Welcome to another edition of Beyond Equestria! Interviewed this time around is Lee Tockar, the voice behind Snips and Steven Magnet in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television show, and also the CEO and visionary of the creator driven social networking site, Fanbuilt. Find out what Fanbuilt is, along with a deep, detailed interview on Mr. Tockar’s early life, his massive resume of skills and artistic talents, and his expansive and decorated career as a voice actor, after the break! Read more →
What does it mean to “grow up”?
Today’s culture is youth obsessed. Be young. Be beautiful. Consume miscellaneous products that will make you seem even younger and more beautiful.
From fancy cars to unnecessary medical procedures, people are blowing ludicrous sums of money just for the illusion – the feeling of youth. (Have you seen the beauty aisle at your local pharmacy, and the prices that they charge for products that supposedly “rejuvenate” the skin? It’s insane!)
People go to ridiculous lengths to feel young because the television tells them that they are old, and ugly, and that their problems can be solved with a swipe of a credit card. “40 is the new 30,” they all say, as it becomes the norm for people to dawdle and delay getting their lives in order. They glorify this as a virtue and call it freedom. All the while, Grandma is all alone in some facility – barely even thought about by the people she devoted her life to.
Now obviously I’m painting a picture here. Every person is different of course, and everybody’s situation is unique; no one model can be said to represent “the norm” anymore. However, this scenario, and this way of life is not only real, but very prevalent in television and movies.
In a recent interview, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) criticized the current trend of “drunken manchild comedies” like Old School and the Hangover, which depict middle aged men chasing their “glory days” by pursuing a lifestyle of binge drinking. The answer, according to these films, is an escape to an imaginary world that looks just like our own, but is actually devoid of any real consequences for selfish actions.
Where am I going with this? What has any of this got to do with piquant equines of bright and colorful hues?
Pony is the antidote.
Not for all, of course, but certainly for me, (which is more than a little ironic, considering the fact that it is a television program designed to sell toys).
The show may be youthfully exuberant, but it does not glorify the irresponsibility of youth. In fact, it is one of the only pieces of mainstream media these days that honors and pays respect to the wisdom of age, (which was the central theme of four out of the eight micro-series comics, and several Granny Smith-centered episodes).
My Little Pony may make my inner child smile, but at its core, it’s really all about growing up.
These horses face problems that challenge them to act for the greater good, and overcome selfish desires – to conquer the monkeys on their backs that tell them to behave according to their weaker natures. Arrogance, fear, distrust, greed – all defeated by the love they hold in their hearts for their dearest friends. Overcoming that gray feeling – that “Discord-ed” feeling of loneliness and distrust, and zapping it with all the rainbows you have – that’s a battle that goes on inside all of us each and every day.
The tales that the show’s creators weave – the themes they explore – they’re about growing up. Real growing up. Not the bells and whistles of appearing mature, but rather, the process of becoming the kind of person upon whom others can depend, or as we say here in Manehattan, “being a mensch*.”
Adulthood doesn’t mean liking what we are told to like or consuming what we are told to consume. It isn’t about success. It isn’t the car you drive, or the job you nailed (especially in this economy).
Being a grown up is about loving what you love, freely and openly. It’s about living a life where you are in control of your temptations to act selfishly, rather than letting such whims control you. It’s about making sacrifices for others, be they family or friends.
Those are exactly the sort of values that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magiccelebrates.
Does liking the show automatically make you a mensch? No, of course not. (By that standard, every fanboy and fangirl on the Internet could be counted as a regular Atticus Finch). My Little Pony can, however, be a great tool for inspiration, for joy – for courage. In this rough world, we need all the tools that we can get, even if it just means the source of a daily smile, and a feeling of warmth to help get you through your double-shift.
Adulthood isn’t some prison where you adhere to arbitrary standards to please others. Buckling down doesn’t mean selling out. Being responsible, quite frankly, is great, because then others can trust and rely on you, and you can even learn to trust yourself.
