Thursday, March 1, 2012
Much Ado About Derpy Hooves
Meet Derpy Hooves, a clumsy, cross eyed pony who was lost in the seemingly endless list of background characters in the break out series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic! Derpy Hooves (or Ditzy Doo as she was originally listed by the production staff) had the sad fate of becoming a popular pony to look for before she was ever named. As is often the case with such characters, fans began to speculate on what to call her and 'Derpy Hooves' is the moniker that eventually stuck.
The creators of the show have never been shy about playing to the fans (another reason I love them so very much) so when it was decided to use 'Derpy' in a small supporting role with a few lines in the recent episode The Last Roundup the show runners asked the writer to use the fan given name 'Derpy Hooves' as her official name.
(NOTE: Derpy has spoken once before, though it was in a crowd scene with several different characters shouting at once. The name Ditzy Doo has also been used, but the reference was so vague, the creators didn't feel Derpy was necessarily married to it.)
So Derpy was given a voice and a role. Here's a brief clip of her brief appearance courtesy of youtube:
That's not the end of our story, however; rather it's only the beginning.
Apparently while fans LOVED seeing Derpy in a bigger part and nearly had a heartache because the name they had chosen was now official, there were some parties that were upset. While the word Derpy can mean 'clumsy' it can also be used as slang for 'retarded'. Thus the outcry began!
Look, I'm not going to deride anyone who was outraged. I realize that there are lots of families who suffer from certain physical and mental conditions and they have a right to be upset if they feel they are being exploited, but I honestly don't feel that's the case here.
Amy Keating Rogers (the author of the episode) is a long time cartoon writer who has a son who suffers from similar conditions! She is a sensitive and caring person and actually a friend of a very good friend on my end. There is nothing in her record to indicate that anything malicious was intentional in her script.
But that doesn't change what's happened. Hasbro and The Hub have been trying to clean this mess up ever since it started. This had led to a re-edited version of the episode that has appeared on itunes, and rumors are still circulating that Derpy's name may be changed back to Ditzy Doo as a result (a fact that has some fans up in arms).
The goal of this story is to inform people on what's happened and to call attention to an e-mail response better explaining the situation by Amy Keating Rogers herself. The e-mail has been posted with permission on Equestria Daily, just follow the link.
This whole thing is unfortunate for everyone: for Mrs. Rogers, for the hardworking staff at The Hub who make this cartoon, for fans of Derpy who have been wanting and asking for her character to get a bigger role since the first season, and also for those on the opposing side of the debate who feel exploited.
Who would have thought a show about cartoon ponies could stir so many varied reactions? I guess that's art for you, you never know how people will interpret it.