Rainbow Dash is overjoyed to be at a Daring Do Convention, not least of all because A.K. Yearling/Daring Do herself will be in attendance. Shortly after arrival, however, she is happy to find another congoer, Quibble Pants, who seems to share her love of the series as well. Yet when stopping for a snack, Quibble Pants reveals he only likes the original trilogy while Rainbow Dash prefers the post-original trilogy books, and the two end up splitting their new friendship over their disagreements on the series. As one of Quibble’s complaints is the physical stunts are impossible, Rainbow seeks out Daring to tell him to his face how all of the events are possible, but on meeting with her she has a more important task for her: keep a watch out for her archnemesis Dr. Cabelleron, who came to the con hoping to steal a key amulet from her that leads to a greater treasure in the Temple of Chicomoztoc. While she’s looking around, Quibble runs into her and gets into another argument, which unfortunately leads both to being captured and held captive by Dr. Cabelleron, who takes them out to the jungle with the intent to trade them both to Daring Do in exchange for the key and the location of the temple. While Quibble is very, very slow to catch on that the adventure isn’t a staged show and continues to criticize it even then, he and Rainbow Dash not only end up going on a Daring Do adventure with Daring Do herself, but shows off his intellectual prowess in thinking his way through difficulties while Rainbow Dash shows off her physical ability in muscling her way through difficulties. In the end, the treasure is recovered and Daring goes off to take it to a museum while Rainbow and Quibble are left to walk home. On the way, while both continue to hold to their arguments over which books were the better ones and their opinions on Daring Do, both also acknowledge that Quibble admires the parts of the series that are more intellectual and thought-challenging while Rainbow admires the parts of the series that are more action-orientated and adventurous…both like the series for different reasons and that’s fine. They also have learned to admire the positive qualities of each other and are able to make friends again over that. As they walk back, Quibble goes into a tirade about what it would be like if he wrote the next Daring Do book for Yearling.
This season seems to be all about holding a mirror to the face of MLP:FIM demographic so they can see how ugly they are, doesn’t it? 😛 I think the show has set a record for being more meta than meta.
When Daring Do first appeared in Season Two’s “Read It and Weep”, the fact that she was an Indiana Jones parody was minor compared to the real point of her existence. She was meant as a metaphor for the emerging brony fandom itself and the feelings and experiences the “new brony” themselves went through. A couple seasons later, she’s doing it again, and she couldn’t be more timely.
Two things have happened since Season Two. One is that American animation has finally taken a page from Japan and has geared itself toward writing for adults and children alike. While “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” was one of the first and is, to this day, still one of the most controversial, there’s a whole host of them now. “Adventure Time”, “Steven Universe”, “Gravity Falls”… In many ways American animation is undergoing a new Renaissance which is a welcome breath of fresh air. For years the USA has been forced to deal with all “adult cartoons” simply being cartoons that kids can’t watch…or things that feature explicit content and nothing of substance. Now shows are coming along intelligent enough to write for both audiences at the same time. And as a result, many conventions nationwide are filling with cosplays and fans of (gasp) American cartoons.
Unfortunately, the other side effect is that fandoms have gone off the deep end. It seems every day people want to be more polarized on things. It’s not enough to simply like or dislike something or to see something as mostly good, mostly bad, or in the middle. No…everything has to be either praising it as God’s gift or condemning it as raw sewage, with no middle ground at all. And those that hold those opinions have gotten more and more savage. Using the Internet as an outlet, crazy fans use cyberbullying, intimidation, flame wars, and every other despicable thing they can to insult, torment, and assault fans who disagree with them. Some fans have been driven to depression or suicide attempts from this. Others have their fanart and fanfiction summarily destroyed. In some cases, these crazed individuals even force the actual show writers and crew to bow to their demands. In short, many fandoms have a toxic element to them in which criticism turns into nothing but pure, vile hatred for other people. And that’s sad because, ultimately, no matter what you think of something…it’s a show. It’s art, and all art is subjective. It’s not anything life-or-death, and it doesn’t deserve to be used like that. And it’s sad that gaggles of rabid fans can ruin things for everyone.
MLP:FIM hasn’t been excused from this sort of toxicity, especially in the later seasons when new writers have largely taken over, and so it only figures that an episode like this…one that lampoons the fandom that once shocked the world by having a kid’s series designed to sell Hasbro toys end up garnering legions of adult watchers that is now degenerating into a vat of anger, hostility, and criticism…would eventually come out. Whereas last seasons’ “Slice of Life” was a tribute to the brony fandom, this one is an indictment of it.
