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May. 10th, 2016 @ 10:56 am "Newbie Dash"
Newbie Dash review

Okay, saw this coming. And I knew it was going to be cringeworthy. But this goes beyond the pale.

Let's face facts. Rainbow Dash is a solo act-- she has a huge ego and lives to be in the spotlight. This is precisely the opposite of what you want to have if you're going to work on a TEAM. So there was inevitably going to be an episode on this issue. But anything this episode wanted to achieve, it failed-- largely because of the show's own history and canon.


May I take a minute and first address the fact that putting Dash in the wonderbolts is just a horrible waste of talent? She's canonically the best flier in equestria, objectively better than anyone in the Wonderbolts. Blew the doors off all their academy records, the only one who can do a Rainboom... hell, she's good enough that they tried to poach her off the Ponyville Equestria Games team. And that's before addressing her role as a member of the Elements of Harmony. Joining them is like taking Micheal Jordan and putting him on the pee-wee basketball team.

Remember back at Wonderbolts Academy where Dash KNEW how to work on a team, actually looked out for them, and called Spitfire and Lightning Dust out on LD's reckless grandstanding? Remember how she led Tornado day, how she worked so well with the Equestria Games, Winter Wrap Up, and all the other times when she's been there demonstrating her ability to handle teamwork? Remember when she was what you'd expect from someone who's been doing this her whole life-- COMPETENT? The writers certainly don't.

But of course, as of this episode, somehow it never sunk home in all her years of being part of countless organizations and teams, as well as a Wonderbolts fan (idiot ball #1) that if she became a Wonderbolt, she wouldn't be the star of the show, she'd be just another pony in a uniform. And she suffers this sudden onset brain damage just because Wonderbolts, and only because Wonderbolts.

Oh you do get a sense of her wanting to BELONG in the group, but her approach to getting their attention has been to try and grab a spotlight. In this episode she's force-fed an Incompetence Ball as well so she's suddenly a sub-par flier who has to struggle to keep up with the illustrious anointed Wonderbolt veterans. (Dear GOD I hate those characters. Spitfire is at her absolute lowest, too--- I mean--- she gives Dash a team jacket with the insulting nickname “Rainbow Crash” embroidered on it? And cackles about how she'll mock Dash for YEARS about her wipeout? It's official, Spitfire is worst pony. And the rest of the Wonderbolts aren't far behind.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Back to the first point: the collision was inevitable. Dash the showpony colliding head on with what it means to be part of a team. And we all knew it was going to be painful to watch. But as always, whenever Dash is front and center, the writers decide she had a bowl of Stupid Flakes that morning and have her behave in ways epic in their idiocy. Her efforts to stand out-- or more properly, to get the respect of her (douchebag) teammates--- get more and more cringeworthy, till she finally pulls an epic boner and sabotages the airshow by having Scootaloo push a thundercloud into the middle of it so Dash could show off some extra stunts. Same routine as when she learned Tank was going into hibernation-- more and more foolish efforts till she does something that as a career stunt flier and a lifelong weather pony she would NEVER EVER do.

(Frankly, a story like this doesn't HAVE to be cringe-tastic in skilled hands. Not everybody has to go through a gauntlet of humiliation to learn to work as a team, for crying out loud--- if they did nobody would ever join a team for fear of the inevitable humilation. Come on, go beyond the paradigm, writers!)

But beyond the cliche' cringe factor, the biggest problem with this episode is that any positive message about learning to be part of a team is lost in the fact that Dash is canonically a far better flier AND hero than her idols, so much so that realistically portrayed they'd be holding her back.... and in the fact that the Wonderbolts aren't a worthwhile group to belong to.

Let's review the list of crimes.

