Learning Through Osmosis

 This is such a true story, it is MULTIPLE true stories. With an S. The first time this happened I was in Toronto and the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls toys were being debuted at the show. Kiddo was obsessed with the movie and I was missing her first day of 1st grade to be at this particular convention, so I wanted to get her a cool gift. I went up to the booth and browsed what was in the case. There was a mother with her young daughter, 8 or 9 years old (American years… no idea what the Canadian metric conversion age is.), and it quickly became clear that we were looking at the same things. I feared her mother had warned her about the “grown men who like to play with ponies,” of which I was not one, but CLEARLY appeared to be one at that moment. I almost said aloud, “I’m shopping for my DAUGHTER,” but I thought better of uttering what is likely the shameful battle cry of the self-hating adult pony enthusiast.

My Patrons can see the original last panel to the previous comic which spawned the writing process for THIS comic [HERE]. 


A more subtle approach would be to ask, “How old is your daughter? Mine is 6 and she LOVES this stuff.” But as I thought the words they immediately became twisted and creepy. “HoWwWwww OLLLLLD izzzz yoURRR DAWWWWWWTERRRRRR?!?!? [pant pant hisssssssss]” Better to just smile as un-creepily as possible and wait for the booth worker to come over. She arrived and addressed the little girl first. “I want Twilight!” she belted enthusiastically. “OK, just let me get one from the back, eh? [aboot soory]” the associate replied. I had already been away from my booth for longer than I intended, so I just raised my hand and said, “Make that two.” I might as well have said, “I’ll have what she’s having,” then given the mom a wink and a pair of finger guns. Then I could just hold my wrists together and wait for security to put them in handcuffs. A more direct approach would have been, “I’LL HAVE THE SAME PONY THAT THE CHILD IS HAVING! I’LL HAVE IT FOR MY OWNNNNN!”

Anyway, I felt goofy buying it at a convention, but Kiddo loved it and that was the point. A year or so later at SDCC I had the exact same experience, only more so humiliating. My con-wife, David, had procured through man-child sorcery a special VIP pass to the Hasbro booth, which let you skip the massive line of other man-children and purchase whatever they were offering that reminded you of when you were young and alive and so much further away from an inevitable death. David and I made the death march from the webcomics area of the floor to the Hasbro booth which, while only being about 10 rows away, took a good 30 minutes to reach in SDCC time. The cases were full of robots and ponies and maybe some robot ponies, but definitely NO pony robots. I flashed my VIP (Very Impressive Pony) badge and was ushered to the front of an impossible long line.

To my chagrin, I learned that all of the stuff in the cases was not, in fact, for sale and was, in fact, for filling space in cases. The only thing they sold at this booth was convention exclusive toys, most of which cost upwards of $50-$100. I usually spend about $20 on Kiddo’s convention gift and maybe another $10 on comics for her. The cheapest thing they had, that would be of any interest to her at all was $35. It was a limited edition pony who was based on a character from an episode that she had seen, but who only actually appeared in the comics, which she had not read. I had come all of this way, and no booth was going to have shorter line than this. Maybe she would think the “con exclusive” aspect of it was cool. Whatever. “I’ll take a… Mane-iac Mayhem Equestria Girl.” The booth worker looked at me like, “Of course you will, Beardo,” and wrapped it up.

I wiki’d the character once I got back to the booth, so I could at least know what I was presenting to my child. That’s how it happens. That’s how you get THE KNOWING. Not, necessarily by being interested in your kid’s toys and shows themselves, but by being interested in your kid. Granted, there are lots of things she’s into that I am GENUINELY into. Adventure Time, Minecraft, Ninja Turtles… Our Venn Diagram of interests has plenty of legitimate overlap. MLP: FiMOMGLOL just isn’t my bag, and so I feel like a goofus when I have to display my uncharacteristically extensive knowledge of the subject matter.

My daughter lives in a world where everything she likes is the universally adored, coolest stuff ever. “How could anyone NOT like Littlest Pet Shop?! [I could list 1000 reasons] It’s the COOLEST! [It is not]” But, rather than be the dad who “doesn’t get it, doesn’t WANT to get it,” I want to be the dad who begrudgingly watches the overly bubbly, hyper manic, highest possible pitched shouting matches that are her favorite shows, so that when she wants to talk about them (which is always), I will have more to say than, “That’s nice, Kiddo.”

The problems occur when I actually start to have opinions about this stuff. Like how, in a world with three distinct evolutionary offshoots of the dominant species, where one of the subsets is so much more powerful than the other two as to make them appear crippled, does a caste system not naturally develop? Here’s how a real world Equestria would break down: Unicorns on top, ruling the Pegasi and Earth Ponies with an iron hoof. Just dominating every aspect of pony life and taking what they want, when they want, from whomever they want. They are telekinetic magic users in a community where everyone else can’t even get a book off the shelf without gnawing at it with their teeth! The pegasi are their enforcers. They are still subjugated by the unicorns, but they are awarded special privileges for keeping the Earth ponies in line. The Earth ponies are garbage. Just pure, fucking nonsense garbage. They dig trenches, and break rocks, and pull shit around in carts and probably serve as a food source for the upper classes.

