The Dazzlings Get Too Meta For Their Own Good

by forbloodysummer

Chapter 2: Daniel Ingram Chapter 2

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This is one of those silences that’s somehow worse than what came before it. ‘Dangerous’ is the word that springs to mind.

“...Indeed we did,” Adagio says, nothing but smoothness in her voice. “Perhaps this rant has run its course.”

Hang on, did I just make Adagio Dazzle back down? Now I feel less safe than ever. They’re in my head, so they know where I sleep...

“At least they fixed all those problems in Legend Of Everfree,” Sonata says, presumably with a shrug.

“And it must be said,” Adagio admits, “it was in many ways our own fault.”

“Sorry, but yeah,” I agree with her, sounding reluctant, but also knowing I’m glad to shift some of the blame in her direction, “that one’s partly on you. Everyone loved Rainbow Rocks, and so Hasbro wanted just as many songs in Friendship Games, even though they didn’t really suit the setup.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. My point is that the whole of Friendship Games was pretty much down to us.”

“Ok, yes, I concede that the first Equestria Girls movie wasn’t too well received, and if not for you three and your movie, there would quite possibly have not been a third one.”

“...You’re still not getting it,” Aria says.

Again, audible facepalming.

Well, I would if you explained it clearly, instead of withholding details to be needlessly dramatic. I guess sirens are performers by nature, automatically communicating in a way that makes audiences hang on their every word.

“In Rainbow Rocks,” Adagio says patiently, “precisely three characters were asking what would be so wrong with a little competition, and wielding the ability to improvise songs in-sync with each other and conjure backing tracks from thin air. Come Friendship Games, everyone’s doing both of those things.”

“...That’s... that’s true, actually,” I say while turning it over in my mind.

Adagio continues, “It’s almost like being able to do that was our special ability as sirens, and the magic which made it possible was contained within gems, which then shattered, spilling the sirenia magic all over CHS.”

Aria adds, “With the amusing side effect of making everyone in the school suddenly hyper-competitive.”

“Sunset even said that winning wasn’t enough; they wanted to see the other side lose,” Adagio says.

“Yeah,” Sonata says, “never mind ‘it doesn’t matter who you hurt,’ she had a list.”

“And that’s a vicious line to come from a hero,” Aria confirms. “Way worse than anything we ever said. Yet the fandom still loves their baconwaifu.”

“She’s a great character,” I say, feeling protective of Rebecca and the pony-girl she’s done so well with, “and people dig the redemption arc. Perhaps it might be worth a try?”

“You need to rewatch Rainbow Rocks,” Sonata says, “and ask yourself if you’d really want us to be good, when we’re so much fun being bad.” Suddenly I’m forced to reassess my view of her as the most innocent of the three.

The other two sirens say nothing for a moment, letting Sonata’s sentiment sink in, and leaving me daydreaming of how generally magnificent they were as villains (which is almost certainly exactly what they intended me to spend the time thinking about).

“Sunset’s a fantastic character,” Adagio then says, agreeing with my earlier statement. “I’d go as far as to say she’s the perfect lead for the franchise, a mirror of Princess Twilight adapted to suit the Equestria Girls world.”

“That was another thing that grated with the inclusion of Twilight’s human counterpart in movies three and four,” Aria grumbles. “We already had a human-world Twilight equivalent, and her name was Sunset. But now there are two very similar characters both trying to lead the movie franchise, and the focus seems to be naturally leaning towards Twilight, as she also leads the series.”

“Make your mind up which one you’re complaining about,” I say, trying to lighten it with a laugh.

“Sci-Twi,” Adagio says succinctly, “as she’s called, I have nothing positive to say about. I think stories are better when she’s not in them. But Sunset? Good character, great jacket. I just find it quite amusing how in love with her a lot of the fandom is, and I have done so ever since working out why.”

I manage to hold it for a moment, the conversation hesitating as my curiosity battles with my self-restraint. Unsurprisingly, curiosity soon wins out.

“I know I’m going to regret asking this,” I say, “but – why?”

“She’s a new character with an outside perspective looking in on the established mane six,” Adagio says nonchalantly, “she’s humble and flawed but still liked by the main characters, and she doesn’t make any mistakes, at least in the second film, that the audience would actually condemn her for.”

Hardly pausing for breath, she barrels on, but still in the same, it-doesn’t-really-matter-but tone.

“She’s the second-ever-seen personal protégé of Princess Celestia – an accolade only ever held until that point by the lead character of the series – she has a dark and edgy past, and even I will admit that she’s drop-dead gorgeous. And at the end of Rainbow Rocks, the film we like to focus on, she miraculously saves the day out of nowhere, after the conventional heroes were defeated on their own.”

