Pony Fandom: A Bit Much?

Remember this guy from the Will You Press The Button? post?

button 2That’s just one of so many more scenarios about ponies on that site that paint the series in a particularly bad light. Others ask, “Fuck the perfect woman” but “It’s a pony.” I think in general that these topics are a tad over the top. But I digress, since the point of this post is whether this My Little Pony hate is warranted.

Now, many MLP haters pressed the button and have been sharing it on Tumblr like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve watched all of MLP. In and of itself, MLP is a great show. Not perfect, but very good.You have good female representation, you have a fairly decent feminist message. If we consider racism in MLP, it has its fair share of bad moments, but in the portrayal of the different types of ponies it has been excellent. Could I complain? Of course I could. But in general, when MLP focuses on what it does best, it does a great job.

So what’s the problem? Well, right now, I think MLP isn’t doing what it does best anymore, largely because of its adult male brony fan base. We’ve covered bronies before multiple times, as well as fanservice to bronies, and in that post, we painted them in a very positive light. The show was still fairly new when that post was written, and I’m writing this post to comment on how that has changed. The way the older part of fandom has seized control of everything that is MLP is not so good. Instead of the show being for its intended audience, young girls, the show has been hijacked by adult males. I think there is a way to appeal to both audiences; the show did initially, after all, which is why bronies exist in the first place. But now the show caters so much to bronies that the little girls are getting screwed over. And the bronies are using their ‘power’ over the show to demand more fanservice and be more obnoxious.

Speaking of obnoxious, the other bad thing about bronies is that they don’t actually ‘love and tolerate’ like they claim to. I follow MLP Confessions on Tumblr, and I can tell you for a fact that MLP fans are probably the least tolerant group of fans I’ve ever seen. In two seconds, they will jump down the throat of someone who doesn’t like their favorite ship, or dislikes their favorite fic. It’s abominable. But the part that makes it so bad is that they think they’re the nicest, most tolerant group on the internet when they’re not. Bronies are an obscenely self-righteous bunch, and that is my issue with them.

Now, do I think this problem justifies taking My Little Pony off the air? No. I think if the MLP executives stopped listening to their adult male fan base, refocused the show, and went back to its Lauren Faust-penned, Season 1 roots, things would be a lot better.

My little pony group

Sexualized Saturdays: A Petition to Stop Using “Bro-” as a Prefix

“You can be affectionate with each other, you can love each other and it doesn’t have to be some – you know, and even if it does turn into something, which it didn’t, then it’s okay… We always sort of flinch at this “bromance” buzzword that’s come up – there’s no equivalent for women, because it’s not weird if women are friends… because of this homosexual terror that straight guys have, it’s ridiculous. Now there has to be this word for it, and it’s crazy. It’s totally sad.”

—Simon Pegg on WTF with Marc Maron, speaking about his relationship with Nick Frost and his feelings on “bromance.” [x]

The concept of ‘bromance’ has been infiltrating pop culture for years now, and like Simon Pegg, I find myself increasingly annoyed with the idea, and well, with most terms that start with ‘bro-‘. They glorify a hypermasculine performance of gender and reinforce the gender binary and they’re just pretty awful. When you think of the word ‘bro’, it conjures up the worst sort of college-age insensitive douchebag, am I right? That sort of linguistic callback is only necessary when you really need to quickly distance yourself from any potential feminine or queer implications. Continue reading

Rejoice, my bronies and pegasisters: MLP has returned!

I intended to write this review last week after the premiere, but you know, school and stuff. Anyway, let’s talk about the premiere two-parter, “The Crystal Empire”, and last Saturday’s “Two Many Pinkie Pies”! In the former, the Mane Six have to help Shining Armor and Cadence save a city from an ancient curse, and Twilight faces an important test. In the latter, Pinkie Pie clones herself because she wants to be able to spend more time with her friends, but hijinks quite obviously ensue.

“The Crystal Empire” had big shoes to fill. Although the first season’s premiere episodes are denigrated as the worst of the series, Season Two had both the premiere with Discord and the finale with Queen Chrysalis and the Changelings, and I think this one suffered living up to it. For a series that has given us a lot of interesting and complex villains throughout the show, I found King Sombra frankly boring.

