Thursday, July 28, 2016

Voting for the Hugos: Watching Movies and TV Shows -- er, Show

First, the movies: I ended up watching AI, I understand it does an endgame redemption kind of thing, I still didn’t like it, and I didn’t make it all the way through. I’ve stopped wrestling with my biases though, at least the ones that don’t invoke my anti-slate bias. Voting is about deliberately having biases, biases mighty enough to crush your opponent’s biases. My pro-Weir bias is strong enough to crush even my pro-Star Wars bias (because that wasn’t really Star Wars, it was a delicious tasty treat but not a meal).

And I’m biased against TV shows in general. The only nominated show I actually watched was the episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

I like MLP. I first watched it when I had my annual case of the flu and was getting all psychedelic with some Nyquil. I liked it so much I watched all the seasons available at the time. The show features a core group of ponies living in a small town: bookworm Twilight Sparkle, posh and snobbish Rarity, animal-loving Fluttershy (my favorite), sporty Rainbow Dash, party animal Pinky Pie and countrified Applejack. Each episode has the gang working together, using their unique strengths. You could say it’s a how-to manual for having friendly relationships with people from diverse backgrounds, overcoming the minor cultural understandings that arise (for example, one episode is about a jock pony learning how to relate to bookworm ponies while laid up with an injury).

Unique strengths are an important part of the ponyverse. Each pony has a “cutie mark” emblazoned on her butt which represents her personality, her interests, her soul, her favorite thing in the world – something like that. In the Hugo-nominated episodes, a nefarious villainess tries to steal the ponies’ cutie marks, replacing them with equals signs. Even more disturbingly, the ponies are locked up in some kind of gruesome Maoist re-education camp, with crappy slogans broadcast over loudspeakers.

Wow. I come from a time when writers just weren’t supposed to criticize Marxism like that. You could get fired and shunned and blacklisted for that kind of thing.  And here it is, up for an award. Amazing.

I’m going to vote for it. Because I don’t like Marxism either. I like the conversation Marx generated, but I think socialism is a thing that evolves, as indeed it has evolved quite differently in various countries, and to worship the foundational doctrine as revealed wisdom comparable to religion is fundamentally incorrect. I’ll proudly describe myself as a socialist but I would not term myself a Marxist – a doctor does not term themselves a Hippocratist, nor does an electrician operate as a Galvanist.

I think we liberals do need an occasional reminder that we too can go overboard with oppression and cruelty, given the opportunity, and we need to guard against this with vigilance, similar to the way German schoolchildren are given a through education in Nazism. Otherwise we end up worshipping our own bloated egos and having fits if anybody upsets us by speaking truth, similar to the way a lot of Americans learned that slaves built the White House just this week – and some people are still insisting we shouldn’t oughta talk about that. We humans need to face our atrocities with honesty rather than egotism because that’s the only way we’re ever going to decrease them. Otherwise we just end up following bad leaders.

Like the villainous pony in this story. Until the diverse crowd of heroes teams up to defeat her. That part brought a tear to my eye.

Anyway, I’m sorry if I had to get all political and dramatic, and I blame it all on the Ponies. Here’s a picture of baby Fluttershy in a forest with her animal friends, to mellow out the ambiance.

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