Monday, July 23, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 85: My Little Dashie

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Thomas Voeckler won the polka-dot jersey!  If you aren't a cycling fan, take my word for it that that's a good thing.  Also, be sure not to ask regular commenter and guest blogger Mystic about Cadel Evans; probably kind of a sore subject.

On a related note, Blogger has a tool which tracks referrals from Google.  It seems that this site has gotten several hits in the last week from people searching for "Thomas Voeckler Fanfiction."  Just a heads-up: if anyone writes a high-quality Voeckler/MLP crossover fanfic and sends it to me, I'm gonna post it.  Clearly, there's a demand for this, and I for one embrace the coming glut of pro cycling/pony hybrids.

Anyway, my review of ROBCakeran53's My Little Dashie, below the break.

Impressions before reading:  Much like Past Sins, this story is considered by many to be one of the greatest stories in the fandom, and by many others to be absolute drivel.  Sometimes I wonder if I even need to bother reviewing such stories; they're so well-known, surely my opinion isn't going to be anyone's tipping point, right?  But more than a few readers have told me that my reviews of incredibly popular stories like Past Sins or Fallout: Equestria convinced them to either read or not read those stories, so I guess the answer to my question is "wrong."  In any case, I haven't read this one before, and I still remember my original exposure to it.  I went to Equestria Daily a few hours after it was posted, saw that it already had several hundred star ratings, and said to myself, "Better see what all the fuss is about."  Then I read a page or two, decided I wasn't really interested, and closed the browser tab.  And that was the end of that... until this review.

Many fans of this story say that it is one of the most emotionally powerful things they've ever read.  Those with less charitable views often accuse it of being a transparent wish-fulfillment trip with a needless and amateurish punch to the gut for an ending.  I guess it's time to see what I think.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  An unnamed brony living in Detroit a nameless city suffering economic devistation and a rapidly shrinking population finds a real live filly Rainbow Dash in an abandoned box one day, and this chance discovery changes his life.

Thoughts after reading:  There are a lot of very uncharitable things I could say about this story.  I could point out that the "explanation" for where lil' Dash came from is the literary equivalent of a half-hearted shrug, and thus that the entire premise for the story comes across as a gigantic asspull.  I could talk about the sheer improbability of Dash performing a sonic rainboom in the middle of a city (no matter how sparsely populated) without anyone noticing, or making a fuss over everyone's windows being blown out (surely the FBI would be all over a mysterious explosion in an urban center)?  I could mention how utterly contrived the ending is, conspiring through vague proclamations rather than actual reasons to bring about a bittersweet denouement.

I could say all of this (and much more), and it's all absolutely true.  But it's also missing the point.  My Little Dashie doesn't concern itself with plausibility, and to point out how totally absurd its major beats are would be the equivalent of grousing about pro wrestling being fake.  Of course it is; the question is, can you enjoy it, even knowing that?

Unfortunately, there are some major problems even if one accepts the premise.  For myself, the biggest was that, for a story which is supposed to be about emotional growth, there's very little actual growth here.  In essence, it's not clear why, or in what way, the narrator is a better person for having known Dash.  He gets a better job, but there's no indication that that has anything to do with raising a pegasus.  He doesn't go out and make some friends, start dating, or do anything else to expand his social circle beyond the pony he's caring for.  Basically the only thing we can say for him is that raising Dash got him to feel less depressed.  While that's definitely not a bad thing, it hardly represents significant character development.

Dash, meanwhile, seems to have a pretty horrifying life.  Trapped in a world where she cannot interact with anyone except the narrator for fear of being carted away by Big Brother (or something), she's forced to live out the entirety of the story in strict isolation.  As more and more time passes with each break in the narrative, the horror of being unable to interact with anyone, ever, save the lone person with whom you live, becomes impossible to ignore.  And yet, this complete lack of social interaction seems to have no adverse effects on her whatsoever, and the narrator never seems particularly bothered by the idea that she is totally dependent on him for literally everything.  Again, for a story which eschews all pretense of plausibility in favor of playing a cosmic game of "what if?," this is a glaring weakness.  If the story isn't going to actually look at how a man raising a sapient pegasus might impact the both of them, then what's the point?

