Gone to the Dogs, and a Visit from Derpy Hooves.

When a giant bulldog with a steel girder decides to smack you around...it's good to be invulnerable.

When a giant bulldog with a steel girder decides to smack you around…it’s good to be invulnerable.

There really isn’t a whole lot of metaphor here…this has a pretty literal interpretation. For the week, there have been some pretty substantial canine issues around the Fortress of Togetherness, and those have been rough to deal with. There’s only so much continuous barking that a person can handle, no matter how good the dog actually is. It really amazes me that anyone can actually voluntarily decide to have babies, because the crying factor absolutely has to be as maddening.

That has been going on for about two weeks, and has taken a toll on my stability a bit. I certainly wasn’t complaining about a long night of parent conferences, it kept me away from the dulcet tones of continuous barking. I’ve actually made great effort to stay mobile, and keep clear of the Fortress of Togetherness as much as I can, until this situation comes to a kind of resolution. Much like the neighbor who would loudly train his dog with Japanese commands at all hours of the day and night, there is a limit to the kinds of things you have endurance for. That only multiplies when you need to concentrate to plan lessons, or grade the work of around two hundred students with a report card due.

Still…today has been peaceful. I’m writing this post for Saturday, but on Friday Night, which has unexpected peace, and seems pretty restful. One can only hope for a continuation of those policies into the weekend. Still…when I came home on Friday, there was a generously sized package waiting for me, in a beat up box delivered to the front door earlier in the day. The box actually looked like it had been through a lot, but I had been expecting it.

There was only one thing it could be.

What could this be?  Oh!  A PONY! (Derpy is best pony).

What could this be? Oh! A PONY! (Derpy is best pony).

A few weeks ago, Equestria Daily announced that Build-a-Bear Workshop would be releasing Derpy Hooves as an Online Exclusive. I’ve been pretty good about not getting more ponies, but I have been successful at this new job, and Derpy is my favorite pony. Heck, I have a t-shirt that says “Derpy is best pony.” Online, they have to call the pony “Muffins” because of The Controversy, but it’s a pretty stellar rendition of Derpy Hooves.

What Controversy, you ask?

First, let’s explain how complex the naming of Derpy, and finding the merchandise really is. Derpy, is also known as Muffins and Ditzy Doo, was given the name Derpy Hooves by the show’s internet following due to her cross-eyed “derpy” expression in the first episode. Derpy is always cross eyed, by the way…it’s a big part of the reason she got the massive internet following. The name “Derpy” has since been adopted by the crew and Hasbro. Starting with “Feeling Pinkie Keen,” the show’s crew began giving the pony crossed eyes intentionally and later gave her “Where’s Waldo” type cameo appearances as a nod to the fans. The character is addressed by Rainbow Dash in “The Last Roundup” as Derpy, where she also speaks for the first time. The character was never intended to be more than a background pony, so this was Big Time Fan Service. The scene was later altered so Rainbow no longer names Derpy (because of the Controversy), in addition to her voice being altered and eyes being less crossed. She is called Equestrian Mailmare (she delivers the Ponyville mail) or Bubbly Mare (because of the bubble pattern Cutie Mark), among various others, in some merchandise. That’s where finding merch can be a hassle…you are looking for every name BUT Derpy.

Alert viewers of the show noticed a googly-eyed Pegasus mare in the series’ first episode, standing in the background in the crowd at Twilight Sparkle’s welcoming party. After the image was captured and posted on 4chan’s comics and cartoons board /co/, fans began speculating of the nature of this odd pony. The name she was given, Derpy Hooves, is derived from the slang term “derp”, which is associated with someone who behaves in a silly manner and is often connected with crossed eyes.

The initial image in Episode One, which started a huge Brony Fan Subset.

The initial image in Episode One, which started a huge Brony Fan Subset.

Derpy was one of several background ponies chosen from a palette and placed in the scenes on the whim of layout artists. At first, her face wasn’t supposed to be visible in that particular scene, but a later layout change uncovered it. Jayson Thiessen, the supervising director of the show, stated that he noticed and was amused by her expression. Since Hasbro had already given the episode a green light, he didn’t order fixing Derpy’s eyes. Thiessen relayed in an interview that he was so delighted after discovering popularity of Derpy that he requested altering Derpy’s eyes in all episodes that hadn’t been sent to the Hub yet. Lauren Faust, the show’s developer, was also delighted to find these changes and kept them in.

The character is called “Derpy” on-screen in The Last Roundup, detailed below. The episode’s writer noted that the character’s name in the script was originally Ditzy Doo, and she was requested to change the name to Derpy as a “tip of the hat” to the fans. Lauren Faust notes in her “Bronies” Documentary interview that she imagined Derpy as a “Harpo Marx kind of character who didn’t speak and who no one really called out by name”, leaving her mysterious and “a blank slate for the fans.”

