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

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.”