[Scroll down for Amy Keating Roger’s wonderful response.]
This post doesn’t start with “Her death has shocked many,” not because it’s a hackneyed phrase, but because we can’t give up on her so easily.
Some see her already as martyr of the disabled or the fandom at large, but I had rather that she live on—in that realm beyond mortality that is fiction—as the beacon of self-determination that she is in our fanon. Be it as mailmare, strong-minded pegasus with an ocular disease, time traveler, loving and courageous mother, or mother of the year, she has always been an endearing, lovable character, but also one deserving of the utmost respect—and upon her ascension to the canon, she lost nothing of what made her Derpy Hooves to us. Now a higher power is trying to take our daughter from us. I hear her crying out to us.
To save Derpy, sign this petition. The email submission system is currently blocked, so please send snail mail instead. The instructions are on the page. [Outdated. See update below.] Additionally, you can also sign Andrew Holt’s older petition, “Hasbro Studios/The Hub: Do not change Derpy’s name,” if you haven’t already, and the new petition “Save Derpy (and Hasbro's creative process).”
This is how Kreoss of Top Draw put it: “Though Derpy was created in a studio, her character was created by the fans. You can probably say that she represents all Bronies everywhere,” and “Remember, Tolerance is not the same as acceptance. If you are upset with something, display it in a more positive way. You'll get your message across much better than lashing it out with hate.”
I wish Hasbro were to put out an official statement on the issue (and other issues) to shed light on their rationales and their agenda: Is The Last Roundup the only episode they will meddle with, or are they also working to cut Derpy from future episodes and future seasons as I’m typing this? The animation for many of those episodes has not been finished, or even started, so those changes would be much easier and cheaper. What scenes might we never get to see? More Derpy loveliness of the scale of The Last Roundup? Or even beyond? We will never know.
Now, if you like, enjoy the unadulterated version and then compare it to the new one.
For most accurate news on Derpy Hooves’s fate, followDerpy Hooves News and@SaveDerpy.
Derpy Hooves Timeline
I decided to use this fateful day to start a little new project. I only had a few hours and I had to type this whole post, so I haven’t yet added any substantial amount of data. What you can see above is a timeline of Derpy’s life so far, using the Timeline library from the Simile Widgets project.
To add the Derpy Hooves Timeline to your site, use the following code, but be careful with the height. I may have to adapt it at some point.
<iframe frameborder="0" height="300" src="http://yoursiblings.org/assets/derpy-timeline/derpy_timeline.html" width="100%"></iframe>
I’ve set up a repository on GitHub, so please fork me and help me add more data, or suggest more events in the comments. Please give sources. Thanks.
Update 2012-02-28 15:37Z: Since yesterday the Save Derpy petition organized by the eponymous site is closed. See below for a copypasta from their homepage.
Thanks to your thousands upon thousands of emails, letters, tweets, and other forms of communication, Hasbro is clearly aware of our disappointment with their recent actions. We could not have gotten word out without you, the Derpy loving public, and for this, we are grateful.
Now, we must wait.
Hasbro is a big company. It's going to take them time to process all of the emails, the letters, the outpourings of support for our favorite pony. We ask that you step back for now, cease sending the emails, give them a breather to think, and work out a proper response. So, for now, stop the emails, stop the phone calls, and stop the direct messages over various social media. You're more than welcome to continue discussing Derpy, but please, hold off on bothering Hasbro about it. Hopefully we will hear something from them in the near future, at least an explanation or some kind of statement.
Update 2012-03-01 06:19Z: Cut to the inimitable Amy Keating Rogers, single-handedly defusing the situation! This an email exchange between the pony behind the Save Derpy Tumblr and Amy Keating Rogers, the author of The Last Roundup and many other of my favorite episodes. Defusing may not be the same as solving, since most of us probably still don’t want to lose Derpy from future episodes, but she should definitely get a paycheck from Hasbro’s PR department. To quote Pixelkitties: “I love this lady so much! Thanks for posting her letter. I think this is exactly the kind of context and reasonable information we’ve all been wishing for since this whole situation began.” Oh, Amy also needs an OC, I think. (Via Derpy Hooves News and Equestria Daily. All links below have been added by me.)
Dear Amy Keating Rogers,
First and foremost, I would like to show my appreciation to you and everyone you work with on My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic. I personally love the show, and have been a fan of many shows you have worked on. Regarding the Derpy controversy, I am sure you are well aware of the fan communities activities over the past week. A lot of turmoil has been going around among the fans over the edit. Personally, I loved the scene with Derpy, I never felt it to be offensive and I know that you did not intend for anyone to perceive it that way. The majority of people agree, we all loved Derpy; the people complaining are a tiny minority and we have been more vocal than them in spades these last few days.
