a "professional interloper" among bronies
September 2, 2014 6:46 PM   Subscribe

I Was the Weirdest Person at BronyCon 2014
Outside of BronyCon where the roles are reversed—where they're odd for liking My Little Pony and I'm normal for ignoring it—the bronies are in a constant struggle to receive the respect that they're so happy to give out. For all their kindness, they're rewarded with ridicule and abuse. [...]

In one of the moments when I'm quietly berating myself, I recall another theme from the bullying panel earlier that day—the comforting mantra that bullies only come after you because they're threatened by or jealous of you. It's an idea I questioned at the time (I think bullies act to exert power over people — which is why so many of them go on to become cops), but as I now stand surrounded by excitable bronies and insolent as ever, I start to wonder if there might be a kernel of truth to the idea and that maybe I am slightly jealous. I wasn't always so different from them...

Over the years, though, the ability to adore something that much and that fearlessly has become lost to me. Maybe it's just a sacrifice of maturing, but I can't help but feel desperately sad about it as I watch the bronies—the ones who somehow managed to hang on to that unadulterated excitement as they've gotten older—demonstrate their enthusiasm. It's then I realize that even if I wanted to join in, I probably wouldn't be able to—not because they wouldn't welcome me (I'm sure they would), but because the ability to feel a similar level of frantic earnestness is either no longer within me or is blocked behind several layers of embarrassment.

Funny enough, it's that very embarrassment that protects me (and wounds them) outside of the con. My shame keeps me acting normal even when I don't feel normal. And maybe that's not a good thing.

...I do admire the brave and risky way that they like what they like, despite the rather rigid cultural expectations that dictate that men and boys either aren't supposed to/are not allowed to appreciate things made for a female audience. BronyCon is an oasis where those expectations seemingly evaporate.
(*the comments add some additional thoughts on the different angles to the piece)

previously on MeFi: What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and BronyCon?
(*the original link is broken, but the full piece can be found here -
Deep inside the perfectly normal world of grown men who love My Little Pony)

also previously: an observer's guide to pony fanwork - winter wrap-up at BroNYcon - it's full of ponies - my little brony
posted by flex (57 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Comes off as a bit of an asshole:

I'm stuck in yet another line, I even fantasize about shoving the two teens next to me—the ones who are singing Smash Mouth's "All Star" on repeat—into a row of lockers.


Like somebody who thinks she's cool (even though she watches something called 'Real Housewives') not-so-subtly sneering at people she considers 'nerds'. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

Also, my son and I (his dad) love MLP:FIM, so suck it.
posted by signal at 7:17 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


To me, the author sounds like she wants it both ways. She's writing an article that's 75% pointing and laughing and 25% learning something...about herself. I just don't see what the point is of the whole piece, except to get clicks because it's a polarizing subject.

I can't imagine too many other conventions where a reporter would be allowed to say that s/he wished that s/he could physically assault the patrons. But ha-ha, guys liking girls' cartoons, right?
posted by xingcat at 7:22 PM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


Actually, this might have been the weirdest (and best) person at Bronycon.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought the article was kind of sweet, myself.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:40 PM on September 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm stuck in yet another line, I even fantasize about shoving the two teens next to me—the ones who are singing Smash Mouth's "All Star" on repeat—into a row of lockers.

Some songs can provoke rage fantasies in the best of people. All Star is probably in my personal top ten next to "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)". My reaction probably doesn't rise to the level of misophonia but if someone starts singing one of those, I will nope right out of there if I possibly can.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:40 PM on September 2, 2014 [9 favorites]


No, my friend chash who was temporarily the Regional Pony Queen was the coolest person at bronycon, sorry.
posted by elizardbits at 7:42 PM on September 2, 2014


It almost feels like a plot point of the show we've all gathered to celebrate: Madeleine, a cranky pony on assignment, gets sent to BronyCon to make friends, judges everyone, realizes her mistake and is finally given the companionship she's craved all along.
Thing is, that's exactly right.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:47 PM on September 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I didn't get 'point and laugh' vibe from this piece at all. It's objectifying, sure, but not with the intention to mock I don't think. The author 'doesn't get it', but she also admits that she is jealous and admires bronies for their kindness and enthusiasm and acceptance of the "weird" in themselves and others, in contrast to her own struggle with shame and internalized social norms.

