Learning to Accept Your Brony Friends – Geek Advice

Dear Pink Hair Girl,

My friends want me to watch My Little Pony. Is this some sort of internet joke? They don’t talk a lot about it when we’re all hanging out, but online, it’s just a constant stream of links to ponies.  So, I finally watched the first two episodes, and I don’t really feel anything. I asked if they watch it to make fun of it or something, but they keep insisting it’s awesome. They all say they’re proud to be ‘bronies’, and it blows my mind that there’s all this commotion over a TV show for little girls. Can someone please explain?

- Human in Ponyville

Dear HP,

This must be awfully confusing for you. One minute you and your friends are busy playing Team Fortress, and the next they’re posting pictures on Facebook of what they would look like if they were ponies.  Or what playing Team Fortress would look like full of ponies.

So you’ve watched the first two episodes, and can’t figure out what all the hullabaloo is about. It’s a cartoon full of brightly colored rainbow super-deformed ponies who fly around and sing about magic and friendship. Right? Absolutely it is, and your adult male friends LOVE IT. Your first reaction upon hearing that a guy friend likes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (or MLP:FIM from now on), is likely to poke fun at his masculinity, or question his sexuality.  Nope! It seems like EVERYONE is into ponies, but I bet you’re pretty sure that you’re not the crazy one.

I could start off by saying that the first couple episodes probably aren’t the best the show’s got to offer, but if you didn’t like them, then I don’t know if any particular episode I could suggest would change your mind.  So instead, I’m going to list some of the reasons I’ve come across when Bronies talk about why they like MLP:FIM so much.

  • The animation is high quality – If you compare the old MLP cartoon to this new one, the difference is strikingly obvious. Even without comparing the two, MLP:FIM has some pretty stunning animation. Go watch some clips of it on YouTube in 1080p and appreciate the visuals for a second. It’s all really well executed!
  • The jokes are well timed – That slap-stick cartoon humor is in high form here. It’s simple, edgy, self-aware, and efficient. A little like the kind of humor that won me over the first time I watched the Emperor’s New Groove, which was the first animated Disney movie I remember thinking wasn’t really targeted at just children. Speaking of which!
  • It doesn’t insult your intelligence – Sure, there are moments here and there where you’re reminded that this is meant for little girls, like when they reveal the moral at the end of the episode, but for the most part, the whole thing plays out without assuming that the audience has the mental capacity of a 4 year old. In fact, some of the humor resonates with adults more than it would children, without compromising any of the innocence.  This has become a common theme in the past decade or so, since film studios realized they could get more butts in seats if adults could enjoy children’s movies too. The target-bending phenomenon that is MLP:FIM is just further proof that it works for TV shows as well.
  • It’s full of Tropes that aren’t Cliches – The heavy characterizations and the familiar plots, make this a comforting show to absorb. Better yet, it barely steps a hoof into the territory of ‘girl cartoon’, seeing as how all the ponies give off a strong sense of individual personality, aren’t boy crazy, and don’t obsess over shopping. If you’re a Pegasister, like myself, there’s at least one pony who reminds you of one of your girl friends, and that’s a good thing! It’s full of relatable stories, plot-lines, and personalities that don’t feel stale or over-done. It’s like a piece of candy that’s just the right amount of sweet.
  • The show listens to its fans – On the forefront of audience interactivity for TV shows is MLP:FIM. My favorite example of this is when fans spotted a cross-eyed ‘filler pony’ in the background of a crowd of ponies. They lovingly named her Derpy Hooves, and made up a back story about how she’s the mail carrier in Ponyville. Wouldn’t you know it, the show’s creators listened, put cross-eyed Derpy Hooves in the show, and made her a mail delivery pony. Another favorite show of mine, Adventure Time, also takes on the interactivity tactic with it’s audience. When fans began to draw opposite-gender versions of the show’s characters on Deviant Art, lo and behold, the alternate-world characters became a part of the show.  This is all about being able to listen to your fans, and giving them some love. Which brings me to my next point.
  • There is SO MUCH love – The Brony community is actually one of the nicest group of folks out there. I mean, sure you still have your trolls and flamers out there, but Ponychan for the most part is just about sharing the lols. Yes, you herd me right. Ponychan. When 4Chan could no longer handle the volume of people posting ponies in /b/ (the home of Anonymous), couldn’t handle how many topics got derailed by ponies, how many people snuck in as much pony as possible, they told the Bronies to make their own board, and so they did.  It’s all pretty glorious, I can’t look at the Ponychan image boards without busting a gut laughing at some of the memes. I’d say that at least half of my positive experience with MLP:FIM is the camaraderie. It’s as though Friendship really IS magic.
  • Lauren Faust is phenomenal – She started as a character artist for The Maxx (my god, remember THAT show?), then worked her way up to write/produce Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and now MLP:FIM. All along the way she’s helped shape the evolution and the landscape for cartoons today.  Consequently, Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home had a lot of adult fans as well, they just didn’t happen to blow up as virally as MLP.  They’ve recently announced that in the Spring of 2012, Faust will be producing a show called Super Best Friends Forever, made up of cartoon shorts featuring Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wondergirl. I nearly EXPLODED WITH HAPPINESS when I heard this. DC + Lauren Faust! OMG I can die happy come 2012.  So, y’know prepare yourself for that, because that’s probably the Armageddon I keep hearing about.

