Thursday, 28 April 2016

On "The Cutie Map"'s Hugo nomination

Note: horizon wrote an excellent piece about this on his Fimfiction blog. That's the place to go if you want detail. This is just me adding a few thoughts of my own.

Some unexpected news emerged on Tuesday: the Hugo Awards, a big name of the science fiction and fantasy world, announced their 2016 finalists. In the "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form" category, there were a total of five shows: Doctor Who, Grimm, Jessica Jones, Supernatural... and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Specifically, the Season Five premiere, "The Cutie Map".

On the face of it, this is a remarkable honour. Although MLP has been nominated for Daytime Emmys before, I doubt many of us would have imagined that a Hugo nomination was in the offing. It's true that "The Cutie Map", with its unusually dark (for this show) and dystopian theme, was a very good episode – I gave it four stars – and perhaps the most interesting, although "Amending Fences" was better.

But here's the problem. The shortlists for Hugo categories are decided by voting, and for the last couple of years there has been a determined effort by certain conservative groups to try to get works which align with that philosophy nominated. This episode's "Our Town", with its perversion of equality and removal of individuality, was seen by some of these people as representing communism.

If so, the joke may be on them. Most fans don't see the episode in those terms, preferring instead to read Starlight Glimmer's role as akin to a cult leader. "The Cutie Map" is genuinely one of the most interesting stories that MLP has told, and if I had to nominate one of the show's episodes for a Hugo, I might choose this one, too. It probably shouldn't win – but it isn't the joke nomination some may believe.

So, what should we as fans do? Simple. Enjoy the moment and have fun telling people who sneer at MLP that our show got Hugo-nominated. (As long as they're not into SF-and-fantasy stuff enough to know about the political angle, that is!) I know, fandom = drama on many occasions, but if we can pull together on this one and not rise to the bait, we'll be the winners whatever the outcome.


  1. It's great an' all that the episode got the nomination, except for the fact it has the word "Cutie", in it's name. When you're a fan of the show you get used to the word and become numb to its use, but it's only when you have to use it when talking to non-fans do you remember how ridiculous it sounds.

    I've told my parents all about the show, for example, but I'd never be able to bring myself to say "cutie mark" our loud in front of them. Even saying it at a brony meet feels weird to me.

    1. Interesting point. Within the fandom, one of the show's remarkable achievements is making "cutie mark" a thing we can discuss seriously. But yes, it will sound pretty silly and babyish to many outside. Still, SF/fantasy as a whole still has a certain stigma, albeit much less than it once did, so I suspect it won't have a bit impact on the voting.