Continue reading

Bronies, we need to talk.

Okay, bronies. As a fellow fan of My Little Pony and self-identified brony, and as someone who has sung the praises of this particular fandom on multiple occasions, I’m telling you we need to talk. And although I usually use the term ‘brony’ as a catch-all term, in this case I’m directing this at the ‘stereotypical’ straight, white, cis-male brony.

Let’s get something straight. I am a hundred percent supportive of your enjoyment of MLP. I think it’s awesome that you’re finding enjoyment outside your gender’s ‘assigned’ genres, and I encourage you to continue. I am sorry that sometimes people make fun of you for this. But for all you straight, white, cis-male bronies, outside of your pony-related choices of entertainment, you have ALL the privilege. By dint of your being straight, white, cis-guys, your life comes with the lowest difficulty setting.

This is important to remember. Privilege isn’t something to feel guilty about, because it’s not something you can change. But it is something to be aware of. And, being aware of this privilege, you need to make sure you do two things.

1) Do not ever appropriate the sufferings of actual minority groups. The phrase “I know what persecution is, because I am a brony” is not okay. Have you, as a brony, ever been denied legal rights or been considered less than human? Is bronydom a fundamental part of your genetic makeup that you can’t help? Has a religious establishment ever told you that you were going to hell for being a brony? (Or maybe it’s okay to know you’re a brony, but not okay to act on that bronydom?) Are you more likely to be targeted for discrimination by law enforcement, and do crimes committed against your group often go unreported or unprosecuted? Are there countries where you could be killed just for openly being a brony? Stop and think about what you’re saying. Being a brony is being part of a fandom, not part of an underprivileged minority group.

2) Actually make an effort to love and tolerate all people. Bronies seem to be constantly congratulating themselves for being open-minded enough to love something that is considered girly. Step back, bro(nie)s, and consider this: when you think you’re being accepting for deigning to like something girly, or attempt to recast MLP as somehow masculine, you’re actually reinforcing gender stereotypes, not breaking them down. You’re saying “usually girly things are dumb and stupid but, guys, look, this girly thing broke the mold and became awesome!” or “There are totally badass bits in here and therefore it’s manly and okay to like”, instead of “Gee, it sure is dumb to say what genders get to like what kinds of entertainment.”

The MLP fandom is, in general, an inclusive place to be. But these are some of many ongoing issues that need to be addressed. Take heed, my colts, and go forth having learned a (friendship) lesson.

The Limits of Love and Toleration


There’s not going to be a lot of funny things or cute images in this post.  I am pissed and pontificating, so be forewarned if you were expecting a happy MLP post.

The world of memes is an odd one, and there are many that are creepy, sexist, racist, or downright disturbing. The recently-introduced Dolan is all of the above, depending on application.  Dolan is a poorly-drawn, psychopathic reimagination of Donald Duck, and the humor that comes out in Dolan rage comics tends to be anything but – graphic murder, rape ‘jokes’, and mental images that are just unpleasant and terrible, and which, like the Pedobear meme, seem to exist solely to push the boundaries of what is okay to say on the internet.

I don’t usually get involved with drama on other websites.  I’m a born-and-bred lurker, and, on sites like ICanHasCheesburger’s My Little Brony, I scroll past all the images and call it a day.  I hadn’t checked that page yet today, but a faithful follower of this blog and that page put me on the scent of one of the ickiest, most downright reprehensible things I have ever seen posted on that site.

Unfortunately at this point I must warn for rape triggers, something My Little Brony did not have the courtesy to do.

Among the crop of fresh images that was posted this morning was a Dolan comic crossed over (if you can call it that) with MLP.  The image depicted Dolan raping a crying Fluttershy while patting her head and saying ‘Shhh, love and tolerate’ (misspelled, of course, in true Dolan style). It was titled ‘Your Punishment For Abusing the Language Filter’. I will not be posting it or linking to it here.