Well, there is of course a strong aspect of wish fulfillment to this story.  The narrator is purposely made as bland as possible, and given virtually no one outside of Dash herself to interact with, which makes it easy to place oneself in his shoes, if one desires.  What pony fan hasn't idly dreamed of what it would be like to meet one of the show's stars at one point or another, after all?  There's no question that this story makes for easy daydream fodder.  But that's not the same as saying it's a good story.

The writing quality of the story is hard to judge, since it's unclear how much of the bland telling and unconvincing dialogue was an attempt to render the narrator's voice in print.  What I can say is this: even if the overwrought metaphors, unfocused, rambling exposition, and dull construction were deliberate on the author's part, they were ultimately a poor choice.  The final product is so bogged down by its subpar construction that even in its better moments, it never feels particularly exciting, nor does it engender reader investment (again, barring those who read themselves into the narrative).

There were a few better moments, I admit.  The idea that Dash would be a NASCAR fan is amusing, but makes perfect sense.  Some of the early bumbling on the narrator's part (what do pegasi eat?  Can they talk in the real world, or is that a cartoon-only thing?) are amusing, and show that at least some thought was put into how a human might deal with such an unexpected development.  Indeed, I really liked the fact that the narrator didn't freak out when he initially discovered her; to me, that felt much more natural than overreaction would have.

But even at its best, this just isn't a particularly good story.  Poor writing, poor characterization, and some significant failures to consider the sickening consequences of some of the events portrayed (as with the spell which Celestia casts at the end) don't add up to anything especially positive.

Star rating:   (what does this mean?)

The nicest thing I can say about this story is that it does at least part of what it sets out to do.  In terms of creating an emotional investment in the characters, I think it falls flat.  But given a reader who is willing to provide the story with a personal investment (albeit one unearned by the author), this would do a great job of evoking an emotional reaction.  I think that the praise which many of its admirers have showered it with reflects that.

But that's still a whole world away from saying that My Little Dashie is a piece of quality literature.  Simply put, there's no good reason to list this as one of the best stories in the fandom.

Recommendation:  Like Past Sins, a lot of people eventually consume this because it's so heavily debated.  But for anyone looking to read it on its own merits, I would ask you this question: do you want to imagine how much better you'd feel about yourself if you could raise one of the ponies from the show from fillyhood?  If the answer is yes, and if you're willing to suspend all disbelief for the sake of the story, go ahead and give this one a try.  For everyone else, I can't recommend this.

Next time:  Silent Ponyville, by Jake Heritagu

41 comments:

  1. What makes My Little Dashie different from Past Sins is that I can at least call the latter a story. There are actual characters. There is conflict. Things happen. My Little Dashie has none of that.

    The story here is simply a flimsy wish fulfillment fantasy, hastily tossed together to compliment a small Photoshop comic. The story actually lends itself to some potential plots, such as dealing with the fallout proof of the multiverse would have in the real world, or how Dash comes to view humans as a whole through interactions sanctioned by her "father." However, by limiting itself to just the wish fulfillment portions, the story cheapens itself.

    There's also too many conveniences in the plot for me. How exactly does the guy win enough money in a single round of gambling to buy a big house in the country? How convenient that there's a big empty park where Dash can fly about without so much as a single homeless folk to see her. The entire story basically collapses if you stop thinking about it for more than ten seconds, and anything that requires you to stop thinking entirely isn't doing its job.

    And then you run into the Celebrity Paradox of the fic. When Rainbow Dash started watching FiM, I honestly wanted to close the document right there and walk away. Even worse, for just a brief moment, the fic seems like it's going to explore something philosophical, such as Dash wondering if she's even real, or the narrator trying to decipher the connection between what he thought to be a fictional world and reality. Alas, that immediately gets discarded in favor of "Daddy lied, wah wah wah!" and a pointless runaway bit.

