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February 10, 2013
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    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.



   
I've noticed more than a few fans of Diamond Tiara try to paint those who like Babs Seed as hypocrits by citing the fact that Babs is as much a bully as Diamond. I hope that I can point out just why this is not the case. Enjoy!

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:iconkayanne21:
kayanne21 Jan 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Very well put. 
I honestly think it all comes down to the fact that Babs Seed gets character development and Diamond Tiara does not. It's a shame, yes. But it's the price we pay for getting so emotionally involved in a show aimed at children. DT doesn't need character development because she plays the part of the school bully. All character like this are nothing more than a thing for the hero to overcome. They are in fact less character and more plot device. And that is the case with DT. 
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:iconalexwarlorn:
And neither of her parents were at her cutie mark party.
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:iconalexwarlorn:
Also, Diamond Tiara is pretty much FORBIDDEN to have any character development or growth, since then she couldn't perform her FUNCTION that she was placed into the story to begin with (a pony shaped stumbling block for the CMC to regularly overcome).
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:iconalexwarlorn:
To be fair, I think it's pretty clear Silver is her only friend. And those at her party were there for the party, not her.
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:iconhailstormtempest:
Perhaps, but I don't think we can just assume that Silver is her only friend, since it's not confirmed. It wouldn't a be too much of a stretch to imagine she has some more.
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:iconalexwarlorn:
Given Diamond Tiara's personality, I seriously doubt she has more.
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:iconhailstormtempest:
You'd be surprised though.
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:iconthemasterofdespair:
From a comment below you said that The Diamond Cutters think Babs Seed and Diamond Tiara are the same, and that we hate the Cutie Mark Crusaders, which by the way is not true. The Diamond Cutters were just created to support Diamond Tiara, and stop this blind hatred towards her.
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:iconhailstormtempest:
From what I've seen from a few people who call themselves "Diamond Cutters" it's easy to make that mistaken presumption. I'm sorry if I myself did so.
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:iconmudpony:
Mudpony Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
While I know the show tries to paint Babs Seed as a good pony, in a sympathetic light, the unfortunate reality is that, in many ways, "One Bad Apple" fails to do so. This is mainly due to the limitations of the show/episode, but also do to some bad writing choices.

The first thing in the episode happens because the episode is about bullying. The fact is that DT and SS are pretty inept at bullying from what we've seen, and it is no different in this episode. If stood up to, they generally back down. They pretty much prey on the weak, so a show of strength is all it takes. This episode though is about bullying, and with Babs as a major character, Babs needs to be the responsible one. So Babs comes across as a natural at bullying. Babs does not bully just when DT and Silver Spoon is around. She does not bully just a bit. She bullies, she bullies everywhere, and the CMC, especially Apple Bloom, get no break. Not only that, she bullies in ways that DT and SS don't, adding a physical component, including theft.

The second is that Babs is a major character for the episode, while DT and SS are pretty much plot devices. By that, I mean that the only time we see DT and SS is when they are either generating sympathy/motive for the CMC or receiving their comeuppance. CMC episodes are about the CMC, not about the CMC and an antagonist. This is why DT and SS are relatively one dimensional characters. Babs, however, exists so that she can be redeemed. She is given a back story, and because of her importance as a character, she's placed at forefront of the bullying: Babs leads the bully pack. This is also why the CMC focus revenge on her. So, the same reason why she has a more developed character, like a reason why she is the way she is, is also why she appears to be a much bigger bully.

The third is that the show wants to show Babs going full circle, while giving DT and SS a comeuppance. For this reason, Babs has to stand up to the bullies, but in a way that does something to them. And, of course, it cannot actually resolve the bullying issue, as the plot devices need to be available for future episodes. So rather than having Babs say "they're my friends and if you don't like it, leave!", she makes it so that they fall into a mud puddle. The episode felt the need to give DT and SS a comeuppance that wasn't needed for the episode to work (due to Babs being the instigator while the duo were pretty much non-factors), and it does it by having Babs threatening two ponies who thought she was their friend, who came to see her off. The end result, Babs comes across as a bully even post-reformation. This is where most of the hypocrite aspect comes from.

And the fourth is that Babs shows little regret about her actions. Okay, she sets out to damage the float so that she can avoid getting bullied, that's fine. But after it is entirely destroyed, is there any sort of remorseful look back as she walks off? No. I wanted her to give a remorseful look over her shoulder, I was expecting it, but it isn't there. In fact, it isn't until she flips sides, that she offers a sorry. Up until that point, she not only isn't sorry, she is often shown enjoying it. And this, of course, is then coupled with the third aspect, that post "redemption", she still bullies, so she hasn't really changed her ways.

With what we are shown of the characters, Babs doesn't look so good. Don't get me wrong, I like Babs and I know she's supposed to be good. But the end result though is that, just like it is easy to provide DT with reasons for disliking or picking on AB and co, it is also easy to paint Babs as a natural born bully.

Your assessment of DT is a bit reliant on assumptions, not that it matters. We're meant to assume the worst about the two, that they are spoiled brats. It is also the nature of CMC episodes to always focus on the CMC so that means little to no character development for DT and SS. Keeps them pretty one dimensional. That same one dimensionality though means that, if the show wanted to redeem DT and/or SS, it could easily do so. All they have to do is throw in something to generate sympathy and/or show some remorse, and then a trigger for them to flip sides. And boom, they're like Babs, only not as big of bullies (but more arrogant). Just look what Silver Spoon clapping for a cooky old lady did. FiM fans love redemption. Now, such redemption won't happen (hopefully), because their purpose is to be the bad guys, and I wouldn't want it any other way. But it could easily if the writers wanted it to. ;)
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