This comes to mind as I'm about to study at Macquarie University in less than a week. Since I am not a very social person, I decided to look at the student groups to which I could join so I can connect with various people and socialize with them more than I haven't. What I found out is that Macquarie has a group for bronies and it has already more than 75 members which is more than enough to make it an 'official' organisation.
People groan about the mention of MLP on any website, whether something is "ponified" or whether someone wrote dreadful fan fiction of tit or if they're turned on by ponies or put simply how it's bizzare for someone in their mid 20s to enjoy a show that's mainly aimed at Toddlers in Tiaras. Any reason to discuss the show explodes out of proportion. I can clearly understand that, but does that make it worst than every other hated fanbase or meme like the Bieliebers, Juggalos, YOLO or every advice animal macro? The answer is no. And I'll tell you why.
As someone who watched the first and second season of the show, it was only out of curiosity and then there are some episodes that had me hooked. Creator Lauren Faust had created Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie out of every romantic heroine from classic novels from Jame Austen to Emily Bronte, hence these characters have a distinctive personality of what they do. One good thing I can say about MLP: FiM is that for the most part, they do emphasize on messages about being yourself and that friendship is what develop you as a person, despite having to use the latter as a god-like power over villainous characters in earlier episodes. But the best thing about it is perhaps the reaction towards it and for me at least, the show presents such a content and light-hearted tone that makes you more happier than you ever were.
The only advantage MLP has over current superior cartoons particularly Adventure Time is how they present conflict. I'm not saying that AT is worst in not doing that, in fact it's very great in showing how problems can be resolved in a shorter and less violent way, but in their case, the conflict presented is primarily based on good vs. evil. We only see Jake and Finn fighting the Ice King simply for the sake of fighting evil when in actuality he's a lonely, misunderstood figure who wants to connect with people, only for the duo to see it as bait for his Schemes. Jake and Finn in every episode never fight with one another which for me is very unusual. Conflict that is outside of one's self is perhaps the one way to make a creative work more interesting because that is the core in storytelling. In terms of realism, the fact that we never see Jake and Finn break off because of something personal is very uncommon with most friendships depicted in TV and movies. Troy and Abed at some points can't stand each other, but that doesn't mean they're out of touch entirely, it even can be said for Fry and Bender, Mordecai and Rigby, Beavis and Butthead, almost everybody in these cartoons has some sense of conflict. With MLP, we seen some tension between Rarity and Fluttershy about their tastes in fashion and Rainbow Dash with Applejack in a running race so they present some difference in interest within their friendship.
|Don't ask me about who is who. The important thing to remember is that this is interpersonal conflict.|
But going back to my main point, why bronies are more despised than every fandom and is it actually the worst? Is it because of the show itself or is it the fact that most people that are not the target audience enjoy it? Well for every fanbase, it's normal to receive their fair share of haters, but in the digital age, it's inevitable for something weird or bizarre occurring to become widespread (Gangnam Style and Rebecca Black are examples of that)
Bronies aren't really the first fanbase to show that someone of another demographic enjoys a piece of pop culture that isn't considered for them. So many kids I know listen to classic rock and jazz instead of Top 40 or indie rock; the Die Hard franchise had a female following and Bridesmaids vice versa.
Another example is that James Deen, an adult star who has a fanbase of more than 20000 teenage girls which may parallel the brony phenomenon with the unexpected following considering that women are not fond of porn. In both cases, there are fears that the followers will be "degraded into whores and pedophiles upon watching. It threatens our morality and our taste in entertainment". I would call "bullshit" on that statement because what we watch doesn't make us do something that isn't ethical. But it's that we do something unethical to create an exact replica of what we watch.
|Hey girl. It's important that I put the meat into you|
An argument that I can clearly accept against the bronies is that they can influence the show they have thoroughly enjoyed. Season 2, while having a decent opening two parter, fell apart as they try to attract more bronies by inserting references to films adults remember such as The Big Lebowski, Indiana Jones and at some point Star Trek. Most fanbases have an influence to the creator's work and they can have different outcomes for the non-fan if the demand from them is huge. For most teen pop singers, to maintain your fanbase, you have to please them more than a scale of 11 and they will buy your music. That's why Justin Bieber has to sing about having sex with his female groupie to keep his prominence. With MLP, it's basically putting every allusion to that thing you love growing up but your kids won't know that suffice as doing an impression. If you resort on your fans to do your work, I maintain that you would be better off without them. It wouldn't be why I give up on MLP, but it's reasons why a show actually decline as it grew popular.
Another aspect of the "worst thing ever" is the impact. With men watching MLP, does this reduce their masculinity? Absolutely not. The same can be said for fans of things that are really cool to hate like Justin Bieber or Twilight. Doug Walker once said that young people grew up on characters that are not of real life and they might look up to them more than their parents, but once they get older they adapt because the reality compared with a show like Save By The Bell is imminent and has more chance experiencing things that are challenging, or stuff that most people will certainly face. They look at real people that are helping them for the best. (Go to six minutes and you'll see his speech)
Bronies are more likely to move on with their routine of watching the show or save it as their spare time since they have other things to do. People who grew up with cheesy shows will transcend into society and contribute to it greatly by doing their jobs. E.g. - Tammy, who goes for Team Edward, went on to become a respected lawyer. Samantha, who has One Direction posters in her room, is studying to become a climate scientist. And Bob, who watches My Little Pony every week, may become a doctor who might find a cure for cancer. These people will admit what they read, watch or listen to is stupid, but they'll know their lives are important than anything else.
|And someday he'll tell you how foot-to-mouth actually exists.|
I'm Adrian Nguyen and I say love and tolerate.