Studying fictional characters can be an interesting and often fascinating task. Looking at fictional characters can allow us to explore many facets of our own nature. Characters can reveal things about our nature that would otherwise remain hidden to most. Characters can also teach us a lesson by their actions and motivations. However, interpreting characters, and by extension the reason for either liking or disliking them, can be a challenge even to the most seasoned. Such is the case with two similar characters from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Diamond Tiara and Babs Seed. Many fans of the former have accused fans of the latter of hypocrisy, suggesting the two characters are the same. This essay sets out to show why these characters are not the same, by examining their motivations and actions in detail.
Babs Seed is a character introduced in the season three episode of Friendship is Magic entitled "One Bad Apple". The episodes premise is that Babs Seed is a bully, tormenting the Cutie Mark Crusaders, one of whom is her own cousin, Apple Bloom. However, it is revealed that Babs is in fact a victim of bullying herself. This very fact introduces a very important detail about her character. Oftentimes, victims of bullying will resort to bullying themselves in order to either hide the pain they are experiencing or attempt to deflect maltreatment onto others in order to escape. It is quite clear from the beginning that this is the case. Babs does not start out as a bully; when she is first introduced, she's in fact quite shy and unsure of herself. She also possesses a reflexive tic in which she covers her rump with her tail at the very mention of the phrase "cutie mark". It's not until Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon appear and start tormenting the Crusaders that she begins bullying them as well.
These facts speak volumes to Babs Seed's motivations. We're not explicitly told what is happening to her back in her hometown, only that she is being bullied for not having a cutie mark. However, it can be deduced that the bullying is particularly severe because of the aforementioned tic. Tics like these can be indicative of trauma, and as such it can be deduced that Babs' primary motivation for her bullying is as an escape mechanism. Her only goal in being a bully is to avoid becoming a victim again, as previous bullying has tramautized her enough that she has no qualms about resorting to such desperate escape measures. These facts, along with the fact that Babs stopped her behavior when the truth finally came out, and even was willing to apologize and atone for her actions, make Babs Seed a very sympathetic character; her actions, while clearly wrong and not excused, are understandable in light of what has been happening to her. Likewise, her willingness to atone for her behavior indicates a positive character, one that viewers can associate and sympathize with.
This is in sharp contrast to Diamond Tiara. From what we have seen of her since her introduction in Season 1, we can deduce many things about her character. Diamond Tiara comes from a wealthy family, as revealed in the episode "Family Appreciation Day" when she introduces her father, the appropriately named Filthy Rich, to her class. Although so far the only pony she has spent much time with is Silver Spoon, there are some indications that she is reasonably well liked, such as her "cute-ceañera" part in "Call of the Cutie" from Season 1 where many foals and adult ponies show up to support her. There is no indication that she suffers any hardships; she has a comfortable lifestyle, has friends, and has both parents in the picture ("One Bad Apple" indicates that her mother is still around). Said parents, though they probably do spoil her to an extent, are also shown to be good parents; both her father and mother are willing to discipline her when she crosses the line. All these facts indicate very different motivations for her acts of bullying. Taken with her haughty, dismissive attitude toward other ponies, especially "blank flanks", a reasonable person would conclude that she bullies for one reason; she thinks she's better than others because of her station and feels entitled to mistreat others she perceives as being "beneath" her. This makes her a classic minor antagonist, in addition to having very few redeeming qualities.
Obviously, this does not paint a complete picture, but gives a reasonable explanation as to why these two characters are distinct individuals. Though both commit acts most would consider intolerable, circumstances make Babs Seed a sympathetic character, as opposed to Diamond Tiara, who is purely antagonistic. When evaluating these characters, and why one is viewed positively while the other negatively, one must examine them beyond "they're both bullies" and look at the bigger picture by examining their actions and motivations for those actions.