Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Future of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Hi, guys. A few quick disclaimers. 1) This post comes from 100% caring and concern. I never want to cause offense. 2) Take careful note that I am ONE CHRISTIAN. While several Christians would probably agree with what I'm about to say, be very careful not to let yourself stereotype anyone, or put words into the mouths of other people. But I do feel genuinely led, by God, to write this post.

That said, I've been thinking about something for awhile now. Right now, it seems pretty hard to deny that the fandom, and show itself, are... struggling a bit. Fan activity has definitely seen a decline, and ratings are down.

But none of us want to see that happen, do we? Well, what if I told you there is a solution? What if we could bring things back to their 2010-2012 glory which I've seen so much since I became a fan in 2014? It is possible. But I do need you to be open-minded about the solution I'm about to present. I may sound insane in this post. But I am writing this out of love for my fellow fans, and for the show, and I urge you to take this message into serious consideration.

I heard somewhere that Lost Treasure of Griffonstone was the last episode to have ratings as high as it did. We (apparently?) haven't had an episode with ratings that high since that episode. But even if I'm wrong on that, the problem clearly at least started somewhere around that point. Now, I admit this isn't the strongest point to start with, but while we are talking about Griffonstone, that episode did rub me the wrong way a bit. The whole "you don't need some dumb idol to do that, you just need each other" line seemed... out of place? And it had this kind of air of... secular humanist sentiment? But I admit I can be paranoid, and nobody else seemed to take issue with that episode, even other Christians. So I just shrugged it off and assumed there was something I was missing and that I was reading into it too much, which is definitely a possibility. But what if I wasn't? I don't know the person who wrote the episode, but what if some sentiment like that was weaved into the episode? Keep the possibility (possibility!) in mind as we continue here.

Let's move on to something that's an undeniable fact: there is a lot of clop art in the fandom. I've written about the brony fandom in the past, and I've mentioned the R34 end of it. It honestly seems difficult sometimes to find a quality artist who doesn't have several NSFW images in their galleries. Don't get me wrong - there are many artists who don't. This fandom has a lot of amazing artists! Maybe I'll link some of them here eventually. But a lot of art in this fandom is clop, or at least really, really suggestive. All it honestly seems to take is a few clicks on "More from . . ." or a couple people's collections on DeviantArt, and you already start to find borderline NSFW art. This isn't an isolated incident - it's happened to me several times. Keep this in mind also.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room: episode 100. Lyra and Bon Bon. Now, let me take one quick detour to explain something very clearly here: God does not "hate" LGBT people as the Westboro Baptist Heretics claim. While, yes, sex with the same gender is forbidden, this is not God "hating" LGBT people. God forbade a practice, not a person. So with all that in mind, you'd, very understandably, wonder what the issue is with Lyra and Bon Bon. Well, for starters, watch 0:00-0:15 and 1:23-1:27 in this clip. Keep in mind this is a cartoon originally meant for kids. No heterosexual couple in MLP ever behaved this way. Not Cadance or Shining Armor, nor the Cakes. No matter if this were about a gay couple or a straight couple or anything else, the clip I just linked shows very questionable behavior, especially for a kids' show. And yes, I know it never states outright that they're a couple. But let's be honest with ourselves, all the "best friends" comments on every single post about them speak for themselves. The clip itself speaks for itself. And ever since this episode aired, Lyra and Bon Bon have always been shown together in the background. There used to be a time when they weren't. You would see one of them, with other people. Now it's nearly always them, together. If you ask me, that actually paints the LGBT movement in a very bad light, given that, apparently, two mares literally slapping their butts together was required to get the point across to viewers, whereas with heterosexual couples, they just... you know? Existed like normal characters? But this carries stronger implications than just a misunderstanding of the LGBT movement's [claimed?] intentions. I've done research on what the Bible says about "homosexuality" and "LGBT" issues, and (CONTROVERSY ALERT) I just cannot find where it says, outright, in plain words, that gay marriage is actually forbidden. Sexual relations are forbidden, yes, but marriage itself? I can't find it. I also can't find where the Bible says it's wrong to date someone of the same gender if sexual relations are not involved. But, and this is crucially important, I still oppose gay marriage and dating someone of the same gender. Why is that? Because one thing the Bible does make clear is that we should not promote things if they may lead someone into temptation. And, controversial it may be to say, the concept of "dating" someone of the same gender is a textbook example of what 1 Corinthians 8 is talking about. The temptation will eventually arise. The two will eventually want to move forward in the relationship, which will lead to sin. And yes, I'm aware of asexuality. But even if we're talking about homo- or biromantic asexuals, it's still a textbook example of something that can lead others to temptation when they see the two together, and don't fully understand the situation, no different than Christians in the first century AD eating food meant for idols. And this is where the issue persists with Lyra and Bon Bon. Even if we ignore the clip in episode 100, persistently pairing them together like this still promotes a practice where it's way too easy for people to misunderstand and be led into temptation as a result. It's way too easy in society for people to see a same-sex couple, and then be under the mistaken impression that the unquestionably sinful activities in the LGBT community are suddenly "okay", too, and so 1 Corinthians 8 definitely applies. KEEP IN MIND, I did not, at any point in this paragraph, disclose my own orientation. It's a personal thing I just do not want to talk about. But you may assume, since I disagree with gay marriage, that I'm a heterosexual. Take this paragraph as it is - don't just assume that it's written from the point of view of a heterosexual. A homosexual or bisexual etc can still disagree with gay marriage! Just read the paragraph as it is.