    And then there's the ending. Take everything that crept you out about Past Sins' mind wipe, magnify it to the entire world, and you have my reaction to it. Celestia utterly erases almost two decades of a man's life, not to mention Rainbow Dash's, and leaves him with almost no hope. In fact, it's Dash who leaves behind any trace of good news, not the Princess. Even worse, the guy remembers the whole thing, knows that his adopted daughter is now having adventures on a show that ended years ago, and he will never see her in the flesh again.

    My Little Dashie is not a good story, at all. If you like it, that's fine. I can see how someone would find this story sad, given its bland narration and dry presentation. It's perfect for slipping yourself into the story, but not for much else. So...yeah, bad story.

    See you Friday, since there's no way you're going to get through Silent Ponyville and have a review written by Wednesday.

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  2. I read this when I was first getting into the fandom. Well, skimmed. I didn't know about good fanfics at the time, so I didn't take it too seriously.

    My Little Dashie isn't a great story by any means, but it does serve a purpose. When someone's completely new to ponies, they may feel a need for wish fulfillment. MLD's easy to skim through and fantasize about before forgetting about it and never dealing with such stories again. Were it a great story, I wonder how many more people would become obsessed with stories about ponies in our world and HiE.

    Trivial fact: this was almost my last and only ponyfic

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    1. "Peruse" is the word I was trying to think of! I should really start using a thesaurus. I deleted so much of my comment due to repetition. Maybe it's 'cause it's almost 2 AM - which would explain how I could forget the word "peruse" - but I was struggling to think of other ways to describe this story besides "wish fulfillment."

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  3. "What pony fan hasn't idly dreamed of what it would be like to meet one of the show's stars at one point or another, after all?"

    That would be someone like me; I’ve never wanted to meet any of the cast, I’ve never wanted to become a pony, and I’ve never wanted to visit or live in Equestria. I like the show but I don't like it that much.

    Moving along, you've pinpointed what bothers me about this work the most and it concerns Dash's treatment. Due to how she handled in this fict, I couldn't help but see her as anything but the narrator's pet, which for a sentient being is a no-no. To me that is like owning another human being or if a pony were to own a human as a pet (why do I get the feeling a good chunk of this fandom would be okay with the latter happening to them), it doesn’t sit right with me and it comes across as disgusting.

    I'm not surprised this is popular though, it's “light-in-the-dark” fiction, which will always appeal to the average adolescent (aka those that make up the vast majority of this fandom). Add in wish-fulfilling desire to raise a pony, and you’ve got a story that will appeal to a sizable number of people (call me a cynic but if this was “My little Sparkle” or “My little Shy”, I have a feeling that there would be fewer complaints). As for me, it makes a terrible read (but a decent if cheap sleeping pill).

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    1. Hah! I'm not the only one who never had an inclination to go to Equestria, etc. That's good to know. More impetus for me to write my X-Prize entry.

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    2. I've never wanted to go to Equestria either, but I will admit to wanting Pinkie Pie to be real. Not a serious desire, mind you. I don't devote more than a passing thought to the matter, and realize that I couldn't possibly keep up with her. I'll just sometimes catch myself wanting to hug or pet her. Nothing too wrong with the ocassional daydream, though it is a little embarrassing to admit to others

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    3. Though I will grudgingly admit to having found myself wishing once or twice that I and my friends were ponies. Not in Equestria, mind you; not to mention that would just be the start of your problems. But something about it seems promising, despite human nature.

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  4. This is the only one of the "top three" I've read (length helps!), and about the only thing positive I can say about it, other than praising its ability to pander to the masses, is that I got precisely one feel while reading it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. Of course, I don't recall where that feel occurred; probably somewhere around her calling him "Daddy" for the first time or something. I don't remember. It's that bland.

    That said, I got to hang around the author this weekend, and found him to be a pretty cool guy, with what I would consider a healthy attitude towards this story. That was refreshing.

