Man Versus Cute

My daughter had her eighth birthday the other day.

This isn’t the tomboy one that wants to be a ninja. This is the other one; the girly one. The one that likes cute stuff and actually plays with stuffed animals.

Anyway, among her presents was a DVD of the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

We don’t have cable (by choice) and I’d not seen the current incarnation of the My Little Pony toy line before, but I remember the old version from the 1980s, or whenever it was.

The old toy line was harmless enough, I guess. The ponies had horrible multicoloured manes and tails at ridiculous lengths, but at least they looked vaguely equine apart from that.

I have vague recollections of there being some sort of TV series that went with the toys back then, too, but I never saw it. I was a boy. I wouldn’t have watched it even if given the opportunity.

The new ones bear about as much visual relation to equines as Hello Kitty does to a cat. The eyes have become monstrously huge, taking over the entire face in tarsier fashion, and the snout is a little snub of a nubbin that looks as much like a raccoon’s snout as a horse’s.

The biologist in me could cope with the unnatural colours and the insane hair. But this is too far. It’s like the difference between Barbie and those awful Bratz dolls. Barbie’s proportions may be unnatural, but at least she’s humanoid. Those dreadful Bratz things are all eyes and lips, distorted mockeries of human form that have become ugly as sin in the pursuit of more cuteness.

But I’d have forgiven the ponies even their distorted looks if it weren’t for the personalities they are portrayed as having in the TV series.

To a one, they all seem to have severe Attention Deficit Disorder, and a number of them are apparently hyperactive as well.

We have an ADD child, and while I’ll be the first to admit that ADD has advantages as well as drawbacks, we do have to raise her to be able to act in the non-ADD world. I don’t need a show that encourages and normalises the tendency to blurt out whatever comes into her head and act on whatever impulse she is currently experiencing.

Worse, it’s like watching a dozen teenage versions of Elmo from Sesame Street.

One was bad enough, and at least on Sesame Street there’s the chance of a few adults around to mitigate and balance Elmo’s permanent babyishness. Elmo’s a permanent two-year-old. It’s the way he’s designed.

But a dozen ponies acting like the worst sort of immature teenagers and preteens is just painful.

Oh, I guess that morally it’s not that objectionable. The lessons (and everything has to teach moral lessons these days) are good ones like not worrying about what others think, being a friend, loyalty and so on. The point gets made with a sledgehammer a lot, but at least the ponies don’t come on afterwards to “talk about what we’ve learned” or otherwise reinforce an already-obvious moral.

No, it’s just the characters that are too annoying for words.

Even worse than that is the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls DVD that also walked into our house.

Here are the same direly immature personalities, with the same unnatural hair colours and skin colours, but now bizarrely reshapen into vaguely humanoid form.

Yeah. Ponies shaped like girls. And people worry about genetically modified crops.

I thought the goal of parenting was that children would actually grow up, not that we’d spend millions of dollars reinforcing their most childish tendencies.

Still, Brianna is thrilled with her presents. And I dare say that there were a few things that I loved as a child that my parents couldn’t stand.

I’d like to think that what I watched was better quality, though, but quite probably I’m glossing over things. My generation has to answer for the success of the original My Little Ponies, the Cabbage Patch dolls, the fairly silly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.


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