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G1 Speaks For Itself [Jan. 29th, 2013|03:28 am]
Symphonic Rock Productions
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Just to make it a proper trilogy of posts, I thought I’d put up a G1 episode for those who are unfamiliar with the old MLP TV series. So that you too may be able to say you watched one episode.

But which episode to put up? I thought about one that was exceptionally funny, one that was really, really dark, one that showed there was indeed character development, ect, ect, ect. But why try to dispel false arguments?

So here’s what I would call an average episode of the old TV series, which I chose simply because one of the ponies that figures prominently in it is kind of a proto-fluttershy, even though she’s not a Pegasus. And also because I have a friend watching who has a particular fascination for sentient plant life.

So, here’s what Bronies claim to be the unwatchably flat, one dimensional, devoid of personality, and otherwise totally disinteresting characters of the old show, submitted for your judgment.

Well, to be honest, even back in the day I understood there would be cringeability in this for most adult males. I just don’t see why anyone would think the new show has any less of a cringe factor. I really don’t think MLP has changed that much at all. I think it’s the adult males who are different these days.


[User Picture]From: aethwolf
2013-01-29 08:38 am (UTC)
Personally, I think it's G3/3.5 that's unwatchable trash. I see G1 as being held back almost entirely by it being a 1980s toy ad/cartoon for girls. G3/3.5, on the other hoof, dropped all pretenses of being entertainment a few times and went into blatant toy ad territory, and it sometimes dropped all pretense of being either and went straight for "keep 2 year olds distracted for 10 minutes so mom can get some peace and quiet".
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[User Picture]From: symphonic_rp
2013-01-29 11:59 am (UTC)
I don't see where the new show is any less an ad for girl’s toys than the old one. In both cases that was an asset, because Hasbro was willing to pay for high quality commercials.

Also, they knew back then as well that the toy line could be marketed to boys. That's why MLP looked more like Dungeons And Dragons than Lady Lovelylocks. And this is why I can't understand why Bronies don't seem to notice this is not a girl's cartoon at all, any more than the new show is a girl's cartoon. It's a general kids cartoon, equally attractive to both genders due to its rare mix of gratuitous cuteness and heavy adventure.
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[User Picture]From: aethwolf
2013-01-30 12:18 am (UTC)
A lot of what I've seen of G1 has felt like the creative people behind it were held back by executive decisions based on what the executives thought would appeal to young girls. I can see lots of G4 in G1, but something is holding it back. It's kind of like the difference between a clean electric guitar and one played with the gain cranked. Both are fine, but only one gets me totally amped and excited.
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[User Picture]From: symphonic_rp
2013-01-30 05:48 am (UTC)
Well, unfortunately, you rarely get a glimpse into what went on behind the scenes with 80's cartoons. But there will be executive decisions in any animation production.

Because we don't have that behind the scenes info, it's not really possible to know what demographic the show was intended for. We can only assume, due to the other shows that shared the hour in which the MLP serials were offered, that it was intended for small children.

But if it was not the case that Hasbro pulled the writers aside and said "Write stories that will appeal to boys as well as girls," then the writers must have pulled a fast one on Hasbro, because what they came up with was anything but a show about tea parties.

If it's held back by anything it's probably the broadcast standards for children's shows that existed at the time. They could be scarier than they are now, but there was a certain level of mentality they couldn't go beyond. There was no making cartoons for adults on TV at that time. Everything had to be kept under a level that kids could be expected to understand.

Yet, they found themselves dealing with what had become the common elements of adult fantasy. The writers themselves may have been D&D players or fantasy novel readers. They may have come up with very complicated plots and been frustrated by the fact that they couldn't put them in a form that kids could be expected to understand. So, whether by executive decision or their own, things that might have been there were just cut, and the holes left there with the thought that kids wouldn't notice and no adults would be paying attention.

So, like I've said, those holes really make the show from an adult perspective. We can only speculate as to what might have been there, and fans may come up with fill even better than what the writers conceived.