1)Incompetence. They bungled an air rescue so badly that Dash had to save their lives.
2)Incompetence. Bungled dealing with Mega-Spike, got taken out in literally a matter of seconds.
3)Dickery. Invited Dash into the VIP lounge at the Grand Galloping Gala.... then ignored her in favor of schmoozing various upper crust knobs.
4)Malice. At Rainbow Falls, tried to lure her away from the Ponyville team... despite being shoo-ins for the qualifiers, and knowing that it would torpedo Ponyville's chances entirely.
5)Malice. Lied to both Dash and Soarin' to facilitate the above.
6)Dickery. Brushed off the whole thing with a lucky pin and the most insincere 'boy we learned our lesson' speech ever.
7)Incompetence. Bagged instantly by the Changelings.
8)Incompetence. Flattened by Tirek instantaneously.
9)Malice and Dickery: one of their retirees frames Dash. The ENTIRE TEAM turns on her instantly, and demands that she prove she didn't do anything or be banned for life--- and give her one day to do it.
(reflect on the fact that this was instigated by a veteran of the team. Backstabbing appears to be a legacy sport with the Wonderbolts.)
10)Utter Dickery: Not only saddled her with an insulting nickname, went so far as to give her an official Wonderbolts jacket with the name sewn on as a patch.

These aren't a crack team of military fliers. They're a squad of bitchy high school popular girls. And Spitfire is their queen. And they have been this way for five seasons solid! They're obnoxious, egotistical and DISLOYAL. Why the HELL is Dash, the Bearer of the Element of Loyalty, even giving them the time of day?

There was no need for Dash to suddenly get an attack of the Stupids. If the episode was about belonging with the group, or being part of the team, it could have been handled so much better. But the writers ignored both her own five seasons of character development, AND the actual character (or lack thereof) of Spitfire and the Wonderbolts.

So what's the lesson here? The one they intended, “being part of the team,” has been lost to any non-adult viewer who won't pick up the nuances. What the target audience is going to pick up after all this time is going to vary from 'don't stand out from the group, that is bad' to “It's okay for the cool kids to treat you like dirt, so long as you finally get 'in' “.

And don't give me that BS about how “every cadet goes through it.” Yes, it's how crack squads induct the rookies, by giving 'em a rough time. It's also how frathouses conduct hazing, and schoolyard gangs initiate new kids into their ranks. And which scenario is the target audience of the show more likely to be facing? Kids don't need lessons in being 'part of the team' when the world is presently so full of blind followers.
About this Entry
pestering
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From:Kevin O'Hare
Date:May 13th, 2016 06:10 am (UTC)
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Hello again Ralph (er, wait, this is my first hello. Hello! Big fan of yours.). =7
Nice to see you doing reviews/Fimpressions again. Heh, and just when I was starting to be ok with the episode. ^_^' (I bet you'd probably call it a "save," what you did for me there, right?)

And I notice you are starting current. Again. =P
Maybe you could cover the other released episodes (if you will) in one blog post, just a few words or paragraphs per ep outlining your thoughts on them. We do enjoy hearing your horse words here (and elsewhere), even when they do make some of us go into a frenzy at times. And we like predicting them, too. Like, what u might say about this one and this other one, and stuff. . .

So, here's what I think u might say of them. . .

The Crystalling?
Read them in the comments of TGAH. U could still make a summary of those thoughts here, or something.

Gift of Maud Pie?
Hmmm, if u had any negative impressions from it. . . . Maybe "Manehattan AGAIN?!"; and/or "Maud Pie again? She's a one-joke character, and boring as mud! Ugh, c'mon! Pinkie has two other sisters, why can't we see them some??"; I'd expect other musings too. . .

On Your Marks?
(see next comment) (Warning: Rant Incoming!)

Gauntlet of Fire?
I dunno, whaddaya think of this attempt to fix "Dragon Quest?"

No Second Prances?
Yeah, your redemption arc for Trixie was better and made better sense on several fronts. But maybe I shouldn't compare canon with fanfics too much, tends to spoil em for me.
As for what we're given here? . . . Eh, you might have something to say about Twilight's shenanigans, Starlight's place in the canon, and Trixie's own placing herself in the cannon. (see what I did there?)

