My Little Brony

Watch my motovlog about this subject here: My Little Brony

Today’s topic on Light and Steel is…

You’re kidding me, right?

My Little Pony is a franchise started in 1983 by Hasbro. I think the reason for the show was it was a way to promote their toy line. There have been many reiterations (generations they are called) throughout the years. The current show, generation 4, named My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, premiered on Hasbro’s network, the Hub on October 10th, 2010. Intended for an audience of young preschool girls and their babysitting mothers (who would be hit with their own feelings of nostalgia from growing up watching My Little Pony when they were young), the show has garnered some…unexpected attention. They’re called “Bronies” – teenaged to 40+ year old males and females who fell in love with the show. The term “brony” is a portmanteau of the words bro and pony. The fanbase, which is still growing steadily as more and more people discover the show, has in turn garnered attention to itself from different articles written about the fandom to major news outlets (Faux News), to eventually the creators of the show learning about and even getting involved with their fanbase. Last January, for instance, they had they’re first “broNYCon” in New York City.

The history of the show is more or less common knowledge if you’ve lived in the United States for a significant length of time. Every 80’s child knows about My Little Pony. What isn’t so clear is why an older demographic would be attracted to a show intended for a much younger audience. Why would teenagers, and adult men and women be watching the show? I wanted to find out, so to investigate I went to my first brony meetup at Fiesta Village at the end of February to dig around the subculture a bit. I decided to get their opinions and to follow their stories on how they got involved with the show. The animation was one of the underlying themes of the people that I interviewed. Many bronies are big animation fans. The show was spearheaded originally by Lauren Faust, who also worked on other animated shows, such as the Power Puff Girls, and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. That might explain what makes people want to watch the show, but there are other factors, as well. There’s also the music, the comedy and slapstick humor, the jokes, the subtle and not-so-subtle references to outside sources (i.e., classic movies, TV shows, pop-culture, internet memes, music, etc.)…all of which can make one forget they’re watching a show that was intended, at least originally, for young girls.

When I got to Fiesta Village, I didn’t know what to expect. “Shadow”, the organizer of the Inland Empire Bronies, said that he wanted to meet other bronies and that’s how this group came about. The group held up signs and banners to make sure people knew where the group was meeting, shared and gave away fanart, played a few rounds of lazer tag (show footage) between the two teams of the Solar Empire and the New Lunar Republic (whilst pony music blared in the background, I might add), ate some muffins and cupcakes (delicious and Dashie-free), and then went across the street to have a bite at Carl’s. All-in-all, I found that bronies were normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill people. They just have a fascination with a show designed for a younger target audience. And that’s alright. I like what someone who was there was fond of saying, “Men haven’t had their ‘liberation’ or ‘revolution’ like women have had in this country. We’re okay with women liking things like Batman and football. But, oh, if a male likes something like My Little Pony…well then – he must be gay.” And how does Mrs. Faust feel about all of this? In an interview with Wired Magazine, she stated,

This might be a little short-sighted on my part, but I just assumed that any adult man who didn’t have a little girl wouldn’t even give it a try[…]The fact that they did and that they were open-minded and cool enough and secure in their masculinity enough to embrace it and love it and go online and talk about how much they love it — I’m kind of proud” (Watercutter, 2011).

Okay, so here’s how I got into it. I was bored one day and decided that I wanted to look up Weird Al anime mash-ups. There was a vid from YouTube user FluttershyElsa where he mixed in one of Weird Al’s polkas with clips from MLP. Weird Al even tweeted, “This is the MLP mash-up we’ve all been waiting for.” I thought MLP? What’s that? I soon saw pastel-colored cartoon ponies dancing, lip-syncing, and spinning round to Weird Al’s Polkarama. I thought it was weird and wondered why this girl (or at least I thought it was a girl) would make vids about My Little Pony. So, being curious, I went on YouTube and watched the first episode, which was a two-parter. I thought it was okay, so I watched the second episode…and then the third…and then continued watching. It wasn’t until about the middle of the first season that I realized something…I might be a brony. So, why do I watch it? What gets me to see it? Oddly enough, I couldn’t give you a complete answer.  All I can tell you is you need to watch it for yourself. Will you like it? I don’t know. People are different. There are some men that do and some men that don’t like the show. And there are women that do like the show and women that don’t like the show. But you won’t know unless you care to watch it.

Some bronies aren’t content with just watching the show, however. They also make original artwork, make their own “OC” (original character) ponies, make music remixes, compose their own original music, put mashups and ponified movie trailers on YouTube, write massive amounts of fanfiction, make their own flash animation…even going so far as to make video games based on the show. Developer Mane 6 is making a fighting game called “Fighting is Magic” which pits characters from the show against each other in various scenes around Equestria (complete with original orchestrated and acoustic background music). Another developer is making a Mario-Kart-based game aptly named – you guessed it: Pony Kart. Then, there are MLP-related blogs and newsfeeds, the best-known of which is Equestria Daily. Founded by someone calling himself “Sethisto”, the website has received over 130 million hits (at the time of this entry) since it got up and running in January of 2011. This is not by any means an all-inclusive list, but it shows the amount of dedication that the fans have for the show. And then there are the meetups, which are beginning to take place all over the world. The Wired article had this to say,

In addition to watching the show, these teenage, twenty- and thirtysomething guys are creating pony art, posting fan videos on YouTube and feeding threads on 4chan (and their own chan, Ponychan).

They also risk life, limb and being trolled to death on the /co/ board to fawn over a small gaggle of ponies with names like Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash” (Watercutter, 2011).

So, to wrap-up, I think I’ve hit on a lot of the aspects of the fandom in the amount of time that I have. Some “people” will accuse bronies of being “baby men” who stay at home, collect unemployment checks, and poop in a diaper (courtesy: Faux News). Some people seem to enjoy “trolling” or “hating” on Bronies, to which they respond with the motto, “I’m going to love and tolerate.” While some don’t approve of men (that’s right, I said MEN) watching a show that’s “for girls”, Bronies just seem to take it in stride, not letting the negative views of others get to them. As for me, I say whatever floats your boat. They’re not doing anyone any harm, and the fandom actually has raised a lot of money for charity-work (an excellent example is  http://humblebronybundle.blogspot.com/, which has raised over $20,000, but I’ll let that speak for itself). I liked my first brony meet. Now, I’m actually looking forward to the next one. For Light and Steel, this is Joe.

*brohoof*

References and Acknowledgements

 Watercutter, Angela, My Little Pony Corrals Unlikely Fanboys Known as ‘Bronies’, June 09, 2011, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2011/06/bronies-my-little-ponys/

My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic (c) 2012 by Hasbro and all related entities

All other rights reserved by their respective owners

Special thanks to Inland Empire Bronies for their cooperation. Like them on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/ShadowNightbolt.

One Response to “My Little Brony”

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