But I'm sure these cuts never had anything to do with the show being for girls, because it never was. It's a boy’s show with girl characters. They even gave Megan a brother to add more boy appeal.

It's one of those unique anomalies that occur when Furry is involved. Barbie can only be for girls, but horses are equally appealing to both genders. Thus Hasbro ended up with the first fashion dolls that could be sold to boys.

Maybe they weren't prepared for this. Maybe they initially intended a marketing campaign that was solely directed at girls. But sometime before they got to the cartoon stage they realized the appeal to boys and gave the go ahead for a highly unusual cartoon that would hook both girls and boys.

If this theory is correct, it seems highly unlikely that they cut anything because it was inappropriate for either gender. I'm sure the target age group was their main consideration.
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[User Picture]From: aethwolf
2013-01-30 06:00 am (UTC)
It's pretty well known that Hasbro's intent for MLP was little girls while the boys got the likes of Transformers. The packaging and accessories included with the ponies pretty well define it as girly.

Look at how everything is relatively muted compared to G4. Firefly is nowhere near as cocky and what-not as Rainbow Dash. That's the kind of held back I'm talking about. It's all very muted and safe, which just smacks of marketing of whoever saying "Tone it down, we'll appeal to a wider audience that way!"
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[User Picture]From: symphonic_rp
2013-01-30 07:15 am (UTC)
Transformers was targeted to a higher age group. MLP was for "little" kids. So, yes, there was much toning down.

One thing you have to realize about Rainbow Dash is that she is a comedic character. The older characters were taken more seriously. The new characters are just this side of being Warner Bros. style toonish. That's why, though there are characters in the old series that are cocky like Rainbow Dash, none can be over the top like Rainbow Dash.

There were cartoons in the 80's that could do that, but it would have been out of context for MLP.

The spirit of Rainbow Dash is there in some of the more head strong and cocky pegesi, of which Firefly is only one. But if any of them had ever nosedived into the ground, they wouldn't have just gotten up and been alright like some elastic toon. Which is probably why the writers never let them do that.

This I would consider a legitimate complaint. If Bronies were saying the old show wasn't toony enough for them, I'd understand that.

But that a cartoon aimed at 3 to 7 year olds is muted and deliberately doesn't go to extremes is just to be expected.

What's unexpected is that it has appeal far beyond that target audience because it's not nearly as muted as it could have been.

I quite understand if fans of the new show don’t find the old show appealing. It is very different. It’s the need to make up things that aren’t true to explain why they don’t like it, or to excuse their not giving it a fair watch, that rubs me the wrong way. Say the animation is limited, say it’s too kid friendly, say the characters are saccharine sweet, say the songs are juvenile, say the baby ponies are more than an adult can stand.

Hell, I never in my life expected to be discussing the merits of this show with another adult. It’s a kid’s show, only for kids and kids at heart. Neither the old show or the new show can stand up to being critiqued as if it was some artsy movie made for adults.

One watches a kid show for kid show elements, and as such, both MLP shows are outstanding, freely going where no show made for that demographic had gone before. But the envelope being pushed was in an entirely different place in the 80’s. You can’t appreciate how unmuted the old show is unless you make some effort to understand where the envelope was at the time.
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[User Picture]From: aethwolf
2013-01-30 07:30 am (UTC)
The muting is one of the things I think that holds G1 back. If they had dialed it up a few notches, I think it'd be as fondly remembered as Transformers or GI Joe, but it just smacks of playing it safe and not having any edge to it.

I don't think Dashie is a comedic character. She's the only one to really be involved in the big saves of the series. Nor do I think she's all that toony. She broke her wing when she fucked up a trick. Pinkie's the one for tooniness.

