Today, my bad little children, we're going to talk about Cupcakes. Not the delicious frosted kind, the other Cupcakes. If you're a fan of the new My Little Pony cartoon and you have very dark tastes, you've certainly heard of Cupcakes by now. If you haven't... well, that was your warning. You may not want to read this.
I just read it today. I've been putting it off for weeks, which is dumb, but I honestly expected it to be terrible and disappointing. Now that I've read it, I think it's worth a blog post both as a writer and as a personal issue. Even though I'll push this post down almost immediately with one about Wild Children publishing.
I'll start with a review. If you don't know where this is going, Cupcakes is an infamous MLP fan-fiction story about Pinkie Pie brutally murdering Rainbow Dash because the secret ingredient in her delicious cupcakes is pony meat. Fan fiction almost never meets my standards of writing quality, but this does. The text and story could use some tightening to remove awkwardness and increase punch, but the characters are very well portrayed and the duality of perky pony cuteness and gory violence is sharply contrasted, which provides the horror. That right there is the core of Cupcakes. I was surprised to find that it's standard modern horror. Something cute turns violent. The emotions it produces are visceral and strong, and it's really a successful and fairly well written story.
Which brings us to where I become fascinated. Why write this at all? Why the buzz? Why did I want to read it? Why is there what I will refer to as a Cupcakes community, currently spearheaded (I'd say) by Crookedtrees and Ask Pinkamina? Isn't it an odd combination, liking My Little Pony but something as dark as serial killer horror? Why is this all important to me, personally?
The best way to sum it up is with the goth adage 'The brighter the light, the darker the shadow'. And that ties into the very basis of the horror style that Cupcakes uses. Artistically, contrasts make things powerful. They provide depth, and make stories and characters relatable. My Little Pony is a very good show and its fans love it dearly, and it is very sweet and very positive. That makes it perfect for combining with dark artistic elements. Then Party Of One happened, and MLP begged for it.
Cupcakes was written before the episode Party Of One, which changed the Cupcakes community radically and turned it from merely a quirky horror story into a phenomenon that connects with some of us emotionally. In the episode Cutie Mark Chronicles, Pinkie's childhood is revealed to have been very grim, so much so that she never smiled until she hit puberty. Too many grown up abused children looked at the miserable Hell of her childhood and the manic silliness of her adulthood, and we said 'I understand perfectly.' Two weeks later, Party Of One showed Pinkie mistakenly believing her friends had abandoned her and her fun life was over - and she devolved quickly into madness. A cute joke, except that when combined with the look at her childhood, we understood that, too. As the crowning touch, when Pinkie thinks her happy life is over, her hair goes back to being long and straight like it was when she was a child. Because her mother referred to her as 'Pinkamina Diane Pie' in that flashback, any time Pinkie is shown with straight hair she's assumed to be unhappy and the fans call her Pinkamina. It all tied together into a consistent and much deeper character concept than the character had ever shown before. A level of character depth the show has been giving us in general.
It also showed real signs of much darker themes lurking in this candy sweet show. Cupcakes is based on the idea that since Pinkie is weird and crazy and manic, it's a believable leap to base a story on her being so crazy she doesn't know it's wrong to kill people to make sweets. Current versions follow that if the happiness ends, Pinkie will break. It's a much smaller leap than Cupcakes to suggest that she'll break by committing murder, and once she starts she won't be able to stop. If your childhood is bad enough, you learn to function and survive when everything about your life is outside the bounds of sanity.
Put all that together, and the serial killer pink pony fascinates many people, myself included. And I just read Cupcakes today and saw where it started, and it got me thinking enough to want to write this down.