The Grand Galloping Gala

24 Nov


It’s easy to dismiss the My Little Pony franchise as a ploy to brainwash little girls into badgering their parents to buy overpriced plastic horse toys with colourful manes. Not so!

There’s more going down in Ponytown than the casual observer would think.

Scholar Walton Wood makes a case that each episode focuses on values such as tolerance, kindness, sincerity, sportsmanship, and other socially positive messages. Don’t believe it? Check the sources! We talkin’ about Baudrillard, biatch.

The first season’s finale foregrounds the characteristic of excess when the ponies attend the Grand Galloping Gala, a high society gathering hosted by Twilight’s mentor, Princess Celestia. Our little ponies are patently miserable the entire evening; their idea of a good time is entirely incompatible with social milieu in which they find themselves. This is not a carnival, but rather a stodgy social order that values restraint over release.

— Walton Wood

Wood dissects the characters, using off-the-wall references to everything from Canadian literacy theorist Northrop Frye‘s idea of the archetype to French Renaissance writer  Rabelais‘ work on medieval carnival culture. The study ends rebutting the idea there’s no value in watching a wildly fictional kids’ cartoon show.

MLP:FiM obviously advocates for openness and tolerance in the social realm, but it also encourages us to strive for those same values on the intellectual plane, in the sociality of knowledge.



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