Growing up is wonderful. It means taking that which resonates most deeply with you, regardless of whether that interest be sports, or medieval poetry, or My Little Pony, and using it effectively to give you the strength to be the kind of person you want to be – the strength to be a true friend to those you love.
To pony up.
Let’s face it: life is hard. Everybody needs at least one friend who’s got their back. Adulthood is just learning to be good at that. It’s being the kind of person who, as Rainbow Dash put it , “would never leave Ponyville hanging.”
You can also follow Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! at: http://heartfullofpony.tumblr.com
Note: *In many Germanic languages, “Mensch” translates literally as “man.” However, the Manehattan slang derives from Yiddish, and its meaning is more culturally specific. It generally means somebody you can depend on, who will come through without complaining. It’s technically a masculine term, but it lacks the macho connotations of the English “Be a Man,” and it’s used here as a unisex term.
This weekend Katie Cook (writing), Andy Price (art and covers), Amy Mebberson (art) and Sara Richard (covers) sat down and took questions from the audience at Granite State Comicon in Manchester, New Hampshire. Fans, both young and old, asked questions about character development, Easter eggs, season 4 and art errors. Jump past the break for the write up. Read more →
Our friends over at MIMOCO would love for one of you to win a Twilight Sparkle MIMOBOT flash drive! Entries are handled in the Rafflecopter widget below.
It occurred to me today that I don’t have a picture of the elements up on my wall, and that it was about time I printed one out and slapped it up there. So I went on a bit of an odyssey for the right image. I found many beautiful pieces of art, from pictures of the Elements themselves as gems, to images of their current manifestations (necklace, necklace, necklace, crown thingy, necklace, necklace, …), to abstract interpretations of what the virtues themselves are supposed to mean. I even found some truly inspiring pics of the Mane Six. But there was one piece above all that really stuck out.
It’s not terribly epic. It’s not niftily abstract. It’s just a very well done vector of the elements as first we see them in Episode 2. It’s not the sort of thing that typically makes your jaw drop and say “Sweet Celestia, what beautiful art!” But it’s what ended up on my wall to inspire me in my daily life, and in my brain-itty brain as I write up little essays like this. Why?
The most potent magic in the entire world sat there and gathered moss. For a thousand years! This Grail, this reservoir of positive energy, these relics so powerful that they can weaponize the magic of friendship itself and channel it into an unstoppable force of good in the world, these items so powerful that they established Celestia and Luna’s sovereignty when used to conquer Discord…
Without pure hearts to guide them, they’re nothing more than a useless bunch of rocks.
I love the Mane Six, and frequently derive joy and inspiration from their various exploits. Acts of nobility, acts of selfishness, acts of redemption. Lessons learned. Wrongs forgiven by understanding friends.
But when I think of the Elements of Harmony, I don’t just think only of what the Mane Six have achieved, but what has yet to be achieved. What I might one day achieve.
That crumbling structure in the castle: it’s a sleeping giant—a power waiting to be awoken. It’s in all of us – this magic. Every time we give comfort to our friends, or even strangers; every time we’re kind and generous; when we summon the courage to live with integrity, and to be honest regardless of the personal cost; when we share joy with our fellow man through benevolent laughter; when we are loyal and true to ourselves, our beliefs, and our friends, then we get a little bit closer to that magic.
Sometimes, in your finest moments, you can get a taste of that power. Wield it even! (Just a little bit). And in your darkest hour, when you’ve screwed up, and that magic feels so very far away? Just remind yourself that you are defined as a person not just by what you find, but also by what you seek.
The real point is that process of picking yourself up and trying again—of endeavoring to be a better person, of hungering for that magic in your life, of charging for it with all you have. The Elements of Harmony are unfathomably powerful, but they are still paperweights without a heart to live in.
A grail is meant to be quested for. Otherwise, it’s just a cup. The Elements? Some dusty old rocks in a weird fountain-statue-looking thingy in a faraway castle.
The real magic is you.
Now you can follow Help! My Heart is Full of Pony! on Tumblr.