I also have violent fantasies about the idea of anyone singing "All Star" in my presence.
posted by wrabbit at 7:57 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, that was a kind of self-absorbed article about the author. Where is the article about Bronycon?
posted by The Gooch at 8:03 PM on September 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


She really does seem to be getting in her own way on the whole experience. She starts out by noting that bronies are naturally going to be skeptical of the press because people before her have been all too willing to point and laugh at them, and then she turns around and acts like the normal accoutrements of the fandom are completely incomprehensible. I mean, come on: I've watched the show exactly once and knew it wasn't for me, but it's not hard to understand what the "hoof bump" is. No need to go all tight-mom-grin on the guy who politely explains it when she asks.
posted by psoas at 8:08 PM on September 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


It almost feels like a plot point of the show we've all gathered to celebrate: Madeleine, a cranky pony on assignment, gets sent to BronyCon to make friends, judges everyone, realizes her mistake and is finally given the companionship she's craved all along.

Thing is, that's exactly right.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker


Not only is that exactly right, it's Twilight Sparkle's lesson in the first episode of the series.
posted by Groundhog Week at 8:10 PM on September 2, 2014 [19 favorites]


Not a bad article, although clearly she needed to do a bit lot more preparation. But, well I'm not a bro and I get a lot of stuff; I like ballet, I've performed ballet, there's stuff I get that I really wish I remained ignorant that I 'get' but I just completely, totally, do not get the bronies.
posted by sammyo at 8:18 PM on September 2, 2014


I thought the article was kind of sweet, myself.

Co-signed.

I thought this article was great. I finished it in a haze of warm fuzzies and delighted laughter, enjoying the way she managed to get across a positive overview of brony culture, while still standing on the bedrock of it not being her thing... which she used, judo-like, to make her depiction of said culture all the more flattering.

I came back to this thread expecting something along the lines of a group hug, with both bronies and non-bronies being able to appreciate the thing, and am stunned to see most of y'all taking it as some sort of hatchet job. Did we even read the same piece?
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:39 PM on September 2, 2014


Compared to my Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle friends, they seem pretty normal, and well-adjusted...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 8:46 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Like somebody who thinks she's cool (even though she watches something called 'Real Housewives') not-so-subtly sneering at people she considers 'nerds'. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

I didn't get the "point and laugh" or "sneering" vibe at all from this. What I saw was her envy that people are still unabashedly enthusiastic about something, while she's trapped behind an unfortunate cocoon of embarrassment that she recognizes she can't break out of.

As for the "Real Housewives" reference, I think it's more instructive to see that in context, especially the last two lines:

I leave early to walk back to my hotel room where I plan to settle in, drink wine from a bottle (my room is tragically cupless) and yell at the Real Housewives marathon that's blessedly playing on TV. Believe it or not, this is my idea of a good night which, taking a step back, is about the same level of cool as being into My Little Pony. Or maybe — two steps back — a level lower.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:32 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


This could just as easily have been written about Star Trek three decades ago. It's the same story.

Many of the young adults excitedly combing the halls have visible disabilities ("Coping with Disabilities Through Pony" is one of the weekend's largely attended panels) and some wear color-coded badges — available to anyone who wants one — that alert others to the wearer's social comfort level. A green badge indicates that you're happy to socialize with strangers, yellow means you only want to talk with people you already know and red tells everyone that you'd rather be left alone.

That's wonderful, I think.

There's no "go find a teacher" or "try to talk it out." The panelists have been in these teens' positions before and know better. They understand that teachers often won't help you and bullies will never listen when you tell them to stop whatever it is that they're doing.

That's sad, and shameful. Institutions and authority figures have slowly been abdicating their responsibility for protecting the weak for a long time now, and this is the result. We all stand accused.

It makes me respect and sympathize with the bronies, certainly, but it doesn't change the fact that I still find most of them unbearably annoying.

That's okay. There are people out there who find you unbearably annoying, too. I wonder if one of them will get to express his opinion on a popular blog?

Over the years, though, the ability to adore something that much and that fearlessly has become lost to me. Maybe it's just a sacrifice of maturing, but I can't help but feel desperately sad about it as I watch the bronies—the ones who somehow managed to hang on to that unadulterated excitement as they've gotten older—demonstrate their enthusiasm.

