Friendship is Magic? The Mysterious World of the Brony

Laura Mooney, Arts Editor

Who would have thought that a show about colorful horses teaching lessons about tolerance and love, targeted for girls under ten, would find it’s home amongst boys ranging from their teens all the way up to their thirties. Well, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic seems to have filled this once untapped niche quiet nicely.

 

On August 25th, in Richmond, B.C, the first annual Brony convention, aptly named BronyCAN, was held to celebrate all things associated with the successful television show. BronyCAN featured musical artists, special guests, including voice actors from the show, and even action figures exclusively designed for the convention. Hundreds of fans gathered, many of them being men and self proclaimed “Bronies”, donned in full costume to declare their allegiance to the show and express their support. Of course, those of the Brony community who attended the convention are aware that their odd obsession is usually met with trepidation, but in response to those who may call their show of choice strange, most of the men respond with, “you have to see it for yourself”.

 

This raises the question though, what exactly is the draw of the show? What is it that makes grown men melt into peaceful, pony- loving beings? In order to find out, one must begin by banishing every ounce of pride, sitting down with a big fuzzy blanket (perhaps even a stuffed animal), and watch the show. Although first created in the early 1990’s, the My Little Pony being aired today was rebooted in 2010 with a new image to appeal to the next generations. With the ponies now appearing as thought they came straight from an anime, ponies like Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy, aim to teach lessons about making friends, dealing with being different, acceptance, tolerance, and standing up for what you believe in. So in order to fully understand the hypnotic pull of the ponies, I grabbed my fuzzy blanket, regressed back to childhood, and watched the show.

 

In an episode entitled “Griffon the Brush-Off”, the ponies are dealt the difficult situation of figuring out what to do when you not only don’t get along with your own best friend’s BFF, but when said BFF is, (to use Pinky Pie’s phrasing) a big mean grumpy mean meanie pants. After the neon ponies had performed their parade across my laptop screen, and the end credits began to roll, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of emptiness, like there was something they had left out. Then it hit me. While most television shows, children’s TV included, revolve around central conflict, here was this little cartoon with no devious villain, no fighting, no troubles, nothing. Essentially the only conflict in the show was resolved through calm discussions, and was usually dealt with within seconds of the conflict arising. By the end of the episode, these hooved creatures had managed to teach me valuable life lessons like knowing when a joke has gone to far, what to do when you see someone commit a crime, and how to stand up to your friends when necessary, all with much conflict. What I had just experienced was a calm, tender show about how friendship, unity, and being kind to those around you can solve even the largest of problems. Suddenly the world didn’t seem so dreary, the biggest problems didn’t seem so big, and I knew that with the power of friendship I could do anything! Whoa…maybe the show really is hypnotic. I need to go play some Grand Theft Auto.

 

So although is it clear to see why this show is a hit with the younger crowd, even after sitting through one sickeningly sweet episode the question of why grown men are willingly watching it, and even flocking to conventions so celebrate it, still remains. Perhaps it is the flashing bright colors and simple animation that draws them in like moths to the flame. Or maybe the quirkiness of the characters tickles the funny bones of men in particular. Or perhaps it is just nice to watch a show, even if it is about ponies, where people (or ponies) are genuinely nice to one another. Whatever it may be, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic can thank the Brony community for aiding their success, and can only hope that these peculiar conventions will continue on for years to come.