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Death of a mailmare... - Fluorescent Dreams Wax Cylinders

25th of February, 2012

12:01 - Death of a mailmare...

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If you don't know what the Derpy kerfuffle is about, there are good summaries at Derpy has been modified and Derpy's New Voice.

When I wrote the story Death of a mailmare, I used the name "Ditsy". When MLP:FIM officially named the character, I changed my story to use the name "Derpy". At my level of knowledge and ignorance, I consider both names offensive: Ditsy being not of sound mind (stupid and forgetful, especially applied to females), and Derpy being both derped eyes and having done something stupid. But there has been another beloved animated character with an offensive name and a physical problem.

Here are my thoughts about the changes:

1. MLP:FIM is owned by Hasbro. Not the fans. They have every right to change it, just as George Lucas has the right to change Star Wars. Any conversation that doesn't start with this fact ignores reality.

2. I didn't care for the original voice of Derpy, and I'm fine with the new, more generic one.

3. I'm only a touch upset at the loss of the name.

4. If you are upset at losing the name "Derpy", then affect the one thing that Hasbro cares about: its bottom line. Boycott watching MLP:FIM on the Hub, and don't buy any toys. Get others to join in.

With or without Derpy, I think that the show remains worthwhile.

What do you think?

Comments:

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From:zorinlynx
Date:2012-Feb-25 08:24 pm (UTC)
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My upset comes from the fact that they threw us such an awesome bone, then withdrew it because a very small number of people complained.

People are too obsessed with political correctness, and give waaay too much creedence to small groups of people who are offended by pretty much EVERYTHING.

It's not so much Derpy, but the principle. Once again a huge company capitulated because of a few whiners. This is the same crap that resulted in the huge deal over the "wardrobe malfunction" at the superbowl a few years ago; if the media had simply ignored the complainers, it wouldn't have been a big deal.
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From:oliver_otter
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:11 pm (UTC)
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This.

And also how badly it was done. It has been canonical since "Winter Wrap-Up" there is an incompetent pegasus pony named Ditzy Doo. And long suspected (even stated by Lauren Faust last season as a distinct possibility) that Ditzy Doo would get a voiced part and turn out to be Derpy in season 2. It would've been just as easy to re-dub Dash's line as "Careful, Ditzy!" I was surprised they called her Derpy in the first place when Ditzy Doo was already a canonical name (and one Hasbro owned). Ditzy (and Dash complaining about Ditzy being a "bubblehead") would've still been at least somewhat respectful to tradition. And respectful to the handicapped. Derpy is one of the most beloved characters in the show; how is it offensive to the mentally handicapped to say they can be highly valued despite their issues? And how is it possibly less offensive to say the solution to having a slow-witted and clumsy individual some people find unsightly is to essentially delete her?

With respect to #1, no. Having "the right" (really, nothing but the legal might) doesn't make it "right." That logic reminds me of the military surplus store owner from "Falling Down." "I reserve the right!" (to insult and refuse service to a gay couple in the movie's context.) Yes, it was his store and yes he could do that. But did that make it anything less than being a grade-A A-hole?

With respect to #4, double no. Boycott iTunes. For one thing, I still think based on past performance iTunes pressured Hasbro to make the change. It fits more with Apple's known behavior. Last time I remember Hasbro doing something like this retcon was in 1984 with the G.I. Joe Zartan figurine's filecard (and in that case it was professional psychiatric associations who complained the card completely mixed up different mental problems and was factually inaccurate as well as offensive). And Hasbro had supposedly not changed the version on the upcoming DVD, nor the HUBWorld online version. So if it was Hasbro pushing for this change, why only that one source instead of the two they directly control? For another, boycotting iTunes boycotts the one thing they actually screwed up. Boycotting the entirety of MLP screws over people we specifically don't want to screw over, including the animation staff.
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From:wbwolf
Date:2012-Feb-25 09:51 pm (UTC)
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Well, the original voice was a case of miscommunication with Tabitha St. Germaine, who didn't realize the character was female, so based it on a neighbor boy. For that reason, I don't mind the new voice. But I do agree that the biggest source of the wangst is precisely due to an overblown sense of entitlement and ownership of the show, and that character in particular. While it was cool that even the animators and writers bought into it, Hasbro has the ultimate say.