What happened is simple. You let the world acculturate you to the way it wants you to act. It's the signs saying OBEY that you can only see with They Live sunglasses on. Some of this is good -- it's what stops most of us from engaging in casual violence and theft, really, what keeps us civil -- but it's also the heavy hand of cultural conformity. It's uncool, unseemly to like something enthusiastically, unapologetically. It's mature, and probably intellectually healthy, to have an intellectual distance from things you like, but it also removes some of the joy of living -- which is the joy of being what you want to be, and not what everyone says you should be.
posted by JHarris at 11:34 PM on September 2, 2014 [9 favorites]


They understand that teachers often won't help you and bullies will never listen when you tell them to stop whatever it is that they're doing.
That's sad, and shameful. Institutions and authority figures have slowly been abdicating their responsibility for protecting the weak for a long time now, and this is the result.


Let's see, that was how it was when I was in 6th grade in... hmmm... 1966... I'm just happy to see somebody trying to deal with it now, five decades later.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:02 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, at least now we're at least supposed to have the lip service of protecting kids, which too often masks indifference.
posted by JHarris at 12:14 AM on September 3, 2014


I can see where Davies is coming from. Even as someone who enjoys the show and makes an effort to live by the magic of friendship, Bronycon wouldn't really be for me either.

I would be amused to see what she'd make of a weekend-long LARP event.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:18 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just kinda feel bad for Madeleine...she seems really committed to her misanthropy and that sounds like it gets in the way of her own happiness a little.

Tangentially: a while ago I noticed that people were treating labels like "geek" and "nerd" with some level of street-cred/"cool factor" and that just didn't sit with my view of myself and my interests, so now I happily tell people that I'm a dork and I'm totally OK with never being cool in anybody's eyes ever again. It's very freeing and ends up creating more friendships than one might expect.

I hope Madeleine gets to go back next year. I would be very interested in that follow up piece.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:45 AM on September 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


I imagine that the way I feel now—confused about the rules of the brony world, rejected and a little bit lonely—is probably how a lot of these bronies feel whenever they're anywhere but here.

Ah, yes, Geworfenheit is clearly limited to the fans of a cartoon show.
posted by pseudocode at 2:00 AM on September 3, 2014


As something of a "misanthrope" who's been told I "just need to read more Harry Potter or something," Davies's perspective is interesting to me. She does a pretty good job of introspection, but I guess the article could have been more interesting if she had gotten more into it.

The second paragraph made me think of David Foster Wallace, and the article continued to approach this theme of wanting very much to step out of one's own aloofness or cool distance and join something unironically, but not being able to help one's own disdain, or cynicism, or weariness, or whatever.

We could also call a lot of Wallace's intrepid essays self-absorbed, and be somewhat correct. I suppose these "editor" people send such writers out for them to observe their own reactions, and that seems fairly useful.
posted by mbrock at 2:07 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love my little pony! I was sad to discover that's considered shameful. My daughter and son both love it and I can't wait til next season. Yay!
posted by xarnop at 5:03 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Are the women called Pegasisters because they peg the Bronys?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:14 AM on September 3, 2014


I didn't go this year (big family thing happening same weekend), but I have attended two BronyCons, one Big Apple Ponycon, one Crystal Fair, and two BUCKcons.

BronyCon 2012 was the first time I was ever together with more than one fellow brony at a time (back in the day, it was not that common here in Denmark), and a weekend soaking in a 4000 strong group hug of friendly, enthusiastic people (with great taste. Yes, even the RD fans) was great fun, slightly addictive, and rather impressive. It's a great fandom, and while it has its share of drama, attending the cons is a great way to ground you in the basic niceness of it all. Very welcoming, even to old people like myself (I'm 43, which is in the upper percentile for fans).

PeterMcDermott: Nope, it is an attempt (futile and unnecessary IMHO, but opinions vary) to introduce a female form of 'brony'. I have yet to encounter anyone in person (of whatever gender) that do not prefer 'brony' as a unisex designation. I mean... what about female fans, who prefer earth ponies, unicorns, or alicorns? Better with a word derived from pony.
posted by bouvin at 5:14 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


This could just as easily have been written about Star Trek three decades ago.