Let me count the things that are wrong with this image.  First of all, pictures on any of the Cheezburger sites must be vetted through a voting process.  Judging from the comments on this particular image, it is not a picture that 99% of the bronies following this page would have upvoted to a point where it made the front page. This means that the mods of the site plucked this picture out of obscurity and gave it front-page status.  I am not going to say that the creator of this picture is faultless – they are sick as well to think this is in any way appropriate, even within the realm of trolling – but that the mods thought this was something acceptable for the front page is beyond the pale.  They censor out curse words in images/comics and yet feel it’s totally acceptable to post an actual image of brutal interspecies rape on the front page? That’s bucking ridiculous.

Secondly, the caption.  It is a slap in the face to bronies who actually embrace that mantra – love and tolerate – as it 1) suggests that Fluttershy should sit back and accept being violated and 2) says to the bronies who read it: “What are you going to do about this? You have to love and tolerate me – it’s what you believe, don’t abandon that!”  I know that the first, second, and third rules of the internet are ‘Don’t feed the trolls,’ ‘don’t feed the trolls’, and ‘don’t feed the trolls’, but to sit back and accept something like this is, in fact, unnacceptable. It is more in line with the values of MLP to vanquish something like this (through peaceful action, but to vanquish it nonetheless) rather than to sit back and tolerate its goings-on.

Finally, regarding the title.  Comments on Cheezburger pages have a language filter that can be got around with a number of html tricks or by simply saying ‘w3apon’ or ‘$hit’ or typing in binary instead of their fully-lettered alternatives.  (You can’t post comments which contain the actual words.) It’s highly unlikely that the original submitter of this image had used that title; it was probably changed by the mods because of frustration with policing comments. But the message it sends is just disgusting: “If you don’t do what we want you to, we will post pictures of sweet and innocent characters being sexually brutalized.” (It’s a sad irony that the dozens of bronies protesting the posting of this image could not even spell out rape (r@pe) because it was blocked by the filter.) I acknowledge that the language filter is a good idea in theory, but it’s far too easy to circumvent, and posting a picture of rape as a punishment for something as trivial as spelling ‘fuck’ fu( |< is.. I just don’t have words.

In reality, I doubt this picture was intended as ‘punishment’.  I can only assume that some mod thought it would get the site a lot of pageviews and comments.  In either case, however, that mod is a douchebag above and beyond regular douchebaggery, and has failed as both an internet moderator – we put our trust in mods to stop things like this from being posted, not to give them vindication – and as a human being.

This is how I feel. I need a drink.

EDITED TO ADD: The image in question has been taken down by the site, and this text has been posted in their banner: “Let’s call a truce! No more abusing filters and Fluttershy will remain out of harm’s way!”

This just serves to show that they do not regret using a disgusting and triggering image, and feel that we as a community have been taught a lesson through that use.  I am appalled that they are not showing any sort of regret about this incident and instead call for a truce, as though this was a war between people whose viewpoints are equally worthy, rather than a stand against calling filthy rape imagery ‘humor’. I know that for some of the bronies involved this was more about the langauge filter issue than the rape picture itself. Regardless of why we opposed the use of this picture, it still stand that this was an inappropriate and despicable use of mod power.

Pony Fandom: How does it work?!

I’m a terrible horrible no good very bad updater, and for that I apologize. But I’m back with a vengeance. Get ready.

So I’ve spent a bunch of time telling you why ponies are awesome for a lot of reasons, and addressing where they have some issues as well.  Now for my final installment in my MLP series, I wanna touch on the brony fandom itself and some of its high points.


Bronies have banded together for various charitable/fundraising endeavors. They auction albums, art, and other creative works for charity.  They banded together to support the Humble Bundle indie video game charity (you pay whatever you want for the games, and the proceeds go to mostly children’s charities); and dropped hundreds of dollars on original Lauren Faust artwork whose proceeds benefitted post-earthquake Japan.  Bronies have big hearts.

Visibility/Personal Acceptance

Bronies, whether they want to or not, are becoming a more visible part of pop culture purely because of their novelty to the ‘normal’ people.  But from what I can tell, most bronies are owning their bronydom with pride.  This is a refreshing change because it means that somewhere out there is a generation of young people who won’t judge their children or each other for liking things society says their gender shouldn’t like.

