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Synopsis:

After breaking up an argument between two filly friends, Toola Roola and Coconut Cream, Twilight Sparkle goes back to her library and digs out her old Journal of Friendship and gets an idea. With Starlight Glimmer’s help, she makes hundreds of copies of it to distribute across Equestria, believing all the friendship lessons she and the girls learned will benefit ponies all over with their own friendships. Soon after, however, everything becomes a disaster. Apple Bloom is only using the book to market her own Cutie Mark related activities, ponies who hate Rarity in the book have driven her to compulsively “stress sew”, everypony won’t stop laughing at Pinkie Pie for thinking everything she does is supposed to be funny, pegasus fillies won’t stop mobbing Rainbow Dash, ponies are accusing Fluttershy of never growing out of her shyness everywhere she goes, and Applejack is overrun by fans who want to “join the Apple Family”. Things continue to get worse until a mob of so-called “fans” are nearly rioting outside the Castle of Friendship, and Twilight is miserable and blames herself for their own outrageous behavior for publishing the journal in the first place. Even when she and the girls confront the crowd, they only rage at each other even more. Feeling hopeless, the girls retreat back into the castle only to have Starlight bring around Toola Roola and Coconut Cream, who both read the journal and had their friendship strengthened as a result of it. Seeing that at least two ponies read and appreciate the journal for what it was trying to be, the girls are encouraged to believe it was worthwhile. They share a “friendship hug” while leaving the raging crowd outside to rant and fume.

Review:

This is another one of those weird ones. This episode got pretty much universal hate from the fans…while I really enjoyed it. For everyone who hates it, heh…I got two things for you. (1) I wonder if you’re missing the point of this episode. (2) Most of the people who hate this episode make me laugh because they don’t realize what they’re doing: essentially becoming the lesson of the episode themselves.

To sum up: if “Slice of Life” was the ultimate love letter to the fans, “Fame and Misfortune” is the ultimate hate mail to the fans. Almost everything that went on with all of the characters in this episode wasn’t meant to make background ponies hateworthy or, in my opinion, to even be considered as canon with the rest of the series. It was for the writers and show creators to vent their frustrations they receive on having to deal with the (often toxic) fandom.

Here’s what I found:

  • Ironically, the show takes a stab at its own original purpose with the CMCs, who decide to use the book to push their idea for a Cutie Mark Summer Camp. Twilight gets unhappy that the book is being used simply to sell a product…which is the whole purpose of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” to begin with: to sell toys.
  • The ponies who simply get signatures from Twilight Sparkle on their journals before turning them into collectibles is poking fun at the fans who don’t even really care about the show to begin with–they simply buy all the merchandise hoping to sell them for a profit years from now.
  • The two ponies talking at the outdoor cafe represent the “haters” of a fandom: individuals who do absolutely nothing but hate a particular character and, in order to justify that hate, constantly misinterpret everything they say or do as something despicable and loathsome. Starlight Glimmer has been the target of this section of the fandom for some time. As a result, these two ponies are the only ones she confronts personally off camera. 😛 In fact, fans disliked Starlight Glimmer so much they did indeed begin to boycott the show…which is exactly what ponies do to Rarity’s business later in the episode.
  • Pinkie Pie’s “fans” are those who read way too much into something. While these ones aren’t always as annoying, the fact that they continuously see things, good or bad, that were never there when that was never the intention gets annoying after a while. They declare certain things brilliant or hilarious simply due to love of a character rather than reality. Princess Luna and Derpy Hooves were targets of this early on.
  • Rainbow Dash’s “fans” are the ones who go crazy about only one character in particular. Basically they only care about one character and think everything they say or do is wonderful and brilliant, and anything negative about them (even if they’re intended to be a negative character) was really them secretly being wonderful or sabotages by others. It’s somewhat similar to Pinkie Pie’s fans, only they go to the extreme where they think all other characters need to be diminished to prop that character up or even project negative characteristics onto them to make them look less. Fans like this eventually give rise to Draco in Leather Pants and Ron the Death Eater tropes.
  • Fluttershy’s haters…well, um (swallow)…are those who get upset that characters never seem to grow even late in the series or even regress from time to time…you know, people like me. ._. (Yes, I’m ashamed…)
  • Applejack’s fans are the ones who take their love of the show way, WAY too far, essentially making themselves “honorary ponies” and trying to act like the characters on the show. Every fandom has them. You know…crazy people. 😛
  • Finally, Toola Roola and Coconut Cream represent the “real fan”; not so much from learning lessons about friendship, but the individuals who take what MLP:FIM is and appreciate it for what it is, no more and no less.