Should be noted that I don't hate G1 (my Highlander team's name is G1 and we play under G1 pony names (mine's Firefly)). It doesn't have the same appeal as G4 because of the muting issue.
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[User Picture]From: loganberrybunny
2013-01-29 10:24 am (UTC)
here’s what Bronies claim to be the unwatchably flat

Some bronies. Please don't tar us all with the same brush!
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[User Picture]From: eliki
2013-01-29 01:51 pm (UTC)
And amen to that! I've not seen any of the earlier episodes (I may well watch the one included here when I have time later though) but even so, everything has to start somewhere. And it *was* popular so it must have had something good about it! :)
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[User Picture]From: nikolinni
2013-01-29 05:02 pm (UTC)
Yes Perri, becareful not to blanket condemn. Oh, and I've seen some bronies (And general youtube users) sticking up for G1 and telling broines (And others) that are hating on it what's up. At least now we know there's *A LOT* more people that are willing to stick up for G1
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[User Picture]From: symphonic_rp
2013-01-30 06:08 am (UTC)
I don't know if I really see the benefit of writing out "Not all Bronies, but enough Bronies speaking in public with very loud voices, with no other Bronies rising to protest what they say, that I should become annoyed."

"Bronies" implies "Some Bronies." "All Bronies" is necessary to tar the entire sub-culture. And, just like with Furry, I don't believe there is any such thing as "All Bronies." That’s why I never say it.

Give me a break, guys. Don’t you think I’m long-winded enough? ~_^
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[User Picture]From: nikolinni
2013-01-30 06:20 pm (UTC)
I think it's just to save the inevitable line of "Hey, we're not all like that!"

Kinda like when one points out the more extreme of something, like feminism, and "feminist" celebrities saying really sexist things about men, and then the other feminists say "Hey! We're all not like that!"
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[User Picture]From: ungulata
2013-01-29 09:10 pm (UTC)
Do you have a link to the entire episode? That was only 2 minutes and 54 seconds long. From the little I saw, I think June Foray voices one of the walking plants. As for quality, the voices were in the exaggerated-for-children style, the background music is generic, the animation is wobbly and the expressions/body-language is wooden. I'm not sure I've ever seen this before but I seem to remember that the walking plants are a problem and the crabs are correct in trying to catch them. I'd like to see the rest, but so far this is the type of cartoon that sent me running to The Gummy Bears, Alf, Felix the Cat and repeats of The Pink Panther¹ in the 80's.

¹ The original, not the horrid "Pink Panther and Sons".

Edit: the whole episode may be there after all, I pressed reload and it kept going past where it stopped last time. BRB, watching G1 ponies.

Re-edit: That was really low-budget. I'm peeved that they run for Megan the instant something is wrong. While they are spunky, they keep having to get saved by an outside force: Megan, spiders with nets, he-crabs. Ponies should be doin' it for themselves. Standing on their own four feet and ringin' on their own bells.

So, I still don't like the cheap animation, the story was very shallow, and the ponies came across as a bit helpless. I'm not keen on helpless protagonists. I didn't like Fievel in An American Tale and I didn't like Oliver in Disney's version of Oliver Twist. I'll probably watch more early gens MLP in the future, but not any time soon.

Edited at 2013-01-29 10:06 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: symphonic_rp
2013-01-30 04:56 am (UTC)
Yes, it's low budget. The budget declined over the course of the series, and this one is close to the tail end. I don't rate TV cartoons on their animation budget. Even today no one can afford movie quality animation for a TV series. What I judge is how well the other elements of production make up for that - soundtrack, story, characterizations, etc.

Unfortunately, the master this episode was taken off of is damaged, which causes the soundtrack to wobble like an off-center record. You just have to imagine what it would have sounded like originally.

Uh, I don't know if you've noticed, but Megan never saves anybody. Megan mostly gives advice. Ponies always have to use their own resources to get out of a situation.

Technically, Megan is a Christian morality keeper, as all kids shows back then were expected to emphasize Christian morality. If ponies are concerned over the right or wrong of something, that's when they turn to Megan. In a way it's the old "Humans are supposed to be the benevolent keepers of the animals" thing. Or the "A human child shall lead them" concept.

Thus, Megan's wisdom is sacred because she's a child, and only children are holy enough to get into heaven. Truly, the ponies idolize Megan more than they look on her as their great defender. And they admire her courage in being willing to trudge along with them on their dangerous missions, even though she is probably the most helpless and vulnerable creature in Ponyland.

