Bronies: An elementary primer

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Posted June 18, 2014 by Sam Liggett in Nerdy Bits

I love Bronies, I really do. I married one, am friends with several, and I guess I could be considered a Pegasister (more on that in a minute). That said, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding and negative feeling directed to adults who enjoy this particular children’s show, so I’m throwing back the curtain to show that there’s not much to fear over here in Bronyville.

ponyville

Before I discuss anything else, I guess I’d better explain the show. “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” aired for the first time on The Hub in October of 2010. Its creator, Lauren Faust, wanted to do something different from the earlier iterations of My Little Pony which were very girly and fairly bland. What she created is bright, fun, has meaningful story lines, and *gasp* character progression. Faust is no newcomer to children’s television, having worked on “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”, so she knows how to create content for kids that adults will like too. Since 2010, four seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have aired and a fifth is in production.

A fan's rendition of the soft-spoken Fluttershy with the animals she cares for.

A fan’s rendition of the soft-spoken Fluttershy with the animals she cares for.

The general plot of the show is typical of most children’s TV. Each episode features some combination of the six main characters facing some challenge, often of their own making, and learn some sort of lesson by the end. What makes this show so different is the way in which the main characters interact with one another and with the townsfolk. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity each represent something called and Element of Harmony, which is what helps keep their homeland, Equestria, safe and in balance. This (along with all of the pop culture references, well written dialogue, and the art style) is what resonates with Bronies. It’s a show unlike any other, it shows people the importance of how we interact with one another and does it in a cute, non-threatening way.

Cute, non-threatening Pinky Pie, as imagined by a fan.

Cute, non-threatening Pinky Pie, as imagined by a fan.

So, basically, Bronies are adults who like a kids’ show. That’s it. We’re not all fedora-wearing, neck-bearded mouth breathers. It’s not a group of gay men squealing “Ooooh!! Poniesss!”. We look and act like normal people because, in the main, we are. Some people like to differentiate men and women fans, thus the creation of the word Pegasister (describing an adult female who likes MLP) but women can be Bronies too. Now, fans of anything will go out and create an expansion of their favorite universe, and Bronies have done this. There’s tons of fan fiction, fan art, music, cosplaying, video series, daily news sites, and lots of other creative-type works out there celebrating the show.

An exemplary cosplay featuring the six main characters.

An exemplary cosplay featuring the six main characters.

And this is where the misconceptions begin. People seem to think that Bronies are weird, and we can be. I’ll admit to that. There is a deep, dark, scary pit of Brony-ism that I, as a woman, can’t enter without being threatened and harassed (It’s a growing population, unfortunately). Those guys have co-opted MLP as theirs, and anyone who isn’t white, male and straight is unwelcome. They think they’re the highest law, but really they are just man-children who never learned the lessons that the show tries to teach. There are also people out there within our fandom that are WAY too interested in the intimate details of equine relations. Those people freak me out, BUT they aren’t creating these images and stories for the purpose of giving them to kids, so I can accept that they exist.

For the largest part, people identify as Bronies because they like a show that promotes kindness and tolerance, and want to share that with other people. Bronies are defiant, because they’re constantly called on to defend their fandom, but wouldn’t Whovians be upset for constantly having to defend their love for a BBC show? The short story here is that we’re generally good people, with some fringe maniacs, just like any group. We’ve created a subculture where we can come together at conventions and create a family-friendly environment to celebrate a good TV show. We’ve used the Internet to band together to do charitable work, and if you don’t like the show, that’s okay too.


About the Author

Sam Liggett

Sam enjoys books and coffee (preferably in tandem) as well as card and board games. She lives in an attic and watches Pokemon (nearly) every day with her husband and their tiny human.