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I don't doubt that some ponies want to watch the world burn, or that they have evil as their primary joy in life. I personally believe that even these ponies can be redeemed, however, and you don't.
At this point, it is fairly clear that neither of us will persuade the other. Thanks for discussing this calmly with me!
I may be wrong, but I think we are talking about the same thing here with different words. Evil can be a trait in so far as it is a "default" response to events. Evil is still a choice, but repeated choice causes habits, and unbroken habits become traits. In that sense, evil can be a trait and remain a choice. It is simply a choice which is chosen again and again without active thought. And Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are without a doubt far enough for that.
"Some ponies just want to see the world burn."
Not disagreeing, but merely pointing out that a) there is something that originally set them down that path which must be understood to understand the pony, and b) that pony can still choose good, although in most every case they will not even want to consider it.
"I wonder now why you think so? Why can't you accept that people exist that are simply evil, without wanting to be any other way and without a chance of redemption? Does this thought maybe fear you so much, that you try to suppress it?"
Again, its not that I am rejecting the notion that there are evil people or people who do evil with no regrets. I am merely pointing out that, no matter how utterly evil a pony is, there is always hope for redemption because being good or being evil is a choice that everypony has. There are many who do evil their entire lives and regret none of it, but that is not because they were born that way. They merely chose that way, and they can still choose good. Most won't but occasionally one will.
In the comics, I have read through #7 and also the Twilight micro comic.
This is where we disagree. First off, I am perfectly fine agreeing to disagree. This isn't an attack on you, or me trying to throw fuel on any sort of fire.
To start, I take back my comment about there being no evil ponies. There are. Evil is real, and evil is, well, evil. No excuse makes evil acceptable or forgivable. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are currently evil. Maybe not pure evil, but they definitely have a lot of evil.
That said, evil is a choice, not a personal trait. An "evil pony" is "a pony that does evil", and if the same pony turned their life around and became a pony that does good, the pony would become a good pony. Is that difficult to do? Yes. Does is become harder over time? A thousand times yes. Are Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon well along the path of evil and jaded to the point that they don't see an issue with what they do? Yes. Does that mean "there is no salvation for the dark souls of these ponies"? No. It would require something really big to get their attention, and an even bigger resolve to actually cary any sort of redemption through.
All I was wanting to point out was, just because Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon appear to be flat characters, that does not mean they are flat or that there isn't some part of the story we don't know as of yet. My other point was that, while still bad, Silver Spoon isn't as far gone as Diamond Tiara yet. Finally, no matter how bad somepony is, there is always hope for redemption, no matter how slim or improbable.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are the same way. Crusader episodes follow the Crusaders, and the Crusaders don't know anything more about their antagonists then the facts that 1) they come from the snooty rich families, and 2) they are really nasty and mean spirited. Is there more to Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon? Canon doesn't say. I would like to think that they both have reasons for what they do, and that they will be at least offered redemption in a future episode. Will they ever write a Diamond Tiara focus episode? Probably not. Would there be a lot of material to draw from and would it be good? Yes.
I initially got the "Silver Spoon has gone to the dark side" vibe from this episode as well, but upon re-watching it I am once again convinced that Silver Spoon, while not a "nice filly", isn't evil at heart. Silver Spoon is the one to become confused when "blank flank" loses its impact on the Crusaders, and Diamond Tiara must come up with the new plan to get under Scootaloo's wings. This is a mirror of Call of the Cutie, where Diamond Tiara invents the blank flank retort and Silver Spoon merely follows along with the new insult. Does this excuse Silver Spoon and make her innocent? No. It does however seem to imply that Silver Spoon is bad more from hanging out with the wrong crowd for a very long time.
By now, malice is starting to come naturally to Silver Spoon, but it is still variations upon whatever theme Diamond Tiara invents. Why does she do this? I have no idea. Is Silver Spoon overcompensating for bullying like Babs Seed? Is she with Diamond Tiara because her father is employed by Filthy Rich, and she, at least initially, wanted to humor Diamond Tiara? Is she a foster child taken on by Filthy Rich as a publicity/charity stunt to grow his business's PR? Canon will probably never tell us, but I have a feeling that the potential for quality backstory and characterization on Silver Spoon, and even Diamond Tiara, could explain a lot without ever breaking canon.
I suppose it all boils down to a simple question: are there any "evil" ponies, or are there ponies who are really blind and misguided who, for whatever reason, do bad things as a result? I, for one, believe that Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are still young and will learn and grow, or at least have the potential to do so. I guess it is naive, but it gives me hope for myself, so I'll believe it anyway.
I've said it more elegantly (or at least verbosely) elsewhere in these comments, but I'll mention it again here: Even when stooping to new lows, Silver Spoon is still following the cues of Diamond Tiara. She may be improvising a lot, but the general ideas come from Diamond Tiara. And who knows why Diamond Tiara feels the need to abuse the Cutie Mark Crusaders? I for one look forward to a future DT/SS exposition and redemption arc.