I really hope that these reasons have helped clear up some of the confusion. I promise that your guy friends aren’t going to mutate into female children. Well, ok, I CAN’T promise that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. I dunno what would be causing it, but definitely NOT watching My Little Pony. If you’ve decided for sure that you really aren’t into the show, then you know what? It’s not for everyone, and it’s ok that you’re not a Brony! As long as you can understand where your friends are coming from, maybe you can be a … Unicousin? Yeah! Welcome to the herd, Unicousin.
List of Real Things

If you’ve got a snag in your social life, cramping your g33k style, feel free to ask me for some advice!
Write to pinkhairgirl@g33kwatch.com.

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Pink Hair Girl

After her DNA was spliced with that of a jelly fish, Olivia became known to all as Pink Hair Girl. She also gives advice to geeks all around the world.

21 Comments:

  1. I accept bronies because they are just geeking out about something they love. I still haven’t found a reason to love it myself but I am absolutely certain I geek out over plenty of pointless things that my friends will never fully understand. Its all good.

    I think that it is important to remember that being a geek is about how you relate to things in your world. Being a brony is a very geek type of expression. It is full of passion, digging way too deep into the details of the subject and having an insider language and sense of humor amongst other things.

    I think that once “geekness” is recognized in this more general way and people realize that it isn’t limited to a certain small set of subjects we can grow our community and we will be the mainstream ones. :)

    Unfortunately I still don’t get ponies.

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    • That’s ok. As long as you still love us bronies.

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      • Pinky, you are not a brony! you are a Pony! bronies = Bro + Ponies

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        • It’s been stated by many in the MLP:FiM community that the term “Brony” is gender neutral, and can be used to address both male and female fans.

          A similar term, “Pegasister”, has also been used (As in this very blog) but doesn’t seem to have caught on as well… too many syllables, probably.

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  2. Totally awesome! Lay me summ’dat hoof! *bump*

    I couldn’t imagine it being put any better. I’m truly impressed. I want to show this to all my friends. This really does sum it up. That and they’re adorable. They’re just so incredibly adorable in every way.

    This show is practically miraculous. I feel like it’s -healing- my innocence and soothing away all my jaded, cynical, bitter elements, lifting them away like grimy curtains and letting me see the sun again for the first time in years. I love this show, because it has done so much for me.

    I’m so proud to see that represented so stunningly well in your article. Thank you very much for writing it! ^_^

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    • *brohoof* sing it, brony.

