I have a confession to make which will tie into this blog post. It would appear this weekend I have gotten into a show that well, wasn’t really meant to be watched and enjoyed by adult men in this first place but somehow it has ushered quite the following from the 18-35 male demographic. Now if you are a “Brony” or know what one is or you’re familiar with the fandom then you’ve recognized the blog title and already know exactly what show I am now officially hooked on. For those who don’t know what a “Brony” is then allow me to explain. “Bronies” are males from ages 18-35 (sometimes older and sometimes younger) who are avid fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. That’s right, I have gotten hooked to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and before you start looking at me funny or calling me gay or think that I’m some weird sick and twisted individual for watching a show that is aimed at little girls I need to explain to you why the fuss and why the show is so critically acclaimed way outside of its demographic and why I have fallen in love with the show.
The show was originally written by Lauren Faust (Has also worked on “Kids Next Door”, “The Powerpuff Girls”, and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) who as a child loved playing with the ponies from the toy line. After pitching her own show to Cartoon Network, she was brought on as a writer for the fourth iteration of the “My Little Pony” cartoon line. Using her childhood experiences with her own toy ponies, rather than write another soulless, plain, shallow, and stereotypical girl’s cartoon that probably would get canned within a few months she sought to create something different, something that would challenge societal gender norms. Using characters from the toy line and using her awesome imagination she created characters and stories with depth that I haven’t seen in cartoons in a VERY LONG TIME!!!! Now you have to understand that I am a 90’s child who grew up in an era that featured quality shows that blow most of today’s shows out of the water. Very few shows these days have impressed me. I think most of today’s kids shows are complete garbage, generic train wrecks of shows that can’t stay on the air longer than a year. I normally don’t care much for cartoons these days with the exception of a few but something about this one was different. This show has substance and most importantly, it’s really easy to relate to and with the person who work on Powerpuff Girls (one of the many 90’s classics) spearheading the project, why not?
Now I used to feel iffy about the brony culture and thought it was weird that adult males fell in love with a show aimed at girls. Recently I watched a documentary on Netflix “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony” where they broke down the stables of the Brony culture and followed the lives of a few Bronies, one of which has Aspergers whom I connected with quickly. It followed his trip to London to attend a BronyCon (a series of giant conventions across the world for fans of the show and toy line) and I connected with his obsession with interests but most importantly his unease with interacting with random people and how meeting with so many people who had his shared interest helped him come out of his shell. It reminded me of how safe I feel when I go to gaming conventions like PAX East and see many other who are just as nerdy and geeky as I am but lets get back to this blog post shall we? The common misconception is that most Bronies are creepy men who have no life but honestly, Bronies are regular average people like you and I. You’d be surprised the type of people who actually watch the show.
Now after watching the documentary and casting aside many of the stereotypes I had conjured up about Bronies, I decided it was time to give the show a chance. I’m not gonna lie, I felt a little dirty at first loading that show up on Netflix but one episode turned into two which turned into four which turned into eight and well you know the deal. I was hooked and I kept watching and watching and watching. Even when I was tired I wanted more and more and more. It was the first time in ages that I had fallen in love with a cartoon the way I did. So now we get to the question that has been on everyone’s mind since they started reading this blog, what the hell is so great about a show aimed at little girls? To answer this question we have to start with a little analogy strictly for my male 90s readers. Remember that first time you watched Sailor Moon and you said to yourself “well shit this is a show for girls, I can’t be watching this” but something in you decided to give it a chance and somehow you were instantly hooked. You couldn’t explain why at the time but boy were you hooked and you never looked back. Watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is kind of like that except now you’re old enough to understand why you’re now hooked to a cartoon originally aimed at girls ages 2-11. Aesthetically it looks like a show aimed at it’s intended demographic but when you peel back the layers you see something more. For the first time in ages you see a show with substance, a show with simple yet deep stories that are easy for anyone to relate to, a show that is phenomenally written, a show that has the personality of many of the shows you grew up with and most importantly, a show with simple stories that are designed to teach very valuable lessons that are applicable to our everyday lives. Below I shall list a few of the lessons gained from watching the show that everyone young and old should live by. They are also lessons that society unfortunately has forgotten over the years and the world would be a much important place if we followed these simple lessons.
