On October 10th 2010, the first episode of the 4th incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise aired. This began the cartoon known as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Normally this would have gone unnoticed by most people except for young girls. However the show caught the attention of others on 4chan. These people, many of them adult males found that after watching it, they actually enjoyed the show. This in turn started a subculture known as bronies who are basically men, usually young adults who enjoy My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Now those of you who are not fans of the show may be wondering "How can a grown man like My Little Pony?". That's what I thought when I first heard about Friendship is Magic and it's male fan base. At first I mocked the show and it's subculture since the thought of grown men liking My Little Pony just sounded stupid. It didn't help that I'd mostly lost faith in modern cartoons and preferred stuff like Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry. But eventually I had a change of heart and decided to watch the show. After all I had nothing to lose and I could at least say I'd seen the show and could provide a valid reason for not liking it. However I was amazed by the fact that it was genuinely entertaining unlike most cartoons today and ended up "joining the herd" as we say in the community. However over the past few months I have noticed a large amount of hatred directed towards the Brony community. I have seen people call us paedophiles or ponyfags or sexually confused man children (among other things) and I feel that this has gone on for long enough. So in this article I shall attempt to dispel a few myths about the Brony community as well as the show in general.
The first myth I would like to dispel is that since the show is seen as a kids show and many Bronies are adults, they should not be watching it. But lets take a step back for a second. J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit was originally written for Tolkien's own children. And that lead to Lord of the Rings which is now the biggest selling fiction book of all time. Likewise in the 1990s Animaniacs had a sizable adult following and still does today. And in 2009, the Pixar film Up was nominated for the best picture oscar. So the point that Adults cannot like anything intended for children is an utter lie.
Another point I would like to raise and this is a major point is the fact that we are attacked for liking a show which is supposedly aimed for little girls and since we're men we supposedly can't like anything feminine. Now most people would think this if you only heard the title and were only familiar with past versions of My Little Pony. But this is nothing like past versions of the show. For one thing, once you get over the shows initial premise of cartoon ponies it isn't actually that girly. The plots aren't simply about clothes or tea parties or any of the other stereotypical girly plotlines that people associate with My Little Pony. Nor does the show feel like it exists simply to sell toys. In fact the stories in the show are extremely well written and are genuinely funny unlike other cartoons today such as Family Guy which draws all its humour from insulting people with opinions other then the shows creators or toilet humour or "Worse then that time when-" jokes. And that, I may add is generally seen as a masculine show.
On the subject of masculinity, I have often wondered why is it when girls like something masculine such as video games or masculine cartoons it's acceptable and yet when men like something intended for girls they're suddenly gay/paedophiles/sexually insecure. Sounds like a double standard doesn't it?.
Additionally, Lauren Faust, the woman behind the show has said she didn't create the show for just young girls. She created the show for young girls and their parents, including male parents. Still not convinced? Well throughout the show, I have seen references to Apocalypse Now, The Big Lebowski, Gone with the Wind and the Benny Hill show, all of which I don't think the majority of young girls would get. Heck, in one episode, they had a character based on Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation right down to having him voiced by John Lancie. Now if that doesn't sound like something aimed for adults, then I don't know what.
However some have claimed that Bronies are annoying and do nothing but troll people for not watching the show. Case in point: When Obscurus Lupa of TGWTG.com featured My Little Pony: Princess Promenade on her show, she received a lot of hate mail from Bronies who claimed that she was saying the original series was better and so forth. As a result, she has now said she will never watch the show. Now on behalf of Bronies the world over I wish to say that I am so sorry about all of that and I can perfectly understand why she would say this. Additionally many have criticized the community for making sexually explicit artwork involving the show. Again I can understand perfectly why people would find this disturbing.
But let me say something else.
The Majority of Bronies are nothing like that. Most Bronies are very loving and tolerate of others whether they like the show or not. Likewise, the majority of us including me disapprove of creating sexually explicit artwork. And if you think about it, most fan bases and factions have one or two minority fans which give the rest a bad name. But you should never tar all people with the same brush just because of what TV Tropes calls a "Vocal minority". After all isn't that being just as intolerant as those that you claim are intolerant?.
So why does it happen in the first place. Well as I mentioned earlier, the show first became prominent on 4chan which unfortunately is the trolling capital of the internet. So many bronies would also be former trolls unfortunately. However as I've mentioned not all bronies are trolls. I for one, don't use 4chan just like many bronies. However I have also heard another reason from tumblr. The show, as I've mentioned is a fantastic show and also happens to be very cheerful particularly as it talks about friendship . As a result the show gives off a very positive feeling when watched, so it's possible most bronies just want to share the love, so to speak. I know that sounds sappy, but think about it. While I can understand that that could be annoying, it could also be seen as trying to do something positive for the internet. As for the sexually explicit artwork, remember rule 34 of the internet. "If it exists, there's porn of it. No exceptions"
Unfortunately for bronies, one of the first places to break the news to the mainstream world was Fox News. In the show, they claimed that bronies skip work to watch MLP, spend all day on chatrooms talking about MLP and that they are filing for disability to satisfy their obsessions with the show. Now those are all damn lies. After all I am a brony and I have many other hobbies as do many bronies. The majority of us don't just live for Friendship is magic and have great social lives as well. But what really made my day was one Youtube commentator named firewallednonspeaker who in response to this replied with "Dave Glover, there are several members of the marines who are confirmed bronies. Are you calling a bunch of marines, baby men?"
But I digress. Another thing I have to laugh at is when people call the show and the Brony culture a fad or an inside joke. They were saying that when the community first started and they're still saying this years later. But what people don't understand is that the fan base is not an attempt at trolling the world. Nor is it just ironic hipsters or weirdo's trying to be children. It's normal guys who like a fantastic show. But what sets this fandom apart from other major fanbases is the unity of the fan base which is probably due to the main theme of the show which is love and tolerance. As result, unlike other fandoms, Twilight being a prime example, the brony community isn't broken completely or constantly tearing itself apart. Admittedly there are one or two disagreements but apart from that, everyone in the community gets along just fine. And if you ask me, that is why the Brony subculture will last for a very long time, even after the show has ended. I have even heard claims of suicides being prevented, depressions ended, vices undone, friendships and even marriages made, simply because this one show has brought so many people together in a non hostile environment.
Of course it would be too easy to have a go at the bronies and call them unmanly and say they aren't macho. But allow me to share with you a quote that a fellow brony once told me. "Manliness is not doing something simply because it's seen as macho. Manliness is doing what you think is right." Because you are a person, not a stereotype. In fact, let's imagine a hypothetical situation. Two guys walk into a shop. One buys a DVD of Friendship is magic. The other makes fun of him for buying something that he doesn't consider manly. But who's the real man here?. The one who's doing what he enjoys and isn't ashamed to admit it. Or the one who's making fun of somebody else for not conforming to a stereotype.
So in closing, remember the next time that you slag off Bronies, don't forget that regardless of what you think of them, they're still human beings and they have lives and families. Finally I'd like to leave you with another quote from Lauren Faust "In general, I am still inspired by Bronies. As a group they have not succumbed to society's pressure that young men must hold contempt for anything feminine no matter what. They've been able to see beyond the preconceived notions that they were most likely raised with to judge something for it's merit. And on top of that, they're brave enough to embrace it openly, despite the ridicule that they are undoubtedly subject to.
Every single fandom has an unsavoury faction within it. There are creepy sci fi fans, scary sports fans and people who think its fun to defile anything that is important to somebody else. As far as I can tell, in the brony community these people are in the minority".
And you know, I couldn't agree with her more.