“Oh,” I groan internally – I mean, technically, this whole conversation is internal, but still – “I have a bad feeling about where this is going.”

At which Adagio promptly declares, “She’s a self-insert Mary Sue! That’s why the fandom loves her so much, she’s their dream character!”

That’s a surprisingly solid condemnation I hadn’t realised before now. Then I consider how much trouble I’d be in if I aired something like that aloud, and how I should probably be seen defending Sunset from such allegations.

“But wait,” I say, “she’s popular. You said yourself, the fandom love her. That doesn’t sound like an OC.”

“Well exactly. She’s how people envision their own OCs being received, like an ideal version of how they think it should go. That may even be why there are so many OCs written like that, because it worked for Sunset. And those people have the temerity to term their characters original...”

“Even just saying that is likely to make you enemies in the fandom,” I wince.

“About Sunset, or about OCs?”


Then Sonata interrupts, “Yup, that’s why we’re staying out of it!”

“But particularly about Sunset,” I say.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not worth saying,” Adagio tells me. “And it’s nothing that can’t be solved if people stop writing her that way.”

I say nothing, because I don’t think there’s anything safe I can say. I mean, obviously Sunset isn’t a Mary Sue, and certainly not a self-insert (I shudder at the thought), but the very fact that those points can be raised and not easily refuted is quite damning to begin with.

Is that the sort of thing I should consider mentioning to the writers? Just something to drop into the next lyric writing session Meghan and I have together?

But then, how much water did the argument actually hold? And what if Meghan had three sirens in her head, encouraging her to raise the Disney song thing with me? Ok, that last point might be stretching the bounds of credibility a bit too far.

“If it were mostly the redemption thing,” Aria says, “people might be more keen on Starlight Glimmer.”

“Well, yes and no,” I try to defend, “Sunset did it first, so Starlight could be just seen as an unoriginal imitation.” I probably shouldn’t talk that way about the franchise I do a lot of work for, but, you know, it’s inside my own head and all.

“And Sunset being hot has nothing to do with it, right?” Sonata says knowingly.

Aria says, “Perhaps also that Starlight wasn’t terrible as a villain. She was quite good fun, wreaked a fair bit of devastation, twisted established events with the rainboom – which, if done well, has more impact than setting things in motion from scratch, as it’s doing clever things with stuff we’ve already seen from one angle – gave us a glimpse of what might have been and allowed us to revisit old favourite villains in the process, and was genuinely talked down with the magic of friendship rather than being blasted with rainbow lasers, which is more true to the name of the show.”

“Ok,” I ask, “and how does that change things?”

“Just that Starlight was popular as a villain,” Aria replies, “and so might be seen as being a shadow of her former self now that she’s reformed and not tearing the world apart, along the same lines as Discord. Whereas, as we said earlier, no one liked Sunset as a villain, so she’s inarguably better now.”

That could be it, I guess. It’s a kids’ show, obviously the audience is meant to like the character more now that she’s nice. But I suppose there is the ‘terrible, but great’ angle from Harry Potter, that power can be impressive in its own right, regardless of the morality behind it, and so by that measure, Starlight is lesser in season six than the year before. And Discord has had a couple of episodes since his reformation that I thought of as duds, at least until I gave them a second viewing. Whereas Sunset mopes around a bit in Rainbow Rocks, but she’s back at full power by the end of the movie, and by Friendship Games her Daydream form is supposedly just as strong as her demonic one was, so perhaps she doesn’t suffer from that problem as much as the others.

“Starlight’s backstory left a bit to be desired,” Adagio says in a measured tone, like she’s trying to be fair and give Starlight her dues, but also accepting that she wasn’t handled perfectly.

“Yeah,” Sonata chips in, “it’s like, ok, so your friend got his cutie mark before you and went off to special school, and that’s sad for you, but come on, get over it girl!”

“Or maybe try being happy for your friend on his behalf?” Aria offers.

“That... would’ve been the friendly thing to do, wouldn’t it?” I say, a little stumped by the suggestion. “I guess maybe that was a bit much empathy to expect from someone that age?”

“Right, ‘cause we never see empathy from the Cutie Mark Crusaders,” Aria responds.

“Ok, maybe empathy was the wrong word,” I say. “Emotional maturity, perhaps?”

“Hey,” Sonata says jovially, “if children were already good at friendship, you wouldn’t have a job making a show to teach them about it, so it’s all good.”

