I have this theory on the Elements of Harmony in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I’ve mentioned it before, but ever since watching Friendship is Witchcraft I’ve wanted to share that theory:
That the ponies’ Elements are not actually their strengths.
So here is a rambling essay on this thought! I KNOW IT’S LONG BUT I WANTED TO SHOW MY WORK.
This theory came about approximately how you’d imagine it would - my brother pointed out to me that Rainbow Dash is, by virtue of being exceedingly blunt, the most honest pony of the group… while Applejack’s insistence on sticking by her friends and family and the way things have always been done makes her easily the most loyal. The obvious question: WHY ARE THEIR ELEMENTS SWITCHED.
(Applejack also probably lies more than any other pony on the show, even if she’s incredibly terrible at it, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)
THIS IS SOME REALLY, *REALLY* GOOD META.
I completely agree with this analysis. FiM is not about innate abilities governing your life, it’s about defining your own path based on your passions. It’s about taking more pride in the things you work for than in the things you have coming out the gate (lol horse pun).
There are 2 of each pony type, each representing a dyad of expressions for that type.
Rainbow Dash - Pegasus. Flying maniac, daredevil who uses her wings to their very limit.
Fluttershy - Pegasus. Wings barely necessary, lives on the ground and is very Earthy.
Twilight Sparkle - Unicorn. Magic ALL OVER THE PLACE, devoted to her studies in the realm of horn science.
Rarity - Unicorn. Uses her magic more or less as ghostly hands in the making of material changes in the world. Passion: completely nonmagical creations with a strong sense of personal pride in being a skilled artisan first and foremost.
Applejack - Earth. Down to Earth literally and spiritually. Spends her time being the best Earth pony she can be. Magic? Feh, she’s a problem solver and heavy hitter.
Pinkie Pie - Earth. Strives to fly as high as a pegasus pony and create as much magic as a unicorn out of sheer emotional energy. Head in the clouds. Always looking up.
Conclusion: You are an Earth Pony, a Pegasus or a Unicorn. That is not all you are.
FiM is saying “Your biology does not determine your future” and telling girls to fit no mold but the one their ass tattoo sets for them, which isn’t even a Thing because it turns out their ass tattoo shows up only after they ping on their life’s mission. It’s a writer’s cheat for the kids in the audience, and I bet in pony society it’s a hell of a way to remind the pony of what they value in times of uncertainty. Bit of wish fulfillment there, to see your mission statement right there on your butt.
There are endless ways to be a girl with pride and confidence, and the key to happiness is to always take advantage of your strengths and weaknesses, but to never confine yourself to the abilities that come easily for you, or to what society suggests you should be. I bet this is also why so many transfolk identify with it.
There’s no cheesy message—most of the real lessons learned in the show veer from the obvious plot of the week. Because that’s the theme to FiM: to appreciate all the subtle things you discover for yourself beneath the Premise.
I love this show so much.