Also, teaming up with the crabs is not being saved by them. The Crabs would probably have lost without the ponies. Generally, when Ponies aren't saving their own tails, it's because the plot calls for somebody else to be inspired to realize their own potential.

It will often happen in the series, when Megan is not around, that the ponies become the morality keepers who go out and inspire other creatures, usually by putting themselves in jeopardy for somebody else's quest, and they must then get that person past his inhibitions or misconceptions to save the day. All of this, of course, being to encourage the children watching to grow up with an inspired sense of morality.

If you found this story shallow, then the entire new series is just as shallow, because this whole story built up to a lesson that still tends to bring a tear to my eye, being as I've lived my entire life as an ugly geek who was ever misunderstood because of appearances. And that is exactly the same kind of lessons that dominate the new series.

I suppose it depends on your definition of shallow. If you take it that anything which does not reflect stark reality is shallow, then yes, the entire MLP franchise, old and new, is shallow as all hell. But back in the day, when people would ask me what an adult could possibly see in a show that seemed like total tripe to them, I would tell them this show emphasizes a pure unblemished Christian morality that even the most devout of Christians would be shamed by their inability to live up to. And yet, it accomplishes this without ever thumping a Bible over anyone’s head, terrorizing anyone with visions of hell, or making anyone feel condemned to be unloved for not living by it.

To me, back then, MLP and many of the cartoons that surrounded it on Saturday mornings were anything but shallow. They were the basis of my philosophy of life.
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[User Picture]From: ungulata
2013-01-30 01:32 pm (UTC)
I like your take that G1 MLP is akin to a Christian morality play. I could get behind that. But that does not fix the musical score, the generic voice characterizations or how the facial expressions mostly fail to follow the dialog. I've been a fan of animation for a _very_ long time, no thanks to anyone else. I had to waste my time watch cartoons in secret to avoid getting lectured. I don't snub animation out of hand if it isn't "high art". For instance, Condie's The Big Snit is excellent! (Let me find a link... here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtSj5_jELuQ ) All the voices are outrageous and grating, the animation has the tremors something fierce, but the foley is spot on, the characters are _very_ expressive and ooze personality, there is so much going on, so much innuendo that you just have to stare, and there is a story to thread it all together! Contrast that with something at the other end of the spectrum, The Man Who Planted Trees (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLDEL-ZPqaQ ). Beautiful to look at, but I have yet to watch the whole thing, I keep getting bored.

There were only four ponies in that episode and I had a hard time telling them apart. Only the gardener pony sounded different and had a notably different personality from the others. More effort was put into giving a range of personalities to the walking plants than to the ponies. I think that one of the jewel-eyed ponies was more aggressive than the other, but if you lined them up, I'd not be able to pick her out. In MLP:FIM, there are six main characters and they are all radically different.

I choke up watching MLP:FIM, but while I felt sad for the gardener pony and I like pony kisses as much as the next monster, that G1 episode did not make my eyes water.

My philosophy is when in doubt, figure it out... and doubt everything. 8^) This new-fangled internet thing is great, it lets ugly geeks like me to get a word in edgewise instead of getting drowned out by the beautiful people as usual. 8^)
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[User Picture]From: recoyote
2013-02-01 07:19 pm (UTC)
I really didn't like either one of those, Horriable cartoons.
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[User Picture]From: viethra
2013-04-10 01:21 pm (UTC)
I think G1 is rather enjoyable. I can't say it grabs me as effectively as G4, but I can't truly blame it for that either. G4 combines a large number of attributes into one incredibly appealing whole, as far as my personal tastes are concerned. G1 is very charming, but it simply doesn't transcend its intended purpose like G4 does. G4 is a great pony cartoon, a great furry cartoon, a great hipster cartoon, a great "anime", and a great source of creative inspiration. You can tell some of the staff on G1 really cared about it, but Lauren Faust, Jason Thiessen, and the entire crew of G4 treat it like some sort of cultural statement. They put so much attention into every little detail, and even take note of the background characters. Look at how G4 has expanded on the concept of the cutie mark for an example of what has changed. They put extra effort into pleasing the fans, of all ages They've even won some awards. G1 is not a bad show, but comparing it to G4 is unfair, because there is nothing quite like it. It makes me feel bad when people compare the two just because they promote the same toy, because G1 couldn't have known what IT would inspire. It is like comparing the invention of the wheel to an Enzo Ferrari. You can't have the latter without the former, but the latter is undeniable more sophisticated. Which is better? That is a matter of personal taste, or perhaps even philosophy. Fans of G4 should be more appreciative of what G1 gave them, but G1-ers need to acknowledge the amazing things G4 has achieved for MLP, because is not just a franchise, it is a legacy.
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[User Picture]From: spectralshadows
2013-04-10 10:12 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I'm demonstrating how out of it I've become in recent years, but I wonder if you could explain to me what "Hipster" means in the modern vernacular. I know it can't possibly mean the same thing it did in the 50's and 60's.

