Aug 07 2012
I wrote a short post last week which drew more of a response than I was expecting. In it, I asked what exactly the deal was with “bronies,” a group of adult males who for some reason are very much invested in the animated kids show, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”
Many bronies, far more than I expected, showed up on both the post and on Twitter to tell me the various reasons they loved the show. Their reasons didn’t seem insane or creepy as one might initially imagine, but I figured the only way to actually attempt to understand the phenomenon was to check out the show for myself.
I’ve watched the first six episodes of My Little Pony at this point, and I think that’s enough to make a somewhat informed judgment about the subculture. In short, I actually, sort of…get it, and as such, this is not a takedown piece of a seemingly strange subculture. It’s more of an exploration.
Going into the show, I had a few preconceived notions of why the bronies liked it. I thought that maybe this was a kids show that wasn’t really a kids show, and perhaps it was full of funny innuendos that were going over seven year old girls’ heads. Perhaps it was secretly dark and therefore amusing to this particular group. As it turns out, this isn’t remotely true, and there’s barely an ounce of evil in the entire series. It’s as sweet and light as TV can possibly get. No clues there.
Then I figured it was just some big inside joke. It’s admittedly a little bit funny to go on Twitter after a MLP episode and say “God Applejack, will just ASK Twilight Sparkle for help picking apples? I know she and Fluttershy would be willing.” I mean, it’s not super hilarious past the first few times, but I understand how a certain group could find humor in ironically loving a show meant for little girls. The average brony is 21 and heterosexual, and this sounds like something he indeed find hysterical.
I think that may be where this whole trend started, but it’s certainly not where it is now. Perhaps after watching ironically for a few episodes, they actually started to like it. And really, I can sort of see why. The show has great voice-acting, is well-written and has an incredibly appealing art style. But more importantly I can imagine a deeper reason as to why it legitimately attracts adult males as a fanbase.
All TV, movies and video games are escapism to some degree. It’s a break from the real world and you can dive into an entirely new one that’s usually far more interesting and extraordinary than your every day life. But My Little Pony actually serves as escapism FROM this kind of escapism.
What I mean is that if you’re a guy from 18-25, chances are you have a list of favorite shows that reads something like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Louie, Always Sunny, Sons of Anarchy and so on. The video games you play are Call of Duty, League of Legends, Starcraft, Halo, etc. Your favorite movies of the year so are The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and 21 Jump Street.
What do all of these have in common? A certain…lack of innocence. Across every single one there’s either a language, violence or sex. We’ve all been consuming this type of media for so long we don’t even notice.
But that’s where My Little Pony comes along. It’s an oasis of purity in a sea of carnal sins. Such adult topics might make for great TV, but I can understand why men could be exhausted of these types of shows. In My Little Pony, it’s just 22 minutes of pure, distilled happiness as one commenter said aptly. There’s nothing else quite like it on TV. Even other kids shows that it’s possible for an adult to get into like The Clone Wars or Young Justice are still at their core, centered around violence.
More Unreal Posts