Besides, the original version is still on the upcoming DVD. Hmm.....
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From:centauress
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:45 am (UTC)
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So girls can only have bubbly-high-pitched voices?

That's also insulting.

:P
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From:flutterbychild
Date:2012-Feb-26 12:11 am (UTC)
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I like the show and I like Bubblecup as she is now, a accident prone, clumsy pony. I'll keep watching.
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From:centauress
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:39 am (UTC)
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So it's okay to insult bubble-headed blond bimbos instead?

Which has more jokes written about it, and which actually impacts how much money you can make in professional work, a name so esoteric hardly anyone knew it, or blondes are clumsy and stupid?
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From:flutterbychild
Date:2012-Feb-26 07:33 am (UTC)
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It's not okay to make fun of anyone. I didn't see her as being a "dumb blonde", I just saw her as a generally sweet, good natured pony who is a bit oblivious at times, clumsy and accident prone.
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From:centauress
Date:2012-Feb-27 09:03 am (UTC)
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That's a bit naive.
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From:loganberrybunny
Date:2012-Feb-26 12:34 am (UTC)
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Not being a pony person, I'm not entirely sure (even after reading the linked text) what the actual reason for changing the name was. Not being American, either, I don't know how strong a term "derpy" actually is. Does anyone actually consider it offensive, for example? (Here in the UK, for example, "retarded" is widely considered very offensive, which doesn't seem to be quite so much the case in the US.)
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From:chipuni
Date:2012-Feb-26 01:12 am (UTC)
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It's a new term, spread through the Internet.

Is it offensive? I consider it so... but not strongly offensive.




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From:loganberrybunny
Date:2012-Feb-26 02:37 am (UTC)
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I think it's a Transatlantic divide thing. To me, "retard" in particular is very offensive, as much so in its way as the likes of "nigger". You simply didn't see it in the UK before the internet unless someone was trying to be that offensive. It's probably the AmEng term of abuse I have the most difficulty with accepting as relatively mild.

It works the other way as well, of course, though in different fields. For example, the game most Americans call "Telephone" is still almost universally known as "Chinese whispers" in the UK, even in quite formal contexts. (Here's a Cambridgeshire NHS page using it, in point 6.)
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From:oliver_otter
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:15 pm (UTC)
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In US usage, even spelling out "The N-Word" when referring to it is considered offensive. *deletes your name and changes your voice for it* ;-)
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From:loganberrybunny
Date:2012-Feb-26 06:59 pm (UTC)
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A lot of British media outlets would write "n*****" or the sort, too. However, the paper I read (The Guardian) has what I think is a good policy: either write a word out in full, or don't use it at all. The paper considers things like "the n-word" and "the f-word" to be cop-outs. (Obviously I'm not on my own LJ here, so chipuni would have every right to delete my comment if desired!)
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From:oliver_otter
Date:2012-Feb-27 12:24 am (UTC)
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Nah, I meant only to poke fun at the idea that because you may possibly have offended someone, your entire identity should be deleted.

It's an undeserved fate for either you, or poor Derpy.
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From:loganberrybunny
Date:2012-Feb-27 01:53 am (UTC)
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Indeed. Basic human rights do not include the right never to be offended.
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From:rowyn
Date:2012-Feb-26 01:34 pm (UTC)
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I've only heard 'derpy' in the context of people describing an action they took, to mean 'that was silly/stupid of me'. So I don't think of it as offensive, not having heard it used to denigrate people. Obviously, other people have different experiences.
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From:bernmarx
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:10 pm (UTC)
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I think the problem might have to do with a rapidly evolving term and cultural clashes in that regard.

In the US, it's typical for teens to use words to refer to something as stupid that are offensive to some group: "That's so retarded" and "that's so gay" are the two most common, although I've also heard people complain about "that's so lame" (I don't see the problem as clearly there, because "lame" can refer to either a person or a thing).

