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The Brony Testimonial: How One Gets Sucked into My Little Pony Fandom

An interview with a proud member of the surprising online subculture that celebrates the children's show.

by
Ash Freeman

Bio

May 23, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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If you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the last couple of years, there’s probably a good chance that you’ve heard of Bronies —older, typically male fans of the children’s cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There’s also a good chance that you may not have seen them in the best light. Often Bronies are presented as socially awkward, slovenly, and generally pathetic for liking a show for little girls. But is there more to the show and its fans than one would assume based on first glance? I called up a friend of mine, Adam Young, to ask him what led him to become a Brony and just what it is about this seemingly saccharine show that could inspire its legions of older fans to have such devotion to it.

Adam is 28 years old and resides in Champaign, Illinois. He attended Illinois State University and graduated in 2007 after obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Studio Arts. He is a huge fan of several movies and television shows, including Star Trek, Star Wars, The Simpsons, and Back to the Future. He is also an avid gamer, enjoying several Nintendo titles in the RPG genre such as Pokémon, Earthbound, and Paper Mario. Adam currently works for an outdoor specialty retailer.

How did you become a Brony?

Well, it was a very gradual process. I go to a lot of message boards on the internet for artwork and games or whatever. Around probably winter of 2010, maybe spring of 2011, I kept seeing all these strange memes, image macros, and user-avatar images of these weird horse-looking things popping up all over my message boards that I go to frequently.

At first I just kinda thought that was weird and didn’t think too much about it, and then the more they kept popping up I thought: “What the hell is this? I gotta figure out what the hell this is.” The art style was very reminiscent of either Genndy Tartakovsky or Craig McCracken, or any of the 1990s Cartoon Network people. First I iMDB’d Craig McCracken, the Powerpuff Girls guy. He had recently done Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and it looked quite similar. I saw that his name was not on the credits list for this show, but, coincidentally enough, his wife Lauren Faust was. She was the executive producer of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and she got her start in the industry working on Powerpuff Girls in the later seasons, so I was familiar with her work.

After seeing that she was the one who developed My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I was like, “Well that’s kinda weird, I guess she really needed money or something.” I left it at that because of the preconceived notions a show like that would have attached to it, being based on a line of dolls for little girls and all.

So I really didn’t think too much about it, and then later I subscribed to a lot of YouTube channels, especially ones that review cartoons, video games, and anime. One of the channels I subscribed to was because they were doing reviews of the series Madoka Magica, which I was watching at the time. I really liked their Madoka reviews, and one day out of the blue this really, really long video of theirs, almost an hour long, popped up in my subscription feed. It turned out to be about the new My Little Pony show that I had seen all over the internet, and I was like, “Okay, if these guys are reviewing it, I guess it’s worth a look.”

So I went to YouTube and did a search for My Little Pony, and by that point most of the first season was already over, but there were still a few episodes left. I immediately tried to catch up as soon as I could, and after giving it a fair chance, I turned out to really, really enjoy the show. After watching all of the first season, I was like, “Well, I guess I’m not really allowed to judge a book by its cover ever again.”

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I do my bit of Brony ridicule and I watch the show. Watching it (well, I'm a dad of two girls, so maybe not the best example) is not what makes me think someone as a Brony. Heck, I don't call everyone who enjoys Star Trek Trekkies. No, the ones that have earned the ridicule are the ones who turn their fandom into a LIFESTYLE. I will make fun of you for that whether you are a Brony, a Trekkie, or whatever. I actually watch, enjoy, and can even carry on conversations about both of the above shows, but once you begin allowing those shows to become a defining part of your personality, you've lost it. Heck, I used to be such a DnD fan that, when I was a teenager I had a map of Faerun on my wall. The difference is, I was a teenager. Now, I still have the books on my shelf and still play when I have the time, but spend more time in conversation talking about politics, kids these days (studies showing that each progressing generation is more self-absorbed and less competent than the ones preceding show this is more than just "rhetoric"), working on my house, and talking about our children. Y'know; the stuff ADULTS talk about.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, I don't think I missed the point at all. Grown men identifying with a cartoon aimed at young girls is what was displayed. I don't feel this is a positive trend. You do. Don't accuse me of missing the point because we disagree.

