Text version and links:
My OC is designed by Mizuki Takashima: http://mizuki-takashima.tumblr.com/
Ending card by Munchy: http://munchywearstinyhats.tumblr.com/post/79001803487/hey-do-you-like-my-art-no-neither-do-i-but-on
golden eyes sticky as honey – Le Soldat Pony: http://lesoldatpony.bandcamp.com/album/before-these-mighty-skies
Sweet and Elite has always been one of my favorite My Little Pony episodes, and I’m not gonna lie–a huge part of why is all the stupid fancy voices. The first time I watched this episode with my brother we were talking like that for hours, and hearing it never stops being funny for me. Having said that, there’s a lot more to this episode than silly voices, including, interestingly enough, a little bit of controversy.
Rarity detractors have often cited Sweet and Elite as evidence that Rarity does not deserve to be called the element of generosity. However, as I pointed out in my Rarity Takes Manehattan video, selfishness and generosity are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, arguably, the biggest reason to be generous to others is that increasing the net quality of life for everyone around you will probably raise your own quality of life as well. Rarity Takes Manehattan more directly commented on that concept, but knowing this also helps us to understand Rarity here.
Rarity’s bad decisions in this episode actually have nothing to do with a lack of generosity, but only to do with a lack of honesty. After all, Rarity never owed Twilight anything to begin with. She didn’t have to make a dress for Twilight’s party, or even attend that party, if she didn’t want to. The only one who really stands to lose anything in any of the episodes scenarios is Rarity, who will either lose her place among the Canterlot elite, or lose her pride as a generous friend.
Cause in the end, that’s what it comes down to more than anything. Rarity is PROUD of the idea that she’s a generous, caring friend. She wants to believe that she’s the kind of pony who would set aside her own personal gain just to make someone else happy. Realistically, Twilight Sparkle would have completely understood if Rarity wanted to go to the high society party instead of to her birthday party. Twilight would’ve had a great time knowing that Rarity was getting to live her dreams up in Canterlot. The person who Rarity is scared of being honest with is not in fact Twilight, but herself.
We really see this in the scene at Twilight’s birthday when Twi discovers Rarity has been attending the other party. Rarity says, “I don’t know why I ever thought you wouldn’t understand.” In that moment, Rarity has gained trust without a doubt that Twilight would’ve totally understood if Rarity wanted to skip out on her party and go to the more important one. However, Rarity STILL doesn’t drop the ruse and admit the truth, because she’s so dead-set on presenting herself as the selfless friend that she wants to be.
All throughout the episode, Rarity contorts the situations she’s involved with to be about her. She didn’t decide to make Twilight the ultimate birthday dress because she knew Twilight would love to have it, she did it to prove that she could design something worthy of Canterlot. Twilight ends up connecting MORE with the half-assed dress that Rarity threw together, which just further shows that Rarity wasn’t designing with Twi’s style in mind to begin with.
Showing a lack of generosity was never what put Rarity in the wrong in this episode. Wanting to be seen as generous so badly that she lied to herself about what she wanted was her problem.
Sweet and Elite also offers a few more glimpses into Rarity’s self-perception, expanding on the ideas presented in Sisterhooves Social that she wants to be the opposite of her family. Rarity actively wants to put a distance between her Ponyville roots and her Canterlot goals, but the funny thing is how she’s not very good at it. Rarity claims that she’s truly a Canterlot pony at heart, but she has to lie and stumble her way through Canterlot’s high society.
As I said in the Sisterhooves Social video, Rarity knows in her heart that she isn’t Canterlot material. If she were, there would be no need for all the acting. She could just confidently insert herself into that society. The problem is that Rarity holds Canterlot above herself. She views all of these ponies as better than her, with opinions more important than her own. The fact that she gets so upset when Jet Set and Upper Crust scoff at her proves that she’s ashamed of herself and still believes in her heart that she’ll never be anything but a Ponyville pony. And at the end of the episode, she seems to come to terms with that.
This episode also introduces us to Fancy Pants, whom I find fascinatingly oblique in his characterization. It’s very clear that Fancy Pants is firmly rooted in Canterlot’s culture, and is comparatively a nice guy, but it’s almost impossible to figure out how self-aware he is about his position. At the end of the episode, Fancy Pants defends Rarity’s friends by calling them “charmingly rustic,” which sways the populace opinion of them among the rest of the elite. But this begs the question: did he know it would happen?
If we assume that Fancy Pants IS self-aware, then that means he’s a nice guy who really likes Rarity and/or her friends, and was purposely throwing his influence around in their defense. But if he ISN’T self-aware, then that means he LEGITIMATELY thought that the mane six were charmingly rustic and found an aesthetic appeal in them, not unlike how Trenderhoof finds the appeal in Applejack in Simple Ways.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the case of Fleu de Lis, whose relationship with Fancy Pants is never specified. Is she just some random rich friend who hangs around him and strikes sexy poses? Is she a trophy girlfriend that he keeps around because she’s clearly some kind of model? Or are they actually true-blue lovers who happen to both be magnificently charismatic trend-setters? The episode doesn’t give us enough info to provide any certainty, making Fancy Pants one of the most mysterious side characters in the entire show.
This episode also provides us one of the show’s best pop songs, the Pony Everypony Should Know, and with this track and a lot of the episode’s dialog, we get to explore the idea of “importance.”
Importance is funny because it’s a completely subjective qualifier which can spread like wild-fire through the public consciousness. Right now, if I told you to make a list of important people, or important films or books, etc., you could probably make a mental list of items right now–but by what standard are you judging what’s important? I could give you a list of films right now that are objectively influential or critically acclaimed, but if I said that this made those films “important,” that would be a completely subjective observation of that data. I could just as easily make a list of films that no one’s ever heard of that I personally think will make you a better person by watching, and that could just as easily be called “important.”
The bottom line is that the only real requirement for something to be considered important, is that somebody considers it important. Canterlot is a place where this idea is taken to the extreme. Why is Fancy Pants important? Because he just IS. He’s been given that value by those around him, with seemingly no basis other than that other ponies consider him important. And believe me, this is a thing that happens in the real world too. Especially in American television, the idea of people who are “famous for being famous” has become prominent in the last decade or so.
Anyways, that about wraps up my thoughts on this episode. Up next I’m going to jump forward a little and take on one of my outright Top 5 favorite episodes of My Little Pony. Be sure and stick around, and remember that you can support my channel by donating via Patreon, paypal, or just by turning off your ad blocker. It helps me out a lot and is a great motivator to get more videos made.