Monday, 20 August 2012

Bronies: Friendship is Magic (Guest Post By Jim)

When he's not patiently waiting for me to finish photographing his dinner, my boyfriend likes to watch My Little Pony.  Today, he joins us to answer every question you've ever had about why on Earth a grown man would do this.  (FTR, I like it too!)

I am a twenty-three-year-old man who enjoys a television show targeted at little girls.

The show is called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FIM). Any questions?

Question: You sound creepy.

That’s not a question, but you’re right – the prospect of a grown man enjoying a little girls’ show about ponies does sound creepy. I thought bronies were creepy too when I first heard about them.

Question: “Bronies?”

It’s a portmanteau of ‘bro’ and ‘ponies’. The term refers to an older fan of MLP:FIM. It applies to both men and women, though female bronies are also called ‘pegasisters’ (geddit?).

Question: I have a question about bronies – Why? Just... why?!

Why do adults like a children’s show? Well, for lots of reasons actually.

Here’s my number one reason: It’s a really good show. For reals.

I am not kidding. 

MLP:FIM has all the hallmarks of a great animated TV show: it has interesting characters and spends time developing them, it has great writing with multi-layered humour for its multiple audiences and a spectacular, vivid and colourful animation style.

Think the characterisation of Friends, plus the intricate universe of Star Wars, plus that warm fuzzy feeling you get at the end of an episode of Modern Family when the characters work out their problems and it all ends happy ever after. Oh, then add ponies. Don’t forget the ponies, man.

Best of all, the whole package comes wrapped in a special kind of optimistic spirit that recalls childhood itself.

Good animation, you say?

Question: OK, so that might explain why little girls like the show. But why do you like it?

Well, all those fundamentals production values have a pretty universal appeal, but MLP:FIM also specifically targets its brony fanbase.

During the release of the first season of the show, its creators realised that the show was gathering a huge following online amongst older, particularly male, fans in their teens and twenties.

Instead of ignoring this unanticipated audience, they decided to embed messages for them in the second season. For instance, in the episode The Cutie Pox, ponies are seen in the background that clearly resemble key characters from the cult movie The Big Lebowski.

Question: Are you trolling? That all sounds nothing like the My Little Pony show I remember as a kid.

No I am not trolling you, would I do that to the Expect Cowgirls readership? (Answer: yes I would, but not on this occasion).

There is a good reason that MLP:FIM sounds, and is, nothing like the MLP show you remember as a kid – that show stank. 

In fact, that whole genre of animated kids shows for girls stank. While boys got animated gems the likes of Pokémon and The Big Knights, girls got cutesy, insipid melodramas about fighting with your friends and boy problems.

Here’s what MLP:FIM’s creator Lauren Faust (of Powerpuff Girls fame) has to say about animated shows targeted at girls:

"The female characters have been so homogenized with old-fashioned "niceness" that they have no flaws and are unrelatable.  They are so pretty, polite and perfect; there is no legitimate conflict and nothing exciting every happens.  In short, animated shows for little girls come across as boring... This perception, more than anything, is what I am trying to change with My Little Pony."

Lauren Faust

And on what she's trying to achieve with MLP:FIM:

"Cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness.  Girls like stories with real conflict; girls are smart enough to understand complex plots; girls aren't as easily frightened as everyone seems to think."

Sounds good to me. You should totally check out the first episode on youtube.

After all, friendship is magic.

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