The One About…Zen and the MLP that Might Have Been

As I’ve done the Tao of Maud project for a couple of years, on occasion I was asked to speak at Brony conventions about just what the Tao of Maud actually was. Bronies being Bronies, these invitations went away when then realized, with a shock, that a middle-aged white dude with a passing resemblance to Santa Claus and not the woman who was the voice actress who performed Maud who was behind the project, but that’s a whole different story for another day.

But I digress.

As I said, I had to explain what the Tao of Maud was about. For a while, I thought I would kick off with a quick comparative religion course – basically, ten minutes of cup-a-soup Tao and Zen, skimming on the surface to introduce concepts to people who had probably never heard any of them, so they would recognize some surface attribute in the character Maud Pie.

But then it hit me. First, I needed to show the group a bigger concept – how to see something they were very familiar with in a whole new light.

In the philosophy I follow – One Road, Many Paths – you have a wide range of choices in life that become more evident to you as you open yourself up to the possibilities. So my goal became to show the audience what a couple of different choices might have done to change their beloved show into.

We start with the original My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic ™, from 2010, as envisioned by Lauren Faust (courtesy of  Hasbro):

It’s cute, it moves fast (27 jump cuts in 36 seconds) compared to the older versions of the show, and it’s been successful for Hasbro at selling toys. But let’s speculate. What if Faust had aimed at an older demographic, say the 16-25 adult female crowd, who had bought earlier generations of the pony dolls. After all, this version of the show has six young adult ponies, working on different jobs, coming together to commiserate over their problems… Sound familiar?

Friendship from Don Speirs on Vimeo.

Let’s say Faust had stepped over to a different path again, this time to include boys in her demographic. The show might have added a more action-adventure feel. In fact, it might not even be just about friendship anymore…

Quest Across Equestria Opening Credits from Don Speirs on Vimeo.

The purpose of the exercise (and the potential lawsuit) was understanding there are always different paths available, we just need to be open to seeing the possibilities available to us.

At this point, it’s probable this presentation is retired. In that case, I figured I’d share it one last time.

About D. G. Speirs

D.G. Speirs is a storyteller, novelist and voice actor living in Florida. He keeps searching for better stories to tell, even if he has to make them up himself. His latest novel, THE AGENCY, is now available on
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