Apple farming.
All of these suggest that destiny is an innate quality of being a pony, and is recognized as such in the moral and social foundations of Equestria.
Reading Pony society this way actually brings to mind some interesting thoughts about the way the show handles its characters. For instance, it might be wrongheaded in a sense to expect Fluttershy to change into anything other than Fluttershy. This is what makes her largely unchanged nature defensible. While it bothers Rainbow Dash to no end that Fluttershy is such a scaredy cat, Rainbow has to eventually realize that every pony has a unique disposition, and self-change isn’t necessarily an important aspect of pony society. Maybe Fluttershy really can get along just fine being who she is without needing to change for anyone.
Anyways, I could go on like this, but I’ll save that for future character analysis videos. In the mean time, let me know what you think about all this in the comments.
And while we’re here, let’s address the idea of dramatic readings! Some people have been asking me to do them, and I’m interested, though I’ve never done it before. Someone recommended me to read Vinyl and Octavia: University Days, and I’ve been reading it and it’s amazing, but if I were to dramatically read this, I obviously can’t accurately perform Octavia and Vinyl. I can try my best to do a man-version of their voices, if that’s okay with you, so… is that okay with you?