Bronies: A Phenomenon
From Your Magazine Vol. 1 Issue 9: May 2012 Bronies are people that need little introduction.
They’re fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and who are outside the target demographic of the show: little girls and their parents. This show has become a sensation on the Internet, to the point where people have started using their favorite ponies as avatars and profile pictures. Contrary to what people may initially think, many of these people don’t view the show as a guilty pleasure. Bronies will proudly admit to what they are by wearing t-shirts with their favorite characters on them, and, as one brony did, make a (semi) serious physics presentation on some of the shows scenes.
But why did this become such a phenomenon? Well, when children’s shows become popular, it’s usually because of double entendres found in the show or pop culture references that only adults would get. Examples of shows like this include Rocko’s Modern Life, which has the eponymous protagonist go into a sleazy motel, and kept up by sounds of beds violently moving. However (and thankfully), there are little, if any, double meanings found in My Little Pony. There are some references thrown in here and there, but being a brony myself, I can assure people that the occasional nod to pop culture isn’t the reason we love it so
However (and thankfully), there are little, if any, double meanings found in My Little Pony. There are some references thrown in here and there, but being a brony myself, I can assure people that the occasional nod to pop culture isn’t the reason we love it so much, though it is part of it. We love it because it blew our minds.
The creator of the show, Lauren Faust, once stated in an interview that she created the My Little Pony so that there would be a quality show for girls. Why? Most cartoons that are geared towards boys or just kids in general have a male protagonist and a predominantly male cast. Cartoons are like this because nearly every acclaimed work of fiction has a male protagonist. People usually haven’t gone against the flow because, what boy will want to see a show about girls doing dumb girly things? It wasn’t a risk many executives took.
If a cartoon, particularly in today’s day and age where children’s entertainment is so segregated, features a girl protagonist, people just think it wouldn’t sell because no boy would be caught dead watching a girls show. Not to mention that existing “girly” shows are everything people think they would be: boring, stupid, and filled with characters as thin as paper. Female cartoon characters don’t fair much better: they’re usually just someone that gets kidnapped so the rest of the cast can save her, and become a love interest for the hero. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic changed that.
Every character on the show has a unique, layered personality which develops throughout the season. Strengths and weaknesses can all be relatable. And, while there are pop culture references, the real humor comes from these characters, who are so vastly different from one another that the writers create organic humor from their clashing personalities and the situations that arise.
While there are cartoons like this for sure, there hasn’t been one with an all female cast. It’s a refreshing change from what people are used to, and it proved something to bronies: that good entertainment can be found in unlikely places, if you’ll be open-minded enough to give it a chance.
And open-mindedness is one of the key values of bronies everywhere. We, of all people, don’t judge people on what they like, or who they like. More importantly, we don’t hate the people that call us “pussies” or “perverts.” We respect other people’s opinions toward the show and us, even if they’re uninformed. Sure, some of us may encourage individuals outside “the herd” to watch the show for a few episodes, but at the end of the day, we’ll accept that some people just may not like the show. Who are we to judge?
I love being a brony because, unlike fans of other shows or comics or sports or anything, there is more to the fandom than just enjoying the show. We take the show’s message of friendship and kindness towards others to heart, and we apply that to our everyday lives to become better, more understanding people.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has such loyal fans because we learned something from it. That’s right, we learned something from a TV show! How often does anyone say that anymore?
If you’re ever curious about checking out what the fuss is about, all the episodes are on YouTube. You can also buy the episodes on iTunes. If you end up liking it, welcome to the herd.
Photo credit to Hina Ichigo from Flickr Creative Commons