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My OC is designed and drawn by Mizuki Takashima: http://mizuki-takashima.tumblr.com/
Paleo’s video on relatability in MLP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vplo-Q1XacE
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While applicable to and inspired by My Little Pony, this video is about a cultural trend that I’ve picked up on and at times been worried about as of late. Namely, the growing backlash against characters that are “too good,” meaning either that they are too morally correct, or that they don’t seem to face significant flaws or character defects.
The pervading explanations for this backlash are, firstly, that characters who are “too good” are “unrealistic,” and secondly, that these characters are poorly written. I don’t think either explanation cuts to the heart of the issue.
First of all, if you think that people who are unquestionably, unwaveringly good don’t exist, then go read up on Mr. Rogers. Yes, the guy from the show from when some of you were kids, and others of you weren’t born yet. I can almost promise that you’ll walk away with some renewed faith in goodness in the world.
And secondly, there are no shortage of spectaculalry-written, iconic, and memorable characters who are unwavering statues of goodness. Look at Captain Picard from Star Trek, or Luke Skywalker, or indeed, the current state of Twilight Sparkle. These are GREAT CHARACTERS, not in spite of, but BECAUSE of their greatness of person.
These are characters that we’re meant to aspire to be, and whose meaningful transformation into better people we get to witness along the way. Twilight Sparkle didn’t start out as a paragon of goodness, she became one, by slowly learning the magic of friendship, conquering her anxieties, and emerging as a powerful force of good. She’s supposed to be a symbol of what we’re capable of. How we can better ourselves, learn from our mistakes and from our friends, and become more rounded, capable individuals. She shows us how we can rise up and seize the reigns of history!
So why are there so many people claiming that Twilight is boring now that she’s conquered most of her problems? Why has this deep, developed, and at this point iconic character been written off by some as a Mary Sue: a derogatory term used for poorly-written characters?
I think what it comes down to more than anything is that Twiilght is difficult to relate to—and by that, I don’t mean because she’s written unrealistically, but that she literally requires the audience to undertake a difficult thing in order to relate to her.
Twilight Sparkle is constantly seeking to better herself, and she gradually succeeds. She faces many challenges, both internal and external, and comes out victorious. Yet, I see people complaining that they miss the Twilight who was always paranoid and anxious.
That’s because Twilight’s anxiety is what made her relatable and interesting to a lot of people. But in conquering her anxiety, Twilight challenges the audience to do the same.
She shows us that in order to ascend to a higher plane of being, we must constantly work to better ourselves and, for many people, that leaves them feeling left behind. Many people feel that they can’t better themselves, and a lot of people outright don’t want to.
The reason people some are upset when villains are reformed, is that it suggests the need to change and better ourselves. Phrases like “good guys are boring” suggest glorifying our own lack of desire to be good or to improve ourselves, and the comfort of doing what we want without having to feel that we’re underachieving. The fear of change evoked by Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle is not only a fear of change happening in the show, but a fear of facing the need to change within ourselves.
Those are my speculative ideas on the matter anyways, and I’m curious to hear what you all think. Have you ever felt that you related to Twilight Sparkle? Do you find her personal betterment inspiring, or does it feel like she’s left you behind? How about your relationships with other characters? Tell me all about it in the comments.