To me personally, I find Quibble Pants to be only slightly less repulsive than Zephyr Breeze. Early on most of his know-it-all attitude was excusable, but as the episode progressed and he continued to hold onto it in spite of everything happening, plus the fact that he continues to dislike Daring Do personally throughout the entire episode (it’s only his opinion of Rainbow Dash that changes), it grew unbearable for me. I’m sure some of it was intentional…making fun of the fact that some fans are such notorious critics and obsessed with whining that they would complain about the implausibility of a situation even if it was literally happening to them. Yet to me Quibble never hit the point where he came back from crossing over to unlikeability. Anything he does “positive” in this episode is with an attitude of superiority and dismissiveness of those around him. He has a constant look on his face throughout the entire episode that says: “Ugh, I can’t believe how dumb you all are.” It might testify to a fan’s ego (more on that below), but the fact that he never loses that means he stays unlikable. I feel it waters down the moral at the end.
Still, Quibble Pants’ character isn’t that important. The moral of the lesson is.
In general, the members of a fandom who are “better tempered” and “less opinionated” are ones who joined the fandom later rather than earlier. Fans who joined right at the start tend to readily embrace certain traits and characteristics that were of the original creators or were attempts at ideas that tend to fade out as the medium gains its own personality and starts feeding back on its own fandom and universe. These are byproducts of any long-lasting series that runs for multiple seasons, if for no other reason than the original writers eventually leave the series and new writers–ones who have been born and bred on the concept that the medium has grown into rather than what it was originally in the back of the minds of the first writers. The thing is those who were present at the start fixate on those and, if the later writers fail to gravitate to them, they grow displeased with later seasons and what the show evolves into, and often vent their dislike (even hatred) of changes. MLP:FIM is no exception to this rule. By comparison, fans who joined later often do so because they are attracted to the newer material, and then go back and watch earlier episodes or material and appreciate it as background and the aspects that carried over into the later episodes, while still preferring the newer material best. Quibble Pants is a good example of the former fan; one who liked the series from its inception and grew so embittered with how it changed that he refuses to even “acknowledge” (a popular term in fandoms) the newer material. Rainbow Dash is a good example of the latter fan, as Daring Do already had out more than the original three book titles by the time she joined. This goes a long way in explaining the relationship between the two.
The problem with the former type of fan is they often eventually fall victim to “Fan Ego”, the part in which the fandom itself begins to claim it could do better than the original creator and actually knows the material better than them. I’m a fanfiction writer myself but I’ve done my share of original characters. And I have to remind myself in my own fan rants how much I would hate it if someone was to come up to me and start saying they know my own OC better than me. This is more forgivable for a show like MLP:FIM which has a host of writers, each of which see the same characters slightly differently, but in the case where it’s just one writer? While there may be something to be said about a writer eventually changing their opinion and focus on their own material given sufficient time (and it does happen), it’s somewhat insulting to try and claim the creator doesn’t know their own material nonetheless.
And the metaphor for Quibble Pants and Daring Do works pretty well in this setting. Quibble Pants is practically “demanding” an explanation about why the books changed from the type they were in the original trilogy, but, ultimately, A.K. Yearling/Daring Do isn’t doing this to “please him”, but because it’s something she wants to do and loves. And while in this case it’s adventuring rather than writing, the principle is the same. And any fandom that turns on its own creators to make something they love something they hate to have to deal with and wade through is far worse poison to a show or series than anything the writer could do.
Honestly, Rainbow Dash’s criticism of Quibble Pants is pretty valid early on: if he dislikes Daring Do so much, why is he a member of the fandom? (For goodness sake, he clearly thinks she’s an idiot when he finally meets her in the flesh.) And for the answer? To me, modern Internet culture seems to make everyone think their opinion is worth more than it is and glamorizes the idea of putting your opinion in a “special place”, like a blog, to show it to the world as if it somehow gives you higher standing. In this situation, all that matters is that you have a opinion, not what that opinion is. As a result, I believe many fans-turned-critics merely tear things apart because it makes them feel smarter and more insightful than fans that disagree with them, enough to where the joy they get out of the fandom is in saying how every new episode is bad, more or less. This comes out clear in the language more than anything else. Critics rarely say anything from the perspective of their own opinion (“to me”, “I think”, “I feel”) but rather use objective terms (“this IS bad”, “this IS good”).
Yet the point it makes at the end, the point that ALL fandom members need to stop and think about, is that people can like the same thing for different reasons, and at no point is one fan right or wrong for doing so. Rather than trying to convince other people that something is a reason to hate or love something, it’s more important to understand why something someone else loves or hates is lovable or hateworthy to them. Because once you understand that, you can understand someone else, and then you can appreciate them in spite of difference of opinion…which is something the world needs now more than ever.