Glad to hear that there is precedent, although I just got completely out-canoned there. Still working through the Nightmare Rarity arc, but this makes me want to go out and get the newer comics. Because more ponies is exactly what I need to be spending time on... Actually, more ponies sounds nice. Comics it is!
Anyway, you have some good points, although I don't fully agree. Like you said, discussion is what it's all about, so here goes.
Silver Spoon is most certainly not innocent. Under no circumstances is anyone "following someone doing something vile" able to claim some sort of lesser guilt for not starting the deed. By this measure, Silver Spoon is definitely a bad filly. Your point about considering this episode along with the past ones is also valid. Yes, Silver Spoon is nasty, and comes up with some of the nasty herself.
That said, it was Diamond Tiara that originated the "get under her wing" plan to attack Scootaloo in response to Silver Spoon noting that "blank flank" had lost its punch. Going back to Call of the Cutie, it was again Diamond Tiara who first uses "blank flank". It is not that Silver Spoon isn't mean, or that she isn't original, but she performs variations upon a theme set by Diamond Tiara. Give her a good theme to create variations, and she might become a better pony.
Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash most certainly are brave; I would never want to take that away from them. I mean, Rainbow Dash kicked a full sized dragon in the face, and Scootaloo regularly makes the scooter ride through Ponyville much more adventurous (dangerous?) than it needs to be. They have no shortage of courage.
That said, look back at Sleepless in Ponyville. Scootaloo always keeps a brave face, regardless of what she is feeling. It takes a complete breakdown for her to admit to having fears and problems, and she practically admits that her brave face, while not a fake, is at least sometimes put on to hide inner turmoil.
In Daring Don't we see the same thing with Rainbow Dash. Causing Daring Do to get captured is enough to burst her "tough girl" mask and leave her an emotional wreck. While these traits are not unique to Dash and Scoots (Lesson 0 comes to mind), the fact remains that, when they break down, Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash fall apart harder than many others.
Personally, the things I put the bravest face on and argue the most passionately for are the things I am least sure of. It is completely headcanon, but nevertheless I like to think that Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo are overcompensating for something. Scootaloo? I like the disabled orphan theory. Glad to see she has a room, as Scootabuse just isn't cool, but being a bit of an outsider and compensating by being brave and cool seems to match, at least for me. Rainbow Dash? I have no idea what she fears. Daring Don't and The Mysterious Mare Do Well establish that it really matters to her how others see her. Why? I'm waiting for the writers to decide. Nothing to hold my breath over, but one can always hope, right?
We have more Rainbow Dash character development (especially coming on the tail of Daring Don't). I must admit, it took me a long time before I could like Rainbow Dash, but she is getting better and better each episode that focuses on her. It makes one wish a writer would finally get around to fleshing Applejack more, but I digress. Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash complement each other so well, both being ponies with massive insecurities who hide it all in bravado and awesomeness. I know Scoots' soft spot is not flying; I wonder if we will ever know why Dash puts a brave face on everything?
Scootaloo is the same way. Initially, she was my least-favorite Crusader, but now she is on par with the rest of her friends. It was amazingly well done to have the solution to her problems be playing to her strengths instead of going either with the Disney "believe in yourself; follow your heart" or with Boxer's "I must work harder!" route. Mature themes like this is why I kept watching this show despite all the anti-brony flack.
On top of it all, we get a song! Not my favorite song, but it grows on me each time I play it. Favorite or not, it was well done and fun enough to watch. Getting rather sick of Snowflake, but there was enough Sweetie in this to more than cancel out any negative feelings here.
Reading through everypony else's comments, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are sure getting a lot of hate for their role here. Now, they most certainly are complete jerks, and this is most certainly NOT meant to minimize or hurt anyone who has dealt with people like Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon in real life. I haven't, so I can merely apologize in advance for anything I accidentally say wrong that might hurt anybody. That said, why does all the Diamond Tiara hate spill over onto Silver Spoon? Watching through some older Crusader episodes, Diamond Tiara is always, always the leader and Silver Spoon is nothing more than a willing follower parroting the insults and plans of Diamond Tiara. In many ways this reminds me of Lydia and Kitty from Pride and Prejudice: one is truly bad and the other merely imitates bad and becomes (somewhat) good, or at least improves, when the bad is removed.
Personally, I would like to see both Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon redeemed at some point. I think the Crusaders getting cutie marks and causing the bullies to reform their lives would make a great episode (CMC main arc for S5 anypony?). That said, there are many for whom Diamond Tiara has sunk too low to ever forgive, and that is understandable. Silver Spoon, however, has not. Hay, even Babs Seed was initially more malicious than Silver Spoon. After that face at the end of One Bad Seed when she is in the mud next to the pig, who wouldn't hope she comes around eventually?
Anyway, another great episode! The Cutie Mark Crusaders are back and cuter than ever! It's episodes like these that make me proud to call myself "brony".