Pinkie Pie is one of my favorite ponies in MLP: FiM because of her utter insanity and adorableness. She’s bouncy, happy, creepy, and funny all in one bright pink package. Like the rest of her pony friends, she’s a well-written character with many different sides that shine through as the series progresses and at times, the way she acts happens to align with the way Christians act (both the good ways and the bad ways). Again, I’m going to emphasize that Lauren Faust and the other creative team members did not intend to express any religious themes, positive or negative, in the show. I do not think MLP: FiM is an expressly Christian show, nor do I think it demeans Christianity or religious beliefs in general. In fact, it’s pretty neutral in that regard. With that said, Pinkie Pie has certain moments where she exhibits some Christian stereotypes. This is not true of her all the time, and it would be inaccurate to label her as a Christian character.
In general, her explosive enthusiasm bears a rather comical resemblance to typical youth pastors who are so incredibly stoked about having fun and making new people feel welcome all the time (no wonder most of them get burned out after a couple years). Pinkie Pie particularly displays this quality in the first episode when she meets Twilight Sparkle, gasps epically, and runs away. We later find out through a hyper speed speech that she’s thrown together a welcome party for Twilight because she got really excited about seeing a new pony in town. Although exaggerated for comedic effect, plenty of youth groups at times place a borderline creepy focus on newcomers, especially ones who come across as nerdy and/or anti-social. Sometimes, all the partying and eagerness is a bit overwhelming. Twilight is certainly overwhelmed/annoyed to the point where she needs to make herself a drink. This is about as far as the youth pastor/Pinkie parallel goes. It isn’t very strong (and it’s not like youth pastors are the only overly eager people in the world), but it’s interesting to note in relation to the other parallels I noticed. The fact that her family is loosely modeled after Amish people is another part of her general character development that could add a touch of Christianity to the way she views the world.
The episode “Griffon the Brush-Off” contains a more obvious parallel. I’m not sure if I would label it as a stereotype per se because Pinkie Pie acts in a way that Christians should act as opposed to reflecting the way they actually act. Throughout this episode, Rainbow Dash’s friend Gilda is very rude to everyone in Ponyville, especially Pinkie Pie. She steals, yells, calls everyone “lame,” and is just generally mean. Most of all, she wants to keep Pinkie Pie away from Dash, but there comes a point when even Pinkie Pie won’t tolerate anyone’s crap. She formulates a plan and our natural expectation is that this plan will involve some amount of revenge. At this point in the episode, both Pinkie and the viewer really want to see Gilda get what she deserves for being so mean. Pinkie is ready. She will go to the extreme to stop this. We’re led to believe that she’s going to pull some epic prank, but what does Pinkie Pie do instead? She throws Gilda a party. Gilda sets off a series of pranks that all seem to point to Pinkie Pie, but it turns out that the only one that could possibly be attributed to Pinkie is the buzz-hoof at the beginning of the scene. When Gilda loses her cool, Rainbow Dash reveals that she’s the one who planted the rest of the pranks. It was just bad luck that Gilda fell into all of them. At first, Gilda refuses to believe that Pinkie Pie is innocent, but Pinkie, in all seriousness says, “I threw this party to improve your attitude. I thought a good party would turn that frown upside down.”
Pinkie’s idea of “revenge” is to try to breach someone’s rough exterior by making them feel welcome, even if that person hurts others. It takes a major shift in perspective to think this way and it matches what Christ says about loving your enemies. I know that concept has been run into the ground because people say it so much, but it’s pretty profound if you stop to think about it for a moment. Pinkie Pie could’ve easily retaliated against Gilda by displaying the same amount of anger and rudeness Gilda was showing to everyone else. She could’ve yelled at Gilda, called her a big-grumpy-meany-mcmeany pants, and felt better about herself. Instead, she chooses to reciprocate with kindness (although her efforts are spoiled by the prank mishaps). Showing love to those who treat us badly, although difficult, has a much better chance of actually solving problems between people. This is a very important part of Christianity, one that Christians will never perfectly embody. We will always want some sort of revenge; that’s what the quick buzz-hoof could be for Pinkie, but revenge doesn’t permanently fix things nor does it reverse what was done in the past. Sure, Pinkie’s party doesn’t change Gilda, but it had the chance to. At least by choosing to show Gilda some kindness, Pinkie is creating an opportunity for Gilda to change. Had she gone with “an eye for and eye” as her method, the possibility wouldn’t even exist. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:17-18, ESV). This is precisely what Pinkie Pie is doing by throwing this party. She is ensuring that she is making her best effort to be nice to Gilda, but Gilda has to make the choice to put her best efforts into making peace with everyone. However, she doesn’t accept this and storms away (again, the pranks at the party really don’t help her). It’s a two-way street, but not everyone wants to travel on it.
