Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Applejack and the Virtue of Truthfulness: Part 1 (of 3)

         [As today is the feast of St. Augustine, whose definition of lying as "speaking falsely with the intent to deceive" I incline towards, I think it's fitting I begin my series on the virtue of honesty and the vice of lying.]                                        

                                                           Character Overview


Applejack in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a country pony with a southern accent and like all the members of the Apple family (her brother Big Mac, her little sister Apple Bloom, and Granny Smith) AJ’s special talent is apple harvesting. Unlike her lazy friend Rainbow Dash, AJ is adamant about hard work (sometimes too much, as in her attempt to single-hoovfully buck all the apples in Sweet Apple Acres). AJ’s stubborn pride sometimes gets her into conflict with the other Mane Six (she won’t accept busybody Twilight’s help, she can’t get along with the prissy Rarity, she is extremely competitive with the athletic RD).

The Apple Family

Applejack also embodies the Element of Honesty. As the Hasbro.com description tells us, “Applejack would never stoop to tell a lie and this makes her a beacon for those seeking advice.”

"You've never told a lie? You honest, AJ?"

There a few episodes in the series in which Applejack's honesty comes into play and in these series of posts I'll focus on "Friendship is Magic: Part 2," "Party of One," The Return of Harmony: Part 2," and "The Last Roundup." In addition, I'll look at "Green isn't Your Color," which, while it doesn't feature AJ, still focuses on the importance of keeping promises.
                                                Applejack, Don't Lie to Me

We meet Applejack in the first episode of FiM. She invites the newcomer Twilight Sparkle to an Apple family reunion. AJ, of course, teams up with the rest of the Mane Six to look for the ancient pony castle to find the Elements of Harmony to defeat Nightmare Moon (my previous posts on FiM Episode 1 and 2).

In the Everfree Forest, amongst all the trials the new pony friends face, AJ emerges to show her quality: honesty. Twilight almost falls off a cliff, held only by AJ's hooves. Applejack tells Twilight to let go and promises she'll be safe. Being skeptical by temperament (and no doubt afraid of heights), Twilight asks AJ to honestly tell her if she means what she says. AJ responds that she's telling the "honest truth." Twilight decides to trust AJ and does indeed let go. Before she can hit the ground, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, both pegasi, catch Twilight. Therefore, Applejack is true to her word.

Long live the Princess...
Applejack does not appear in the episode "Green isn't Your Color," but her zany friend Pinkie Pie is a suitable substitute. Most of the episode is concerned with the dress designer Rarity’s attempts to gain the notice of Equestria’s famous fashion photographer Photo Finish. Rarity needs a fashion model and the closest candidate is the bashful pegasus Fluttershy. FS is initially reluctant (no surprise) but agrees to help.

While Rarity attempts to find the right dress for Fluttershy in Carousel Boutique, we see Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Spike (Twilight’s baby dragon assistant) mention one of the episode’s themes: keeping promises. Spike agrees to reveal a personal secret to Twilight and Pinkamena but tells them to promise to tell nopony else… He has a crush on Rarity! Twilight doesn’t seem willing at first to keep quiet but Pinky interjects. She tells Twilight that, “You promised Spike you wouldn't say anything. He trusts you. And losing a friend's trust is the fastest way to lose a friend forever!” As if for emphasis, Pinky adds an emphatic, “FOREVER!”

After Photo Finish finishes her shoot, she announces that she intends to make Fluttershy, not Rarity, the new fashion star of Equestria. Rarity is visibly disappointed, but nevertheless tells her friend Fluttershy to promise not waste this opportunity at fame.


However, alone in her thoughts, Rarity is still a bit jealous over not being picked to be Equestria's next top fashion model. After revealing her wish for Fluttershy to fail, Rarity makes Twilight promise not to tell FS. Fluttershy comes into the spa, missing Rarity's departure, and decides to confide a secret to Twilight, making TS promise not tell Rarity that she does not want to become a fashion star but only proceeds because of her promise to Rarity. Twilight desires to break her promise to Rarity and tell Fluttershy how Rarity really feels but stops after a side-glance from Pinky, the element of honesty in this episode.

Trying to unravel the tangle of promises, Twilight comes up with a plan: sabotage Fluttershy's fashion show, ruining her career and thus making it so that Rarity will no longer be jealous of FS. Of course, Twilight makes Pinky Pie promise not to tell anypony.

Twilight's plan goes well until Rarity arrives and uses her charm to sway the crowd into cheering for Fluttershy. Not only is FS back to square one, she's even more popular than before! Rarity walks in on Fluttershy and Twilight having a conversation in the dressing room. Twilight has to keep herself from breaking either of their promises. Luckily, both Rarity and Fluttershy finally reveal what they think to each other. Rarity is jealous of Fluttershy's success and wanted her to fail and Fluttershy never wanted to be a model in the first place. "If we just told each other the truth," Fluttershy says. Rarity and Fluttershy promise never to keep their feelings secret from each other again.

No more secrets between us...Wait, is that 'Lady Gaga' in the background?

Twilight eventually reveals Spikie's secret, but everypony already knows he likes Rarity, so nopony minds, though Twilight still apologizes to Spike anyway...

The episode "Party of One" tests Applejack's honesty as the Mane Six plan a surprise birthday party for Pinkie Pie. Of course, a surprise birthday party requires the birthday pony to be unaware of the party or, as Pinkie puts it, "then it wouldn’t be a surprise." Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Applejack proceed to play a game of deception to keep Pinkamena in the dark while they plan the festivities. Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie plans a party the exact the same day (completely unaware of her own birthday) and is confused at her friends declining to attend and then avoiding her all day. All of the Mane Six offer an "excuse" (and avoid divulging the plan) for not coming to Pinkie's party, including AJ.

Why are all my friends lying to me today?

Pinkie Pie finally gets suspicious and follows RD (with birthday present in tow) to AJ's barn, where the Main Six are setting up the surprise party.  Of all ponies, AJ, the honest one, finds herself dealing with the Pinky at the door. Pinkamena asks AJ what the Mane Six are up to in the barn and AJ responds that they are doing some "construction" work, complete with fake sound effects. Frustrated by the evasiveness and lying of her friends, Pinky misinterprets the Mane Six's intentions to be no longer including her in their social circle (the end of their friendship) and, already being a little crazy to begin with, she edges ever closer to complete madness.

It's all fun and games until Pinkie loses it...

After literally being dragged all the way to AJ's barn by RD, Pinkie Pie accuses her friends of avoiding and lying to her to drive her from the group before finding out that the Mane Six planned to throw her a surprise birthday all along (hence her surprise!). RD also admits that the Mane Six lied but only to keep the surprise. Of course, Pinkie Pie isn’t exactly the moral exemplar of honesty herself… Anyway, Pinkie regains her sanity, the friends reconcile, and the Mane Six get down to serious party business as the episode ends.

Her blood lust sated, Pinkie has a good time at her surprise birthday party

[Next post I'll look at two episodes from season two, "Elements of Harmony P2" and "The Last Roundup, before finishing the series on honesty and lying with some help from Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas.]

1 comment:

  1. Devout Catholic and lover of Applejack right here