Pony Thought of the Day: She Of the Crossed Eyes

I’ll get more into this when I get to “The Last Round-Up,” most likely, but my least favorite fanon character is Derpy Hooves. I don’t like the exploitative, mawkish nature of the way she’s used (the Save Derpy YouTube video is the worst offender), the ableist assumptions that went into her genesis, the slur in her name… she represents a side of bronies I’m always troubled to encounter.

That said, I’ve seen two interpretations of her I really like. The first is in the Lunaverse, where she’s always and only Ditzy Doo (which is marginally better as far as naming people after ableist slurs is concerned), the Element of Kindness, a hardworking single mother who’s had a very rough life and is of perfectly normal intelligence, although her education is a little spotty due to aforementioned rough life.

The second is this comic. It’s a great interpretation, and I want to see more like this.

16 thoughts on “Pony Thought of the Day: She Of the Crossed Eyes

  1. There's been a schism in the fanfic crowd over this, almost since day one, and her Lunaverse characterization was taken almost entirely from the better half of the fanon that had already sprung up for her. Which, ironically, owes a massive debt to the woman who later made the Save Derpy video, thanks to her being the voice in the original Doctor Whooves radio show that more or less became the official fanon reference point for the character.

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  2. It may be because my primary contact with the fandom has been anime conventions and YouTube, rather than fanfic, but it feels to me like the general consensus, especially during DerpyGate itself, was strongly in favor of the horrible characterization. However, as I said this may be due to a nonrepresentative sample.

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  3. “…the slur in her name…”

    No no no. Derpy Hooves is Best Pony. Therefore the syllogism is:

    Derpy = This Pony
    This Pony = Cool
    ∴ Derpy = Cool, QED.

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  4. It's a nice thought, and I admit, I'm impressed you know how to make a “therefore” symbol. I certainly don't. However, alas, it doesn't change the meanings of the words, and it hasn't led to any effort to reclaim the word as something positive.

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  5. I prefer the term “Derpocalypse,” if only because I think the “-gate” suffix is a bit overused.

    I think what got mistaken for the “general consensus,” particularly during the Derpocalypse, was yet another instance of a vocal minority drowning out the reasonable dialogue. In forums where upvotes and downvotes could be registered, the reasonable perspectives seemed to average better votes, and the ones that didn't tended to be those emotional-bait stories like that open letter from the disabled kid who said, “I'm disabled and I don't find it offensive (therefore no one should).” Of course, quite a few of the counter-offerings used similar tactics as well…

    Speaking of which, I still call her “Derpy” because I feel more comfortable using a name that is more commonly used as an insult against a group I do belong to than one I don't. I feel that by taking that upon myself I have more control over how I personally handle what's viewed as offensive to me, rather than asking a different group to add the same to their own list of things they have to deal with.

    To be fair, I personally don't find it that offensive, but I recognize that's probably because I'm lucky enough that I am rarely in a position where I have to be concerned about the behaviors of people who use it, and I realize not everyone is fortunate enough to have that sociopolitical “armor.”

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  6. I'm with you about “-gate” being overused, but I like to keep the “-ocalypse” suffix free for Twilicorn Sparkopalypse. I feel the mocking tone of “-ocalypse” better suits the absurdity of that controversy, while Derpygate had real issues involved. But to each their own.

    I understand where you're coming from on the use of the term. I will occasionally (though only among family/friends) make Jew jokes for the same reason. And this is a complicated situation, because she's only got two possible names, and both are slurs. One's ableist; the other's less severe but adds sexism on top of the ableism.

    I generally go with Derpy Hooves because it's now her canon name and it's the name most people know her by, but I'm not happy about either option.

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  7. (I googled on “unicode logic”.)

    Everyone whose first experience of the word is through Best Pony will have a completely different understanding of it. Words change meaning conclusively when they change meaning for the seven-year-old demographic.

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  8. I don't think it's possible for one's first experience of the world to come through any pony. Even if one were born facing a screen showing MLP on a continuous loop, I doubt a newborn would be able to see anything other than blobs of color, lacking the experience to associate them with shapes, let alone living things or characters.

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  9. I did type word, not world. Although getting one's first experience of the world through Derpy Hooves is a spiffing idea. She's the Pinkie Pie of zen.

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  10. Derp = To make a mistake or error.

    Derpy = clumsy

    Derpy = offensive

    Therefore clumsy = offensive

    And yes, I know what people THINK derp means. That doesn't make them any more right than the people who use the term irony when talking about coincidences.

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  11. Um… no, actually. The word “derp” originated as an ableist slur. It's meant to be onomatopeia for a sound supposedly made by the mentally disabled.

    Clumsiness is not inherently offensive. Naming a physically disabled character after a slur against the mentally disabled is.

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  12. I never knew the origin of the word. Interesting.

    I didn't like seeing Derpy (sorry, force of habit) being made into a character with speaking lines, however, because I saw her as a mascot for bronies, not a real character. Just keeping her around as an easter egg to catch in each show should have been enough.

    Having been a mascot so long, there was no way to avoid controversy by introducing her as a character. And then there was the issue with the name (which until just now, I didn't get at all).

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  13. From what I've seen, fanworks with an actual plot that involve the character tend to be pretty good about it. The only ones I can think of being Lunaverse and the many and varied Dr Who crossovers, where obviously any companion is gonna look like a “mere sidekick” but she puts forth as good a showing at being non-useless as anyone else (especially given how easy it is to write a local having common knowledge that a newly ponified Doctor doesn't). Fanworks that are just trying to be cute or funny invariably make her an idiot, which means most of what you'll find on Youtube. That might just be because a “cute” interpretation doesn't actually have enough depth to grant more than two chapters' worth of material, though.

    For names, to me “Ditzy Doo” sounds like the less offensive name, if only because it at least sounds in line with the kind of names other ponies are given (there *are* canon ponies named after aspects of their appearance and/or personality rather than talents). And at least doesn't strike me as an insult that I could picture a grade-schooler slinging about with the intent to wound, which puts it above proliferating the use of “Derp”. But I agree that it is still an insult and thus has no business being somebody's *name*. I mean, just picture what her parents must have been like to name their daughter “Ditzy”, given what pony names seem to imply about their destinies!

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  14. You sum up my issues with her names pretty well!

    Hmm, that may be why I'm so unfamiliar with more positive interpretations of the character; the only fanfics I've read are Time Lords and Terror and its sequel (which don't feature her), the Lunaverse, and My Little Denarians (which again doesn't feature her). Oh, and Fallout: Equestria, but I don't consider than an MLP fanfic, it's a Fallout fanfic where some of the characters share names (but nothing else) with MLP characters.

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