What Would You Do? My Little Pony Edition
Hopefully, you have seen the show What Would You Do on ABC, if not you should try to catch it.
As you can assume from the title, the show sets up situations and we observe the reactions of the unaware passersby.
What would you do seeing a couple’s public displays of affection, a homosexual couple’s display of affection, someone stealing something, someone lying to their significant other or cheating on them while they are in the bathroom; each of these has been featured on the show but they are not the subject of this post. The spark for this post was from watching My Little Pony (if you haven’t seen this you should catch it too, but be careful it’s addictive) with Sariah this afternoon.
Season 4 episode 20: Leap of Faith
The conflict in this episode is largely a personal one for Applejack. She is conflicted about what to do between being truthful to herself/family/friends and letting them feel good about a decision they made.
I’m going to put it here just for kicks so…. SPOILER ALERT beyond this point.
Film and Flam show up again in Ponyville this time with their cure-all tonic. After seeing a display of its effectiveness, Granny Smith and Applebloom are convinced to buy and take the tonic to make Granny feel like a young filly again. Applejack and Big Mack are skeptical but Granny takes it anyways.
When somepony says somethin’s too good to be true, it usually is.
The day after Granny Smith takes the tonic she feels younger and is able to sidestep her fear of water and go swimming once again. Applejack is still curiously skeptical and goes to investigate Flim and Flam and their tonic. This is where the show goes away from aiming at just children watching a show and to a show teaching children as they grow up. Flim and Flam and Applejack have a very good back and forth about what to do. Applejack confronts them about the tonic being a fraud.
Flam: Well, well, well, that’s quite an accusation.
Flim: But let’s say that it’s true…
Flam: As I understand, your Granny was a famous aquapony.
Flim: The star of the show, once upon a time.
Flam: But hasn’t set so much as a hoof in the water since.
Applejack: Until today, that’s right.
Flim: Well, then even if our tonic were nothing more than a mixture of apple juice and beet leaves…
(They show that the tonic is just that)
Flam: The fact is that Granny is happier now than before she tried it.
Applejack: I guess…
Flim: So, the question is…
Flam: Do you really want to be the pony who takes all that happiness away?
That’s the best question or idea I’ve seen in a cartoon ever. Do you want to be the person to take their happiness away? This is my question to you, what is more important, happiness or truth?
Should you tell Granny Smith that the tonic is a placebo or should you let her spend her money and place her faith in the miracle cure?
Applejack did just what I would’ve done (and actually have done), she confronted Flim and Flam in front of everypony in town and exposed the fraud. She knew that the experiences the ponies had from the tonic did happen but she needed to make sure everypony knew that the tonic wasn’t responsible but that they were.
I’m sure you can see why this episode resounded so much with me by now. Applejack’s dilemma is very similar to my own over the past year except my ‘tonic’ has been religion. I decided I couldn’t be silent about the placebo effect of religion and have been vocal enough, I hope, to make people think harder about their tonic; whether it be religion, cryptids, UFOs, conspiracy theories, etc.
I must confront one response that will come up; what’s the harm in letting someone (or somepony) believe what they want to believe?
It seems that almost daily we hear of stories in the news of people who hurt themselves or their loved ones or even strangers because of their belief in the ‘tonic’. Faith healers being used instead of actual medicine is one of the best and most correlative examples. There are people who go to a faith healer, feel better, and reason that the healer was responsible. If that person has a medical condition that then causes injury or death that could have been prevented with actual medicine, there’s the harm.
So, I leave you with the question I asked myself not that long ago. What would you do? Let them have the tonic or try to show them the light?