There is a report floating around that the change did not originate from Hasbro, but from you. The rumor is that you felt the scene was offensive, and requested the change. If this is true, it is the best and most reasonable explanation I have heard. I was wondering if you could comment on this matter, I understand that you may not be able to because of NDAs.
I have been running a tumblr as part of the #savederpy movement that took place over the weekend. We have tried very hard to quell the angry fans and get them to calm down, and express their feelings on the matter to Hasbro. I think that if the report is true, your verification of the events would not only calm the dissenting voices, but also be met with the support of the very vocal Derpy supporters that have been making a big fuss over the weekend.
We want to maintain a good relationship with Hasbro, and I am not going to discuss here what my feelings are about how they have handled the situation, but if the story is true then Hasbro is not at fault and I feel the community needs to know so they do not continue to deteriorate the situation. Like I said, I believe that you would be met with support from the fans.
I am sure you have images and letters about the situation in spades, but if you would like to see how we have been trying to approach the situation you may view our activities at:
OR savederpy.com (I do not run this site, and it is not affiliated with the tumblr. But I agree with everything the owner of this site has done so far)
Thank you for your time,
Hi Daniel (and everyone else cc’d here),
Whew, this controversy has been overwhelming and exhausting!
I actually had no idea that fans were really upset about the “Derpy Change” until your email. And I didn’t actually know about the change until I got an email last week from a fan telling me about it!
Let me try and put some rumors at rest and calm the fans. And to do that, let’s go back to the beginning.
When I first wrote this episode, the character under such harsh scrutiny was named Ditzy Doo. We had already established in previous episodes that she was clumsy (she is not the pony you want on your moving crew). And we named her Ditzy Doo thinking of her as a being a bit dingy.
The scene I wrote was originally longer and had a flashback explaining exactly what Ditzy Doo had done to damage Town Hall. She and Rainbow Dash were “Bucking Bolts” out of the clouds during a storm. Ditzy Doo was bucking too close to Ponyville central. Rainbow kept trying to yell over the noisy bucking for Ditzy to move away from town. But Ditzy could not hear her and thought that Rainbow was complimenting her for her great buck bolting. Ditzy then hit Town Hall with a bolt. And, thus, the damage.
For the second draft, I was asked to change Ditzy’s name to Derpy as a “tip of the hat” to the fans. So, not knowing that Derpy meant anything beyond klutzy and clumsy, I did as requested And then I was finished with this episode.
I had nothing to do with the original voice casting. In my mind, she was ditzy, as her original name implied. But that’s not anything I was ever involved with MLP. The scene was made shorter because the script was too long and because the story wasn’t about Ditzy/Derpy. It was about Applejack.
When this episode first aired, I did not see it until after I started getting emails either thanking me or berating me for Derpy’s portrayal. The angry emails really freaked me out because I knew that I had not written a scene that could possibly be interpreted as being insensitive to people with disabilities.
So, when I got home, I watched the episode. I saw that the scene was shorter, which did not surprise me. That happens all the time. I listened to her voice and it was deeper than I expected. However, I was not offended by any part of the scene in any way.
But I got about 10 emails saying how offended folks were. People labeled me an “ableist” (a word I’d never heard of) and said that I was being insensitive to the disabled by calling this character “derpy.” I then did a search on what derpy meant and the first things that came up were “embarrassing” and “awkward” which is what I thought. But then when I did more in-depth searches, I discovered that one definition is “retarded.”
Now, you have to realize that reading that made my heart sink. My son Soren (of Soarin’ fame) is severely disabled. We do not use the word “retarded” in our house because it really has become an offensive slur. And while I knew that it was only a minority of people that defined “derpy” this way, it still upset me that I was the writer that put that name out there. It was painfully ironic and goes against the fact that I’m an advocate for the disabled.
I also want to note here that while I got 10 negative emails, I also got about 200 positive ones! I knew that the majority of fans were not offended. I got emails from fans with siblings with disabilities and parents of kids with disabilities and fans who had disabilities themselves and none of them were offended. At first, I tried to answer all these emails, but then I just became too overwhelmed. Still, I want to thank you all for your support!
But I was not the only one getting contacted regarding Derpy’s portrayal. Positive and negative feedback was also being sent to Hasbro and the Hub. Someone at the Hub who knows about my personal connection with disabilities contacted me asking my opinion. We talked about various options of what to do.