Ideally, a Christian would have the same reaction as Pinkie Pie when it comes to dealing with a mean person. They don’t necessarily have to throw a party, but the concept of showing kindness and trying to make things right still applies. Unfortunately, Christians don’t always take that route. For people who have been set free by forgiveness, we let fear and hatred overcome us more often than the love our religion teaches us to share. This brings me to the negative Christian stereotype that Pinkie Pie embodies in “Bridle Gossip,” one of quick judgement, misunderstanding, and fear-mongering.
The episode opens with Twilight Sparkle and Spike walking through Ponyville, but they notice that everyone else is acting strange. Despite it being a beautiful day, none of the ponies are outside. When they pass by Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie Pie summons them inside and is the first character to vocalize the sense of fear that everyone else is feeling. Moments later, everyone looks out the window and sees Zecora standing alone in the streets. She’s a zebra and everyone in town is afraid of her because she keeps to herself in the Everfree Forest. The combination of a foreigner living in a place where the ponies can’t control the climate is a ripe brew for unwarranted fear. Of all the ponies, Pinkie Pie seems to be the most terrified and the most judgmental (Applejack is pretty harsh as well, especially since she feels protective of Applebloom. In general, Applejack’s judgments of Zecora correlate to making sure her little sister is safe, which is also a common theme among Christians who deem things “evil.” It’s all about protecting the children from dark influences). Now, what I find particularly interesting about Pinkie Pie’s reactions is the language she uses to describe Zecora. She’ll say things like “evil,” “spooky,” “wicked enchantress,” and the list goes on. These are words that specifically pertain to the supernatural and ones that Christians will often use to prove the devilishness of any pop culture phenomena. This culminates in Pinkie Pie revealing the song she wrote about Zecora.
She even claims that Zecora eats hay in an evil way and she repeats parts of her song throughout the episode. Soon enough, everyone else is convinced that Zecora is evil and that she’s the one who put a curse on them. All of these judgments are made based on appearances and they’re spread by word of mouth. Once you equate someone’s culture or anything about them with dark, supernatural forces, people will blindly follow your assessments. The repetition of Pinkie’s song is just one example of that in this episode. It’s catchy, evocative, and easy to remember due to its focus on Zecora’s supposed spiritual evilness. Although it’s a comic exaggeration, it’s not far removed from the various tracts, articles, signs, and slogans that many Christians coin in order to get their message across.
It only takes one outspoken person’s misperceptions for something or someone to be denounced as evil by society at large. While I know this occurs outside of Christianity, many of the examples I have encountered in my own experience happen within the Church. Whether it’s Harry Potter, Pokemon, gays, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, or anime, if it’s in some way “abnormal,” the singular, out of context Bible verses come out and other Christians take it all as truth without thinking about all sides of the issue. American Christians have a bad reputation for learning very little about something and feeling the need to warn everyone else about how evil it is. It’s as though they look no deeper than the surface of things just as Pinkie Pie and the other ponies don’t look beyond Zecora’s exterior factors (looks, home, decor) before jumping to conclusions about her. They take bits of what they’ve seen and fill in the gaps without fully understanding what it actually is. The sad part is, their built up fear prevents them from learning more about what they’re judging. I feel that many Christians latch onto this fear in order to stay within their comfort zones. It’s easy to read what someone else says about a religion, book, movie, type of music, or TV show and believe it without taking the research any farther. My question is, if Jesus Christ truly frees us from sin and evil influences, why are we so quick to call something evil and fear looking at it for ourselves? If anything, we should be even freer to study these things knowing that out faith will not change as a result. I just think that if we’re going to call something evil, we need to have thorough knowledge of what we’re judging. Otherwise, we end up with entire groups of people who are ostracized and kicked out of church, which is not what Christianity should be doing. Of course, I am by no means saying that there isn’t evil running rampant in this world because there most certainly is. I’m saying that we easily cry “evil” when we really mean “things we don’t understand.”
