For most people, My Little Pony is nothing more than a TV show made to sell toys to little girls.
However, since the latest incarnation of the show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic first aired in October 2010, those brightly coloured little horses have seen a slight shift in their fanbase. Enter: the Brony.
A Brony is a male between the ages of 18 and 30 with an appreciation for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Bronies are part of a fandom that creates clothing, music, visual art and even erotic literature. Some Bronies are so enthusiastic in their love for the show that there are Internet forums dedicated to “Brony porn.”
Keep in mind, the show was originally intended for children between the ages or 2 and 11.
“The fandom itself is what makes it special,” Winnipeg Brony Vostok Hazard, 29, says. “The people that are involved with it are creating amazing works of art based on this show, well-written fan fictions and even their own episodes.”
Hazard (an alias) is well aware his love for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is considered strange.
“There are people out there who think it’s just a show for little girls,” he says. “First of all, it’s a cartoon. It’s not male or female. That’s almost like saying women can’t like Transformers because it’s ‘for boys.’ You’d probably get labeled as a sexist if you said that.”
Dr. Marsha Redden and Dr. Patrick Edwards – licensed psychologists in Spartanburg, South Carolina – recently conducted a research study on the Brony trend in America and found it serves two main functions.
“First, they get to share music and fan fiction,” Redden says. “The second thing we found was most surprising. It was the guidance. The stories teach conflict resolution… both within a group and between groups and individuals.”
The study found that many Bronies live with a WWAPD? (What would a pony do?) mindset that helps them make good decisions.
Logan Biscornet, one of the coordinators of the Bronycon convention, agrees.
“There are a lot of socially awkward Bronies and the show helps them deal with that,” Biscornet says.
Bronycon is the largest Brony convention in the world, with 8,400 Bronies attending this past August’s event in Baltimore, MD.
Hazard and Biscornet both agree that another important aspect of the My Little Pony fandom is the interaction between the producers and the fans.
Take for example the story of Derpy, who started out as a background pony with no lines and “derpy” (awkward or embarassing) features. Fans quickly took to the pony and created an abundance of fan art, christening her Derpy. The show’s creators responded to the pony’s popularity by giving Derpy a speaking role in one episode.
In addition to that fan/producer relationship, Hazard adds that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a quality show that appeals to both young and mature audiences. He claims it provides a much-needed distraction.
“Everybody seems to be obsessing with the latest doom and gloom and political turmoil, or some stupid brain-rot reality show.”
Sharing kindness, it’s an easy feat.
For more information on Bronies, there are two documentaries and dozens of websites. Google is your friend.