Try four decades. IIRC, even Gene Roddenberry said something about the media's tendency to seek out the weirdest looking or acting fans at the cons and hold them up as representative of fandom in general.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:21 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


it's Twilight Sparkle's lesson in the first episode of the series.

She struck me as more of a Maud Pie, but good point.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:29 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I along with the beau and friends briefly got into MLP. It is weirdly compelling and I didn't find anything weird about the brony thing till, as the beau pointed out you have issues with some brony's at MLP panels and events completely crowding out the little girls there.

And this is what rooted my discomfort with the brony thing, which the co-opting of a show that at the end of the day isn't for them.

Like it's great that people get really into whatever they wanna get into, but you have this space that's totally awesome in what can be a media wastleland for girls and it really is more or less completely taken over by older men.

Do I think a lot of the backlash is dumb, yes, generally I am very pro brony, but this is something that never felt right with me.

Which is why I moved on to Adventure Time, which lets be real, isn't made for kids.
posted by KernalM at 5:30 AM on September 3, 2014


This article made me want to find a Brony to date. I've pretty much had it with cynical misanthropes.
posted by sucky_poppet at 5:42 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't say I see much merit in the argument that a show is not intended for a particular audience. It is what you make of it. In the case of MLP, a lot of the older fans seem to focus to an increasing degree on the fan-created side of things, be it art, music, fiction, etc. Or just the good company found at places such as The Round Stable (I'm not the only mefite there either). The show itself has its nods and winks to the fandom (that will go unnoticed by anyone else), but is still very much targeted towards its core audience. As it should be, and, I believe, the majority of fans would want it to continue to be. I have met most of the show writing and directing staff, and I have no doubt they'll continue along those lines.

At least at the cons I have attended, not only are the youngest usually given preferential treatment during Q&As, I see, compared to the earliest cons, a much higher percentage of families present than I did before. Cons cater to the youngest fans with special activities as well. Doesn't mean the rest of us can't go wild to pony speedcore in the evening during the concerts.

And 'older men'? Sounds ominous. Is it also a problem that the hardcore fans of the earlier generations are 'older women'? The fandom I know is highly diverse in both gender and age (a bonus of going to cons is meeting fans my own age (or even older!)).
posted by bouvin at 6:00 AM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


The quote in the FPP really hit home because that is the way I feel in supposedly welcoming fandom--if you're not being a fan the right way it's just as shaming as being enthusiastic about something in mainstream society. And it's over things like liking the 'wrong' pairing or being enthusiastic about the 'wrong' character. The bronies depicted in the article seem pretty awesome, actually, because they are welcoming and full of friendship; but I keep thinking that there's got to be something less welcoming going on, because that's how fandom works.
posted by Electric Elf at 6:46 AM on September 3, 2014


Electric Elf: I like going to the cons, because it grounds you from the drama, that can unfold online. Absolutely, you can find flamefests online on the virtue of various OTPs or certain writers or episodes or characters, but the vast majority of the people you meet at cons are really nice.

The online drama bit also really depends on the forum. I linked to The Round Stable upthread, and that's an example of a very good and welcoming forum, focused on diversity, and with a good moderation team.
posted by bouvin at 6:57 AM on September 3, 2014


This reeks of the same kind of exotification that plagues a lot of western "journalism" written by brave white people that visit India and come back to tell other white people how bad it is or isn't.

(I mean yeah, there's a big difference between being Indian and being a brony yada yada yada, but that's what I thought of as I read it.)
posted by yaymukund at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


This article made me want to find a Brony to date.

THere's a Beatles song about this
posted by thelonius at 7:18 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Gooch: Well, that was a kind of self-absorbed article about the author. Where is the article about Bronycon?

This seems to be an increasing trend in "journalism" (yes, I realize that it's only Jezebel, but she was in fact assigned by an editor to go write about a particular thing, so yeah, it's journalism), where the author frames the article around his or her thoughts and feelings and experiences and the actual subject of the article becomes less important. You see it a lot in interviews, where the author starts by talking about being late to the interview, or about sitting in a cafe eating a scone and waiting for the interviewee to show up.