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    1. "Top three"? Which three are the top three? Is there a list somewhere?

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    2. Past Sins, Fallout: Equestria and My Little Dashie are generally considered to be the three most popular fics in this fandom.

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  5. I cry a little every time I walk into my room and see my Cadel posters. Even Goss couldn't get a stage win D: Still, I found myself cheering waaaay louder than was necessary for Voeckler in the last few stages.

    Biggest complaint about this story? Celestia's characterisation. It's so bad that it wipes the ending clean of any kind of emotion, which is really what this story is built upon. I was sitting there saying '...but why? Why would she do that?!' over and over like a broken record. Her train wreck of a character was sadder than the ending itself.

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    1. Really? Mine would be Dash's characterization. She's really quite bland and understated in this story, and like Bugs said, I wouldn't have had much of a complaint about that if this story was about an adopted Fluttershy, Twilight, or even Applejack.

      Where is all of Dash's fire? Where's all her pride and bluster? Why hasn't she *ever* raised her voice to the protagonist before that one incident? That doesn't sound like something that would result from raising an ordinary child, let alone someone as high-strung as Rainbow Dash. It seemed more like he was raising a blue Fluttershy, and I think even Fluttershy might raise her voice to her parents occasionally. It's not a sign of poor parenting that you've had to raise your voice to a child or vice versa. Sometimes you just get overexcited. It happens. With Dash, it should happen a *lot*.

      And also, I kept waiting for the scene where Dash took his car out for a joyride, but it never happened. SHE WOULD TOTALLY DO THAT! COME ON! Lack of hands be damned.

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    2. Who am I kidding, I was just hating on Celestia for ruining my fantasy only after a measly 10k or so words.

      It just wasn't enough time! D:

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    3. "Where is all of Dash's fire?" - Sessalisk

      I'm afraid I have to call bullshit on that one. It's a horrible misconception about human nature; if you put a child character in a different situation and growing up in a different, way, there is no real reason to assume it would be the same character. To say that this version of Dash doesn't act like the show version of Dash is comparing apples to oranges. You can't reasonably evaluate a character in a story, that is responding to the elements in that story, as automatically being out of character. In fact, if you're not pushing a main character to the point of acting differently in some way, you're story probably isn't making any attempt to have that character grow. If you change a character's fundamental life experience, it makes complete sense that the character's personality is equally changed.

      Whether or you you want to read about a different version of Rainbow Dash, is another matter entirely.

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    4. You forget, Dash hasn't had an ordinary childhood. She was raised in near total isolation, and it left her broken

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    5. And you forget that in the Cutie Mark Chronicles episode, Dash was like a toddler and she was already like that.

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    6. I'm confused. If Dash was already like that, then why do you have a problem with her characterization?

      I'm going to have to rewatch that episode, 'cause I really don't remember her being like that

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    7. She was already cocky and full of swag, I meant, not broken and isolated.

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    8. Ah, that makes alot more sense. I thought Dash was older in that episode

      Speaking of age, that's one thing that really bugged me about this fic. I don't know why so many people assume ponies age at the same rate as us

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    9. Yeah, if anything, the Cutie Mark Chronicles episode combined with some offhand remarks by the characters implies that, if anything, they age faster than humans. Or at the very least, that pegasi age faster than earth ponies.

      Fluttershy is a year older than Pinkie Pie, but in the Cutie Mark Chronicles episode, she seems to be a teenager while Pinkie Pie is still a small child. I mean, it's possible that it takes place after Fluttershy hit a serious growth spurt, and she's a lot younger than she looks in that episode, but you still gotta wonder.

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    10. Lauren Faust once made a comment about them having the bodies of ponies, but the brains of humans, so they age more quickly than they mature. It may not be exact, but I'd say we should assume the characters physically age at the same rate as real ponies. This may require the seasons be compressed into shorter lengths of time, but that shouldn't be too problematic

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    11. I would agree with that, except that Evil!Cadence said Pinkie's reception party would be great for a six-year-old.