Now, to get back to the current ep for a moment, might I present a brief clallenge here? Ok. . . Why do we call Derpy "Derpy?" And how does this compare (if at all) to the case of the Wonderbolt nicknaming tradition? (And how about terms of endearment between friends? As in, the terms that were once mocking but now can be laughed off and signify a bond between the two. Like Annabeth calling Percy Jackson "seaweed brain." Or if RD continued calling Twilight "egghead" like it's the funniest joke in the world, and Twilight's in on the joke and she laughs along.) (So, previous "Dunderbuttering" aside, the Wonderbolts actually meant well this time, and maybe this was what Rainbow Dash needed to get over the painful ramifications of that old nickname. . . )
(*shrugs*) (Eh, I await the method and reasoning you use to "trash" this, like I expect u would.) ^_^'

Edited at 2016-05-17 07:03 pm (UTC)
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From:Kevin O'Hare
Date:May 14th, 2016 02:14 am (UTC)

On Your Marks?

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(Will you let me do this? After all, you do it too when picking out problems in things and people, apparent or otherwise. And I've read your arguments on the matter (that is, concerning the CMC) and tried to follow your reasoning the best I could (though that's not saying a whole lot), so I believe I got a good idea of where you stand on it. And I've felt the urge to try and reason with you on this, for I want to believe you are capable of being open to considering the issue more. So please.)

(Now for "On Your Marks") . . . (*fumes*) Man oh man, can I see you mincing it a good one and COMPLETELY IGNORING THE SIGNS IT DELIVERS!
(sighs) Assuming you are still harboring those hard feelings (and bitter resentment, so it has seemed) toward the CMC's direction in the show since last season,* I proceed to implore you. . . Can't you please please PLEEEZ give them a chance to prove themselves? To prove to you that their cutie marks aren't necessarily "harbingers of their collective, altruistic doom?" To prove to you that, while it may be a possibility (as I had come to admit at least), it doesn't HAVE to go like that, i.e. the hopeless, self-destructive case you have described?** That there's a chance they could evade/overcome such a path? IS THE SITUATION REALLY SO HOPELESS THAT YOU'D DUMP THEM IN THE WORST POSSIBLE "OFFSCREEN INERTIA?" TO ABANDON THEM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS LIKE CRIPPLES???

TLDR: POSSIBILITY =/= INEVITABLE FATE! Give em a chance! @_@;


. . .

Over the months since reading your article and comments, I've worried, fretted, been consumed with thought over the matter, and yet continued to build hope that it wouldn't come to that. And seeing this episode, thank God, those hopes have only been reinforced. It's apparent here that the writers are, indeed, still interested in them as individuals and as kids and growing characters. =B Loss of individuality my hoof! They are NOT going to see them bleed themselves dry (or be bled dry) looking for cutie mark problems. And they are definitely NOT having their rumps stuck together! Hah! (*pumps fist . . . er, hoof*)

Really, I think they did as well as they could have (short of actively trashing the "altruistic path") in looking at the situation in a realistic light and in showing the CMC's dynamics as a group, as individuals, and as a group of individuals. . . And they scored! ^o^/)

It is my (very small) hope that you will (or already have) come to see this too, and regain a little bit of faith in them. Or at least have an eye open to see what they have in store for our favorite threesome.


*(Might I please hold on to the slim hope that you might've altered your stance (or at least lightened up on it a little) at some point, whether before or after you watched the episode?)

**(you know, that they now can't be anything more or less than "poster girls for collective identity and altruism, destined to be exploited until they are consumed")


Edited at 2016-05-14 02:19 am (UTC)
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From:Kevin O'Hare
Date:May 14th, 2016 03:28 am (UTC)

RE: On Your Marks?

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Oh, one more thing: If you are worried about them slipping into a "Peter Pan hell" (whatever that means), I have one point of advice for you:
LET THEM GROW UP.  ;-)
Yes, let them grow up first and let them decide (then and now) how they want to live their lives, consider their paths and pursue their destinies. If anyone can reassure you, it's them!
And if anyone tries to dictate how they "have" to spend their talents on, they can have a buck to the face!
Just like that! -->/)>~<);
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From:rhjunior
Date:June 23rd, 2016 09:06 pm (UTC)

Re: On Your Marks?

