When someone asks adult male fans to be respectful of the fact that a show is primarily meant for the entertainment and enrichment of young girls and the response is, “No, but you don’t understand, this show is actually high quality,” that’s… pretty revealing.
This is pretty much my main problem with the brony subculture.
What’s sad is that I thought the whole brony thing was pretty cool, at first. I thought it amazing that it seemed like gender barriers were being broken down, that adults could appreciate that a kid’s show had a lot of merit in it, too. When I’d try to get others to watch it, I’d say, “No, it really is appropriate for all ages, there are a ton of adults who watch and enjoy it, you might like it if you gave it a chance!” I thought that it was really incredible that so many people had an open perspective on it.
But over time, my opinion changed. It still is cool that the show can reach out to impact the lives of so many people, but the brony fandom is toxic. I don’t interact with them too much any more, but I remember that when I used to hang around the brony section of Cheezburger (which, I know, my fault for going to Cheezburger in the first place, but still), I’d notice it. Aside from the really gross Rule 34 things that would be talked about there, I saw female fans like myself constantly being attacked and belittled, because they weren’t “real fans”—because they weren’t really "bronies" and thus they had no right to discuss MLP with the other fans gathered there. Take that in for a second: women, part of the demographic this show was made for (though really it was made for little girls, but you get the point), were being told that they weren’t real fans of it, that they had no right to discuss it. That they were less important because they weren’t male, because they weren’t "bronies." Let how screwed up that is sink in for a moment. And it’s not even just them; I remember that the voice actor for Discord (along with a few other voice talents on the show) made a sing-song "documentary" of sorts explaining the brony phenomenon. The whole thing was animated with pony versions of the VAs in question. Discord sang most of it, but then Tara Strong’s pony avatar came in to sing for the female portion of the fanbase. Great, right?
Well, as she sings, at one point she brings up how some ladies don’t like to be referred to as “bronies,” but instead prefer “pegasisters.” She said that word with such scorn and derision that it honestly prevented me from being able to enjoy the rest of my video, and admittedly made me lose some of the respect for Ms. Strong that I had before (and I do still have much of it, believe me, because she’s a wonderfully talented voice actress, but …). Female fans are already told, somewhat regularly depending on where in the fandom you go, that they can’t use the term “brony” because they aren’t male. More than that, some female fans (like myself) want to separate themselves from that term because of how toxic the bronies can be (more on that in a minute). So we took this term, clever as it is, and applied it to ourselves. And somehow that’s bad? That’s not good? That’s lesser? Why? Because it uses “sister” instead of “bro?” Because it’s feminine instead of masculine? This attitude that the masculine variant is superior to the feminine variant is sexist and demeaning, and it’s being perpetrated by one of the key voice actresses in the show. One of the voice actresses. I can’t help but think that society’s indoctrination of misogynistic attitudes had a part in that. Even if it was supposed to be a joke, scorning and dismissing something that women use to feel included and empowered isn’t funny. Jokes are only jokes if everyone is laughing, and to be honest, I just felt a wave of disappointment the second that part in the video game up.
But it’s more than all of that, too. Honestly, large portions of the brony subculture can just be toxic. The fact that they produce a large amount of pony porn and spam it all over the internet aside (so god forbid some kid decides to surf the net looking for ponies), they deliberately go against all of the values they claimed to stand for in the beginning. Love and tolerance? Please. I’ve seen them attack people for no good reason, simply for saying that ponies aren’t their thing or that they have a contrasting opinion on the matter at hand. More than that, they extend this vitriol to anyone who goes against what they feel is their ideal vision for the show, be it Hasbro or the little girls the series is actually intended for. In fact, I’ve seen bronies be so entitled that they claim that the show is no longer for little girls, that Hasbro should know who their “real” audience is, and that Hasbro should change the show to cater to them instead. I’ve seen, repeatedly, the attitude that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic should be produced for an adult male audience, rather than the little girls it is actually intended for.
Now, the creator, Lauren Faust, has said that she’s thrilled that so many find merit in this, and that she wants to create a show that everyone can enjoy. However, what most bronies who use that excuse tend to deliberately ignore is the fact that she also said that she wanted to create quality entertainment for little girls—a show that little girls could watch that would show them that they could be anything they wanted to be, that they could go on amazing adventures and save the day while not forsaking either their femininity or their courage and daring. While she wants everyone to be able to enjoy her product, she had little girls in mind first and foremost, especially after seeing what entertainment she had to grow up with; entertainment in which a girl protagonist’s biggest problem was who to drink tea with or whether a boy liked her or not. Lauren Faust wanted to create a show that made all different types of girls heroes, that showed that whether you were very feminine and poised (Rarity), super athletic and tomboyish (Rainbow Dash), hard working and career focused (Applejack), studious and nerdy (Twilight Sparkle), gentle and shy (Fluttershy), or wacky and loud (Pinkie Pie), you were just as valuable and worthy of respect as anyone else. There are all different types of girls out there, and Lauren wanted to create a show where every one of them could see themselves as a heroine.
And you know what? She succeeded. Friendship is Magic does that and then some. But there are large portions of the brony culture that would rather ignore that, that would rather have the show cater to them and their needs, as if there aren’t millions of cartoons that do that already. I’ve actually seen bronies decry Friendship is Magic as sexist for not focusing more on male characters, for instead having the female characters save the day, for instead having the female characters be varied and well-developed, for having Equestria be ruled by princesses instead of kings. Because god forbid My Little Pony exist to empower little girls. God forbid little girls have something of their own, something to enjoy and celebrate and find merit in. God forbid we don’t have yet another franchise dedicated to stroking the adult male ego.
I could go on about this. I could talk about how the rampant hatred for Princess Celestia in brony fandom—while Luna is celebrated and praised, and was even before we really knew anything about her—is rooted in misogyny, which is impossibly sad when you consider that Friendship is Magic is the western equivalent of a magical girl anime and is meant to empower women rather than degrade them. But I won’t, because this is long enough as it is. All I’ll say is that while I know that not all bronies are like this, that there are some good ones out there, the word “brony” will forever leave a bad taste in my mouth because of all of the rotten apples I’ve encountered in that group. I love Friendship is Magic. I think it’s a wonderful cartoon and I’ll always encourage others to watch it. But at the same time, I’ll encourage people to stay away from the fandom. Because as wonderful as the cartoon is, the brony fandom is pretty toxic, and it’s better for all if they’re treated like the changelings and parasprites they really are.
So I was watching one of those elephant documentaries and some guy walked over to the elephants and the elephants all crowded round to look at him and stroke him with their trunks.
And it reminded me how when there’s a cat in the garden my entire family will go out and cuddle it.
Elephants think humans are cute.
Now we know what elephants blog about.
you know what would be cool? a show about, like, vigilante Victorian prostitutes hunting down Jack the Ripper.
They never did figure out why he stopped killing. And most serial killers don’t stop unless they are stopped. I’m just saying.
HOLY CATS I WANT TO WRITE AND DRAW THIS AS A GRAPHIC NOVEL
OMG THE RESEARCH ALONE WOULD BE AWESOME