If you any of you reading this knows me, chances are you’ll know I've gone on about this a thousand times, but check the title, because this is essay (if you can call it that) is going to be about that very subject. So really, this is your change to turn around.
As the title states, yes, I have a real grudge against the popular hive and subsequent hive-mind fanon that many have come up for the Changeling species in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Why? I mean, after all, the Changelings are at least part insectoid in appearance, as well as taking orders from a larger-in-size Queen and so a hive society and hive-mind does make sense or is at least rather fitting, right?
Well, to some extent, I think both yes and no. True, the Changelings are at least part insect and the whole Bee People, Hive-Mind concept has its place in popular culture, especially when it comes to insectoid fictional races, but for the Changelings, it's a bit more complicated, I think. From what I've found, there appears to be little concrete canon evidence in favour of the theory, but actually quite some to go against. So I best knuckle down and explain my arguments against:
• Not all insect races have a hive mind or system and the Changelings are also shown to be at least part equine; the ratio just isn't definite and so it’s up to the fans to decide that. Heck, even the official guidebook does at least refer to them as a type of ‘pony’.
• If they are a hive and thus her children, why has Chrysalis never referred to them as such and instead only as her 'minions' and thus just soldiers under her command? It’s wouldn’t have been too hard to switch the words. But not only that, even the fan’s excuse for her that “she’s only trying to feed her children!” loses some weight if you think about it. Her children or otherwise, whilst providing food for them is admirable, she only mentions that part of her reasons once and offhoofedly, like it were an unimportant sidenote. From we saw, her main goal was imperial domination and only really seemed to care about her soldiers in the sense that she wants them powerful enough to help further her conquest of Equestria.
• If they are of a hive mind, then during the Battle of Canterlot, shouldn’t those Changelings have immediately realized that Fluttershy was not one of them when she pulled that trick of them and just attacked her? And even then, a lot of the changelings showed different expressions, including the one with Pinkie Pie, who showed a sense of humour, thus individual personalities.
• A lot of people use the basis of them looking the same that they are drones, but think about it, the royal guards all look pretty much the same hulking white stallion, do we all then assume the Celestia is their mother (though I'll admit that'd make an interesting fanfiction)?. We also have video game mooks like the koopas who look the same. I don't really think them looking the same really has any significance rather than it just makes it easier for the animators.
• I do not who reading this has yet read the comics or not, so SPOILER ALERT, but the Changelings were shown building themselves individuals houses of goo and they operated from their base of operations in a gothic castle, the one they took over. Now whilst I only see this as Chrysalis and her army, the way they conduct themselves does seems more similar to that of ponies than hive insects. They were also shown to capable of speech and the higher up commanders openly questioned some of Chrysalis' decisions, albeit of confusion and not defiance. Then again, Andy Price did say how canon we want to take the comics is up to us, the readers.
This is more of a personal gripe, but I suppose my MAIN reason against the hive idea is that it simply just takes away the ability to look at Changelings as individuals (or at least severely cripples it) and that is something I would love to see handled in the show or comics, especially if they are going to do a story on them showing them as not being "Always Chaotic Evil" (Or Always Neutral or Lawful Evil, depending on your alignment charts, either way, a trope that I have grown to despise and I am sure you agree doesn't belong in the kind of universe of MLP:FiM). I'd love to see their families, their loves ones, something to show how similar they are to the ponies instead of just demonizing them as heartless monsters. For me, a hive just limits so much what we can do with them, and there is some great potential. If the creators gave us a choice between a hive and some deep, complex culture that we as fans can really sink our teeth into, I'm always gonna pick the latter.
This next point isn't as much an argument against, but rather a minor grievance with the fandom itself regarding Changelings: if the Hive fanon was just one of many different theories, maybe I would not feel so resentful towards it, but it's really the fact how pretty much Everyone uses the hive fanon that really jades me. So many people seem to just jump on the bandwagon of the Hive that it leaves little room for alternative fanon ideas, in my opinion.