Still…IDW comics editor Bobby Curnow stated on June 21, 2014 “Derpy isn’t the official name, there is no official name” and stated on December 5, 2014 “‘Derpy’ is not an official name”. In fact, Jim Miller in a June 13, 2015 Twitter conversation explained that the name was changed to Muffins for “legal reasons.” Episode credits now show Derpy as “Muffins.”

So…The Controversy.

On January 21st, 2012, “Derpy Hooves News” published a post titled “Derpy Hooves: Mentally Handicapped or Just Clumsy?” which suggested that some people found the Derpy Hooves character offensive toward disabled people. One of the creative team (Amy Keating Rogers), had gotten about ten e-mails regarding the character being called Derpy that were pretty negative, on the day of the episode airing. In fact, the original episode has been removed from iTunes and subsequently altered as a result of people complaining that the name “Derpy” was offensive. The next day, Equestria Daily posted about the controversy but concluded that “Derpy is here to stay, and all fears should be sent TO THE MOON.” On February 2nd, 2012, Equestria Daily published a post stating that the “mailmare is in trouble” and provided a link to a Change.org petition for Hasbro to keep Derpy’s name.

Right? That seems like a whole lot of drama. This stemmed from the name itself…which Amy Keating Rogers was unaware could cause any drama at all. In her own words, after getting angry e-mails and not understanding what they could have been about, “People labeled me an ‘ableist’ (a word I’d never heard of) and said that I was being insensitive to the disabled by calling this character “derpy.” I then did a search on what derpy meant and the first things that came up were “embarrassing” and “awkward” which is what I thought. But then when I did more in-depth searches, I discovered that one definition is “retarded.”

It doesn’t stop there. The same day, Derpy Hooves News reported that a “reliable anonymous source” informed them that Hasbro was asking WeLoveFine T-Shirts to remove all Derpy Hooves merchandise. Various Brony media and news sites advised that Derpy fans should remain calm and wait to hear a official response from Hasbro concerning the rumors. Campaigning continued in the generally nice way that Bronies do things, and On February 3rd, a “Save Derpy Hooves” image reached the front page of the /r/mylittlepony subreddit, accumulating over 1,000 upvotes within 17 hours. Later on the same day, WeLoveFine changed all products that were given different names back to their original names. Equestria Daily, the largest Brony News Source featured this as an article the same day.

One of the many "Save Derpy" images created by Bronies.  This one is really quite charming.

One of the many “Save Derpy” images created by Bronies. This one is really quite charming.

The massive fan response guaranteed a continuation of the character on the show, but with the official name “Muffins,” most often not even written, but shown as an illustration of a muffin. Derpy loves muffins, you see.

That was a whole lot of research, True Believers.

Still, the whole thing was a kind of interesting controversy over Free Speech, and what a company or show may or may not mean by something. It’s also pretty darn cool that with the internet, an illustration that was never really supposed to even be visible on screen developed a fan following at the international level. The thing that’s key here is that no one at all, Brony or creator, ever wanted to offend anyone…and still, the whole “storm in a teacup” happened.

My first “My Little Pony” t-shirt featured Derpy, dressed in paper bags, with the slogan, “Derpy is Best Pony.” In the episode entitled “Luna Eclipsed”, Derpy is dressed in several brown paper bags (as a costume) and participates in Applejack’s apple bob activity during Nightmare Night with Golden Harvest. Sort of a Halloween episode, you see? However, while bobbing for apples, she accidentally pulls the plug, causing all the water in the bob to go down the drain.

Derpy in paper bag costume...

Derpy in paper bag costume…

Derpy in costume and in action!

Derpy in costume and in action!

So…I find that sort of thing hilarious. I find Derpy Hooves adorable. I have all kinds of excellent Derpy stuff to begin with, but now, I have the really big, Build-a-Bear Derpy living at my Fortress of Togetherness. You can too…just click here, and Build-a-Bear will send you one, for about thirty bucks.

I was excited about this, so I drew a piece of bonus art, of Derpy in the paper bag costume. I was a bit mad at Build-a-bear for not giving any Derpy clothing options, until I realized that a paper bag would do, and be pretty excellent. Also, the box she came in does a pretty good job as well, since the tablet game refers to Derpy as “the Pony in the Box.” Yes…you need to click on her hiding in a cardboard box.

Happy to have arrived at the Fortress of Togetherness!

Happy to have arrived at the Fortress of Togetherness!

So there you have it…a discussion about being hit in the gut by giant dogs with steel I-beams, and a book report on the history of Derpy. All that, for free. Truly, Tales of Adequacy is a wonderful place.

Excelsior!

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One thought on “Gone to the Dogs, and a Visit from Derpy Hooves.

  1. Have you ever heard of the YouTuber named Derp Ssundee? He’s a rockstar among elementary school children. Does a lot of humorous Minecraft and similar videos. Gets millions of hits per video. That’s the only time I have ever heard the word Derp used in any context so I find the controversy you describe bewildering. Anyway, I like your new pony and today’s art.

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