North Texas Daily

Pony Tales: An unexpected fandom

Pony Tales: An unexpected fandom

August 15
10:56 2013

By Audra Stamp/Staff Writer

Daniel “Doc Starbuck” Jesel – undecided sophomore – proudly displays his light yellow T-shirt printed with Derpy Hooves, a light blue pony with a blonde mane. He talks excitedly about one of his favorite shows, a show many people consider to be for little girls. But a large fan base of male fanatics has been growing around the world since the show’s inception.

These fans call themselves Bronies, and they are true lovers of  “My Little Pony” and everything that comes with it.

WHAT IS A BRONY?

Bronies – fusion of “bro” and “pony” – are men who have completely immersed themselves in a world based on the “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” TV show. While some Bronies enjoy the show’s weekly episodes, others have become so absorbed in Brony fandom that they have tattoos and a massive collection of the plastic pony figurines. These men ignore skeptcism and commonly defined manly social norms to embrace a show they feel promotes the magical happiness of friendship, just to create pure bliss in their own lives.

“I can confidently say I am a part of this fandom,” Jesel said. “I have taken a part of my life and I have given it to it.”

In 1983, Hasbro produced a line of colorful, plastic ponies called My Little Pony which then spiraled off into many animated shows, like the first called “My Little Pony ’n’ Friends.”

But it wasn’t until Oct. 10, 2010 that Hasbro Studios produced “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” Lauren Faust became the new creative director and attempted to stray from the “girly” stereotype of the show, leading to a large fanbase of young adult and middle-aged men.

But many Bronies across the Brony cyber world can’t come up with a reason for their love of the show other than, “It’s just a really great show with great stories,” as quoted many times on MLP blogs. Whether it’s the theme of friendship with a focus on love and tolerance, or if it’s just the pure joy they get from watching the show, many of these Bronies have no shame in publicly expressing their passion for a show that was originally created for young girls.

CONTROVERSY IN EQUESTRIA

Their lives are not all peaches and cream, however. These Bronies feel the torment and stereotypes of watching a show that many others find a bit young for their taste. They are often assumed to be bisexual and are called “queer” or “sexual deviants.”

“I’m not in the closet of being a Brony, most of my friends know of my Bronyism,” said one user from Reddit in a Brony thread.

In 2012, a documentary came out called “Bronies: the Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.” In the film, they follow a man on his adventure though the 2012 BronyCon, gaining more insight on the growing phenomenon. The filmmakers also explore the massive amounts of negative criticism the Brony community receives and how it deals with its “haters,” as Jesel calls them.

“They take something that is just so innocent and pure and just hate it to hate it,” Jesel said.

According to The Brony Study done by Dr. Patrick Edwards and Dr. Marsha Redden, there are five different levels of Bronies. They include the Social Brony, who is publicly open and engaged in the Brony community; the Secret Brony, who is very dedicated but does not publicly admit to their “Bronyhood;” and the Independent Bronies, Hidden Bronies and Mixed Bronies.

These different levels come with different ways of expressing their Bronyism. Some watch the show and produce massive amounts of fan art, but there are others, often targeted by skeptics, who post YouTube videos of in-depth conversations with their plastic pet ponies. Some of these videos come with a disclaimer, as these Bronies can occasionally become intimate and passionate with their small, plastic friends. And other Bronies enjoy “clopping,” in which they become aroused by their favorite ponies in a form of animated pony pornography.

“There usually is a split, not radical, in Bronies between those who like to recognize the show for its innocence, and there are those who view it at a more mature level,” Jesel said.

FANDOM  DEMOGRAPHIC

The average Brony is a single heterosexual male between the ages of 14-57, and while some girls consider themselves Bronies, others consider themselves Pegasisters.

“I don’t really mind Brony or Pegasister. I think some girls prefer Pegasister because Brony implies that they are male, but Pegasister isn’t as well known as Brony,” said Nikki Nettles, Pegasister and psychology sophomore. “But if I had to choose it would be Brony. I feel like Pegasister calls unnecessary attention to the fact that I am a girl.”

Most of the Brony fandom comes from the United States, but Bronies are also popular in the United Kingdom and Australia.

DENTON BRONIES

Bronies on campus are attempting to start their own club and find a safe place to share their passion. Jesel has enjoyed watching MLP for the last two years but claimed that at first, he wanted his friends to think he was watching porn rather than “My Little Pony.”

He now feels that the show has helped him become more social. Jesel hopes to spark more interest in the UNT club and help those who might be shy with his or her love for MLP.

“I hope to bring people together, people who are less comfortable and can talk and open up,” Jesel said. “We can help break them out of their shell.”

Some call it a pastime while others seem obsessed, but all Bronies agree that the show, and everything it stands for, promotes happiness and the foundation for better, more magical friendships.

The Bronies like to challenge their skeptics to just watch one episode – you never know when your Bronyism might come out.

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