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      • As an old pony fan, I don’t get why people like it, even though you gave those wonderful examples. I personally, think that, all the change has ruined what I have called for many years, my childhood. I have absolutely NOTHING against “bronies”, NOTHING. All i’m saying, and I think a few others can relate, is that, since it appeals in a “way” to some people, mostly grown ups, that it isn’t the “my little pony” I grew to love back when.

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  3. MLP:FIM isn’t for everyone and after watching a few episodes to see what the fuss was about I came to the conlusion that it was well put together but not for me. That said I do enjoy some of the fan content that has resulted from it and the way the creators have embraced their audience.

    I’m no brony but I can see why it appeals to others and some of the captions that turn up are pretty funny.

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    • I feel the same way.

      But I will say this…

      questioning gender stereotypes is awesome in my book.

      Love what you love, Bronies. Anyone doesn’t understand?

      Their loss.

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  4. I definitely enjoy the prospect of being called a Brony, and I loved me the Power Puff Girls but I have yet to give the show a true shot as of yet. That being said, gotta love all the enthusiasm the fans are having so good on them. =)

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  5. HECK YES!!! Also, PinkHairGirl – Don’t separate yourself by being a ‘pegasister’ – You’re a Brony too! <3 AND SO AM I!

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  6. Yo, one problem. This show IS an insult to the intelligence. Everything else is true, the community is one of the best I’ve ever seen (although certain outpost communities can be insufferably smug and politics is still a hot button), but the show makes me want to go on a hate rampage every time I try to watch it. The rainbows, hearts, and pink stuff everywhere is annoying, the voices are unbearably high and squeaky, the whole thing is just unbearable.

    Plus, the pink one makes me want to punch things even without all the other bilge.

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    • Are you sure you’re watching the most recent version of the show? My Little Pony has been around as a vehicle for little brushable pink horse toys since the 80′s. In 2010 they started the 4th generation, which is the only one to which this article applies.

      I recently watched a clip from a 3rd generation show, and it was only 5 minutes long but I could barely force myself to keep watching. It was just so completely devoid of… anything. I don’t think even little girls should be watching something like that. I think the plot was something like: One pony visits another one and finds her friend buried in a gigantic pile of hats for some reason. They both laugh. They hold a fashion show where everyone dresses up in frilly dresses, and then at the end everyone gets prizes and they all cheer. I actually can’t remember a single line of dialogue, although I do remember they said some things. Probably along the lines of “YAY FASHION SHOW!” “YOU ALL WIN!” It was so free of actual content it just didn’t even stay in my brain.

      That is not the stuff that the internet likes. The fans are specifically talking about the 4th generation ponies, also referred to as Friendship Is Magic.

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      • That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

        Speaking of which, is it just me or do Spike and Rarity both sound sorta like Justin Bieber?

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        • LOL, I’m just weirded out by all the “relations” people post about this kid show. The spike I grew up with was the baby pink dragon who dreamed of being a, “big brave dragon”. So funny how G1 and G3 were so interesting to me, and by G4 I thought it went overboard. ._.

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    • It’s ok Shotgun Chuck! We all like different things!

      Although, if you’re intelligence is insulted by lots of pink peppy enthusiasm, then I’m afraid I can do nothing for you, son! <3

      But here’s a cupcake anyway.

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  7. Small correction: fans of Adventure Time did not draw the gender-swapped versions of Finn and Jake (well they probably did, but the one you’re thinking of wasn’t). That was done by the show’s character designer, Natasha Allegri.

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  8. :O

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  9. I can understand the reasoning behind liking it, since I did recognize the artwork style as being the same as certain older quality shows, but…

    I have a sister 4 years younger than me, and guess what she used to be into? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look past that fact.

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  10. And I remember when I watched G3 Pinky Pie was my ULTIMATE favorite character, and now I’m like, uhh… Creepy, annoying, and… yeah.

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