Bare minimum, this shit is all going down 5 minutes after the unicorns figure out magic. Extrapolate a bit further, probably after an uprising or two, and the unicorns have completely wiped out the other two classes and enslaved… I don’t know… whatever species Strawberry Shortcake is.

Calling all Whovians with holes in their ears! Just look at these Sonic Screwdriver earrings my wife made! 

sonic screwdriver earings matt smith elevelth doctor who etsy


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  1. My friends and I are college students, so of course we often get drunk and watch My Little Pony and Adventure Time. I actually watched it with the intended audience recently when I was working at a daycare, and it was rely interesting to see the kids reactions as opposed to our reactions. Basically all of the girls loved Princess Celestia the best because she has a long rainbow mane, and I'm pretty sure I can now draw Princess Celestia blindfolded.

    • I watch Adventure time with my kid and one of my favorite things is noticing what she responds to, what I respond to and what we both respond to equally.

  2. I really thought that said porny shame the first two times I read it.

    Hearing you describe the three races, I would think that the Unicorns being better than man, know that because they have those powers, they police themselves and do not use those powers for self gain.

    • Hahahaha wow. Is your time machine still operational? Do you miss college life in 1897? Not using powers for self-gain… now I find myself wanting to see if "The Horned Pony's Burden" scans… "Send forth the best ye breed/Go bind your fillies to exile/To serve your captives' need;/To wait in heavy harness,/On flutterered folk and wild–/your newl-caught, sullen ponies,/Half-devil and half-child."

      Huh. Barely have to change it at all.

  3. And the Pegicorns would rule above all.

    My observation of Pony society is that male ponies are either mentally deficient, or completely subservient to their lady pony masters.

    • There are few males and they are only kept around for breeding stock. Most are killed at birth. Pegicorns are mostly euthanized as well, out of fear that they will rise up.

      • I for one would happily live under the saddle of the Mare-triarchy (I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself), honestly, i don't think i could deal with having to micro manage the whole eco-system the way the ponies do

  4. In light of the days events (today is the independence referendum in Scotland), I should point out that the national creature of Scotland is…… the unicorn o/

      • For example, I wear a boonie hat. Boonie hats are cool. It's the kind of hat hunters and fishermen wear, usually adorned with spare fishing lures or bullets.
        My take on the fedora is that the hat itself can't make you look good, it's what you wear it WITH that determines how you present yourself. It must be a 3-piece suit and tie, like an old-fashioned G-man or Frank Sinatra.

  5. Isn't there a caste system? I've only seen a bit of the show here and there, but all of the princesses/queens (ruling class) end up being/becoming horned pegasi (or whichever specific term they use for that), right? Plus I felt like one particular episode gave me the distinct impression of forcing a 'no, earth ponies are TOTALLY as powerful as the other two, which is why we have to state it out loud and not just show it' vibe.

    • I'm sure they want Earth Ponies to have the false hope that they are just as good as everyone else, but they might as well have no limbs, eyes or ears.

  6. Well, the caste system as you described is pretty much how any story dealing with the land before the princesses came to power presents. The closest the show gets is when it shows the point at which the three tribes united, before which I guess they were all just living in their own separate land areas. Of course, you could always just handwave the fact that they weren't as bad as we would be by pointing out the natural inclination towards harmony.

  7. They've done an episode about the three different races, "Hearth's Warming Eve". It explains how all three types work together, Unicorns control the moon and sun, Pegasi control the weather, Earth ponies grow the food that sustains everyone (and are super strong to break through mountains and fight monsters and stuff)

      • Wait a minute… have there ever been mixed pony couples on the show, like a pegasus with a unicorn, or a unicorn with an earth pony? Because I'm coming up blank on any examples right now, which would mean you are totally right about the caste system. /mind blown

          • But if Alicorns are the highest caste and Unicorns are the second-highest, then that's not much of a point. Besides, Alicorns have been shown to be very powerful Unicorns (Twilight).

            • Cadance was a pegasus growing up, until her apotheosis. Lauren wrote her as Pegasus Princess Skyla but quit when the execs changed her to Alicorn Princess Cadance (and showed her plans for Equestria Girls that looked suspiciously like her own Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls proposed toyline / series).

  8. I bought my daughters Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash recently. Bloody hard to find in the UK. At one point I was considering buying real ponies and killing, stuffing and tattooing them. Would have been cheaper too.

  9. I take an opposite tack on the issue. I'll watch the show so I know what it's telling my kid and can address things that are weird, but when she runs in reciting the whole goddamn script, I don't want to extend that. And I'll flat-out tell her, "I'm not interested in rehashing the plot of a TV show. I'd rather talk about everything else you're doing."

    But then, I'm not much of a modern TV person myself. If a story lasts longer than a couple of episodes, I get irritated and abandon the show altogether. This has come to include character development sub-arcs, which basically means all I pick to watch these days is cooking shows and stand-up comedy. (And nobody in my family wants to hear about how Ree made brownies with pretzels in them, for some reason.)