I've never heard someone say "that's so derpy", but I *have* seen several high school students apparently mimic a person with a cognitive impairment while saying "Derptyderptyderp". One of them apologized to me (their teacher) afterwards by saying, "Oh, I guess I shouldn't make fun of them". So for at least *some* US teens, "derpy" is becoming a synonym for "retarded".

The thing is, though, I don't know how widespread that is. Obviously, for a lot of people, "derpy" just means "stupid", in a non-offensive and even self-deprecatory way. The most famous person with derped eyes was Marty Feldman, well before the term "derp" was in use, and he played silly and vaguely stupid but not cognitively impaired characters, such as Igor in Young Frankenstein.

So I don't know. I imagine most people who actually use "derpy" mean it to be non-offensive and silly, but there are a small number who use it to mean something offensive. But terms evolve, and there might be the concern that over time the word might well become much more widely offensive. Or this might be trigger happy political correctness based on a small group of offended individuals who think a group that rightfully shouldn't be laughed at because of their impairment aren't being laughed at (I'm reminded of the original Jar Jar Binks kerfuffle, where Lucas was accused of being racist for creating a "Sambo" character, even though (1) Ahmed Best, a black actor, not George Lucas, a white director, came up with the accent and mannerisms and (2) Jar Jar Binks's actual lines weren't in a grammar typical of any "Sambo"-style character *I'm* familiar with).
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From:equusmaximus
Date:2012-Feb-26 01:43 am (UTC)
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I must admit that I like the new voice a lot more, partly because now I can actually understand her, but I'm rather disturbed that the zealous complaining by a few "politically correct" individuals could create such a backlash. Removing her name, "un-derping" her eyes, and generally making her into a regular (albiet somewhat clumsy) pony is really going too far. For what it's worth, I always felt that "derpy" just meant "silly" or "clumsy"... Of course, I also thought (way back when) that "yiffy" meant "beautiful" or "very attractive"... *sigh* It was so nice to be innocent and naive. :/
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From:centauress
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:37 am (UTC)
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It's stupid. The voice was stupid, but changing it is even more stupid. Her eyes are still cocked, she's still clumsy, and she's still blonde. Changing the name makes it no less insulting.

Who can watch it on the Hub? Do you even know when they air it? The Saturday morning showing is the best, but most showings are at very early AM. I don't even think Hasbro knows there are people west of the Mississippi.
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From:centauress
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:48 am (UTC)
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PPS: It also reduces their chance to create a story around how not to judge a person by their appearance.
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From:stokerbramwell
Date:2012-Feb-26 05:52 am (UTC)
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I am ecstatic about the new version. I was one of those people bothered by the original portrayal, and I'm glad that Hasbro listened to reason.
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From:telbert
Date:2012-Feb-26 03:15 pm (UTC)
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I'm not a regular watcher of the show, but I have seen bits and pieces here and there (including the original unedited appearance of Derpy). I think that Derpy's original speaking appearance was mostly well-received because it was evidence of the writers' paying attention to the fans' desires.

I guess that Hasbro caved to the complaints of some watchers and decided that the change was the "safer" choice. I can understand Hasbro's reasons for playing it safe, given the debacle that erupted in 1986 when they demanded that the writers kill off Optimus Prime in TRANSFORMERS:THE MOVIE. The negative response by kids and parents to Optimus' death was so great that Hasbro and Sunbow had to do an "about face" on the idea of killing off "Duke" Hauser in G.I. JOE: THE MOVIE. Last-minute changes to dialogue were made to indicate that Duke had slipped into a coma instead of dying, and at the movie's end, one of the Joes received a call from the hospital, indicating that Duke would pull through. To read more on this, read an interview with Buzz Dixon at http://www.joeheadquarters.com/interviews_dixon.shtml .
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From:centauress
Date:2012-Feb-27 09:04 am (UTC)
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I didn't read the voice as boy, anyhow.
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