There are other points made by fellow fans I've talked to about this issue.
"Not to mention, it makes it far too easy to defeat the changeling race. Kill queen = game over. And to offset that, there has to be all sorts of rigmarole written in to prevent that from happening too quickly. You can't have direct confrontations with the Queen, because any pony with any sense of strategy will do everything possible to kill her the instant she's in view. And the Queen, if she has any brains, will never let herself come into view of any pony for that very same reason. Even seemingly secured, one can't be sure that the pony prisoners don't have a secret, undetectable assassination weapon or spell.
Now, that could be offset by having other changelings assume the form of Chrysalis to draw out the assassins and reveal their secrets... but at that point everything gets really complicated and you have to wonder, "Why am I writing this story with colorful ponies again?"
Because honestly, that type of story doesn't work at all with the setting. It's like crossing Care Bears with James Bond."
That, and Chrysalis would then be living in a constant state of panic and fear of death, knowing that hundreds, if not thousands of ponies are actively plotting to kill her and that if she does die, then her entire species goes out with her. She'd be a jibbering wreck.
"It makes perfect sense for changelings to be independent individuals. After all, in order to simply feed, they have to infiltrate a society of sentient beings, and each case of that infiltration is necessarily unique. A single hive mind simply wouldn't be able to handle so many simultaneous, highly complicated individual cases. Their very being necessitates being capalbe of independent judgement and action, and also quite a bit of 'people (pony?) skills'.
While changelings may very well have some sort of way of contacting each other and/or the Queen, it would only make them a species of individuals with some telepathic abilities. It'd also make for a greater coordination. In A Canterlot Wedding, they didn't display much of that coordination, which is evidence against both the hive mind theory and this telepathy.
The changelings in my so far only story sort of straddle the line. The rank and file changelings are isolated individuals, but Chrysalis can contact the Changeling Commander and thus give orders to her army while not being physically present. Based on their actions in A Canterlot Wedding, when the changeling army attacked at just the right time without any real way of seeing why the time was right, their actions could possibly be explained by this sort of 'uplink'."
I thank them both for their contribution to this and to make double sure, I in no way make any claim to the above arguments as my own.
I guess answers will be given HOPEFULLY in Season 4 where a lot of fanon may be either validated or blown to more pieces than Alderaan. I'm just hoping more for the individual side; my personal headcanon is somewhat like the comics, of them being a kingdom of individuals with their own families and friends, much similar to that of Equestria, helping focus on how they are similar to ponies than how they are different. I've even thought up a story for a possible episode I brought up on tvtropes, and now I shall begin to display it to you as the self-advertising, self-serving, worthless scumbag I am:
In order to try and establish a sense of Peaceful Coexistence (doubtfully the word used) between Equestria and the Changeling Kingdom, Chrysalis' daughter, the young Princess Pupa is sent over as an exchange student/take a tour of Equestria. The gang expect the daughter to be a fierce, black-hearted warrior-like princess, but when she arrives in her armored train (accompanied by armed guard) she is revealed to be a tiny, bespectacled and all around adorably sweet Changeling (add in asthma and the frequent use of inhaler) who could rival Sweetie Belle in terms of giving a viewer diabetes by her sheer cuteness.
Of course, we have the usual shenanigans with cultural clashes (bonus points if the Changelings' culture is given an explanation, something from the Far East like Japan and Korea would be really interesting), with a written message/threat by Chrysalis to the Mane Six that if a single hair on Pupa's pig tailed mane is hurt, she'll personally bite their heads off one by one. However, some of the Mane Six decide they want to see if they can pump any secret information about Changeling government and military secrets out of the filly (behind Celestia's back) by sending in the CMC to befriend her. They eventually get nothing and are surprised (despite Pupa's young age and already innocent appearance and demeanour) that she knows little to nothing of her mother's dealings and plans - she doesn't even know about the Canterlot Invasion, which can lead to a classic Fawlty Towers, "Don't mention the war/invasion!" set of jokes.
