Growing up, I fell in love with My Little Pony (MLP). It was easy, really. Almost like it was in my blood. Kiowa are Plains people, and many Plains people were also Horse people. I loved horses, and the bright pastel colors that they came in just were a match made in heaven. I had Rainbow Dash, a blue Pegasus with rainbow mane. It was my favorite of them all. I wanted to someday pass on this appreciation for a simple plastic toy to my children, but I regretfully inform you that I can’t now.
My Little Pony had a recent comeback on TV, with a series entitled “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!”. In Episode 21 (click here to view the episode), Applejack is heading back West and gets caught up with a disagreement between the Buffalo and Apple-oosa Settlers. In this piece, I will be discussing the inaccuracies and fallacies in this episode that is geared towards children. If this doesn’t validate claims that racism is learned from a small age, I don’t know what is.
I will start deconstructing this from the beginning.
- Appaloosas, which have been named “Apple-oosas” here, are actually a breed that the Nez Perce specifically bred. The fact that they are Settlers, confuses me and is historically inaccurate.
- The train depicted here is being pulled by ponies. This ignores the fact that there was a long and arduous battle between protecting wild and Native American herds of horses being used to help build the railroad. The ignoring of the animal cruelty is absurd.
- Buffalo would not travel by a train. In fact, herds were separated entirely because of railroad tracks, since Buffalo do not cross foreign objects.
- Buffalo are clearly Indians here and apparently rob trains. Quite the opposite of what I remember old John Wayne movies being, but whatever. They are depicted as the aggressor, because they are first to respond and attack from the get-go.
- Spike [the dragon] is eating turquoise. That is statement is heinous enough to realize its offensive.
- Apparently, the settlers “need the land to live”. What is wrong with the land they initially came from? Why are they planting non-native plants in this ecosystem?
- Apparently, living is > than sacred, or at least, the Buffalo living.
- The main message, according from the horrible dance-and-song skit, is sharing. This clearly misrepresents the issues of colonization, discredits claims of Native land, and the backwards deals done by the government.
- The whole depiction of the attack is supposed to be light-hearted (really, apple pies as ammo?) but creates a fluffy reality of what really happened: people died. A lot of Native Americans died because of these issues.
- The disagreement is settled with…pie? Really? You ply Indian Buffalo with food, you can get what you want. That’s basically what you’re saying, right MLP?
Many haters will say, “but Dan, it’s just a kid’s show.” Yes, it is a kid’s show. But who is clearly represented as the victor here? I do not want my children, who will be proud part Natives, to turn on the television or open a book and see that yes, the Cowboys win YET AGAIN. Losers are BAD and thus YOU are bad. A white child can get any number of TV shows, books, video games, etc that will have A WHITE PERSON IN A COOL/INTERESTING/BEST/LEAD PART.
When my children open a book or see something on TV, they will:
Come to me and ask me why the Indians are sitting at a different table than the white Pilgrims. Why is a white man dressed up as a Native? What is a prairie nigger, Daddy? Why is my skin different? Why are you called an Injun Lover? Dad, I don’t want my hair long anymore, I want to look like the other boys at school and on TV. Why is there a team called the redskins, Dad? Isn’t that a bad word? Dad, the man on the news just said all Indians are freeloaders. Are we freeloaders?
How would you feel, having to answer the inevitable? How would you try to foster a positive self-image onto your kid, knowing your own experience growing up sucked hard with being mixed? The last thing I need against me is a kid’s television show.