1. Do nothing.
2. Cut Rainbow saying “Derpy” but keep Derpy’s voice.
3. Cut Rainbow saying “Derpy” and change Derpy’s voice.
4. Find a creative way to change Derpy’s name in a future episode
And I was honestly torn about which action should be taken. I went back and forth and back again. It was a no win situation. Fans were going to be offended no matter what. And while I was not personally offended by the scene, I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone that was. I know that if I was offended by something that I thought was disparaging against the disabled, I would want my voice heard. But then I also knew that an insensitive portrayal of someone with disabilities was never our intention, so why change it?
When that call ended, no decision was made. And it was not my decision to make. I am just a freelance writer here, not a network executive. That decision was up to Hasbro and the Hub. I am sure they weighed what was best for the MLP brand, the show, the network, and they may have even weighed in my personal situation. Maybe they wanted to spare me from getting anymore more hate mail and people calling me offensive names. It may have been only 10 emails, but each one made me feel absolutely horrible If the effect on me was part of their motivation for the change, I think that’s really amazing, incredibly sensitive, and very commendable.
In the end, Derpy’s voice was re-voiced to be more ditzy. And while, again, I had nothing to do with the casting, this is closer to the voice that was in my head. And as for cutting her name, if it truly can be defined as “retarded,” then I am personally glad that name is gone. I wouldn’t want my writing to perpetuate children—our target audience—to call other children “derpy” with that meaning behind it.
So, I know the fans are upset. But please don’t be upset at Hasbro or the Hub or DHX Media or the “Anti-Derpy” fans or me. Let’s remember what the message of MLP:FiM is—tolerance, kindness, understanding, and, most importantly, friendship.
All my best,
Thank you for taking the time to reply, and to fully explain your point of view on the subject. A lot of fans have been going crazy, and the fact is quite honestly Hasbro and everyone involved in the production of the show has been VERY quiet for the past few days, which has only driven people to act more rashly. I would like to let you know that the word “derp” is fictional, and has never been designed to be used as a term for mental or physical disability, people who use the term to describe any form of retardation are using it incorrectly in my opinion. The propagation of the term comes from South Park: “The 34th episode of South Park titled “The Succubus” aired on April 21st, 1999, featuring a character named Mr. Derp who briefly served as the chef’s replacement. In this episode the character performs various slapstick clichés like striking himself on the head with a hammer while exclaiming “Derp!” ”
That being said, I understand your point of view, and on behalf of the fans I know that none of us would ever want to bring insult to people with disabilities, including your son. My own sister has disabilities. I personally am sad that the scene was changed, but I also feel that the scene is not worth airing at the expense of you and your family, as well as the feelings of other people with medical conditions. If you have not received letters from fans with disabilities, you may want to look online at the “save derpy” stuff people are posting, there are actually people with medical conditions, down syndrome, and even stabismus (which is a condition where the eyes point in opposite directions, causing poor depth perception and inherently clumsiness) who have come out in droves to tell people how much Derpy means to them. They are saying that she is a rare character in animation and tv that they can identify with, some of them are as young as 9 years old. I hope that would help placate any heartache caused by the more negative letters you may have received.
The people that were CC’d are from Equestria Daily, they are a My Little Pony news site. I am not affiliated with them, but I CC’d them because I thought they might want to know of any response you may have made. I know that certain things are “internal information”, so I am reluctant to post any of this online for the public to see. I do not know if EqD will do so as soon as they see this, but I would like to ask your permission to post your response online for the fans, so that they may better understand how Hasbro, the creative team, and yourself have tried to respond to this situation. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that will do any good to keep people from sending more negative feedback. I would hope that they will not, but if you wanted to stay out of the drama I would understand if you preferred none of this get posted.
I want to thank you again for responding to my inquiry, it means a lot to me that you took the time to tell your side of the story. And once again, I am sorry on behalf of all the fans for any trouble the situation may have caused you.
Thanks again for your email. And thanks for the origin story on “derp.” It’s unfortunate that this word has evolved into something that wasn’t intended. The same can be said for “retarded.” It was a medical definition, but then it became a slur. Now it is being phased out as a medical term because there are more accurate definitions for people’s disabilities instead of this generalization.
Yes, I did get emails from folks with disabilities that were very encouraging. They did note that they related to Derpy, which I think is great. Hopefully even with the change, people can still relate to her.
I told EqD that it was okay to post my response, so hopefully that will calm fans. For my Inbox’s sake, I sure hope so!