“No matter what your passion is, there is someone on the Internet that shares it.” This is one of the many wonderful things about the Internet. It is full of people looking for acceptance and a community to be a part of. It lets sub-cultures grow and thrive in a way that was not possible even twenty years ago. One of the most interesting growing sub-cultures I am proud to be a part of is Bronies. For the uninformed, a Brony is a male, usually aged 15-30, who has become a fan of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It makes no sense at first blush. Why would older people, especially men, concern themselves with a show marketed to 4-10 year old girls? Allow me to attempt to explain:
To learn anything about the current show, you must first know its history. If you remember the old My Little Pony, you may remember it was terrible. It was little more than a half-hour toy commercial covered in a healthy coating of Pepto Bismol pink. The animation was clunky, the artwork little more than Lisa Frank runoff, and the characters were just bad. To those parents who had to watch it, I send my deepest condolences. However, when Hasbro wanted to relaunch the MLP toy line they needed a new show to launch alongside of it. Hasbro gave the task to an amazing woman named Lauren Faust. Even if you do not know that name I am sure you know some of the work she has done. She was the brain behind the Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, both of which are shows that I loved! She and her team of writers got together and came up with this gem of a show, MLP:FiM. The animation is also worth mentioning. It is done in flash which those who love old Cartoon Network shows will appreciate. Also if you saw any of what is arguably the best cartoon ever, Samurai Jack, you will recognize some similarities. This is due to the fact that many of the animators worked on that show. Most of the people who work on the show have strong pedigrees.
The writing is wonderful. From the dialogue to the storylines, everything is superb. It demonstrates moral lessons without ever sounding too ham-fisted about it. The characters that populate the world of Equestia are varied and fascinating. From the “Mane Six” to the background ponies, Ms. Faust and her team put a lot of work into making these cartoon ponies real and relateable. At first glance they all seem like they very well may be just one-dimensional caricatures of the archypes they represent. I mean it is My Little Pony, who expects character depth in a show marketed to those too young to understand they dynamic of character development? Pinkie Pie just loves to party and have a good time, Twilight Sparkle is a bookish introvert. As the season progresses you see that all of these equines have flaws and short-comings which adds such depth to the show. Applejack is known for her hard work but feels too proud to ask for help even when it is costing her health. Pinkie Pie’s sense of self is entirly wrapped up in her friends so that when she thinks they don’t like her anymore she has a nervous breakdown and starts holding parties for inanimate objects. It is so refreshing to see characters that have such real world failings, even if these characters are cartoon ponies. I would be remiss if I did not mention the voice acting. It is stellar! Tara Strong is a mainlead, who did voices ranging from Dil Pickles from Rugrats to Princess Clara from Drawn Together. All of the main actresses bring such life to these characters.
So yes I am a fan of cartoon ponies and proud of my Brony-hood. Real life is full of darkness and cynicism; it is nice to spend half an hour a week in a place where frienship and love is the lay of the land. However, this pride in ponies has led to jeers and snickers. Jokes about my masculinity and sexuality. These got me thinking, why is it a big deal for a guy to appreciate something feminine? I also love to drink tea, look nice, and watch sappy romantic comedies. These things are seen by some as a weakness. I am less cool for liking pursuits that are more geared toward the fairer sex. This intruiged me.
I then thought about how someone would react to a woman liking male activities. In popular culture it seems that these women are goddesses. They are seen as cool for liking sports, video games, or comic books. They get places of reverence among men. If you are a girl and can do an impromptu play by play of “The Catch,” you are seen as a hero. (Eds. Note: This is true. Ifyou can be Dwayne Clark, I may just marry you.) Video game chicks get legions of nerds to fawn over them. It seems like a very strong double standard. If a girl acts masculine they get cooler, a guy who acts feminine is less cool or derided for being gay. It is baffling.
It seems that society places men/male pursuits over women/ female pursuits. This is unacceptale. It is 2012, men should be allowed to enjoy the finer things in life, papering, pedicures, and ponies, without being pestered about it. Being a wine-sipping classical music fan should be on equal footing with being a beer-swilling football fan. Let people love what they love and leave the prejudice alone. That may be all but impossible, but maybe if everyone watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, it would be a less impossible task.