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Male audience ponies up ‘Friendship is Magic’

Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011

Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 15:11


Brony. The combination of "bro" and "pony," a brony is a self-describing term used to identify males who watch, follow and are fans of the show "My Little Pony."

Having originally aired in the 1980s, the colorful animated show featuring a variety of ponies was re-launched in Oct. 2010.

Aimed at young girls, the newer version of the show, "Friendship is Magic," has attracted a surprisingly large number of male viewers.

The show takes place in the fantasy world of Equestria and follows a young unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, who is mentored by the ruler of Equestria, Princess Celestia.

After noticing that Twilight Sparkle spends all of her time studying and little to none of her time making friends, Princess Celestia sends her protégé to the town of Ponyville to make friends and learn the magic of friendship.

This sounds like the very last thing that most any male would be interested in watching, right? Viewer ratings and polls say otherwise.

Yet even the most zealous bronies admit to finding their dedication a tad surprising. Shaun Scotellaro, 23-year-old creator of the pony-inspired website, Equestria Daily, said, "Honestly, if someone were to have told me I'd be writing a pony blog seven months ago, I would have called them insane."

His sentiments are echoed by fellow fans, who have similarly surrendered to the show's appeal.

While some male fans feel a little foolish for enjoying a show aimed at a much younger audience, many attribute their devotion to the show's exceptional animation, multi-dimensional characters and interestingly entertaining plot.

Likewise, some viewers claim to identify with the plucky ponies, relating the characters' flaws and problems to their own lives.

There seems to be no apparent trend among the male viewers. Followers range from homosexual to heterosexual, young to old.

The hype goes beyond merely viewing the show, and many male fans collect figurines based on the show's characters, create fan pages, post their own pony art and upload pony videos to YouTube.

By the end of season one, bronies claimed to be ravenous for more of the show.

Time will tell whether the lapse between season one and two will cause the hype to die down, or it may serve to create even more bronies.

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Sun Nov 27 2011 04:16
I guess some people still find the brony phenomenon surprising. Honestly, it's only slightly more surprising than the fandoms that developed for shows like Spongebob. The only truly differentiating factor is the intended demographic, the fact that the show was directed towards young girls specifically. The way the show is arranged, it functions as a source of pure and unadulterated entertainment. If you made it an anime with humans, elves, aliens, talking animals, or whatever... It'd likely still work. It's just that in this case, the main characters are ponies... Awesome pastel colored ponies, with pegasus wings and unicorn magic. There's mythical beasts like dragons, manticores, hydras, and more.


Wed Nov 23 2011 14:40
A couple things:
1) "Brony"is a gender-neutral term that also applies to female fans outside the target age.
2) The second season is well underway and if anything the fandom is larger than ever.
Wed Nov 23 2011 14:09
The show has a very rich underlying connection with pop culture, classic media, and even has truly worthwhile social commentary. The creators have admitted to doing it "to entertain themselves", but of course, that entertains us too. This show has so much "nerd compatible" content, that it was almost bound to become an internet culture hit. References to Star Trek and Star Wars are so entrenched in the show, that the only shows that come to mind with more would be Family Guy and Robot Chicken. That alone is a bold statement. One of the villains was even a direct tribute to the famed Star Trek antagonist "Q"... so much so, that he's voiced by the actor who played "Q" in Star Trek, John DeLancie. The character he played was essentially a reprisal of his old Star Trek character. The end of that episode did a parody of the medal scene at the end of Star Wars (yes, Star Trek and Star Wars parodies in the SAME EPISODE). One entire episode was essentially a tribute to Trouble with Tribbles. Another episode was a morality play on the issues of racism back in the 1960s. One episode gave an awesome double shout out to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (watch for the racing numbers... Twilight, the resident bookworm has the number 42). There are no less than 2 Benny Hill style chase scenes in the series, and the shout outs and imitation and parody of classic Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, Harry Potter, and countless other TV shows, movies, books, and more make the show entertaining for adults, as well as children!

