A focus on Sunset Shimmer
Instead of focusing on Equestria Girls, and the problems with it I intend to keep my focus firmly on Sunset Shimmer, since simply listing the problems and incongruities from a critic's perspective on the series is simply too much, and I would rather post this blog while it is still relevant. Without further ado let us begin.
"Caesar was Ambitious"
As Shakespeare so simply put, Caesar was ambitious, and one of the leading themes of his play, Julius Caesar is that too much ambition is dangerous. Brutus perished for trying to gain power, as did Caesar, and Mark Anthony. It is against one's nature to forcefully rise among one's station, or so the play would say.
While Equestria is not the realm of Julius Caesar, there is a major similarity in that they are both societies. Both of these lands rely on groups of people, or ponies, working together to achieve a common goal of survival. Winter Wrap Up , encompasses this idea. From the song it is quite clear how ponies work in fluid harmony to accomplish their tasks. Though to make this point quite clear, I would like to draw attention to the prevalent choir, the uses of "let's", and "our", and the clear focus on community, both from a literal harmonic aspect, and from the visuals presented.
This brings me to my first point, Twilight's key solos:
How can I help? I'm new, you see.
What does everypony do?
How do I fit in without magic?
I haven't got a clue!
These lines set the entire tone for Twilight's response to new social activities where she is not entirely sure, but willing to fit-in and learn in order to make an intelligent decision, a skill Twlight is known for.
Now that I know what they all do
I have to find my place
And help with all of my heart
Tough task ahead I face
This last solo epitomizes Twilight's entire journey, from the first episode of Season 1, all the way to the last episode of Season 4, in her search for acceptance first from Princess Celestia, then from her friends, and finally ponies in general. This powerful narrative lays the ground work for my argument where Twilight Sparkle is focused on helping without concern for reward, the ultimate display of altruism, and harmony in a stark contrast to Sunset Shimmer.
Multiple characters have been shown in Friendship is Magic as using force to step outside their roles, and attempt to gain power. Each of the villains, and antagonists of the show, Nightmare Moon, Gilda, Trixie, Discord, Chrysalis, Sombra, Triek, and Starlight Glimmer each tried to gain power over ponies at large, each of them affronting the natural order of things. Whether it was through deception, trickery, theft, magic, war, or simple ambitious consumption, each villain attempted to alter the community they were apart of through force, and each of them failed. Sunset Shimmer has this same ambitious trait that causes such basic desires. She continuously feeds this trait, not because she actually gains know-how or power, after all, her studies under Princess Celestia have long since ended, but because her ego grows. Making her quite ineffectual as a villain, though not through lack of trying.
When I return, I shall have power, princesshood, and a kingdom of my own!
and fear my small acts of villainy. (laugh)
All and all Sunset isn't much of a villain, especially when compared with Sombra, Chrysalis, or even Discord.
It's kind of disheartening that the writers are trying to sell the viewers this idea that Sunset Shimmer was once a paragon of virtue, when in actuality she abandoned her home, and family, and mentor for more power. Kind of mean really, I kind of feel bad that the writers gave her such an insignificant and two dimensional character, considering nearly her entire set of appearances in the first film was her just being mean for the sake of being mean, being ineffectually ambitious, but rolling over whenever Princess Luna looks at her funny.
Now it's kind of funny that Sunset is supposed to be this villainous character when Luna can walk right over and hand her a detention, it's quite ridiculous. Can anyone imagine how much Chrysalis's credibility would vanish if Princess Luna showed up and told her to go clean the castle or something?
Seriously, Sunset Shimmer was a pretty pitiful antagonist right from the start, even Starlight had more credibility, and she wasn't even touted as a student of Princess Celestia. She made decent evil plans, was partially successful, and learned why what she did was wrong. Sunset Shimmer was just tearing other people down for the sake of tearing other people down.
Wait doesn't that contradict something? Oh Right...
So... she abandoned her goal to gain power, and just spent all her time tearing other people down, because she didn't know the first thing about friendship...Right...