I'm inclined to say that this is a side-effect of millennial self-absorption -- I (the author) am a special snowflake, so you (the audience) are really more interested in what I think and feel about the subject of the article than objective observations or talks with people who actually know something about the subject. I also recognize that this hypothesis is based entirely on stereotypes and get-off-my-lawn crankiness, so it very well may be bullshit.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:24 AM on September 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel the same way about sport as the author does about Bronydom. I used to internalise it as "What are all these people even doing that for?". Now it's much more "There is this thing that matters to most of the planet and gives all these people such enjoyment, connection and purpose, and I can't be part of it". There's lots of other stuff to do, so that's OK, but I feel quite lonely sometimes because of it.

As for the piece being solipsistic - well, yes. That's been an approach to journalism and reportage for as long as, and it's annoying if you actually want to know the details of whatever's being reported when the writer's telling the story of how it made them feel. Yet others - many others - don't care about or connect with the thing itself, but will find the emotional side compelling. Would Cosmos have been as affecting to so many people if it was told absent Sagan's demonstration of his emotions? And that's the story of the mother-fugging All, man.
posted by Devonian at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's uncool, unseemly to like something enthusiastically, unapologetically. It's mature, and probably intellectually healthy, to have an intellectual distance from things you like

It's also realistic. The world is a big place and there are so many things out there, of which MLP is just a tiny piece. As we get older, we recognize the largeness of the world and reserve our enthusiasm for the things that are truly amazing. You might hold on to the enthusiasms you had from childhood, but it is more about an enthusiasm/nostalgia for the era of your childhood rather anything particularly great about the thing itself.

This seems to be an increasing trend in "journalism" (yes, I realize that it's only Jezebel, but she was in fact assigned by an editor to go write about a particular thing, so yeah, it's journalism), where the author frames the article around his or her thoughts and feelings and experiences and the actual subject of the article becomes less important

I think it is part of that general trend towards "creative nonfiction" spilling over into journalism. Maybe there's an audience of people genuinely bored by the content of these stories and enjoy the lyrical musings the author has about his or her scone.
posted by deanc at 8:15 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maturity takes all the fun out of life.

I'm personally enthusiastic about magic in general, I'm not into fandom but I love to celebrate things I love and to feel joy and happiness about them. If that makes me immature, I think the mature people are missing out!

I also feel very excited about ice cream. Ice cream is really yummy. And chocolate. Mmmm. And pogo sticks! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bounce bounce bounce! And bread with olive oil and herb dip? OMG. That is so delicious. And also cranium? That game is SO FUN!

I just, don't get why people can't be excited about things they like, and am finding it hard to believe their is a moral argument of harm or inferiority involved with doing so.
posted by xarnop at 8:26 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's also realistic. The world is a big place and there are so many things out there, of which MLP is just a tiny piece. As we get older, we recognize the largeness of the world and reserve our enthusiasm for the things that are truly amazing. You might hold on to the enthusiasms you had from childhood, but it is more about an enthusiasm/nostalgia for the era of your childhood rather anything particularly great about the thing itself.

Says who? I had a kick-ass, over-the-top Doctor Who party last month for the season premiere, and I only discovered Doctor Who in adulthood (just last year, actually). We invited people who were just as fanatical as us, decorated the house, made DW-themed food, overanalyzed the crap out of the show, and generally had a wonderful time.

I am a grown man with a wife and two children and a real job. I am also capable of expressing enthusiasm for "the things that are truly amazing" (whatever that means). Does my Doctor Who enthusiasm make me immature, uncool, anti-intellectual?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:30 AM on September 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


I guess if you let your enthusiasm over ride your ability to assess harms involved, that would be harmful. Like in football I actually think there is a lot of real harm involved which I find problematic. And in My Little Pony, there may be ethical questions about Hasbro's use of sweatshops, and use of toxic materials in production line's etc.

