Monday, 17 July 2017

Writer slams poor research, but how much did he do himself?

Over on Gizmondo (and that's not a way I want to start too many posts here!) a guy named Rhett Jones has posted an article entitled "Researchers Are Sorry They Used 'Derpy' in a Research Paper". I tend to agree with Jones that it's generally a bad idea to use non-standard language in research papers. However, seeing a massive picture of our Derpy at the top of the article, I read on to see whether there was any My Little Pony content. And here's what I found:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic reinforced the association between derpy and language mocking people with disabilities when it controversially renamed a character previously called “Derpy” that was clumsy and had crossed eyes. Fan boys petitioned to “save Derpy,” failed, and the term officially became part of the war on “politically correct” language.
So, Mr Jones has written an article complaining about poor research, yet has clearly done almost none himself, at least where the MLP fandom is concerned. Why does life have to be so ironic?

Note: having read Oilyvalves' comment below, I wonder whether I might have been unfair here. Feel free to tell me so if you think I have.


  1. Sorry, but which part his article do you have a particular problem with?

    Assuming he isn't a Brony himself (otherwise he wouldn't *need* to do any research), he knows about Derpy originally being named as such, being mocked on-screen, the name change and subsequent controversy, the fan efforts to 'save Derpy', *and* the fact the name has never been officially adopted again. So claiming he's done almost no research is a bit off.

    The only comment I can see which might be a bit suspect is the final one, talking about the "war on politically correct language". Which is clearly an intensional exaggeration in itself. I just interpret that as him saying "so yep, "Derpy" is an example of what I'm taking about".

    Of course, I'm probably missing something and you're right anyway.

    1. Rule one: never, ever think I'm likely to be right about anything. ;)

      But my problem with the paragraph is that it gives the strong impression that Derpy (the pony) was widely mocked because she was disabled, and that only "fan boys" (in itself a slightly pejorative term in this context) preferred her to keep that name.

      It also implies that it was Derpy's renaming that caused complaints, when in fact it was the other way around: complaints led Hasbro to decide to rename her. Put together, it's easy to get the impression that the fandom called/calls her Derpy in order to mock her, which simply isn't true.

      In other words, what's in that para would be what you got if you spent a few minutes on Google. I freely accept that I may be feeling over-sensitive after finding that Telegraph article about the first UKPC the other day. It just felt off as soon as I set eyes on it.

      As I say, though, I could easily be talking rubbish. I do that sometimes.

    2. Incidentally, I happen to quite like the name Muffins, so it's nothing against that. If a significant number of fans found the name Derpy unpleasant, I wouldn't hold out against switching to Muffins. But my feeling now, and for a long time, has been that Derpy-as-Derpy is beloved, sometimes quite intensely, by the fandom. So with that in mind I see no reason to change.

    3. Fair enough. I interpreted it differently, that's all. Also, I am aware that I'm commenting on your blog, which is commenting on an article, which is commenting on research papers. Which themselves are commenting on something I'm guessing.. ;)

      And I like 'Muffins' too. I remember when the 100th episode came out and that was shown to be Hasbro's preferred choice, I and a fair few other people were OK with that. :)

    4. I bet people at Hasbro kicked themselves for not calling her "Muffins" from the start. Given that (at the time) her love for the foodstuff was purely a fanon thing based on a single scene, that name would have worked well as a nod to the fandom and would probably have been no more controversial than "Lyra" or "Octavia" have been. :)

    5. People definitely would have been upset she wasn't called Derpy.

      But I don't think we would have gotten Derpygate.

      I could definitely live without there having been a Derpygate. :C

    6. I joined the fandom after Derpygate had happened, so it really didn't affect me at all. I probably wasn't fully prepared for the reaction to her return in 'Rainbow Falls'.

      All I'm certain of is that she's downright adorable in 'Slice of Life'.

  2. "But my feeling now, and for a long time, has been that Derpy-as-Derpy is beloved, sometimes quite intensely, by the fandom."

    Don't I know it. Funny thing was that "Derpygate" pretty much passed me by (fan drama is not something I care about in the slightest), but four or five years later, Practical Nightmares Only took a couple of knocks as a result of the "Muffins" thing.

    Huh. Then again, I am a degenerate ableist monster trying to bring about a eugenic dystopia through cunning linguistic engineering, so I suppose I get what I deserve, really. :|

    1. I do think it's a bit absurd to dislike a story only because it doesn't use the reader's preferred unofficial name. I've seen it happen for Colgate/Minuette and Vinyl/DJ-Pon3 as well, and it's silly there too.

      I joined the fandom at the very end of S2 – "A Canterlot Wedding" was the first episode I watched on the same day as everyone else. So Derpygate itself was over, but the fallout was still rumbling on a bit. The only big controversies I've actually been there for have been Twilicorn and the ongoing "Starlight is great/terrible" argument.