Ok. Before we start, before we even start, I want you to do something for me. Click on the following link, and play the song you find there at least once while reading.
(Idea taken from the amazing new Ponies: The Anthology video now up on YouTube)
Got it? Ready? Ok let’s start…
Look upon me Equestria!
Man oh man…..Rarity…what am I going to do with you?
I’ll admit, at first Rarity totally passed me by. You know how shows that revolve around a group or a team often have that one member who just doesn’t seem as dynamic or interesting as the others? That one member of the group who you just kind of went “meh” on and forgot about? Well for me, Rarity was that one member.
Hold your boo’s though people, because over time, this marshmellowy pony has proven herself to be the most psychologically rich of the six main characters, with possible exaction of Twilight.
The thing is, she just doesn’t SEEM like a character who would be the central subject of so many episodes. Her design isn’t exactly as striking as that of the other ponies, so her popularity can be almost entirely credited to how well she is written. Rarity and her whizz bang fashionista persona took some getting used to at first, but after a while she grew on me.
It seems like the creators really made a push to sell Rarity as a character, and it paid off. She could have easily slipped under the radar as just “the vain and bossy one” but she has become more interesting than that.
Carrying herself like a posh aristocrat, Rarity exhibits perhaps the most contradictory behaviour to her element of harmony. She considers herself to be a jewel of infinite beauty, but is supposedly the bearer of the element of generosity. For the most part, she doesn’t seem like a very generous pony at all. Most of the time, she’s a preening, childish, anal retentive train wreck with textbook obsessive compulsive disorder and a penchant for manipulation.
Rarity is in fact, for the most part, remarkably self absorbed. Her acts of generosity usually directly feed her own ego, and it takes the actions of one of the other ponies to bring her back down to earth (or save her from slamming into it).
“Twilight Sparkle! You can’t wear that old thing! I insist on making you a glamorous NEW dress for the Grand Galloping Gala”.
This might seem like an act of good natured generosity, but take a closer look. Rarity is a fashion designer, constantly trying to get her work noticed. She is a career minded entrepreneur who doesn’t seem like she would be above using cutthroat tactics to get ahead (even if she ends up regretting them later).
Twilight needing a new dress is the perfect opportunity for Rarity to feed her obsession to be needed and loved.
Friends need something you can provide? Offer it up immediately and reap the attention. That’s Rarities M.O. Sometimes, she just happens to bite off a bit more than she can chew and pays for it with sleepless nights and endlessly stressful days.
In fact I can only really think of two instances where Rarity was being genuinely generous. Cutting off her tail for that suspiciously dramatic water dragon, and putting up with that royal asshole Prince Blueblood for as long as she did. But even those times, being generous seemed like a means to a much more rewarding end than genuine patience out of the goodness of one’s heart.
You could probably argue that Rarity going out of her mind trying to design individual dresses for each of her friends is generous, and yes technically it is. But remember that she makes and designs outfits for a living, she sort of HAD to follow their requests if she wants her shop to keep its doors open and get some good rep. It would have been the same with any customer; it was just more stressful because she is friends with these ones.
It is interesting to note that Rarity appears to be the most “adult” of the characters. If I had to pick one for the eldest, it would be Rarity.
Her character is the only one who exhibits obvious sexual and romantic attraction (Rainbow Dash and Spitfire not withstanding) and she constantly identifies herself as “a lady”, always making sure she presents herself with refined dignity and class.
But “lady” is not the most appropriate title to give her. Rarity can be a snarky, sarcastic bitch when she wants to be, and does not hesitate to unleash her inner drama queen.
Rarities little ongoing war with the rough-and-tumble Applejack is great evidence of her ability to swap back and forth between a preening, posturing “lady” and a full on childish nutcase.
Everything is fine and dandy until a pillow hits you in the face. After that…..
IT. IS. ON!
But if there’s one thing Rarity knows how to do…its how to wage verbal warfare. “A Dog and Pony Show” was a defining episode for Rarity, because it cemented two things.