      The other problem with that theory is that, if the ponies aged at the same rate as normal horses, they would be between five and six years old mentally. I'd rather just accept that Fluttershy was an early bloomer physically than try and figure out a realistic ration of horse-to-human age.

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    12. I've always gone with "Ponies discuss time in a way that makes sense to us when they're by themselves." If you really want to logic out the rate at which they age and/or mature, that's best left for stories where they're interacting with humans for whatever reason (and only if it's relevant, of course).

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  6. Personally, I quite liked the story when I read it. I just never thought it was the saddest/best fic in the fandom, as so many bronies believe it to be. There is a slight element of wish fulfilment to it, I'll admit, but I do sometimes like to read some 'chill' stories as I like to call them. Those are stories that are moderately well written, don't always have the best character or plot development but are still enjoyable for the feels they give off. I call them chill stories because they're simply light reading and make me relax as I read them, as opposed to genuinely engaging fiction which brings out various emotional reactions depending on the mood. I'd say that My Little Dashie is a chill story, but it's probably gotten so very popular because it's easy to read and many bronies (maybe angsty teenagers) can connect with the main character.

    Also you should be glad that it's only really intellectual types who come to this blog, otherwise you may end up being spammed with hate mail from 12 year olds for this review.

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  7. I was also disappointed by "My Little Dashie." I felt no connection to the protagonist. He didn't start as someone I wanted to connect with, and as others have noted, he didn't really grow to become someone I could connect with. It's a shame, because a version of the story where we see the protagonist grow and face more challenges could have been great.

    So why is it popular? I wonder if you need to be in a particular place in your life to connect, a place more common in teens. I'm reminded of people's reactions to Ender's Game, where its fans (myself included) overwhelmingly first read it as young teens, but people who read it first as an adult are generally unimpressed. You can cross generations (Harry Potter leaps to mind), but it's hard.

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  8. Lots of people like heroin. That doesn't make heroin a good thing.

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  9. I'm really pleased to hear that I am not the only person who dislikes My Little Dashie. Well..."disliked" would be too strong a word for me. Just...incredibly underwhelmed. My entire reaction to this story can be summed up in one word:

    "Meh."

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    1. I think you're in good company here, John.

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  10. I dunno, I think its really the expansion on the story the juxtaposed images it was based on that made me willing to put up with a lot from this story that I wouldn't otherwise. I wasn't expecting a narrative here, I was more looking for a slice-of-life, "what if" scenario, which is admittedly a VERY low bar to ask for, but nevertheless was an expectation that the story DID deliver on.

    Also, I'd like to point out that even though the ending twist of the knife felt weak because of the seemingly diabolous-ex-machina, it should be remembered that it was not even CLOSE to being an asspull as it was VERY heavily foreshadowed and makes logical sense within context of its own universe, and again the idea of someone being forced to grow up again with a new life and not remembering who they were, only for their former life to return and take them back is, indeed, a very interesting concept and brings in a fairly deserved emotional reaction.

    I mean, how would you feel if one day someone knocked on your door and told you that you were really an alien disguised as a human that got lost due to an unfortunate accident and you now have to return to your home planet? Could you really just give up everything you've come to love about this world, just like that? It's a hard issue, something that adopted children probably feel at some point in their lives if they ever meet their real parents.

    *shrug*

    It's not the BEST fic ever written, for sure, nor is it a GREAT fic, but its far from being a bad one.


    Also, I'm curious as to how you're going to approach Silent Ponyville- are you doing just the first story, or the author-written sequels too, or all the canon stories including those not written by the author?

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  11. This was one of the first stories I read upon entering the fandom. I don't know how long it had been out when I found it. I thought it was brilliant and read through comment after comment by like-minded readers.

    Over the next few months, I finally decided to try writing stories myself, hoping I could achieve what this story did. Once I got into the reviewing community, I was bombarded by people telling me it was absolute crap. Who should I believe and why?

    Well, I've learned a good bit about writing by reading. I've learned more about writing by writing. And I've learned a huge deal about writing by reviewing. I've also learned not to let other dictate your opinions.