I'm just trying to explore what actual validity there is in people expressing enthusiasm and great joy over things they like in life. I still don't think you can't both do that and still think critically or acknowledge that at present it's very hard to enjoy much of anything that isn't tainted with unethical behaviors (though there often are options if sought!). But if one has chosen things that are in every possible way they could be ethical, can one not be enthusiastic and joyful or is one then labelled an inferior immature human? I feel like that and the shaming of people who openly share emotions of pain, really damage life as human beings more than advance it.
posted by xarnop at 8:32 AM on September 3, 2014


Where you might least expect it: Gavin McInnes: In Defense of Bronies.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:35 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a sort of rather un-funny "joke" that circulates within the furry fandom, that the furries were the lowest of the nerds and geeks, the ones who got all the kicking, until the Bronies appeared, and then finally the furries had someone to kick.

It's an sentiment I really don't participate in.

That MLP:FIM was so brilliant during its first season is entirely due to Lauren Faust and her vision for making what had been a very shallow product tie-in cartoon into something that had depth. That what she created managed to jump out of its intended audience zone and into an entirely different demographic speaks to her brilliance, if you ask me. That the fandom has continued beyond Faust's time speaks either to the enduring nature of the tone she set for the show (I cannot speak to this -- I have only watched the first season), or to the Bronie's insistent wish fulfillment that the show continues to be great even though it isn't. I suspect it is the latter, but really have no way to judge.

The Venn Diagram which shows the intersect between furry and Bronie has a decent amount of overlap, but not that giant. While furries may be enthusiastic about certain properties or characters, they retain a specific distrust of commercial properties being worthwhile vessels into which to project one's enthusiasm, because those properties are controlled by corporations trying to sell you something rather than being creative outlets of individuals, either generating their own art or working on commission to bring into existence someone else's vision.

That said, I see much in the Bronie culture which shows they may be working within the milieu of Hasbro's marketing scheme, but they are expanding on it in marvelous ways. The framework provided by MLP:FIM is one of those constraints which leads to good artistic expression. Some of the most professional and creative fan media creations have come out of the Bronie fandom, to the point where (not being deeply involved with the original material) I am not always sure whether what I am looking at is fan-created, fan-mashed-up from existing material, or original to the series itself.

A lot of what the article has to say about the Safe Space generated by Bronycon for its socially-underclass participants is equally true about furcons. There's something truly marvelous about being in the midst of a crowd of people who are willing to take you completely at face value, to give credence to whatever mode of self-expression you are choosing to exhibit at that moment, and who want to hug you simply for being the you that you are.

What is sad, ultimately, is that the author is unable to find the way to bring the two or three pieces of herself which seem to truly crave this kind of involvement together into the fissile device that would irradiate her being with the sense of freedom and adventurous spirit that can be found within these sorts of groups. It's like she dipped her toe in the pool, found it was entirely pleasant in temperature and substance, and then dried herself off and put on her street clothes, all the while pining for a nice long swim.

Really, it's okay to swim in these kinds of pools. They are liberating, they are rejuvenating, and they are a hell of a lot of fun.
posted by hippybear at 8:38 AM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


> She struck me as more of a Maud Pie, but good point.

I'm thinking more Silver Spoon without Diamond Tiara to boss her around.
posted by cyberscythe at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


My husband and I took our twins to BronyCon this year. We aren't diehard bronies but we enjoy the show and toys along with our kids (my son likes it okay, but my daughter is really into it), and I think that it's very well done and good for them, especially compared with some of the other kids' show crap that's out there.

We only went on the last day (it was their 6th birthday weekend). They had just enough attention span to line up for one session (the voice actress who does Sunset Shimmer led a "Sunset Shimmer Says" game) but we all loved the hoofbumps and "fun fun fun" chants. And the merch, oh, the merch. We all agreed that it was a great time.

I wanted us to go to BronyCon because I want them to see for themselves that anyone can like anything they want to like. I think both kids were awed by the fact that grownups ("boys!") like MLP so much that they will dress up like ponies, sing the songs, etc. My son was starting to pick up some sexist attitudes from his school buddies, but now his Lego Star Wars guys and her ponies share adventures once again. He is big for his age and a natural leader, so when he tells his friends, "Pink and purple are manly colors", they listen to him.

As we were leaving the convention center, baseball fans were streaming down the street towards an Orioles game. The sidewalk scene was a stark visual reminder that some types of fandom are "okay" and socially sanctioned, but not others. And it definitely felt like we were no longer in the "safe space".
posted by candyland at 9:35 AM on September 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


I know it may be an unpopular opinion around here, I know I'm likely to get flak for it...but I'm still going to admit that I like "All-Star" unironically. In fact, I like nearly all of Smash Mouth's music.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:49 AM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm still going to admit that I like "All-Star" unironically.

