Is the use of "derpy" ableist?
Disclaimer: I initially planned to post this in equestria since it's largely about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic but I changed my mind and chose to post here because while this discusses primarily MLP:FiM, the issues under discussion are not only unfunny and potentially rage-inducing, it's also something that could be applied to almost any fandom. If I have erred and this belongs in equestria, then I will move it over there, but due to the unfunny issues involved, and the fact that this could be applied to nearly any fandom, I chose to go with the F_W rule of thumb: "When in doubt, UFB"
A little background: In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there is a very popular background pony, a periwinkle-blue pegasus pony with yellow hair and yellowish eyes, and a cutie mark of bubbles on her flanks. She appears frequently but is just as described: a background character; she plays no part in the plots. However, due to an animation error -- accidental or intentional, we don't know -- in the very first episode, she was presented in her first appearance with crazy, unaligned eyes, and the fandom glommed on to her. She is known by the fandom nickname of "Derpy Hooves" and show-creator Lauren Faust has stated that because background ponies have no names, that particular one can be Derpy if that's what the fandom wants.
Make no mistake, Derpy Hooves is hugely popular -- she can even rival the main characters in popularity. Fandom has created a very complex and interesting fanon about her, and she remains one of the most drawn, sprited and written-about characters in the series.
So, I was browsing Tumblr the other night, and came across an unusually vitriolic (and overly-generalizing, I think) comment by a user named "tumblrvigilante" decrying the name "Derpy Hooves" and the entire internet "derp" meme.
The thing is, the "derp" meme and more or less everything born of it (including "Derpy Hooves") makes a literal punch line out of those who are mentally disabled or simple unintelligent -- laughing at someone because of how they look or the state of their mental faculties is wrong and offensive. When you laugh because "Derpy Hooves" does something "stupid" (an ableist term in itself), you are laughing at "stupidity" in general -- you are laughing at something that nobody can help; you are laughing at the way someone was born. The same applies to laughing at "Derpy Hooves" because she has a lazy eye. When we openly laugh at and support these things, we support contributions to a culture that teaches not only our general population, but more importantly our -children- that laughing at people for being disabled, for looking on, for being unintelligent, is okay. But it's really not okay to laugh at someone with disabilities, is it?
In other words, tumblrvigilante believes that the use of the word "derp" is ableism, and calling the pony "Derpy Hooves" is tantamount to making fun of her unusual appearance.
The owner of the tumblr blog the comment was posted on was rather confused and taken aback by the comment, and posted a long response on her personal tumblr blog, hayjulay.
Later, tumblrvigilante replies with his or her own long response, further insisting that the use of the word "derp" is ableist and harmful, regardless of intent.
hayjulay replies again, and subsequently the point is presumably dropped by both sides. Both sides have made valid points (as well as some less-convincing points) in argument for or against the "derp meme" being ableist, and it appears that they have come to the "agree to disagree" conclusion.
This exchange between tumblrvigilante and hayjulay has been on my mind since I read it, and I briefly discussed the topic with a few friends. However, I'm curious to know what everyone here at unfunny_fandom thinks. Is the whole "derp" meme an ableist slur, making fun of someone who is less fortunate or something that can't be controlled? Is the nickname "Derpy Hooves" actually ableism in disguise? Or is it all effectively a mountain made from a molehill?
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