Ultimately, this has become one of my favorite shows in years! The fan community, and the camaraderie has become one of the most endearing parts of the fandom. That's been the most powerful part of this. I've been a fan of a show before, but this... This is unique, new, like NOTHING I've ever experienced. Earlier this week, I shared a message in regards to how "I" watch the show. I'll start with how I watch every other show... And then share that message regarding how I watch MLP.

(due to weirdness in this site not wanting to post, I've been splitting this comment, one comment below, one more to appear above)

Soren Harmonia
Wed Nov 23 2011 11:20
Yeah, the lapse over the summer is what made me a brony, actually. I had heard about the fandom beofre, and I thought they were all nuts. Then, a friend of mine recommended to me that I just watch the first episode, and... well, the rest is history.
Wed Nov 23 2011 09:31
There's also a significant following of adult females, most of whom have also adopted the label "brony" (though some prefer "pegasister"). The broad appeal is a bit less surprising when one considers this latest MLP series is the brainchild of Lauren Faust, who played a key role in The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, two other cartoons with large adult followings; while it was obviously going to be targeted at young girls, Ms. Faust also tried to make it enjoyable for their parents and for boys.

If anyone's curious about it, episodes are easy to find on YouTube (at least for now); "Bridle Gossip", "Suited for Success", and "Sisterhooves Social" are all good starting points, IMO.

Wed Nov 23 2011 07:11
***How I watch every other show:
I set my TiVo to record it, or download it from the internet. I watch it, and skip the commercials if there are any. Then I delete the show. If it's a very good show, I might transfer it from my TiVo to my computer, or if it's a download, just keep it on the computer. That's it.

***How I watch "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic":

"I jump onto the Bronystate livestream the day before (when possible), and enjoy up to two movies and one or two already aired episodes of My Little Pony with my fellow bronies, chatting and commenting on what we see, together. Often time, especially if the "B" movie is particularly bad, the chat tends to get an old MST3K vibe! LOL!

Afterwards, we watch whatever PMVs and anime and Star Trek (good "Q" episode last night BTW) till we get tired. If I don't work the next day, I sometimes don't go to bed at all! I mean, hay, last week, in the Twilight Sparkle room, I was playing Skyrim, and chatting, and watching the livestream, all at once. I found a book in a cabin and had a good laugh, cause it was written in rhyme, Zecora style. I asked if I should "read" it to the room. They said go for it, and I transcribed the entire book over chat. It was about A king who needed a new alchemist after his last one exploded. He decided to hold a competition between the two finalists. The goal, make an invisibility potion. One succeeded, but the other made a stupid mistake and made the wrong thing... but it ended up being an intelligence potion, that made him the far superior choice for the king.

All. In. Zecora. Style. Rhyme.

It was SO AWESOME!!!

If I go to sleep, I set my alarm for about 30 minutes before the episode. I restart my browser, deal with a little Strawberry Shortcake before hand, eat some breakfast (usually some soup, a sandwich, or recently, oatmeal... Yeah, I know, crazy, huh?).

Then, it begins! I watch the episode! I enjoy the live commentary from other bronies. I witness the ideas and memes that develop pop up live as they are born. I participate myself. Most importantly, I enjoy the episode, and I usually watch the repeat as well, just to let it soak in. If I work, then I go to work. If I don't, then I take a nap after the long night before. Either way, when I get up or get home, there is usually an HD youtube vid available. I don't bother waiting for download links. I use ClipNabber to download the youtube file and save it.

Once downloaded, I copy it to my PS3, and watch it again (usually my second or third time of the day), but this time, in HD on my TV.

Later in the week, when a clean rip is made available, I download it and replace the old vid on my PS3 with the new one, and watch it again, in pure unadulterated glory.

Then I pray once again for the release of MLP:FiM on Bluray.

And that's how Equestria was made (In my BRAIN!)"


Quite the difference!

Wed Nov 23 2011 04:35
That was a nice article, i have but one problem with it, the ending:

"Time will tell whether the lapse between season one and two will cause the hype to die down"
After reading that, i was thinking i was reading some year-old article, and had to triple-check the posted date.

FYI: The lapse didnt affect bronies, and the season two has already begun 2 months ago, and shows promising results even greater than the first season.

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