“I’m not sure that’s quite the happy moral I was going for, but it does seem to be the one I ended up at,” I agree, puzzled.

“Would you prefer the less cynical one about it all being a marketing ploy to sell toys?” Aria asks, and I wish I’d kept my mouth shut. Mouth in my head, that is, not mouth in... Well, obviously my actual mouth is part of my head, but I mean the internal one, which only exists as a construct of thought.

“There’s a time and a place for that argument,” Adagio says, putting the lid on it.

“And that is?” I feel I have to ask.

“When arguing with Transformers fans,” Adagio says. “Don’t try to look down on MLP in comparison to the show you like, they’re both just commercials for Hasbro toys.”

Aria adds, “If you believe one is more manly or womanly than the other, that’s all just down to what a certain marketing department has decided you’ll spend more money on.”

“The only real difference,” Adagio continues, “other than the gender each show is aimed at, is that we were lucky enough to get Lauren Faust for the 2010s reboot.”

“Where they ended up with Michael Bay,” Aria says.

I can’t quite tell, but I think everyone in the conversation might have shuddered at the mention of that last name.

“Nevertheless,” Adagio says after a moment, “it’s a rather damning indictment of Starlight’s character that the suggestion that she simply be happy for her friend comes from Aria Blaze, of all people.”

“What?” Aria says, not aghast or outraged, but a little put out. “Just ‘cause I don’t do that doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. Jesus, I’m not a psychopath, I just find people profoundly disappointing.”

Adagio says nothing, because she probably understands the sentiment all too well, so I step in and ask, “...Did you just say ‘Jesus?’ Do sirens believe in Jesus? Does Jesus even exist in the Equestria Girls world?”

“Are we in the Equestria Girls world right now?” Adagio jumps in. “Our characterisation’s in your head, sweetie, so not only is there some wiggle room, but the faults and contradictions are on you.”

“I have always wanted to say it though,” Aria says thoughtfully. “It feels like something I’d say.”

“Probably while facepalming,” I suggest.

“Hey, it’s my own form of sign language, ok?” Aria replies indignantly. “It’s very varied and expressive, it just so happens that when I’m around Sonata, ‘facepalm’ is the only gesture I need.”

Adagio then returns to the parent topic. “Anyway, Starlight’s backstory didn’t line up with her equality obsession as cohesively as I’d have liked.”

“I could understand it more if that was something they’d just come up with for The Cutie Map,” Aria says, “but even in The Cutie Re-Mark, she’s going on about the virtues of equality to Fluttershy and the other young pegasi.”

“And it’s not like they couldn’t have made an effective, sympathetic and interesting backstory for her using inequality as a motivator.”

“We all know about the power balance between the three pony tribes, and how earth ponies have a rather raw deal, but it’s partly true with cutie marks as well.”

“It was highlighted that very season, in Bloom & Gloom, with the pest control pony: having that cutie mark is great; that’s clearly what you’re good at and meant to be doing with your life, so doing that job should give you a feeling of fulfilment. But the same is true of Spitfire, and her cutie mark and her job, which is undeniably more glorious, and, to the outside observer, a bit more fun?”

“But in both cases they’re just doing the roles Equestria has assigned them. And it’s all in the luck of the draw that one has the purpose in life to captain the Wonderbolts, and the other to vacuum up twittermites.”

“So Starlight could have been done well,” Adagio concludes, “but the way it was, the last ten or fifteen minutes of the season five finale fell a little flat for me.”

“But, as we mentioned earlier, not anything like as flat as the same part of the next year’s finale.”

Sonata then speaks up, “Someone on the internet said that Starlight had a better backstory as Snowfall Frost than she did as herself, and I kind of agreed.”

We did see flashbacks to both of their childhoods; one of which had a pony happily playing until her friend got a cutie mark, the other for some reason had Professor Snape telling her to work harder and play less if she wanted to make something with her life, which, however strange it sounded, actually did seem a bit more believable for a start of darkness event.

“I thought working for the betterment of Equestria was a fairly noble goal,” Adagio says, “and a rather positive motivation, but what do I know...?”

I suggest, “I think the point was–”

“I know what the point was. My point was that they could have explained it a lot better.”

“More time for songs the way they went for, though,” I point out. “Would you prefer a detailed but ultimately flawed reason for why we should join Communist cults or stop celebrating Christmas–”

“–Or Applejack singing Prog,” Aria cuts in. “Ok, you’re right about that one.”

“Touché,” says an impressed-sounding Adagio.

Next Chapter: Daniel Ingram Chapter 3 Estimated time remaining: 12 Minutes
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