Edited at 2013-04-10 10:13 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: viethra
2013-04-18 09:20 am (UTC)
It is cool when you realize you discovered something before most found out about it, right? It can be fun to have something strange about yourself that isn't typical, can't it? There is a subculture that is based entirely on trying to embody those traits. Hipster usually means that someone deliberately seeks out things that fall outside the norm. Hipsters like mlp because it is not what most expect adults to be watching, so watching it helps them stand out.

I don't personally consider myself a hipster, but I understand the novelty of doing something out of the ordinary. I'm a pansexual furry that watches My Little Pony. If someone mistook me for being so weird deliberately, I wouldn't blame them. That being said, I think people should do things because they generally enjoy them, not because of whether or not others do those things.

Edited at 2013-04-18 09:21 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: symphonic_rp
2013-04-19 04:30 pm (UTC)
Interesting. In a way I might fit this modern "Hipster" label.

I was an adult MLP obsessive back in the 80's when nobody was doing it. This time around I'm not being obsessive of MLP mainly because the fact that everyone seems to be doing it strikes me as wrong on some subconscious level and turns me off.

I've pretty much spent my entire life in the underground. Back in the 60's I was obsessive over Dark Shadows when most kids my age would have been watching The Flintstones. Then in the early 70's I was into Old Time Radio and Swing Music when most kids would have been into Rock Music.

Later I got into Progressive Rock at a point when Progressive was a dirty word that was no longer spoken in polite music society. I was obsessing over Doctor Who and Elfquest when most people were digging Saturday Night Live. And eventually I got heavily into Anime at a point where it was the most disrespected underground interest one could have, and I promptly left it at the point where it broke into the mainstream.

And of course I'd been doing Furry as an obsessive interest since the 60's, some 30 years before I'd ever encounter anyone else doing that.

Oddly, I'm not consciously aware of having done any of these things because I enjoyed being different from my peers. That's always been a pain. But then, I've never been popular or had a great many friends to worry about being on the same page with. So I've always felt free to choose the obsessions I truly enjoyed.

I suppose, if something is seriously popular, there's no expectation that it will become rare at some point. So there's no driving need to collect and preserve things. This time around MLP is popular among adults. Things will be collected by thousands, kept mint in box and be available on Ebay forever. So there's no vibe for me of "This is the time to get obsessive over MLP."

Honestly, I did MLP in the 80's - seriously did it to death. I'll go back and revisit old obsessions now and then, but I have never become re-obsessed over anything.

For me there is no separating new MLP from old MLP. The new must be an extension of the old. And to me now, old MLP has been reduced to an aspect of a life long, still ongoing obsession with all things Furry.

And thereby MLP remains part of the uncool underground, no matter how popular it gets. So I can fully enjoy the new series as a Furry fan, along with all my other Furry interests, but Bronies reject Furry. So, even as an adult who watches and enjoys the new MLP, I'm on the outs with the in-crowd.

I wonder if all that makes me a Hipster among Hipsters. Though I think not, as I saw in the clip of the Bronie documentary that Hipsters beg acceptance from The Bronie Community. It goes against my grain to beg acceptance for anything.
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