The real tragedy of this episode is few members of the MLP:FIM fandom seemed to realize the point the episode was making: we are all in constant danger of being a “Quibble Pants”, and it requires some intellectual responsibility on our part to avoid.
I don’t like this episode as much as most other people do. To me, Quibble Pants’ character drags it down just a bit too much, as is the fact that almost everything that happens in the episode serves to reinforce his ideas…which only swells his ego even more. But, if you can take in the context of the point of the episode, this might be the best message we’ve seen in a long time.
The title is a reference to the saying: “Truth is stranger than fiction.”, which has a special meaning in this episode for the characters in it. Fan fiction or fanfiction is the term given to unlicensed, unauthorized scripts or plotlines written for a show, book, universe, or genre by fans of the same.
If it wasn’t for Twilight Sparkle’s brief appearance at the start of the episode, this would be a rare episode to feature only a single member of the Mane Six.
I appreciate the detail given to the various Daring Do cosplayers. Just like in real life, while many people may cosplay the same character, each one is going to be a little bit different. 🙂
Quibble Pants is voiced by Patton Oswalt, an actor with an extensive voice acting background in both adult and children’s animation. Possibly his most famous role is Remy in Pixar’s “Ratatouille”. I’m looking forward to seeing him as TV’s Son of TV’s Frank in the revival of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. 😀
Quibble Pants’ Cutie Mark seems to be a word balloon, but I’m pretty sure its supposed to be a “comment” icon, as fandom members are notorious for putting their opinion everywhere they can thinking it’s so valuable. (Looks at own blog) …Ahem…
Did anyone else notice that Quibble Pants was crossplaying the whole time? :3
A “score” is 20. That’s how Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants get to the right number, in case you’re wondering.
In probably the most adult joke in the series since Slenderman’s cameo back in Season Four, one of the items for sale at the Daring Do Convention is a body-sized pillow with Daring Do fully tied up on it. This isn’t just some joke in the background, either. It’s zoomed in on and, even more creepy, later in the episode one of Dr. Cabelleron’s henchmen buys one. If you’ve ever been to a large enough convention, you’ll see “body pillows” for sale…which are body-sized pillows with a fictional character painted on them, usually a female in some form of nightclothes or lingerie, with the idea that whoever buys it is supposed to make believe they’re sleeping with them. Even more explicit versions of these might indulge fetishes, such as bondage by having the character fully bound. That’s essentially what’s going on here. As a final awkward note, Rainbow Dash thinks this is creepy while Quibble Pants doesn’t seem to mind them…
Being a convention, and as MLP:FIM got some of its start by “crashing” anime conventions (a popular practice for any fandom too sparse to have large scale conventions of its own across the country), the various anime ponies shown in Season Five’s “Scare Master” cameo in this episode. In the scene where Rainbow and Quibble are comparing figurines they bought (another staple of conventions), in the background is the Sailor Moon Pony. The Ranma Pony is in the background when Quibble is tailing Rainbow complaining about Daring Do’s waterfall drop.
The fact that Quibble Pants only “acknowledges” the first three Daring Do books as the true series is likely either a nod to the Star Wars Trilogy, which is probably the biggest target of older fans loving the original three films and hating the prequels, or possibly even My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic itself, with many members of the fandom thinking the show started to “go downhill” as soon as Twilight Sparkle became an alicorn at the end of Season Three.
No wonder the “hot carrot” vendor is so miserable. Look at her Cutie Mark. I’d be miserable if the purpose of my life was to sell hot dogs at cons.
The hotel the con is being held at has a three-hoof rating. 😛
One of the many things Quibble Pants does that is a parody of psychotic fandoms is give short, dismissive laughs to people who disagree with him. That happens a lot in comment threads when the conversation goes from facts to simply insulting each other.
This episode does dare to answer the popular fanfiction question of what fictional characters would do if they went to a con for their series. 😛
One of the earth pony cosplayers made cardboard wings for their Daring Do cosplay.
The “cardboard box” Cabelleron cosplayer is a parody of the…uh…commendable effort cosplays that are always at conventions. Hey, at least someone’s getting a picture of him.
The bit where Quibble shouts for Daring and Rainbow to go around the monster and they mishear him saying to go over is a parody of a similar scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, where Indy yells at Elsa to not go between two boats being pushed together, and she mishears it as to go between them.
As another Indiana Jones knockoff, Daring Do says about the seven faceted chest: “I’ve got to get this to a museum”, a twist on Indiana Jones’ line: “It belongs in a museum.”
Quibble Pants keeps rambling over the credits. 😛
3.5 Stars out of 5