    I can't say the story is horrible. It does have an emotional impact on most readers. But that impact is entirely transparent and lacks any substance. You're sad because the situation is sad, not because you've gotten into the characters' heads and genuinely sympathize with them. Because of that, I can't recommend it as an example of good writing, either. Back when it earned 6 stars, the fanfiction community was still fairly undeveloped. I'd like to think it would react differently, given a fresh chance, but alas, I'm not sure it would.

    So... this story's out there. It's not a gem or a turd. It is was it is, and the author is refreshingly frank about what he created and why. But, no, I couldn't recommend it for anything other than having the experience in your head so that you can discuss it in an informed manner when it inevitably comes up.

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    1. You're sad because the situation is sad, not because you've gotten into the characters' heads and genuinely sympathize with them.

      This is why I hated Never (though I have yet to read the revised version). Also possibly why I detest sadfics in general.

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    2. Seconded. If anything, the stories that invoke the greatest emotions of sadness are the ones that have perfectly fine situations in the beginning, that get the reader to play along until the gut-punch comes.

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    3. And a bit of comedy's a requirement. You have to make me laugh before I'll cry. So many authors forget that and their stories are just sad, sad, sad.

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  12. I haven't read this story, and judging by the review it's just not the type of story I'd like anyway. However, this story does raise an interesting question: what exactly is success?

    There are movies like Transformers, which to me is unwatchable garbage, yet it is a very financially successful franchise. Tens of millions of people go to the theaters to watch new releases despite universally poor critical reviews. Is popular success intrinsically worth any less than critical success?

    Take the medium of television as another example. The most critically beloved comedies are Community/Parks and Recreation, yet shows like Two and a Half Men have much better ratings. There are some good shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men that dominate the cable ratings, but I suspect those shows wouldn't last on network TV, where NCIS and CSI reign supreme. Once in a very rare while you do get something that's both popular and well-received, like Seinfeld (and even then it took many years before this show took off ratings-wise). But on the whole, it seems that the mass audience and critics/"intellectuals" think of success as different things. And is one type of success necessarily worse than another?

    It's something to think about: how can taste be so different among so many different people? What exactly is the “best” story? Is it simply the most popular one, or are there are criteria involved. Sure, you can try to measure things objectively, using guidelines like grammar, mechanics, characterization, plotting, but is that really all there is to it? Personally, I like to think of a great story as something that I can read again and still enjoy as much as the first time I read it. That’s my litmus test.

    So, I’m not sure we should be too quick to condemn authors who aim for commercial or popular success as opposed to critical success. That doesn’t mean I would enjoy reading this story, but we shouldn’t begrudge the author for achieving what he wanted to.

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    1. There's fundamental divide between die-hard fans of this story and the people who dislike it. I think it comes down to what drives the interest of the reader, thinking or feeling. My Little Dashie works purely on an emotional level; when you stop to think about it, it falls apart.*

      Success, for me, is when a story (or book or movie or whatever) works on both levels, emotional and intellectual. But if you use the modern standard of success (money made) you'll find that going for emotional impact is the surest way. Also having a story make sense and be engaging on an intellectual level is nice but (unfortunately) it only appeals to a small fraction of the audience.

      This situation has been known to the makers of summer movies and political ads for a long, long time.

      ------
      * The same is true of many wildly popular MLP fics, notably Past Sins.

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  13. I enjoyed this fic, yet I did not really thing it was that good.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: the biggest mistake people make withe this fic, whether they love it or hate it, is they take it too seriously.

    This fic is pretty solidly entrenched in the "fantastical reality" style of fiction and needs to be recognized and treated as such.

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  14. You know, I only read this story after watching the "Rainbow Dash Presents: My Little Dashie" on YouTube (found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH1U87rNR7Q), and I think that video actually really shows me what's wrong with the story.