And with that, I have most likely lost tons of your respect. I ask myself, “was it worth it, Magic Man?” Probably not, but you can’t blame a young Brit for trying.
Then again... on the other hand, when you think about it, WOULD going deeper into their Kingdom in Season 4 be such a good idea? We fans come up with so many fanon ideas and great fanfictions based off them that completely different canon information, without intending to, straight-up Nukes those fanon theories and fanfictions. Take Rainbow Dash and her Dad in ‘Games Ponies Play’ for example: some of us cheered that we finally got to see one of her parents; others cringed or cried because some great orphan Rainbow Dash fanfics were now discredited, even if they still make great reads and have to an AU tag attached. Really, what makes the Changelings so great is that they can be whatever your story requires them to be due to their mysteriousness and ambiguity in the show. They can be portrayed as a bee hive, barbaric nomads like the Huns, a cultured civilisation, whatever the author desires. So if the cartoon does go into it, many of those different Changeling theories and fanfics may very well end up being damaged because of that. So maybe it wouldn’t be too bad to keep that mysteriousness for the Changelings going for a while longer, I dunno.
What I ask you reading this is what you think of the theory? Do you have other arguments against it or alternatively for it?
I just love learning there History, I mean I am sure with any Kingdom I am pretty Sure a Changeling could rebel and resist the queen if a changeling wanted that and be granted "Asylum" But really depends though. If I was a Changeling and I refused to follow the Queen, I asked Celestia to grant me protection but I will be officially tagged as a Traitor.
With a Strong will and rebelling agenist your own kind to be freed from the your past lifestyle to be living among ponies is a possibility, It can happen. A lof us Humans we betray or become traitors or of the sorts. You can't think it can't happen but it really can. If a Changeling refuses and hates feeding off love for a source of food and is tired of being ordered around then that changeling has evet right to rebel and betray his own kind.
Being Granted Asylum is your asking Celestia and the Royal Guards to protect you should any harm should come to you. Only if you request to be under that Protection.
I've never liked the nice Changeling idea, they work better as predatory race that regards ponies as a food/energy source.
It is entirely possible for every Changeling to have been birthed by Chrysalis but she feels no familial connection to them. This could be because Changelings don't have a concept of family (which would make sense since every individual would be related by default) or they simply lack such instincts. Caring for young long term is a relatively new thing evolutionary speaking.
I am of the opinion, based on the comics, that individual Changelings are well individuals as far as having independent thoughts goes but that doesn't negate the idea that they live in a hive structure since they can still function in such a structure with individuality.
My personal opinion is that Changeling work better as a predatory race. I've never liked the idea that Ponies and Changelings can get along if they just try. Changeling regard ponies as food/energy sources.
Oh and I'd also like to add that I don't believe Changeling infiltrate pony society but rather use they shape shifting abilities to lure a single pony away to feel on. Based on Chrysalis' poor performance as Cadance I'm guessing Changelings aren't or can't mimic pony behaviour very well.
I've never written any fanfic yet, but I did imagine them as loosely based on the Borg from the Star Trek universe. I haven't read the comics either, but from what I'd heard, it fleshed out Chrysalis and her minions very well. I just don't understand why people would stick only on the cartoon and the cartoon alone to rely on information.
Fanon is completely worthless in the long run of things.
Trust me when I say Hasbro has something else in mind.
For example, in my fanfic (is in spanish) I made the changelings very loyal to their queen and their goverment. I gave the a "insectoid type" society, but no the "common mind". Even so, one changeling have his doubts about their´s loyalty.
As I said, I share you point.
Hm, that could work too. Showing the Changelings as being more independent-minded and free-willed than you'd expect, but from there, they're kept under such a strict and confined life via Chrissy's tyranny. Who is perhaps even more ruthless than most other queens
As always, so many possibilities, and all work.