I was always amused by it, since around here "All-Star" is slang for a heroin addict.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:12 AM on September 3, 2014


As a huge fan of Powerpuff Girls, I tried to like My Little Pony and just couldn't do it. I watched the first episode and was pretty disgusted that the entire lesson seems to be "Girls shouldn't spend time reading, they should socialize!" (That said, I continue to love Powerpuff Girls despite its one infamous straight-up anti-feminist episode, so my judgment isn't exactly consistent.) I realize that that's probably not exactly what they were going for--being nice to people is after all just as important as learning--but it came across as kind of sexist to me.

I kept watching for a couple episodes after that and just couldn't get into it because unlike cartoons such as, say, Adventure Time, there didn't seem to be any jokes targeted at a more adult audience. I still find it pretty weird that adults would willing watch this show, but whatever floats your boat I guess.
posted by Librarypt at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2014


hippybear: “That the fandom has continued beyond Faust's time speaks either to the enduring nature of the tone she set for the show (I cannot speak to this -- I have only watched the first season), or to the Bronie's insistent wish fulfillment that the show continues to be great even though it isn't. I suspect it is the latter, but really have no way to judge.”
It's a little of both. Faust had her own ideas about the personalities of the ponies based on her childhood experience of liking the My Little Pony toys but disliking the show and instead overlaying personalities from Transformers and G. I. Joe onto them. Obviously Larsen, McCarthy, Rogers, et al. don't have direct access to that. However they worked with Faust and have the "pitch bible" she created. They're doing their damnedest to keep faith with Faust's vision.

However, Hasbro does still want to sell toys. That's why we get things like My Little Pony: Equestria Girls and the associated toy line to compete directly with Mattel's Monster High dolls. I'm not sure many fans really gave it much of a chance. I liked the movie. The two little girl MLP:FiM fans I know loved it.

All in all, I'd say that seasons two through four would be hard pressed to recapture the magic of that first season no matter who was in charge. There was simply nothing else like it on television. They're still great though, and very rewarding to watch. The post-Faust era has given us some of the best moments in the show.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I now have All-Star running on repeat in my head and it's all your fault

I have yet to watch the show. I misread an earlier comment, and was confused that my internet searches had no results for a pony called Maud Dib. Do they have eccentric characters that are relatively supernatural?
posted by halifix at 12:51 PM on September 3, 2014


There's a sort of rather un-funny "joke" that circulates within the furry fandom, that the furries were the lowest of the nerds and geeks, the ones who got all the kicking, until the Bronies appeared, and then finally the furries had someone to kick.

Sounds like someone really didn't get the point of the Geek Hierarchy, which is that this sort of thing really isn't justified.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:51 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Equestria Girls was almost universally feared and despised before it premiered. After the premiere, most (and certainly all I’ve met in person and discussed it with) found that the movie was much better than feared. I haven’t actually hear much gnashing of teeth over the second movie coming out soon — the crucial difference being that we now know how it plays with the show proper (it doesn’t).

Season One was important, and we owe Lauren Faust a lot (I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet her at BronyCon 2012, where I thanked her for creating Rarity and Twilight Sparkle). However, while she may have built the house, it’s not hers anymore (nor was it a one person project even in Season One), and the current caretakers are doing a damn fine job with the ponies.

The show came into its own in Season Two and Four (Season Three was only 13 episodes); both seasons that I would rank higher than Season One. The stories are usually more interesting now, the characters have developed nicely, and the animation has improved significantly.

A very worthwhile addition to the property is the comic books from IDW. Especially the creative teams of Cook/Price/Breckel and Nuhfer/Mebberson have created some magnificent work, far, far above what a toy derived comic book has any reasonable expectation to be, and worthy of being read in its own right.
posted by bouvin at 3:02 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I misread an earlier comment, and was confused that my internet searches had no results for a pony called Maud Dib. Do they have eccentric characters that are relatively supernatural?