  10. But Equestria is a hidden Canadian province. That's why we get the new issue figurines first and why they're all so nice to each other.

  11. H.R.M. Celestia is literally the only reason there isn't a caste system in place right now. Though the "all alicorns are royalty" rule sure sounds castical.

  12. As a first time father of a two month-old daughter, I must say this is a terrifying glimpse of what my TV watching habits are destined to be. Thank/damn you Joel.

    • You honestly have no idea. It goes in stages. First it's Sesame Street and basically nothing else for like 2 years. At first it's fine, but they you realize they only make like 15 new Sesame Streets a year and you've been watching it twice a day for 4 months. You'll see every episode 150 times, and anything that you find even SLIGHTLY annoying will be magnified to warcrime status.

      Then it's a couple of years of shapes and numbers and letter and little kid character just SCREAMING at the TV. There must be some scientific correlation between knowledge retention and horrific screeching.

      Then there's a couple of years where it's not so bad. But that's only getting you complacent for when they start watching LIVE ACTION PROGRAMMING FOR CHILDREN!!!!! There's nothing worse than Disney channel child actors. You think you know screaming? You think you know overacting? You know nothing.

      • Last time I had maintenance on my car the waiting room TV was tunes to a Disney show about an Australian aquarium worker whose friends were were-mermaids or something. Every episode was some problem happening from mermaid powers (apparently the full moon makes them sleepwalking zombies or something) and trying to fix it without either the parents finding out or ruining the bloke's relationship with his unlikable girlfriend.

        It was painful.

        • I remember that show!

          Honestly the only two shows worth anything on Disney are Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls. Coincidentally (or not), they're both animated shows.

          Although I did like Wizards of Waverly Place a lot.

          • Gravity Falls it fantastic; it's outright one of the best shows airing on television right now. Unfortunately, as this is Disney, "right now" means "an episode every 2-3 weeks or when you least expect it, whichever comes last."

      • Of course, you can always use this opportunity to lead you child on the right path, and show them DVDS of Transformers, Power Rangers, Voltron, Pinky & The Brain, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, DuckTales, Batman TAS, etc…

      • Oh man, Disney live action shows. How does a company which makes such AWESOME cartoon villains make such awful live-action ones? Even as a kid, watching "The Magical World of Disney" with the family every Sunday night, I thought they were stupid. All adults in them were bumbling morons, and the villains were always the worst of the bunch. Seriously, "Pete's Dragon"? Even as a six-year-old, SO much second-hand embarrassment (also Pete was an awful dragon).

    • UK shows for pre-and-early-schoolers while tripper, are also generally less painful, if you can make that a thing.

  13. A little tip to cut down on the shame of knowing to much about a kids show. Make a wish list by writing with your off-hand and look at it when you ask for the specific toy. This way it doesn't look like you know way to much about a kids show.

  14. Ha, I got that exact same one for my little girl for Christmas last year!

    She asked for a "magical pony"; I know she wanted a real one but this was as close as I could find in Walmart. I'd heard good things about the series but hadn't bothered looking into it, partially because I knew my husband would absolutely not be interested in even being in the same room while it was playing; and partially because I vaguely remember the animated series from when I was a kid, and it looked dumb as shit. I think it was the retarded cutesy voices of the ponies that made me change the channel after about three seconds of exposure each time (that and I probably hated it by default; most of the "girl" cartoons from the late Seventies and mid-Eighties–Strawberry Shortcake, etc–seemed stupid to me; the only ones I liked were She-Ra and Jem. As an adult, I stand by those two shows; they were awesome lol).

    Anyways, I got her this "magical" pony (you've got the talking, moving one?) and when Hubby went out of town for a couple weeks I decided we should try the pilot and see what it was about.

    Now the three of us (daughter, 9-year-old son, and I) are all into it, because, as people say, they're interesting, well-written characters with decent stories.

    –If you have the talking one, is it weird for you too when Twilight giggles? I don't think I've ever actually heard her giggle on the show. Plus I'm pretty sure whoever wrote the dialogue for it didn't actually watch it; she keeps saying typically girly things like "It's time for the princess celebration!" and asking you to put her crown on and do her hair and things. I can see it from Rarity, but from Twilight it's a bit disconcerting.

    –Shutting up about ponies now.

  15. Of the few times I actually bought stuff at a convention the time I splurged on six MLP toys for my then 9 year old niece stands out. Mainly due to the embarrassment of being thought of as a bronie by the salesclerk, and the utter look of shock on my buddy's face later when I happily dumped the bag of toys next to her.

    Apparently two of the figures were "con-exclusives" and he couldn't believe I'd let a child play with them.

  16. You're thinking like a pack animal; ponies are herd animals, and don't think in terms of individual strength when it comes to threats; they WANT to keep the herd together, the more, the better.

    Also, the show covered that EXACT scenario. Whether the windigoes died out (or even existed outside of government-sponsored myth), non-superiority between the pony breeds is a fundament of pony society.

    Also, alicorns rule (literally).

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