If you remember My Little Ponies looking like this, you probably find it strange that adults watch MLP: Friendship is Magic without a trace of irony. Here's everything you wanted to know about bronies…but were afraid to ask.
Since I live in Maryland, I heard about the BronyCon that was happening at the Baltimore Convention Center early this month. And in searching for images of real-life ponies to use in weekend Horsenation articles, I've come across some My Little Pony perversions I just can't unsee. But before totally dismissing the brony phenomenon, I decided to do some investigating.
Bronies are adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The name originally comes from “bro” and “pony” smushed together, but now, the term can describe a male or female fan. Some sources say that the first bronies started watching just to be ironic–but the fandom has expanded to much more than that. There are over 11,000 My Little Pony fanfics on fanfiction.net, and some fans have created sites like Equestria Daily and MLP Online to share memes, art and writing. But the question remains: why do adults watch a show created to sell pony toys to little girls in the first place?
I fired up my Netflix account to find out.
The large-eyed, tiny-snouted My Little Ponies now bear little resemblance to actual ponies, but like the My Little Ponies of my childhood, they still have fun adventures, though there's less glitter and sparkles than I remember from back in the day. The show reminded me a lot of the Powerpuff Girls–and that's not surprising, since animator and director Lauren Faust worked on both shows, in addition to Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
Being the hard-hearted grump I am, I didn't expect to really enjoy the show. And I didn't. But I was charmed by the bookish main character Twilight Sparkle's attitude: “I just need to be alone so I can study without a bunch of crazy ponies trying to make FRIENDS all the time!”
I can see the appeal. It's cute, funny, and since the creators have caught on to their secondary audience, there are hundreds of subtle references to movies, books and even drinks (“Apple Teeny” is the nickname of one of the ponies, and the producers released a hilarious Dos Equis-style commercial) that only adults will really get. But I'd rather watch The Saddle Club and dream about how awesome it would have been to get up to all sorts of non-supervised, ill-thought-out hijinks at the barn as a kid.
There are some who take their fanfiction and fanart into an adult realm I never, ever, ever wanted to think about with ponies, but that comes part and parcel with fanfiction. But most bronies simply revel in the Hello Kitty-like cuteness and silliness of it all, and they have fun enjoying the show with other fans. Ain't nothing wrong with getting your brony on.
What do you think?