    For those too lazy to bother watching it (and I'd recommend you watch it, I thought it was hilarious), Rainbow Dash Presents is a video series which basically parodies various MLP fan fiction, and the most recent one is My Little Dashie. Now, let's remember this. This video is a comedy. It's a parody.

    And yet, it somehow manages to have a more complex story, a better-developed protagonist, and a better examination of how only being able to interact with one individual could adversely affect Rainbow Dash (a criticism mentioned in the review). A *comedy* did all of that better than something that portrayed it all straight. And that's what really hits home the lack of, well, much of anything in the original My Little Dashie.

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  15. I agree with most of the criticisms made in post and comments, but MLD has to be doing something right to move so many people. If you go onto forums and ask bronies to name the ponyfic that moved them the most, OVER HALF will say "My Little Dashie". This includes people who read it recently. It still works.

    (Major disagreement: MLD isn't wish-fulfillment. It ends tragically.)

    The concepts of "good" and "bad" stories presume there is some universal reader. There isn't. For people who don't think about stories, quick and transparent emotional string-pulling IS the best kind of writing. Something subtle and gradual will just bore them. Saying MLD is bad is something like saying Teletubbies is bad. Teletubbies is great, for people who have just enough cognitive ability to watch Teletubbies.

    The important question is whether you can learn from My Little Dashie, and extract something from it that will work in the kind of stories you want to tell. Is it true that MLD is for stupid readers, and that nothing that works for stupid readers can work for smart readers? That's what the comments seem to be saying. I'd really like to know the answer to that question, but I don't.

    I've spent some time contemplating MLD & trying to figure out why it's so powerful. The best I've come up with is that it isn't a story at all, it's a Gedankenexperiment. It doesn't have a dramatic structure or character growth. Everything is created and resolved by deus ex machina, and that's correct, because it cuts the situation out of any context and stops the reader from thinking about connections with real life they way they would with a story. But it isn't pure sadfic either, because it confronts the reader with one question: Would you sacrifice your happiness for the happiness of someone you love? The whole story is designed to frame that question and isolate it from any interfering context or plot.

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    1. You're elevating MLD way above what it needs to be. It's a poor story that's written poorly, to an extent where even the author admits he had no idea what he was doing and that it ultimately doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

      The reason it resonates with any readers is due to one fact that writers in this fandom tend to overlook: a large percentage (something like two-thirds to three-quarters, if I remember my demographics properly) of this fandom's population is made up of people under the age of 24. And this is going to sound rather condescending, because it is in some ways, but your average teenager, and even some people in college, don't exactly have a lot in the way of life experiences. They'll take anything thrown at them and enjoy it for what it is, and sometimes what it isn't, because their standards are low. Their standards are low simply because they haven't been around long enough to "know better". It's why younger folks tend to go around pretending to be "edgy" or convince others that they're older than they are: they're aspiring to an ideal that encompasses deeper understanding of life through personal experience, and misunderstanding just what form that understanding takes.

      So something like MLD comes along, performs wish fulfillment (the tragic end doesn't undercut this; a lot of bronies would love even just a day with a character from the show) and is beloved by many for that reason. It doesn't matter that it's not written well, because they don't care. It doesn't matter that the character is flat and unappealing to people with greater life experiences, it can appeal to them because they lack those experiences.

      And this is what we need to remember when we ask ourselves "Why did XYZ get famous but not this amazingly crafted piece of art over here?" Put as crudely as possible: this fandom is full of stupid kids who don't know shit. And I for one am keenly aware that I ain't exactly writing for them.

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  16. I think this is worth reading, but much more as a part of fandom history and culture than for its own sake. If it were 200,000 words, I doubt I'd ever have done so, but this length is tolerable. Every so often, I caught a flash of something better -- eg in one or two of the scenes where the narrator goes off to the park or something with Dash -- but it never really lasted.

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  17. I think that at the moment, getting to MLD from its EQD page represents about the worst possible way of posting fiction. It takes you to a DeviantArt page (ew), which links to a GDoc, which is filled with crossed out text, terrible formatting, and is editable by anyone who goes there.

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