Monday, August 24, 2015

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: stories of friendship and teamwork

My Little Pony first appeared in 1983 by Hasbro following their My Pretty Pony line. It was very popular worldwide until 1995. My Little Pony was reintroduced in 2010 with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic movie and cartoons. The new show introduced Twilight Sparkle, a studious unicorn pony, who is sent to Ponyville to learn about friendship by her mentor, Princess Celestia. She soon becomes friends with five ponies who each represent a different facet of friendship: Rainbow Dash (loyalty), a tomboyish pegasus who helps control weather, Rarity (generosity), a glamorous unicorn with a flair for fashion, Fluttershy (kindness), a shy and timid Pegasus who is fond of nature and enjoys taking care of animals, Pinkie Pie (laughter), a hyperactive pony who loves to throw parties, and Applejack (honesty), a hard working pony who works her family’s apple farm. Together, the power of their friendship overcomes great evil and other problems which comes their way. The new line was so popular that in 2013, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls was introduced. In this series of movies, the characters are teenage girls in high school dealing with common problems.

When the Equestria Girls first came out, I was adamant that my daughter would not have anything to do with this line of movies and toys. As my daughter got older and become aware of this new line, she began to beg to watch it. So, one day, I gave in. I decided that we would watch it together. One, so I can see what it was about and then tell her why she couldn’t watch it. But by the end of the movie, I realized that I was wrong about this show. First, I would like to introduce the movies in which the toys are based on. Second, I will discuss what I liked about the show. Lastly, I will discuss some of the criticisms that I have read from other parents.

First, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls premiered on June 26, 2013 in which Princess Twilight Sparkle is transported to a human-like world of Equestria after her crown in stolen. There she meets the human equivalents of her friends. Together with her friends, Twilight Sparkle must stop Sunset Shimmer, retrieve her crown before the portal between the worlds is closes. This movie had a lot of lessons about friendship, standing up to bullies, and the ability of people to change. There are great musical numbers which are real catchy. One of my favorite songs is “Time to Come Together,” a song about coming together, pooling unique and individual talents to achieve a goal. The second film, Rainbow Rocks, premiered on September 27, 2014. Princess Twilight Sparkle returns to Equestria to help her friendships as Sirens plot to take over the school and the world. Again, the message of friendship and overcoming differences is the main theme of the movie as Twilight Sparkle and her friends are able to overcome the power of the Sirens. A third movie, Equestria Girls: Friendship Games, is set to premiere on September 26, 2015. In this film, the students of Canterlot High School get ready to prepare for the annual “Friendship Games,” a sporting competition against their rival school, Crystal Prep Academy.

I have three main reasons why I enjoyed the first two Equestria Girls movies. First, the lessons of standing up to bullies as well as standing up for others. Twilight Sparkle stands up to a bully for Fluttershy, who is shy and timid. In a society in which bullying has become a big problem, we need to be able to teach our children in different ways that we treat others like we want to be treated. Children need to learn that standing up for someone is just as important as standing up for yourself. Second, I like to see a group of girls with very different personalities be able to come together, despite those differences, and rise to the challenge or goal that they are facing. This scenario is the center of Rainbow Rocks, when the girls’ pride and selfishness keeps them from working together. They soon realize that they are more powerful together. The importance of teamwork and how some situations in which cooperation with others is key in order to see it through. Lastly, I enjoyed seeing the lesson that people can be redeemed. They can see the error of their ways and strive to better themselves and be a better person to others. This lesson is seen with Sunset Shimmer who was the bully in Equestria Girls and is trying to undo the damage done in Rainbow Rocks. It is a lesson that sometimes someone just needs a chance to prove that they have truly changed.

The main criticism of the Equestria Girls features the design of the characters. According to one reviewer, the girls are same body type and the same style of clothes (top, skirt and legwarmer shoes). The girls seems too sexed up to be appropriate a la Bratz or Monster High. Another reviewer commented that “you have to look and act a certain way to be fun, cute or normal.” I wonder if she saw the same movie I did. The six main girls do have the similar body styles, however, they do not act or look the same. Fluttershy is timid and quiet while Pinkie Pie is outgoing. Rainbow Dash is athletic and Rarity is a girly-girl. How this acting or being the same? To me, they are more polar opposites. Polar opposites who still are able to become friends despite their differences. Another criticism is the “need” of a love interest in the story. I’m sorry but every Disney princess has had a love interest (with two exceptions) and no one bats an eye. Why are these films different? Third, the villains near the end of the films are too scary for young viewers. I think this criticism has a valid point. However, what is deemed too scary is on a child by child basis. For example, my daughter is three and a half and has no problem watching scary images in cartoons but my niece who is two months older, does. It’s an example how age does not indicate if a child is ready.

In conclusion, I have been proved wrong about the Equestria Girls. I found myself being able to identify with each of the main characters. The first two films, at least, are fun and filled with many lessons on about friendship, teamwork and giving others a chance. I will have to view the third film when it premieres to see if it follows the same standard. I am still apprehensive about my daughter having the Equestria Girls dolls, but for now, she is content with watching the movies and playing with the My Little Pony dolls. If your children are expressing interest in the Equestria Girls, I recommend watching it yourself before taking a decision. These movies may not be for every child and, as parents, we need to be actively aware what is available for our children and decide what is appropriate. If we see something we don’t like, we need to teach our children why a certain behavior is inappropriate. We can’t just turn off the TV and say you can’t watch that without an explanation. Children aren’t stupid. They will wonder why and seek it out without your knowledge. I recommend giving My Little Pony and My Little Pony: Equestria girls a chance. It is filled with life lessons which everyone in the family can relate to and learn from.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,
My Little Pony: Equestria Girls,
Rainbow Rocks

Are available on DVD and on Netflix