Creative Output

Brony fandom has exploded with creative original and manipped works from remixes and original music to art in all mediums imaginable (from felt to plushies to fan-designed pony video games) to fanfiction. One of the most impressive creative works in my opinion are the fanmade video games, simply because of the unpaid effort of designing and coding and debugging an entire game.


I gave this a separate category because it’s one of the most charged areas of brony fandom.  But just as with any fandom, there is everything from cute one-shots, adventure stories, romances, and yes, clopfic (the NC-17 of ponyfic).  Some stories, both ongoing and complete, have already become famous/infamous in fandom (See: My Little Dashie, Fallout: Equestria, and the terrifying Cupcakes).  All I’ll say about clopfic is this: your kink is not my kink, and I don’t want to know that much about horse genitals.  But as far as shipping itself is concerned (especially between the female characters), I think it’s important to separate the characters from the fact that they are nonhuman, and consider that here is a community that we associate with men, writing lesbian relationships that are focused on the romantic rather than the objectifying. If Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy can be together, why not other women? (I personally don’t ship anypony, but mostly because I don’t see the ships, not out of any squick…)

Inclusion and Community Acceptance

Finally, bronies in general tend to be sweethearts.  They take to heart the idea of love and tolerance that sits at the root of the show and run with it.  From small area meetups to conventions like BroNYCon and Everfree North, bronies make an effort to find other bronies and make them feel included.  Jump into fandom and try it out, non-bronies, and I guarantee you’ll be welcomed into the herd. 😉

This concludes my MLP series, everypony, but don’t doubt that I’ll keep posting about it as I’m inspired to, and check out ladybacula’s weekly episode reviews as well!

MLP’s Audience Involvement: Ur Doin It Rite, Hasbro.

Hello all! The ponies are not forgotten! In fact, I am here to bring you the penultimate entry in my pony blog series.

One of the greatest things about the current My Little Pony franchise is the stance Hasbro (who owns the MLP line) and the Hub (which airs the show) take towards its unexpected adult demographic. That is to say, they adore us.

They even mentioned bronies by name in this commercial, which, I must say, outside of being adorable blows Katy Perry’s version out of the water.

This is probably the awesomest. Some companies would recoil and try to retcon anything the older crowd found cool out of the show; others would shrug and ignore. But the clever people at Hasbro have rightly seen a goldmine in their grown-up fans. After all, who’s more likely to want complete collections of all the episodes and merchandise, and be able to afford it? Bronies.

This has led to, among other things, the release of a number of one-episode ponies/background ponies (Such as Vinyl Scratch/DJ PON-3, Princess Luna, etc) as toys, something I’m sure would never have happened if the show’s viewers were the intended demographic. (All of the background ponies who’ve been given names and personalities by fandom would never have been considered for merchandising if there wasn’t an adult fandom to create them.)

The most outstanding example of Hasbro taking inspiration from the fandom is, of course, that of Derpy Hooves.

This filly’s eyes were first crossed by animators accidentally in an early Season 1 episode. But, as obsessive fans are wont to do, the bronies picked up on this, christened her Derpy Hooves, and welcomed her into the herd of fanon ponies. Later in the season, the animation staff started crossing her eyes intentionally as a nod to the brony fandom.  Finally, in the internet-shattering, fandom-breaking Season 2 episode “The Last Roundup”, this happened:

Yes, that is the canon-ization of the character Derpy Hooves. Outside of her being a klutzy pegasus pony, we still don’t know much about her, but that one scene essentially caused bronydom to erupt. They had taken something we had made, and put it, heart and hoof, into the actual show. Imagine that happening in any other series you follow. The love for their fandom at the Hub is staggering.

(As a side note, I know there was some backlash to the episode within fandom where people criticized the show for mocking mentally challenged people with their portrayal of Derpy.  I can see the potential for problematic-ness in the way they started to flesh out Derpy.  However, at the risk of doing whatever the ableist version of mansplaining is, the canonization of Derpy was meant as a tremendous nod to the fans, and not as a hateful act in any way. And I think if they hadn’t paired her with Rainbow Dash in that clip, there wouldn’t have been so much trouble—Dash can be a bitch sometimes, even to her closest friends. End side note.)

