Monday, 19 November 2012

Even Before the Pegassist: Ultra Pony Roller Derby

Early on in my blogging, a Facebook friend got very excited about a post-related status, that is, until he realized I had typed "roller derby", not "roller Derpy" in reference to one of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's characters, Derpy Hooves. In turn, this term is not to be confused with Roller Derp, a fine Tumblr run by Horrifica and Goldy of the Philly (and not filly) Rollergirls. This was perhaps my first hint that roller derby and the rebooted My Little Pony cartoon sometimes crossed serendipitous paths.

In the twelth episode of the show's first season, "Call of the Cutie", something indeed magical happens. I give you: Ultra Pony Roller Derby.

Copyright Hasbro
Sadly, this scene is one of several in a montage of one filly's attempts to find her special talent, but short as it is, it manages to get more right than some CSI episodes. It's unclear if Applebloom (the small pony with the pink bow to the left) is supposed to be jamming and those helmet spikes seen to the right certainly would not pass an equipment check. But the skaters attempting to "eat the baby filly" are indeed on quads and the resulting pile-up of hapless blockers put me in mind of anyone playing against the amazing Short Stop of the Canberra Roller Derby League and Team Australia 2011.

I point out this 23-second scene not merely because I'm a fan of the show but because it's a sign of what I regretfully must call derby creep (by which I do not mean that guy who hangs out at the rink). Representations of roller derby in popular culture vary pretty wildly from relatively accurate to barely worthy of the designation, As derby spreads, so too do the shout-outs in pop culture. The My Little Pony pop-up is noteworthy particularly because though the show has a broad fanbase, it is theoretically aimed at a young audience. Young potential players, referees, NSOs and fans are growing up as we speak: the more they see of the sport, the likelier they are to check it out. The more normalized derby is, the quicker its spread.  Given the sport's high turnover of players and the sheer crowd of folks you need to run a bout, we need to look forward to encouraging future members of the derby community.

While higher incidences of representations of roller derby in children's programming naturally means taking some bad  (inaccurate, demonizing) along with the good (realistic, encouraging), it's one small duck walk for a cartoon derby player and one giant pegassist for roller derby itself.

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