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It's not about "letting them prove themselves." The writers have already proved themselves-- they've proved they don't care a thing about five years of show canon or character development or even internal consistency. They've proven that their concept SUCKS.
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From:Kevin O'Hare
Date:May 14th, 2016 03:19 am (UTC)

RE: On Your Marks?

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To further argue and defend, heres a comment I had copied from the comments section of your review of CotLM. A refutation (and a rather good defense I think) I haven't seen you reply to at all but I wanna see what you say about it.


Vva70
(from Fimfiction)

___________________
>> RealityCheck

    I've addressed the issue of the evils of Comtean altruism elsewhere, so I'll keep it brief:

    "Altruism" is the belief that the virtue of you and your deeds is measured by how much utility they have for others, and how little for yourself. In other words, the most virtuous deed in altruism is one that entirely benefits someone else and gains you nothing. which means

    1)According to altruism, a deed that benefits two people (you and someone else) is LESS virtuous than if it benefitted only one (someone else.)

    2)Destructive or even self-destructive actions are virtuous, no matter how much harm they cause, solely because they were well-intentioned.

    3)Altruism is, by its own logic, immoral--- because in order to give, someone must receive. So every virtuous deed results in an equivalent vice on someone else's part!!

    Altruism turns "thank you for helping me" into "You should be thankful I'm letting you help me." It turns heroic sacrifices into nothing more than the recipient's just due.

    It is evil to measure the worth of a person by how much utility you or "society" gets out of them. Doing so is a guarantee that they will be exploited until they are consumed.

-------------------------------------

Vva70:
I'm with you on all of this.

_____________________

    The CMC have been given marks that outright state they measure their self-worth entirely by how useful they are to others. Even their individual natures are sublimated to the collective mark they share.  Their gifts and talents are not theirs to use to better themselves, but a public resource to be demanded. They are not individuals to be cherished but a social resource to be used, like a public bloody drinking fountain. Cutie Mark Social Service Workers.
------------------------

But I don't think that this necessarily follows.

There are two claims here:

A: The CMC all receiving variants on the same mark somehow means that "their individual natures are sublimated to the collective mark they share." In other words, having the same or very similar cutie marks necessarily diminishes their individuality.

B: Because the mark that the three received (and as well the corresponding "special talent") is rooted in service to others, this means that "they measure their self-worth entirely by how useful they are to others" and that "They are not individuals to be cherished but a social resource to be used, like a public bloody drinking fountain." Having a passion and talent for helping others is thus somehow degrading.

With regard to point A, I just don't understand it. These are three close friends who have been shown in the past to have similar interests and passions. Is it really that surprising that they share similar marks? How is it any less individualistic than the Apple family trend towards apple-based cutie marks? In fact, how could the exact same argument not be applied to Applejack and Big Mac? The two elder Apple siblings share more-or-less the same substance behind their cutie marks and talents, although the graphical designs are different. And yet I don't see how anyone can claim that AJ and Big Mac are somehow lessened in their individuality as a result.

Moving on to point B, while I agree with you on altruism, not all help and service to others falls under the rubric of equating altruism with virtue. I see the passion of the Crusaders for helping other ponies understand their talents as an example of charity, not altruism. It's not some goofy equation where self-edification diminishes the worth of the service done; rather the Crusaders are and ought to be edified when they help others. I'd like to point out that both Pinkie Pie and Cheerilee also have cutie marks and "special talents" which are focused primarily on helping others. Pinkie Pie has a talent for making ponies smile. Cheerilee has a talent for helping ponies learn and grow. How does this criticism apply to the CMC, but not apply to Pinkie Pie and Cheerilee?
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From:Kevin O'Hare
Date:May 14th, 2016 08:05 am (UTC)
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I'm . . . getting the feeling that maybe I shouldn't have posted so much, so soon, at such lengths, and with such challenge (or cluelessness, whichever way you may see it), hardly giving you a chance to read and process and reply to it all. I apologize if I was being annoying that way. Not the best first impression for my debut here. . .

. . . Ah. . . just, take your time with all this, and plz, bear with me. And I hope u let me have the chance to comment in the future. With much shorter posts, hopefully.

Edited at 2016-05-17 07:05 pm (UTC)