And we well know that Pinkie Pie, like the other ponies, doesn’t understand Zecora. Her language and her song build on the fear that is already present, which further kills any desire to actually talk to Zecora. Everyone is too hung up on her being “dangerous” to work up the courage to do so and although everyone takes part in perpetuating these fears, Pinkie Pie does so in a way that resembles Christian reactions.
The final, and perhaps most infamous occasion when Pinkie Pie and Christianity (or religion in general) come together is in “Feeling Pinkie Keen.” This episode ended up sparking a massive science vs. religion debate that I honestly think is a bit exaggerated. For one thing, Lauren Faust said that she never wanted to portray that kind of message and I like to consider author intent when it comes to analysis. Additionally, I don’t believe that science and religion are mutually exclusive. One does not disprove the other and in my opinion, they compliment each other. As a Christian, I do believe that God created the world, but I also believe that He created it in such a way that human beings can study it scientifically. In general, most things about the world follow particular patterns that usually don’t change, but there are always anomalies. Sometimes, God likes to break convention in order to make an important point and this results in occurrences that human logic cannot explain. It doesn’t mean that science is all wrong and faith is the only thing that’s real. It just means that things happen in the world that we can’t fully understand with the methods of understanding the world that we have at our disposal. I think in general, there’s a misconception about the functions of religion and science. When it comes to the Bible specifically, many people will see its faulty science and assume that the whole thing is a lie, but the Bible was never meant to be a science textbook so it shouldn’t be read as one. Its purpose is not to be scientifically accurate, but to tell the story about God’s relationship with humanity through history and through a certain culture. This doesn’t clash with science as far as I’m concerned.
So that is basically the lens through which I’m looking at this episode. It’s not about Pinkie Pie’s unexplainable twitches trumping Twilight Sparkle’s logical science. It’s more about Twilight recognizing that she doesn’t have to understand every phenomena in the world in order for it to be true and that doesn’t involve getting rid of her science at all. The only aspect of Twilight’s science that causes trouble for her is that she expects it to be flawless. She wants it to crack the code behind the twitches, but if Pinkie herself doesn’t fully understand their nature, how can Twilight? We can assume that Pinkie knows the most about her twitches out of anyone, but all she’s able to glean from them is what kind of events they predict. She doesn’t know why she gets them, where they come from, or when she’ll get them, but she has learned to accept them as part of her life experience. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Twilight’s drive to understand them. That’s what science is for, but I think she runs into a problem with her “If I can’t see/understand it, then it’s not real” mentality. This assumes that her perception of the world is flawless and complete, which it isn’t. If we can only consider the things we see in front of us to be true, then I think we’re preventing ourselves from experiencing some of the greater things that life has to offer. Furthermore, I think it’s important to remember that we can easily misperceive things no matter how intelligent we are. Our understanding, both individually and collectively as the human race, is limited. This is why we can’t explain everything and we should be okay with admitting that. Admitting that we can’t prove something doesn’t always mean we’re stupid or that trying to understand it is pointless. I mean, if we didn’t try to understand diseases, people would still die from a lot of things that are now treatable. We should certainly try our best to figure everything out with the understanding that completely doing so is impossible. It is this understanding that Twilight lacks throughout the majority of this episode. There is not room in her thought process for some true things to be true even if she can’t figure it out.
Therefore, Twilight’s “conversion” at the end of the episode shouldn’t be taken as replacing faith with science, but rather as making room for science and faith to coexist. Pinkie Pie doesn’t question or protest Twilight’s scientific experiments on her, so in a sense she’s already accommodated science and faith within her understanding. She never tries to discount Twilight’s views; she only tells her what she knows and lets Twilight come to her own conclusions. She doesn’t try to force Twilight to accept without understanding. This is ideally how Christians should share the gospel. Nothing about it should be forced and non-believers should be given the space to discover the truth on their own. So although it’s very easy to read this episode as a religion vs. science debate, I think it’s important to look a little bit beneath the surface. Otherwise, all we’ll see is implications that one is better than the other.
These aspects of Pinkie Pie’s character are by no means the only things by which she’s defined. More often than not, her actions and personality are not reminiscent of anything specific to Christians or Christianity; however, in the few times where things line up, we see representations of Christianity that are both positive and negative. Intentional or not, they can serve as interesting commentaries on how Christians present themselves to the rest of the world.
The next and final post in this little series will be about Cutie Marks and the struggle to find a God-given purpose in the world.