All unicorns are magical, and the alicorns (unicorn/pegasi) are pretty much Goddess-Empresses of Equestria, but I think Zecora is more in line with what you were thinking of.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:35 PM on September 3, 2014


What I've seen of the comics indicates that it's more willing to engage with fans in the content, making many more in-jokes and pop culture references, and some of the stuff in there is just joyous. Princess Luna, for example, is terrific there.

That the fandom has continued beyond Faust's time speaks either to the enduring nature of the tone she set for the show (I cannot speak to this -- I have only watched the first season), or to the Bronie's insistent wish fulfillment that the show continues to be great even though it isn't. I suspect it is the latter, but really have no way to judge.

Particular first season episodes remain highlights of the whole run. I think The Best Night Ever remains the single best story in the series -- a season-ender that doesn't revolve around defeating some enemy (a pet peeve of mine), that shows all the characters having hopes shattered, but still resolves happily, and overturning several prominent little girl cartoon tropes, and being one of the funniest episodes. There are others there too: Suited For Success, Stare Master, Green Isn't Your Color (also very well constructed), and Party of One.

But other seasons also have their standouts. Season Two: Lesson Zero, Luna Eclipsed, Sweet and Elite, The Last Roundup, It's About Time and Ponyville Confidential.

Season Three: Magic Duel, Keep Calm and Flutter On, and Just For Sidekicks/Games Ponies Play, which is pretty audacious storytelling (two separate stories taking place in the same time, told around each other) for a kids' show!

Season Four: Castle Mane-ia, Pinkie Apple Pie, Pinkie Pride (Weird Al!), Maud Pie (a beloved episode with fans) -- I've not seen all the others yet so can't speak for them, but the season ender pulled off the trick of being a well done defeat-the-villain story, with both Discord showing some depth and bringing back kick-ass original series villain Tirek.
posted by JHarris at 3:35 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


What I've seen of the comics indicates that it's more willing to engage with fans in the content, making many more in-jokes and pop culture references

And some pop culture references that go back a ways, even. For instance, check out the lower right corner of this page's bottom panel.

Yes, that is a pony Kirk and Spock talking to two ponified characters from the original series episode "The Return of the Archons".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:10 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Later, in the Cadence/Shining Armor half of that comic, we get "I LIKE PRETTY PINK MARES", which might be a reference too far.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:57 PM on September 3, 2014


Another thing that continues to impress me is the amount of money raised for charity, at and outside the cons. I attended BUCKcon two weeks ago, and the charity auction there generated in excess of £11000 for diabetes research (fitting really, considering how often pony fan art is claimed to cause diabetes...).
posted by bouvin at 2:34 AM on September 4, 2014


Says who? I had a kick-ass, over-the-top Doctor Who party last month for the season premiere, and I only discovered Doctor Who in adulthood (just last year, actually). We invited people who were just as fanatical as us, decorated the house, made DW-themed food, overanalyzed the crap out of the show, and generally had a wonderful time.

I am a grown man with a wife and two children and a real job. I am also capable of expressing enthusiasm for "the things that are truly amazing" (whatever that means). Does my Doctor Who enthusiasm make me immature, uncool, anti-intellectual?


Hear, hear. I am a boring, graying, prosaic, middle-aged, responsible intellectual academic, and I am OUT OF MY FUCKING MIND WITH EXCITEMENT that the Bob Dylan complete Basement Tapes are being released on November 4. I literally wept with joy at hearing the news. Whenever I encounter a wonderful, well-made (or even poorly made but fun) new book or movie or record or TV show, I feel exactly as thrilled and brimming with happiness and heart-pounding anticipation as I did when I used to come home from the public library at age 12 with a stack of library-smelling books with crackly cellophane covers and tried to decide which one to read first.

God love the Bronies. Every con should be like this one: inclusive, friendly, supportive, safe spaces where people can decide what kind of contact and interaction they want and others respect that, where not everybody in the joint looks, lives, or thinks like you but you can all be together and share the experience, where everyone has a good time and learns things and does constructive things for others. Not perfect, because human group endeavors never are, but a damn sight better than people getting menaced in elevators. I might actually GO to a con if it were one where I could be sure everyone would ignore me.

If other interest groups and subcultures (particularly those involving large numbers of young and adult men) were a little bit more like this one, I strongly doubt the world would be more "unbearably annoying."
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:11 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


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