The term ‘Brony’ has been coined to denote men between 18 and 30 who enjoy and partake in the fandom of Lauren Faust’s reboot of My Little Pony, titled My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. From the fact that this vernacular exists in the first place we can infer not only that Bronies exist, but are commonplace to the extent that coining a word to describe them was apparently entirely necessary. Bronies are so numerous, in fact, that ‘Bronycon’ has been formed; an entire convention dedicated to said fandom. And as the cult (using the term loosely, and in parody) continues to grow, people who DON’T indulge in the animated series about talking, improbably-colored horses have demanded time and time again one thing; an explanation. …And to be fair, it’s easy to understand why. The fascinating thing about the phenomenon, and the reason why non-Bronies are perplexed, is that never before has something in the entertainment world been so passionately embraced by the demographic it was never intended for. And therein lies the enigma.
If you’re an adult who likes Pixar movies, you’re normal enough. Sure, they’re colorful and silly, but really, they’re not intended for children. They’re intended for everyone. Whom would bat an eye at an 18-year-old who likes Spongebob Squarepants, or a 35-year-old who’s heart belongs to The Muppets? These are simply those whom enjoy camp. Sweet, safe, innocent camp. The same can’t truthfully be said about MLP:FIM, a show that genuinely does cater to little girls exclusively. Any Brony who would tell you otherwise is deluding himself. And so, an explanation is demanded. I’ve had people ask me “Can you explain the Brony thing to me? I’ve seen the show. I don’t get it”. Unfortunately, here comes the cold, hard truth: This question can be answered. Explanations exist. A sufficient explanation, however, does not. I’ve heard what Bronies say. “The characters are really cool.” “The stories are really well thought-out.” “The voice acting is brilliantly done.” “It’s not pandering, it’s actually a very smart show”. I can’t understand how they can make such claims without seeing the irony in the situation. Maybe some of them do, I don’t know. Of course, the DOUBLE irony is that I agree with it all. But that’s a moot point. The real point is this; to the people who don’t understand the show’s appeal, these answers don’t suffice. No answer will. Not because it’s My Little Pony, but because anyone would say things like “It’s well-written” about any show they like. I’ve heard people say the same thing about F*R*I*E*N*D*S, and HOOOOO BOY do I hate F*R*I*E*N*D*S. Can we talk about how shitty F*R*I*E*N*D*S is for a minute? If you like F*R*I*E*N*D*S, you’re a moron. (I’m being facetious of course).
We have to look further to understand what’s really going on here. As a friend of mine suggested, perhaps by coincidence the combination of colors used in the show triggers something in the adult male brain. Perhaps the show contains subliminal hypnotic messages. Maybe it’s something Freudian, having to do with all of us subconsciously longing to be an 8-year-old girl. Surely, these theories make more sense than “It’s well-written”. I like to think it has something to do with the show’s ability to reach a certain level of cute without crossing that line over into schmaltzy or sugary. Who among us hasn’t watched a sleeping cat video on Youtube or something equally as insipid? And as insipid as it is, it probably has 25 million views. I assume the same basic principle applies here. It’s this adorableness, partnered with the show’s unique sense of sentimentality, that has caused people to create an emotional attachment to the characters. I also like to believe that MLP:FIM is a children’s cartoon that, unlike Pixar films, doesn’t cater to adults as well as children, but rather, caters to the children INSIDE adults. The phrase “inner child” is a dumb old cartoony cliche and I don’t fully understand what the actual psychological reality of it is, but I sure as hell know I have one. I hope other people have them too. I pray to God that they do. But once again, I realize these answers are insufficient, so offering them at all is an act of futility. I’ll say this, though; respect Bronies. Simply because they’re people, and you shouldn’t need any more reason to. If you think you’re better than them, you’re living in an ignorant delusion fueled by your own sense of insecurity. Bronies have committed no sin, and in fact, I can’t think of anything more innocent than enjoying a children’s cartoon show. If anything, these are men of passion, and that’s something, according to our system of values, to be admired. Frankly, I even find people demanding Bronies for an explanation to be mildly insulting. On one hand, I can comprehend genuinely being curious about something you don’t understand, but you’re also kind of implying something is wrong with them. And don’t make the mistake of telling yourself everyone who likes the cartoon only likes it because they have a sexual affinity for the characters. That’s simply not the case. Every day people ask me if I am a Brony, and why I’ve chosen to write and animate parodies about the series. I guess they can’t extrapolate whether my parodies come from fandom, malice, or perhaps just because I saw comedy in something I’m apathetic about. For some reason I feel reluctant to say the phrase “I am a Brony”, even though I’ve said it before. Perhaps it’s because I don’t care for labels. I’m a bigger Simpsons nut than anything else, and yet I’ve never felt the need to call myself a Simpsy.
But I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I really, really do. I’ve seen every episode. If, by definition, that makes me a Brony, I suppose I can’t argue. Maybe I’m a casual-Brony, I don’t fucking know. For whatever reason I even like saying the word ‘ponies’. Ponies. Ponies. Ponies.
I have a friend who despised the show and the entire fandom. I jokingly told her “Be nice to Bronies, because one day, you’re going to be one”, making light of the show’s infamous ability to suck people in. She swore to me she would never, EVER in a million years like it, and that she hated everything about it and the people who partake in it. Sure enough, now she watches and enjoys it just as much as I do. She has an OC named Cookie Crumbs.
This doesn’t really have anything to do with why people like MLP:FIM, I just think it’s funny.
The only conclusion that can be reached is that what attracts these men to this series can not be described, because it is, in essence, an indescribable factor. You’d have as much luck explaining to a blind man the difference between red and blue. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. You either get it, or you don’t. ~Max G.