When I first mentioned to my roommates that I planned to spend my night watching My Little Pony, they were understandably confused. However, it did not take much persuasion on my part to convince them to watch it with me, given that “it’s better than doing homework”. Thus at 10:00 on a Monday night, we were gathered around the television prepared to reminisce about our childhoods and help me pass my marketing class.
My first impression of this movie was that it was very political; exploring concepts of prejudice, fascism, and even making references to modern issues surrounding racism in the US. Although this may seem unexpected for the My Little Pony Brand, the original MLP series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (2010-2019), wasn’t afraid to include more intense themes. However, I’ll admit my knowledge of the original series is limited to my memory of the episodes I watched as a child, and one 30 minute youtube video I watched before writing this. The best example I could find of political themes in the original series was the two-part season 5 premiere which explores Social Marxism. In these episodes, a pony has taken control over a town and manipulated the others to give up their cutie marks (the symbol of their unique special talent) and replaced them with a black equal sign, for that is the only way to experience “true friendship”.
My Little Pony: A New Generation is set hundreds of years in the future from the original series, where the characters from the first series have now become legends that most ponies do not even believe in anymore. The world is now divided amongst unicorns, pegasus, and earth ponies (non-magical horses), all of which fear and distrust the others. The movie follows Sunny, a young earth pony with idealistic values who believes that everyone should be able to get along regardless of their differences. She travels to the different kingdoms befriending both unicorns and pegasus to return unity to the world. My roommate put it best, “so in 300 years they evolved to be 3D animated and racist?”
The conflict of the movie begins when Sunny tries to disrupt the technology convention of Phyllis, an inventor who uses the townsfolk’s prejudice and fear towards unicorns and pegasus in order to sell weapons. The movie even goes so far as to use the phrase “brainwashing” to describe the prejudice propaganda she spreads around town.
In response to Sunny’s protests that they should be welcoming of others, a police officer tells the townspeople that “Numbers make you strong, millions can’t be wrong, especially when they’re screaming loudly” and “Are you scared about tomorrow? We’ll it’s all going to work out painlessly, if you follow my orders brainlessly”. When we finally meet unicorns and pegasus, they have similar assumptions that the other “breeds” are cunning, deceitful, and wish to harm them.
The movie also references the current turmoil in the US surrounding the police with lines such as “When I become sheriff, I’ll keep everyone in line” and “that badge was creating an unhealthy power dynamic”. An animated movie about talking ponies may not have been the first place I expected to encounter a discussion of these topics, but it certainly led to a memorable plot.
Although the movie covered some intense political topics, it wasn’t anything revolutionary. Unfortunately, real-world politics are too complicated to be solved by the magic of friendship and a catchy musical number by Vanessa Hudgens. However, it was a fun movie that children are sure to love and it will prevent parents from losing their minds when they watch it for the hundredth time in a row. In the words of my roommates, “I thought it was entirely predictable but enjoyable nonetheless” and “I thought it was cute, it was a sweet story”. Overall, I think this movie is a great starting point from which Hasbro can launch its new toy line. If only the toys were not, as my roommates and I all agreed, “lame and boring”.