1. A problem that’s is minuscule to you may be larger within the context of someone
You ever talk to someone about all the things that are going on in your life or that one thing that bothered you today or made you upset and the first response is always something along the lines of “oh what’s the big deal” or “quit bitching” or “you’re getting all worked up for nothing”? Most of us have at some point and at one point or another you were the person who delivered the said responses to your friend’s problems. No matter how small someone’s problems are to you, within the context of their lives they could be the weight of the world. It isn’t our place to tell people that they’re making a big deal for nothing and that they need to stop complaining. They came to you because they need your support no matter how minuscule their matter may seem to you. You’d be surprised by how much of a difference you can make just by offering that shoulder to lean on.
2. Sometimes we just all need to be shown a little kindness
A smile can go a long way and even a simple act of kindness like hold the door for someone or saying hello to someone can make their day. I get easily intimidated by people, especially when I don’t know them that well. There was a clique of girls in my college that always rolled together and I never knew how to feel about them and I didn’t know how they felt about me. I got pretty nervous when they rolled around. They seemed like nice people but with my defenses up I never knew what to expect. One day while I was walking the hall of my dorm I just happened to walk by one of the girls in the said clique and she said hi to me and I said hi back. When I got back to my room the first thought that came to my mind was “holy shit she actually acknowledged my existence”. After getting to know her more in my final two years of college I can easily say she is one of the most down to earth people I have ever met and our football rivalry has continued long after college (She’s an avid New York Giants fan but it’s all good). It’s important to be kind to everyone you know, no matter how intimidating they are and no matter how intimidated they are by you. A simple hello or even a simple smile can make a world of a difference.
3. Don’t take on more than you can chew and when you do, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Many times in our life we will find ourselves over estimating our strengths to the point that we’ve dug ourselves into a ditch deeper than your family plot. It is important to be realistic when setting goals and fixing problems and tackling tasks. We’re not super human and everyone has a limit. Also when you do find yourself in that ditch don’t be afraid to ask people for help. There are many times when we have to throw in the towel and realize that we can’t do it alone. I still have an issue with this from time to time and I hate asking for help or throwing in the towel because at times it feels as if I’ve failed. Failure isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s simply a sign that the task grew way beyond you and that’s okay. There will be many points when this will happen and it’s all apart of the process we call life.
4. Everyone is different and you don’t have to be the same to be friends, all it takes is embracing each other’s differences.
I can’t stress enough how important this one is. It’s no surprise all the bullshit drama that gets started over differences and conflicts of interest. All these wars across the globe an even in our cities and towns over things like religion and politics and race and all the things that we don’t have in common. You won’t believe all of the senseless arguments that breakout over religious beliefs. Look people, everyone is different and the world would be pretty boring if we were all the same. I’m gonna let you in on the ultimate secret to life, one that will rattle your world to the core, IT’S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s okay to be pro life just as much as it is to be pro choice. It’s okay to believe in same sex marriages just as much as it is to be against it. It’s okay to be a democrat just as much as it is to be a republican. It’s okay to believe in God just as much as it is to believe in science and evolution. It’s okay to like Coke just as much as it is to like Pepsi. There’s nothing wrong with having your beliefs but there is everything wrong with forcing your beliefs down someone’s throat and chastising others for what they believe in. We’re all unique and that’s what makes the world go around. The world is a melting pot of unique personalities coming together to make a giant ball of awesome.
5. Life’s most important lessons are learned from experience, not books.
Every had those days when you just wished life came with a manual or a strategy guide? Life is complicated and no amount of coaching or internet reading or googlling will ever prepare you for life’s major complications and tasks. Everything you learn in life is learnt from experience. No matter how intimidating and complicated something is, we need to learn to dive into the unknown and give every thing a chance. Experience is better than any classroom you will ever visit.
7. Never judge a book by its cover.
This one is the most important one of them all. Everyone deserves a chance in life no matter how intimidating or strange they seem. First impressions are important but to cast people aside just because of how they look, smell, talk, walk, and act means potentially missing out on a really awesome person. Bronies deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else and shouldn’t be judged because they decided to watch a show originally aimed at little girls. As a matter of fact we should be commended for challenging societal gender norms and watching a show with colorful ponies, looking past the pretty colors and seeing the show for something more than a girls cartoon. Yes, you will meet some people who take it a bit overboard but you know what? What name a fandom where someone doesn’t take things overboard, exactly….. We shouldn’t be chastising boys and men for liking something aimed at little girls. You have the right to like what ever you want without anyone judging you. We also should judge a show just because it looks girly. If you give the show a chance you’d be quite surprised by how enjoyable it is. I hope you all took something every valuable away from this post and I hope we can apply these simple lessons to our lives and hopefully leave the world better than we found it. Stay classy people.