I am 51 years old, but was raised by a father who was the last Victorian. My upbringing was largely deprived of this sort of cheerful entertainment. That means I missed out on some of the fun, but it has made me well prepared for reality. That is not missing the point. That is the point.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, sorry, I'm not going to give Bronies a second look. Nor, frankly, a first one. We are facing hard times as a society, perhaps the worst in many, many years. Men who idolize "My Little Pony" won't be much use when someone comes to hack off your head with a machete or to use the power of government to crush your dreams. Nope, men who spend their spare hours fantasizing about pastel-colored cartoon horses will not be especially useful in the years ahead. Sorry about that, but reality seldom meets our preferences.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (49)
All Comments   (49)
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It's the culture of "tell me my lifestyle is good." It's not enough that people can do their weird thing- they have to demand that everyone understands and supports it. You're gay fine whatever- shut up about it. You smoke pot- fine but don't make us pretend it's your "medicine". You watch a cartoon- I don't care. It's not a lifestyle. It's not anything to be proud of. You watch a cartoon. What? You want a cookie?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly. Not only does everyone want to fly their freak flag, they also want everyone else to salute it.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's only short prance from being a Brony to being a Plushie.

I'm just sayin.



45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have kids, so I've seen an episode or two. Yeah, they can be funny. Yeah, there's more character development than you'd expect from a cartoon. I'm not afraid to watch it.

That said, I'll still watch a DS9 rerun or a Clint Eastwood movie any day. Gran Torino had more character development by far. Plus, it's what I identify with. That being said, my dad still likes to watch reruns of The Rifleman, Lost in Space, etc. Entertainment is subjective. Most likely we watch what reminds us of what we remember as the best of our childhoods, the heroes that brought out the best in us. I'll still watch Chuck Connors with my dad, given the chance, or The Goonies if my wife isn't in the room (I didn't REMEMBER the 80's being the decade of swearing ever other word!).

Adam says he's a brony because of the artwork, the mature humor, and the character development. Perhaps this is simply symptomatic of the fact that in a post-Soviet world, our society didn't care so much to teach boys to become MEN.

When I was a kid, I didn't know a boy that DIDN'T want to be GI Joe, and think that the armed forces was the absolute apex of AWESOME. We watched the A-Team, AirWolf, Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard... all hokey now, but we respected men who were being heroes. We absolutely idolized the combat vets who went through Vietnam because they were the epitome of men who went through absolute hell to protect a country with an absolutely ungrateful press corps. The Vietnam generation are still some of the manliest men I know of, and so are the Korean and WWII vets.

Where were the heroes for the kids of the 90's? Where are the heroes for today's youth?

Probably that's why so many people are turned off by the concept of bronies. They're boys who never had REAL heroes.

Thank God for Netflix. Both my boys love killing Cobra Commander (my three-year-old loves to kill Cobra Commander with his lightsaber). They'll have no doubt that their inherent desire to be a hero is a trait to be cultivated and nurtured. I'm even signing up my daughters for MMA this summer. You can take today's PC entertainment and SHOVE IT.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"He attended Illinois State University and graduated in 2007 after obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Studio Arts. He is a huge fan of several movies and television shows, including Star Trek, Star Wars, The Simpsons, and Back to the Future. He is also an avid gamer, enjoying several Nintendo titles in the RPG genre such as Pokémon, Earthbound, and Paper Mario. Adam currently works for an outdoor specialty retailer."

'nuff said. Adam is a man-child who has yet to grow up despite being nearly 30. I'd also not be especially shocked to find out he's a homosexual. Does anyone else remember a tragic man-child who happened to be very rich and famous? He liked having sleep overs with children...
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
When my 5yo granddaughter visits sometimes we look in on the doings of Equestria. and sometimes I teach her to fly on my flight sim and sometimes we play checkers, the little cheat, good thing she's cute.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"When I was a child I spake as a child; when I became a man I put away childish things." Sorry to have offended any sensibilities of the new American cultural elite by quoting scripture.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

Got those out of that same book you seem to put so much stock in, so maybe just ease up and let the man enjoy his cartoons.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
People....... you will never get your cutie marks if you continue to talk like this.....))))))):<..........
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
You mean you have nothing better to do than watch My Little Pony and take it very seriously?