Back to Ambition
Self contradictions and inconsistencies aside Sunset Shimmer ultimately fails at being a villain, not by being good, but by being uncompelling. She abandoned her magic when she left Princess Celestia's personal tutelage, and traded her life being groomed as possibly the next Princess of Equestria, and traded it for being Fall Formal Princess. I'm not a genius but I wager that one title has a bit more prominence, and it isn't the dance. So even though Sunset Shimmer is supposed to be ambitious, wanting the the crown, the kingdom, and the power, she instead trades that for a life in mediocrity... prominence in a school, instead of a nation, power among her childish peers, rather than a group of subjects. This is the biggest contradiction of them all, and why Sunset Shimmer cannot be taken seriously as a villain. She chose unthinking zombies, instead of subjects, might as well just build a bunch of robots and call them minions.
The Three Ring Circus Must Go On
At the start of Rainbow Rocks Sunset Shimmer is supposed to be facing rejection by her peers being formerly evil and all that, but instead of doing what Twilight does in season ONE, waiting, and working hard for her acceptance, helping others so they can see her worth, as Twlight Sparkle did in Winter Wrap Up, she goes off and mopes with her friends. Furthermore it is quite disappointing to see a little bit of gossip get under her skin, since she was supposed to be so dominant, and cunning if the first movie was supposed to be any indicator of her personality. Even after Princess Luna's return in season two, she worked hard to adjust and win over her subjects.
Sunset Shimmer just doesn't do that. She instead is so dissuaded by her first signs of rejection that she goes and mopes some more. Then makes another equally disappointing attempt... and so on.
I'm sorry, I would post more pictures about Sunset's pitiful attempts followed by her many minutes of moping, but I really don't feel like it, just check the Rainbow Rocks Sunset Shimmer Gallery to see the cycles. It's pretty obvious. She doesn't make much effort to help or adjust and just kind of keeps going until the Dazzlings threaten the school. Along with a couple more screw-ups to endear her to the viewers, since the writers can't be bothered to have a consistent character for her... Ick.
She becomes successful and defeats the Dazzling in bright flashes and color, despite not doing anything other than telling her friends to stop fighting...
You're Worthy Now My Big Toe
Beating a Dead Pony
Rather than keep going with problems in Sunset Shimmer's character, and how she is forcibly shoehorned into Twlight's role as leader by the time Friendship Games rolls around, despite being all mopey and useless during Rainbow Rocks, and a complete jerk to the same characters during the first film. I'm just going to leave her final quote from the film here before everyone bursts into song.
"I think I may have figured out how magic works in this world. We pony up when we're showing the truest part of ourselves. I was so busy waiting for someone else to give me the answers that I gave up looking for them myself. I'm sure there will be more magical problems that pop up in this world, but like Applejack said, Princess Twilight has her own problems to worry about in Equestria. We can't expect her to always be around to help us."
I find this quite sad in retrospect since Sunset Shimmer abandoned her studies under Princess Celestia to go looking for power, and now in complete ignorance says "I was so busy waiting for someone else to give me the answers that I gave up looking for them myself."
It is quite ironic that in The Fall of Sunset Shimmer she left for this reason, of being held back, and denied knowledge, but now says, with no irony intended, that she gave up looking for the answers because she was so busy waiting for them.
She ultimately destroyed the agency and diligence that made her worthy of being Celestia's pupil, and instead traded it for weakness and insecurity, indicated by her behavior in Rainbow Rocks. Friendship games is even more disappointing, as rather than choosing to rise above this passivity, and become a hard worker, she instead uses her own life as an incorrect example to say what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not screwing up and asking others to forgive you, forgiveness is moving beyond the screw-up to become a better person, and being worthy of their forgiveness.
Princesss Luna lives every day of her life making up for the Nightmare Moon incident, Discord involves himself with others and even helps them enjoy themselves, teaching a lesson every now and again. Even Sombra from the comics chooses to sacrifice his time, and likely the rest of his life to restore Princess Amore.
Does Sunset Shimmer teach with her actions, rather than her words? Is she an example for others, with all her moping around, and her abandoning of her duties? Does she teach others to forgive, and does she encourage others to be worthy of forgiveness? Does she even teach good habits?
She does none of these things, She might have a good sob story, she might have all the book smarts, street smarts, knowledge, and friends, but she is little more than a bundle of favorable traits, bending the world to suit her narrative. She is... "worst pony"