Now, remember what I said about Griffonstone? Compare the message of that episode to the message of "Feeling Pinkie Keen", a much earlier episode, where a staunch skeptic is forced to question their skepticism in the face of blatant evidence of supernatural truths. Now, yes, the episode itself uses the example of superstition (which is false in our world) rather than a belief system that has an actual basis in reality, but the basic point of questioning one's skepticism is still addressed. I'm not trying to suggest at all that the old episodes were some kind of modern-day scriptural parables, just that the overall message and tone the show wanted to convey was much different than what it often seems to convey now. And that ever since the show really got away from that, there has been a very obvious problem growing.

But wait! What about "Hearthbreakers", where Pinkie's dad says, "May providence favor thee well"? Providence is a word that refers to God's will. There was also the recent episode "A Hearth's Warming Tail", where Starlight (can't remember the character portrayed by her!) is faced with an ultimatum, and things aren't resolved until she apologizes for her actions. Very comparable to seeking forgiveness for one's sins. So yes, there are still Christian-friendly messages to be found in the show, and they seem to be very blatant when they appear. Now, I admit I don't watch a lot of fan reactions to things. I do watch a couple brony analysts, but not a lot, really. But, and this is where things start to get very important, it really genuinely seemed to me that people responded really well to the two aforementioned episodes. The fandom, from what I generally see of it, seemed to really like those two episodes. 


It's time to start putting the puzzle pieces together.

Why did the show do well when "Feeling Pinkie Keen" was released, and drop almost immediately when "Lost Treasure of Griffonstone" was released? Why did people respond well to those two episodes at a time when it seems a lot of people really seem to be pretty bored by a lot of episodes? 

Because this is simply a modern example of an ages-long occurrence. Hebrews 12:6 says that God "disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son." In ancient Israel, there were many times the people fell to idolatry, and God punished them for it, allowing other countries to take over them. This, once again, is not to be taken as God being cold-hearted or cruel - QUITE the contrary! God allows things like this in order to tell us that something is wrong, so that we can learn from it. Sin harms us, and God disciplines us in order to teach us, and to help us get away from things that will hurt us. And the conclusion I've been left to draw here is, simply, that the same is happening with MLP. What does that mean?

