My Little Pony (MLP) is a show created to teach children about friendship. Even though that seems like a harmless enough premiss, it manages to delve far into the human psyche. While also exploring issues relevant to modern society.
A prime, and disturbing, example comes at the beginning of season five. In Cutie Map Part 1-2 MLP delves into the issue of what equality means. It takes the concept of it being more kind to force everyone to get along than to be different. Fluttershy succumbs the most as the element of kindness. Showing that at the even kindness, when pushed too far and outweighing other elements, like AJ’s Honesty, can cause Discord. Because forced kindness, harmony, and friendship, is none of the above.
It becomes apparent from their first arrival in Our Town that Fluttershy feels a sense of being drawn to their way of life. At the outset, she doesn’t see what is wrong with everyone being equal and happy. She says, “This must be the most pleasant place in Equestria!” Other elements, like Pinkie, immediately realize the false happiness of the town.
|” I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. I know smiles. And those smiles?
They’re just not right.” – Pinkie Pie
Pinkie notices right off the batt that you cannot have true harmony in friendship without different flavors to celebrate. Including flavors in both in pony personalities and baking. She shows this when she says, “I’ve accidentally eaten cardboard tastier than that….” When all the ponies are reduced to being equal, when all the flavors are taken away, that’s what’s left. In both life and in food. A flavorless existence with no real happiness; no reason to celebrate. When everyone is equal, all those different individual goals and causes for celebration cease to have any meaning. Because they don’t exist at all. “You can’t have nightmares when you don’t dream.” The smiles become fake, but constant.
Twilight Sparkle is given the lead in this episode. But ultimately Fluttershy saves the day by reeling kindness back into harmony with the other elements. She goes against the Applejacks element of harmony, Honesty, to batter Starlight Glimmers enforcement of equal kindness. She battles dishonesty with kind deception to restore harmony and a place where the truth can be valued and spoken. Ponies aren’t allowed to speak the truth about who they are in Starlight Glimmer’s world. Fluttershy shows kindness by going against the system. She lies when she tells Starlight Glimmer she wants to give up her cutie mark. But in doing this she is staying true to herself. She is disguising her true motive to ultimately do what is kind for all the the ponies.
Reconsidering this though, it can be argued that Starlight Glimmer is doing the same thing. She disguises her motives in order to do what she believes is best for the greater good. However, her and Fluttershy’s motives differ. Fluttershy is not interested in controlling others to see her way. But rather in freeing them to live how they see fit. Starlight Glimmer believes that she knows the best way for everyone. However, it is really just the best way for her to avoid getting close to people and being abandoned; her ultimate fear.
Starlight Glimmer: Spare me your sentimental nonsense!
I gave these ponies real friendships
they never could’ve had otherwise!
Double Diamond: How do you know that?!
You never even gave us a chance!
In the end, Starlight Glimmer’s fear reverses on her. Rather then the village abandoning her, she abandons the village. She does not believe she is capable of adapting in a society where everyone is allowed to be their own different selves. So she abandons them and as a result, creates a life of self abandoned isolation for herself.
Any element, but in this case kindness, when pushed to the extreme out of fear, ceases to be what it is. And instead becomes an abomination of face harmony. Disguised discord full of lies, hurt, and no true friendship.