That's sad.

It's television!

There's a whole world of important issues and stuff that can improve your life: politics, social issues, volunteerism, sports, spirituality, psychology, art, literature, etc.

But you choose to spend it on a cartoon for *eight-year-old girls*. I don't care if it has the odd intelligent reference, I've seen the cartoon and the story lines are for little girls.

And we're not supposed to judge.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nowhere does this guy say he wants to change the world.
It's a hobby he is passionate about and he talks about it and says he guys this is worth looking into...
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
One more thing.

Dr. Phil once had an episode of a 20-something woman who loved Spongebob Squarepants and wondered why it wasn't okay to live in her Spongebob world and be child-like.

The problem with loving kids' cartoons and kids' culture, talking like kids and relating to kids is that you give up adult things and all the richness that it brings. Sure, you get a lot of enjoyment and entertainment, but you fail to raise yourself above a child's level, so that as you think like a child, you can't have adult relationships and interests. And that suggests not being able to take on the responsibilities of an adult.

We don't need any more man-children (or women-children) in this world.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's ridiculous. I love Scooby-Doo cartoons, I also love The Wire. Same way I love both hot dogs and beef wellington. Same way I love both Spider-Man comics and Shakespere.

You have every right to be a snob, but do us a favor and don't try to pretend objective fact is on your side... especially if the expert you're relying on is Dr. Phil.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
>We don't need any more man-children (or women-children) in this world.
That's Racist and Un-Americal
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I do my bit of Brony ridicule and I watch the show. Watching it (well, I'm a dad of two girls, so maybe not the best example) is not what makes me think someone as a Brony. Heck, I don't call everyone who enjoys Star Trek Trekkies. No, the ones that have earned the ridicule are the ones who turn their fandom into a LIFESTYLE. I will make fun of you for that whether you are a Brony, a Trekkie, or whatever. I actually watch, enjoy, and can even carry on conversations about both of the above shows, but once you begin allowing those shows to become a defining part of your personality, you've lost it. Heck, I used to be such a DnD fan that, when I was a teenager I had a map of Faerun on my wall. The difference is, I was a teenager. Now, I still have the books on my shelf and still play when I have the time, but spend more time in conversation talking about politics, kids these days (studies showing that each progressing generation is more self-absorbed and less competent than the ones preceding show this is more than just "rhetoric"), working on my house, and talking about our children. Y'know; the stuff ADULTS talk about.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
You had a map of Faerun? Hanging on your wall? HAHAHAHAAHA! You freaking dork!

Everyone knows Greyhawk is way cooler.

:)
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good for you, Entertainment is Entertainment.
If you get really into it.
Then it's something better than buying Pressure Cookers
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the disturbing things about this is that the person interviewed takes the program so seriously. If one wants to escape by watching such stuff, OK, fine. But to be so impressed by the "character development," lack of "tropes," "being part of a periphery demographic".... Give me a break!

I think this guy badly needs to take a couple good courses in western art history and the great books to see what really good art and literature are.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not sure, but I think education might be part of the reason he's like this. Postmodernism: everything is "culture" and nothing is too trivial to intellectualize. Somebody has probably written a doctoral dissertation offering a feminist critique of Pez dispensers.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ha! I'm sure you're right, Monster, about a Pez dissertation! Why, the very structure of Pez dispensers indicate patriarchal domination, don't they?!

Its interesting how, with Postmodernism, Multiculturalism and Political Correctness, no one is supposed to have any respect for the great works of dead white males, yet this "Brony" and like-minded people take themselves and trivial things such as My Little Pony so VERY seriously. And Lady Gaga and her regurgitating friend, described in Roger Kimball's posting, are considered "artists."
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like your icon, by the way. Franks Casket - very cool.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks, Monster! Yes, the Franks Casket is one of my favorite Anglo-Saxon works of art. I also like to imagine Egil the Archer's image as shooting his arrow at left-wing evil and foolishness.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Egil,
Are you a librairan?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hi ZaroZ2. Actually I was a librarian for several years, but am in a different field now.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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