Tuesday, March 1, 2011

«Feeling Pinkie Keen Controversy»

One of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episodes sparked a bit of a controversy among some of the fans. The moral at the end in the form of a letter:

I am happy to report that I now realize there are wonderful things in this world you just can't explain. But that doesn't necessarily make them any less true. It just means you have to choose to believe in them. And sometimes, it takes a friend to show you the way.

- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Keep in mind, most of the outspoken fan-base are like me; denizens of the darker side of the internet (4chan). There's a disproportionate number of skeptics and atheists in the community.

Basically, Pinkie Pie had a precognitive ability that manifested itself as involuntary twitches. Twitching tail means something's about to fall, for example. The scientific-minded Twilight Sparkle wouldn't accept a supernatural explanation, and was determined to find the true reason for Pinkie's ability. In the end, she gave up and just accepted it (and thus the moral).

This may seem like an odd thing to become an issue in a cartoon that has regular use of magic and mythical creatures. However, the magic is portrayed in the series as an extension of science. That being specific spells have a predictable and repeatable outcome, and it can be studied and understood. It's not presented as a supernatural thing that "just is". Twilight Sparkle's ongoing studies to understand the literal Magic of friendship shows this.

The general issue with it was that kids are gullible enough as it is. They shouldn't be taught to believe something without proof just because they're told by someone. It was perceived to promote noncritical thinking; a sort of "don't bother trying to understand things" message. And yes, Santa Claus and religion were pulled into the big discussion.

Lauren Faust's response on her DeviantART site was:

Wow. It's so not what I ever hoped anybody would ever take away from that episode. It's a really awful message and I'd never dream of suggesting it.

I'm so disappointed, especially since it's seems to be completely ruining what I thought was one of our funniest episodes.

I'm really sorry and if I could have anticipated such a misunderstanding, I would have revised it.

- Lauren Faust

I think ourimaler summed up quite nicely how I feel about the episode:

Dear Mrs Faust,

I (and several others from have been among those who have criticized the message of "Feeling Pinky Keen". Most of us, however, admit upon further thought that we overreacted:

Part of it, as another commenter has said, probably stems from identifying with Twilight. Part of it, perhaps, is from projection between Pinky Pie's precognition and claims that real-world skeptics debunks. But beside that...I think a large part of it is that some of us have gotten USED to seeing the "skepticism is bad, m'kay?" message in media - to the point that when we watched this episode, we reflexively saw it instead of the intended "hubris is bad".

Does that mean I think there was NOTHING wrong with the episode? Eh...I wouldn't go that far. The chasm scene will always bug me, there was some unfortunate phrasing, and I do believe the message got muddied a bit in the end. I admit, however, that my negative reaction probably stemmed less from problems with the episode than my own defensiveness.

- ourimaler

I have to say the moral in this episode had a very different feel, and I still am left feeling a little unsettled and at odds with it. I wouldn't say it ruined the episode for me though.

Here's the episode, if you are (wo)man enough to watch 22 minutes and 1 second of My Little Pony.

My Little Pony : Friendship Is Magic - S01E15 - Feeling Pinkie Keen - vostfr


  1. OK I girlied up (or, more correctly, down!) and watched it. Don't like. "You have to have faith" NOooooo :((

  2. @ Linda: Yeah, this one was different than the rest like that. Not one of the best episodes in that regard. Usually skepticism turns out to be right in this series.

  3. I honestly think abortion was invented for these bunch of idiots who are thinking WAY too much on a cartoon with colorful magical ponies! Let us go over this word again, "Cartoon" more or less events with in them are hard to believe and come off as impossible because there are no limits in the creator's mind, and they just thought it'd be funny (Translation for you 4chan people: Do it for teh lulz, and get paid for it!). If the master creator wanted to tie religion into an episode, we would see Pinkie Pie dressed like a Pony Nun. Which would be both adorable and hilarious.

    1. Yes. Abortion was invented for people who were already born, and could not be indentified as "overthinkers" until they reach thinking age, well after they are born.


  4. So Lauren Faust admits that she just did a bad job writing that episode?

    It's not just the unintended anti-skepticism message that bugs me, this episode has some examples of general bad writing as well. Such as how Pinkie Pie gains a superpower that had never before been mentioned and has never been mentioned since (except once in Season 2), but we're supposed to believe she's had it all along. And since "but Pinkie Sense is real" seems to be the creators' excuse for why this episode isn't anti-skepticism, for me it instead looks like Pinkie Sense came out of nowhere to transform Twilight into a strawman for skeptics, and the disproportionate amounts of slapstick comedy don't help (falling pianos? What is this, Looney Toons?)

    So basically, I can't help but read into this episode no matter how much they try to deny it. But I can give them the benefit of the doubt and say they just made a writing blunder, rather than call them outright liars.

  5. @ Anonymous (#4): With the anvil, it was definitely a Looney Toons moment. It was meant to be. So on one hand I can see where they were coming from, but I wasn't a big Looney Toons fan as a kid. So I can't say I liked that part either.

    You're right about the "but it's real" point. Twilight doesn't have access to the information the audience or writers have about it. She doesn't know it's real.

  6. Unicorns. It's a show about unicorns and baby dragons and magical moon-mares and pegasi that clear the clouds out of the sky and make rainbows. And people are taking issue with a message about having believing in magic that is aimed at 5-year olds? jumping jesus on a pogostick.

    1. It is precisely because it is aimed at children. Children take in everything they see; and now they see their favorite show telling them not to question things they don't understand and just "take it on faith." It smacks of religious indoctrination, and denies critical thinking.

  7. Jup, sometimes you simply have to believe.
    Simple as that.

    Atheism is a stupid faith...

    1. Atheism is as much a faith, as OFF is a TV channel.

      "Just having to believe" turns off the mind. "Just having to believe" would not have given us the modern world, nor computers and the internet for "believers" to spread their messages of belief - they use the products of pure science and unbelief to tell people to shut down their minds and follow God - don't think, just believe...

  8. Every bit as reactionary as their Christian counterparts, it's just a show. Nobody RUINED anything or did a poor job writing an episode. So your parents made you go to church, were too strict, and you missed out on shit as a kid. Let it go.


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