Bronies, Myths and Misconceptions
So Jimmy, what is a "brony"?
Well strange disembodied subtitle, I'm glad you asked. A "brony" is often an older male fan of the popular Saturday morning cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This term was coined not long after the explosion of pony on the internet shortly after the show's launch on October 10, 2010. The show become a phenomenon overnight, spreading far through cyberspace, spawning countless memes and fan-created material.
Let's take a deeper look at bronies, shall we?
A Real Brony
I'm a brony, and I can admit it openly. No, this doesn't mean that I spend every waking moment collecting dolls of my favorite ponies and writing floods of fan fiction. I simply enjoy the culture and ideas that has come from this fan base.
In fact, my girlfriend is the one who brought this show to my attention. That's right, girls can be bronies as well. One day she talked me into watching an episode of My Little Pony, and I reluctantly agreed. As the intro rolled up and they started in with the vocals -which are well done -I got a little shifty. I didn't think I could get into something so... Well, not me.
Almost immediately I found myself enjoying the clever dialogue and character development, not finding it hard to discern one pony's behavior from another. The show itself is done in a sort of flash styled animation that comes out very fluid and smooth. I can also proudly admit that I know most of the songs from the series, as they are ridiculously catchy and uplifting. Anything from Pinkie Pie is sure to leave a smile on my face.
On top of it all, when the characters face a dilemma in the show, they find a way to wrap in a very subtle moral lesson. I'm the kind of guy that enjoys a hidden moral message, especially when it's so cleverly disguised by such wit. The show itself teaches lessons that generations can learn worlds from.
These beliefs and morals reflect on the fan base, as when they're faced with someone trolling them, or outright being unkind, they simply love and tolerate. There is no violent retaliation or outburst, just a smile. The passiveness of true bronies is reminiscent of the things Gandhi believed in, though I think comparing a children's show to a religious and cultural leader is a bit over the top.
The Mane Six
Why do older fans find the show so interesting?
Throughout the show, there are numerous nods to other popular shows, often ones that would be known by teen or adult viewers. For example, there is a character in the show who's cutie mark (the mark on a pony's flank indicating their talent) is an hourglass, and they're referred to as Dr. Whooves, a play on the character Dr. Who from the same-named show centered around time travel. Another example is where in one episode, Twilight Sparkle loses her temper and her skin turns white while her mane and tail morph into fire, giving her the appearance of an older Poke'mon: Rapidash.
With all this in mind, some fans see a little bit of us in each pony. Such as the shyness in Fluttershy, or the brash confidence of Rainbow Dash. Fans and viewers can relate to these characters as we can with some of our favorite video game characters.
Lauren Faust, creator of the series has even made subtle mentions to the brony community, as has the Hub channel on which My Little Pony airs. Actually, a popular song by Katy Perry, California Girls, was parodied by the Hub channel as "Equestria Girls", Equestria being the world in which the My Little Pony series takes place. In this song, the fan base was directly referenced to as bronies.
Equestria Girls, aired on the Hub channel
A background character popularized by fans was even the star of controversy. This pegasus, fan named Derpy sported a gray body, blonde mane, and a pair of crossed eyes. She was quickly adopted by the brony fan base and after Lauren Faust saw the popularity Derpy received, she became a sort of Where's Waldo? to fans, appearing in many episodes and even in the opening sequence occasionally.
In a later episode in Season 2, Derpy is finally given a voice, and is even mentioned by name by one of the main characters. This scene was altered later by iTunes and the Hub in response to mail claiming Derpy's portrayal was offensive to the disabled. Netflix now also uses the altered scene. This change caused an uproar in the brony community, claiming that there was clearly no offense, and even a few disabled bronies stepped up with claims that the portrayal of Derpy made them feel better about their condition, as she was still accepted by the characters despite her behavior.
Why do I hear bad things about bronies?
As with anything, it can be taken too far. No matter how popular or liked something is, there will always be one or many who disagree. Too often, these individuals dislike something so much, that they attempt to ruin the name of it. True bronies are simply fans of the show who embrace the ideas that My Little Pony supports and projects.
Then there are those who take the idea too far, creating sexually explicit fan fictions or even images that effectively destroy the innocence of the show and its characters. When most people hear the word "brony", they often think of a middle-aged man with disturbing images or an overzealous obsession with the show. This simply isn't true, a brony could be a man or woman of any age who simply enjoys watching the show.
That would be me.
Tomorrow I'm going to take a look at another classic video game for the Nintendo 64 that was a multiplayer classic. No, not 007 Golden Eye. Until then, keep calm and game on.