One: This is a well fleshed out character with alot of great elements to her, one that is sure to become a fan favourite.
Two: This pony is the undisputed master of tantrum throwing, the Sun Tzu of passive aggressive warfare.
Watching Rarity slowly get the upper hand on the Diamond Dogs with her expertly executed tantrums was like watching art take place. Horrible manipulative art, evil and beautiful at the same time. It became clear that Rarities inner spoilt brat was not only something she was aware of, but something she could use to her advantage with absolutely devastating effect.
She sometimes employs similar tactics on her friends when she needs something out of them, like when she backed Fluttershy into a corner and harassed her for information, and when she begged Twilight to keep quiet about her jealousy for Fluttershy’s modelling success.
Fluttershy is Rarities idea of the perfect friend. A softly spoken doormat who always waits her turn and never really speaks up against anyone. That’s probably not the best person for Fluttershy to be around though, especially if she wants to build her confidence up. A strong, honest presence like Applejack or a cheery self-comfortable entity like Pinkie Pie would be much better for Fluttershy’s confidence levels than someone who gets off on having a weak willed “yes maam” sidekick agree with everything she says.
Rarities affinity for the overly dramatic is something her creators are very self aware about. Typically her type of character (the bitchy, vain one) would be used as a stereotype that chimed in during bad situations, or maybe even as a villain. A stereotype with little to add to the situation other than how terrible it is.
But this is the stellar writing of FIM after all, and they evidently have a very sharp sense of parody when it comes to character stereotypes. Take a look at this moment from the season finale.
Click the link below and skip ahead to 1:20 (Also shows another great example of her using manipulation to get what she wants. A man-eating moment that only she can get away with).
Now THAT is sarcasm.
This shows that the writers have a keen wit about Rarities stereotype and play it up for the purpose of alot of her jokes.
Love her or hate her, Rarity is always heaps of fun to watch. I might seem like I’m giving her alot of crap for being a manipulative bitch, but don’t think that means I don’t like her or her episodes.
On the contrary, she is just as funny as Pinkie Pie for me, but in a much more clever way. And her episodes, while oddly numerous, always introduce great new characters like Photo Finish and the Diamond Dogs.
Some might see Rarity as a character that promotes shallowness, and I’ll admit I would have agreed with that for the longest time. But eventually I realised that after everything, after all her tantrums and sarcasm and bitchyness, after all her fits of panic and obsession with getting everything 100% right…she’s really not so bad.
She has come under fire from a few critics for being vain and self absorbed, but I don’t think that’s very fair. Some also might think the crux of her character is the encouragement of stereotypically girly and prissy activities like your own appearance and fashion, but that’s not entirely fair either. Where is it written that girls don’t need to feel beautiful now and again?
It’s all about being who you want to be. Rarity can come off self absorbed, but she is a fashion designer, a notoriously difficult career she has chosen for herself out of the love to create things for other people. She has built her own business from the ground up, and supports herself and her younger sister Sweetie Belle without anyone else’s help. Even if her career path does serve to inflate her own ego, her reliability to deliver and the effort she puts in is nothing short of admirable.
There is just so much to say about her. She suits so many different elements. Her preening and classiness place her as something akin to a Bond girl, but her inner conniving attention whore makes her something closer to one of the shows villains.
Unlike Applejack and Rainbow Dash, she does not depend on having someone of equal strength to compete against to be comfortable or happy. She depends on social dominance, procedure, and self-validation.
It’s when she can’t get these things that she crashes hard. That or not being able to fix a busted bird nest. But hey, that’s often when she is at her funniest.
So you see…I’m not whining, I am complaining.
Do you want to HEAR whining?
THIS is whiiiiniiing!
Rarity is NOT a mule!
Art of the Dress: Rock remix:
She’s a Lady:
“You’re not a laughing stock Rarity!” “She kinda is!”
Thanks Rainbow Dash
Darling, even though I wish I could, I simply cannot take credit for this fabulous art and wonderful video’s!
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