Fandoms are, unfortunately, a misfortune of life when you want to be a fan of anything, yet the Internet has made them a whole new level of insane and crazy, to the point of shaming people into wanting to commit suicide and forcing show writers to bow to their insane delusions even if they were never the original staff. Often they drive more casual fans away from the show with how crazy they get and can be downright savage to one another. However, writers, actors, and staff for a show get it even worse because they have to be subjected to every nut out there. People often say they dislike something because of the “toxic fandom”. What they fail to realize is that fandom is short for “fanatic domain”. If a show has a fandom, by definition it’s made up of crazy people who represent the absolute worst of the fans. Every fandom is toxic because that’s what a fandom is.

And frankly? They need to be called out on it. Being a fan doesn’t give you a license to be a maniac or a jerk.

This episode was an attempt by the writers, to me, to highlight the irresponsible and downright nutty behavior of the fandom. It was an allegory for how the people behind the show feel when being subjected to this insanity, and how the fame and notoriety the show has achieved nevertheless is a mixed blessing because of how people act and rave. It showed how emotionally draining and miserable something that you love, something that your passion is, can be when it’s forced to be subjected to fandom poison.

The lesson at the end was supposed to be that the people out there who genuinely appreciate the show, who see the mistakes and flaws of characters as the very things that make them more real and relatable, are the ones who make all of the toxicity worthwhile. The girls are able to press on because they realize “someone out there gets what this is supposed to be”. It’s a lesson for anyone who wants to pursue an artistic fashion, and it’s a lesson for the fans themselves who aren’t toxic: you can’t control other people, only how you respond to them.

It’s disheartening that so many people in the fandom ended up doing exactly what their pony representations did at the end of this episode…missed this point entirely and argued instead about how repulsive the ponies in the crowd acted. They don’t even realize they ARE the ponies in the crowd. Yet even this episode seemed to anticipate that would happen, and the answer is to simply ignore them and press on.

For me personally? I saw what this episode was supposed to be on the nose, and it’s a bit sobering for my own reviews. I only mark it down because, er, it’s not exactly the most uplifting of episodes even with the end. And none of the target little kids would get what it was trying to say.

Uh, heh…I’ll try to tone down my Fluttershy criticism from now on… (gulp)

Fun Facts:

This episode was penned by M.A. Larson, the most infamous writer on the show. With episodes like “The Return of Harmony”, “Magical Mystery Cure”, and “Slice of Life”, he’s gained the reputation of being the most unconventional writer of the show who never writes an episode unless something striking is going to happen. As a result, misinformation was leaked about who the writer of this episode was to the public. It wasn’t until the episode debuted that he was revealed as the writer.

Toola Roola and Coconut Cream were both G3 My Little Ponies originally. Similar to Moondancer, they have identical coloration in their Friendship is Magic incarnations.

As another nod to Larson’s influence, the moral that Twilight teaches Toola Roola and Coconut Cream (“Friendship isn’t always easy, but there’s no doubt it’s worth fighting for.”) was for “The Return of Harmony”…and which Discord infamously gagged to on hearing.

I hate to emulate one of the ponies in this episode, but…the “Journal of Friendship” phase of the show only was during Season Four. In Season One and the first part of Season Two it was Twilight’s letters to Celestia, while most of Season Two and Three it was the Mane Six’s letters to Celestia. There haven’t been any since the Cutie Map took over in Season Five, although the IDW Comic (which, as we will see, influenced the second half of this season) continued to use them. The letters could have always been compiled in the journal, I suppose.

One of the pages in the book completely disintegrates. O_o Twilight makes an odd face after Starlight’s mockery.

Failed attempt at continuity. Apple Bloom mentions she’s thinking of creating a “Cutie Mark summer camp”. This seems to allude to the future episode “Marks and Recreation”, but in that episode the idea is fresh to them again.

The Journal of Friendship only received 1 and a half stars according to the book review. :/

By far, the most infamous face from Season Seven is the one Rarity has when Twilight and Starlight confront her in her sewing room.

Toward the end, the crowd of ponies echo various complaints that the writers had to have heard a dozen times. Probably the two biggest ones are “Twilight was more interesting before she got wings”, which was a major complaint of fans when she was turned into an alicorn at the end of Season Three…and one M.A. Larson himself is probably sick of hearing. Another one is “Are Pinkie Pie and Applejack related or what?”, which really shouldn’t have been a big of a deal as it ended up being but was drug up with “Hearthbreakers” and Marble Pie (I’m sore about that one ruining MarbleMac. :()

During “Flawless”, the girls pair up with their own species: the pegasi (Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash), the earth ponies (Applejack and Pinkie Pie), and the unicorns [originally](Rarity and Twilight Sparkle).

I noted after the song Amethyst Star seemed to “get it”, but she joins back in with the arguing soon after. :/

Rating:

4 Stars out of 5

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