We need to refocus MLP. What began as, yes, a show that was not overtly Christian in nature, but was almost exclusively great for Christian viewing, has begun taking a much more sinful direction, both in canon and in fan work. And I understand that you may not agree with this conclusion. But I have to ask, then, what other possibility there could be at this point. Things just seem to add up so perfectly. Yes, I do understand the basic idea that some people may simply be losing interest in the show. Yes, I did think of that. But something, as I just explained in the very long post above, is now missing from the show, and it's something we need to bring back. And given the specific times when the show began declining, and just everything in general here, there are just too many coincidences for me to believe there isn't some kind of message to be found in all of this. 

While it may sound silly at first, we need to repent. Yes, we're talking about a TV show, but there are still things here from which we all need to repent. Things need to change. We need to allow God to work in MLP. I myself allowed God to work in my life again when I was suicidal, when I was wandering aimlessly in life asking questions I never thought I'd get answered, when I was still involved in occult practices and almost completely lost in spiritual lies, and God helped me. God showed me answers to all of my questions, God got me away from my suicidal feelings, God got me away from the evil I had allowed into my life... All this is just a small example of the power of God. With God's blessing, who can begin to imagine the possibilities? ... With God's blessing, the show that we love so much, from which many of us have learned many life lessons, which we enjoy in this world of stress and hate and intolerance... this show can become something amazing, and can be used with God's gracious power to work amazing things in our world. 

I want MLP to continue for a long time. There are very few things in life I'm passionate about, but MLP is one of those things, and it seems I'm not alone in that sentiment. But guys, we need to accept that there's a problem with the way things are now. Maybe you genuinely don't see it. Maybe you do, and just don't want to hear "some" "religious" "person" "complaining", or something. But I sternly, with all caring and sincerity, urge you to consider what I'm saying. Every time I took my troubles to God, every time I welcomed His assistance, things only got better, and every time I tried to ignore His voice, things only got worse. Not to say that life is perfect for believers - Jesus Himself was crucified and abandoned by His own friends! But... I suppose it's hard to explain. Having faith in Jesus, allowing God's help in your life... It's just wonderful. And I want to see that same wonderfulness shine through MLP. I don't want MLP to go down the route I went a few years ago. Rather, I want MLP to go the route I went almost exactly 2 years ago, in June 2014, when God began to break the final shackles the darkness had on me. I wouldn't be here today if God hadn't been there to help me. I would have either accidentally died or just flat-out killed myself at some point. But I didn't. I'm alive, and even though I do still face struggles, things are nothing like they used to be, things are so much better. 

I care about MLP, and I care about the fandom, and I care about the community and friendship we have, and I want to see all of that thrive in the same way as - no, even better than - what I've experienced. And I know that you guys want all of this to continue to thrive as well. I am more active in the community than I might have accidentally implied earlier in this post. I do see a lot of comments. I see how much you guys care about MLP and about the fandom, and you care a lot. And so in light of all this, I very, very, very, very, very, very, very strongly urge you all to consider what I said here. We don't want the show to continue to decline. And the only solution I've seen people really bring up is to go into a state of panic or just jump ship altogether. ... Which is what my answer to things used to be! But if we allow God into the picture? There's no reason at all to worry. 

But guys.



To be willing.

To take that step.

Are you willing to take this step?

I'll end the main (mane) part of this post with a quote from Hebrews 12:11:
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.


Now, for those who are interested in taking this step, I just want to quick list a few things you may want to check out. A small list of Christian brony resources I have found. I hope to add more as I find them, but here they are for now:

[Facebook group - Christian Bronies]

[YouTube channel - Shady Oak Ministries]

[Tumblr - Gospel According to MLP:FiM]

[Tumblr - MLP Bible Blog]

[DeviantArt - Christian Bronies group]

[DeviantArt - Bronies for Christ group] (this one seems to be more active)

[YouTube - A Christian brony death metal song!]

I hope and pray that this is enough to get you started! 

May God bless and guide you all according to His perfect will. In Jesus' name. Amen.  

PS - Are you skeptical about Jesus?

No comments:

Post a Comment