My Little Star Trek

The mom of one of my high school daughter’s friends recently posted on Facebook that she (the mom) was tired of her high schooler watching this little kids show that was only for one year olds.  My daughter – a very intelligent voracious reader and writer and somewhat fanatical Brony responded with several full-paragraph, grammatically correct, posts on why “My Little Pony” is a great show.

But it got me thinking – why the fanatical following?

I came to an interesting conclusion: It’s basically the same show as “Star Trek”.

OK, I’ll wait right here for the Bronies to stop cheering and waving their manes and for the Trekkers to have smelling salts and tri-ox compounds applied.

Y’all back? Good.

IMHO Literature at its best – and I’m lumping TV and movies in here, a dubious generalization I realize – looks at, and comments on, the human condition. Star Trek, most specifically ‘The Original Series’, used science fiction to abstract this in a way that allowed Gene Roddenberry to talk about the Vietnam War (and war in general), race relations, bigotry, over-reaching governments, and many other aspects of human interaction and culture in a way that made it past the censors (and studio executives!) and out into the public. Those who ‘got it’ REALLY got it. One great example is Dr. Martin Luther King, discussed here in this interview between Nichelle Nichols and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The characters are somewhat stereotypical – hey it’s TV after all – and give the audience a ‘landing zone’, something they can recognize and usually at least one character with whom they can really resonate (for me it’s the chief engineer ‘Scotty’). The writers can then explore the conflicts that arise from positing some situation and placing those characters in it, running the conflict to a conclusion that ultimately comments on the more general human condition or political or social situation.

Starting to sound familiar?

My Little Pony, specifically the latest incarnation Friendship is Magic does much the same thing. The characters are more stylized, more allegorical, and, more accessible to a younger audience, but the stories are thoughtful, and the conflicts that arise tend to show both how characters can improve themselves but also comment on society and, again, the human condition.
The show has found a great supporter in actor John DeLancie who voices the character ‘Discord’ and has spoken at several My Little Pony conventions, an obvious Star Trek tie-in, but he talks about both in some of the videos.

I’m obviously not the first person to think of this connection, but, hey, what’s a dad to do? 🙂

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About VAXHeadroom

Among other things I was the Lead C&DH Flight Software Engineer on LCROSS. My LCROSS photo blog on Facebook can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/lcross-is-go I run a recording studio and publishing company http://www.untiedmusic.com and tweet as @VAXHeadroom. I'm also a public speaker on space, physics, technology and stage performance. I love talking to kids from K to college, drop me an email if interested in having me come speak!
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