Pony Thought of the Day: Implied Viewer, Part Two

Editing Friday night to say that I really enjoyed some of the answers on the first post. You guys made some really insightful points, but I decided against editing this in response, mostly because I said I wouldn’t.

So, who exactly is the implied viewer of Friendship Is Magic?

First, I want to reemphasize that implied viewer and target audience are not the same thing. Target audience is a marketing thing, and the best way to identify them is to look at the ads. Implied viewer is a critical and creative thing, and the best way to identify them is to look at the work itself.

So, looking at Friendship Is Magic, what do we see? Certainly there is evidence for a compelling case that the implied viewer is the target audience. We have bright colors, simple, iconic shapes, and funny-yet-mostly-gentle stories for the kiddies, and a few gags thrown in for the adults that whizz right over the kids’ heads. On the surface, it’s the Aladdin technique.

But.

But Ditzy Doo.

But Rainbow Dash having a fan club and tribble invasions and Q voicing Discord and Doctor Whooves and chocolate rain and…

These are not the same as the gags targeting the parents. Those are more mainstream: The Big Lebowski, Star Wars, Mr. Cake nervously asking for confirmation that two Earth ponies can have non-Earth pony foals.

References to Internet memes, though? No, that’s not for the kids or their parents. There’s a third viewer here. Someone relatively young–20-something, early 30s at the most, maybe as young as a teenager. Maybe a really cool 40-ish. Technically savvy by the standards of anyone over 40, but not necessarily by the standards of those younger. Fairly creative, though, and with enough of a craving for sincerity to embrace candy-colored magic ponies.

Which, to be fair, 20- and 30-somethings (plus the occasional 40-ish), technically savvy creative types with a sincerity craving? Pretty good description of most of the people making Friendship Is Magic. These are, most likely, things the staff are putting in for themselves.

But the result, as I said, is to create a third implied reader: Us.

So the next time anyone suggests we shouldn’t treat this show like it’s for us, well… challenge them to a game of Where’s Ditzy Doo.

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