Other examples abound, but this, of course, is my favorite. Doctor Whooves is another fan-named background pony who was jokingly designated a My Little Time Lord on account of his hourglass cutie-mark and follicular resemblance to the Tenth Doctor. This particular fanon-to-canon transition was not as publicized as that of Derpy’s, but the animators keep throwing enticing little things into the background, such as in the episode “Sweet and Elite”, where several different versions of a pony with the same hourglass cutie mark were seen.

Also (and this was intentional), in the episode “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” he controlled TIME ITSELF.


So the point of all this is: Hasbro and the Hub have revolutionized the way writers, producers, and merchandisers interact with their fandoms. It’s really awesome to see and be a part of, and is just another reason why being a brony is the way to be.

My Little Gender Roles!

Brace yourselves, everypony! The second content-tastic entry in my ponypalooza starts now!

First let me start out with a big scary observation about gender roles in our society. I certainly agree that it is an ongoing struggle for women to be accepted into traditionally male careers and roles in society.  However, I think that because there’s still an underlying social prejudice that male=better, it’s somehow accepted that women will want to aspire to fit that ‘better’ mold. Whereas when men want to break out of their own traditional roles and seek traditionally female careers, they’re often considered less of a man for it.  To put it in sports terms, a woman who wants to play football is going to be less of a pariah than a man who wants to be a ballet dancer.

These stereotypical ideas of what is male and what is female are socialized into us from a young age when boys are given fire trucks and NERF guns and girls are given baby dolls and toy kitchens. So although it’s certainly difficult for women to find equality in male roles, it’s also frowned upon for a boy to have ‘girly’ interests because that makes him somehow less of a man. (Feel free to argue this in the comments.)

Now, to the topic at hand.

My Little Pony is easily one of the most stereotypically girl-directed franchises out there. The diminuation of manly ‘horses’ into cutesy ‘ponies’, the musical numbers (of which there are gloriously many), the pink and purple logo, and the all-female leading cast all point to a show that our culturally-enforced gender roles would pin down as a girly show.

The beauty of MLP, however, is that it has appealed to a whole different fanbase, and it is making significant waves in this demographic dubbed ‘the brony’, the high-school-through-college-age male MLP fans.  This wave takes the form of legions of boys realizing that traditionally girl-oriented media is cool too, and that liking it doesn’t immediately turn them gay, or whatever teenage boys are scared of these days. And, even better, the majority of MLP fans have really taken to heart the messages of love and tolerance at the heart of the show, and are moving past the antiquated idea that ponies=gay and that being called gay=bad, and tend to respond to haters and trolls in the best way possible: by smiling, and nodding, and then totally ignoring their worthless opinions and moving on with their lives.

There are still some problems in the fandom, for example, despite the ‘love and tolerate’ battlecry of the bronies, a lot of guy MLP fans will still qualify their ‘coming out’ as a brony with some variation of ‘no homo’ or ‘but I’m totally not gay or anything’, which just spits a little bit of homophobia back into a fandom that is otherwise working really hard to break down the stereotypical gender conventions of ‘what girls like’ and ‘what boys like’.

Pegasisters (the designation for a female MLP fan) don’t have as much of a struggle with this – they just have to explain why they’re watching a show for 8-10 year olds. Boys whowant to be open about their pony-directed love, on the other hand, have to brave the emasculation of society to do so. (The number of rage comics I’ve seen about boys having to pretend they were buying pony figures for their sisters is TOO DAMN HIGH.)

Society’s reactions in general, so far, have been a bit meh.  Despite the fact that geekiness has been becoming the new cool for years now, the desire to ridicule that which you do not understand (in this case, ‘grown men’ liking ponies, but the same could be said for news media’s attempts to explain lolcats or cosplaying) still continues to run rampant in the media.  (Although the Wall Street Journal took the classy neutral ground.)

However, it fills my little filly-fooling heart with joy to say that the brony subculture is here to stay, and is encouraging other boys to both defy ‘demographic’ stereotypes and like things on their own merit rather than on their perceived gender audience and ‘despite’ (I say that with a great rolling of eyes) the stumbling block of a nearly all-female cast, and to love and tolerate the differences between and opinions of everypony.

Previously in Ponies:

What Makes My Little Pony an Awesome Show for Little Girls (And Grown-ups)!