What would you think if I said I liked My Little Pony? What would you think if I said I didn’t? Does it matter, and better yet does it matter what generation of show? To some, yes, it actually does.
I grew up in the 80s. As such, I enjoyed those 80s shows marketed to little girls, Rainbow Bright, Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony. Growing up, the older I got, the reaction to that was typical, “Duh you’re a girl.” That changed about two years ago. While not everyone I talked to, I still noticed when 80s shows were brought up in memes, saying you liked My Little Pony was suddenly met with “That’s a crap show. G1 was so bad but at least you didn’t like G3, that’s the worst.”
Color me surprised that that was a guys reaction. I was completely confused over the fact that he knew that there were multiple variations of the show, let alone had an opinion on it. It was shortly after that, when a female friend told me about the newest MLP generation, Friendship is Magic. She sent me links for the first two episodes of the new series and talked about how great it was. I decided to give it a shot, and couldn’t even make it past the halfway point of the first episode.
I gave it a shot, didn’t like it, and didn’t really think much of it. A few months later my best friend, tells me about MLP: FiM. I was pretty surprised that he watched the show at all and here he is, telling me that I need to watch it. He tried on multiple occasions to make me watch. Even when I was hanging out with him and he watched the weekly episode, I’d completely ignore it and read or surf the internet.
It took John de Lancie for me to even be interested in watching the show, and even then, I didn’t sit to watch until halfway through the second season. I started out with the first episode again, being told just to watch it, it was like Sailor Moon. I still don’t understand that analogy. Yes they were “destined” to use the Elements, but even the “magic” involved didn’t remind me of Sailor Moon. I kept on, I had “Q” to look forward to at the end of this road, and I was damned if I wasn’t going to at least understand what the hell was going on when I watched that episode.
The more I watched, the more the show reminded me of a very toned down Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, and with good reason, since the creator of FiM had writing credits on Fosters. Some of the ponies I just could not get into, so anything that was a centric show for them, I’d fast forward bits. It was cute, and wasn’t as bad as I thought it was at first watch, but I didn’t see the amazement of the show like others did. Delving into the heart of the fandom had me creeped out and wondering why I was still watching this at all. The odes to various geekdoms had me excited, but the show itself was weak in my opinion. Then, I finally got to Discord, the Q of the MLP: FiM world. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, and to see the writers really captured that in the show had me really excited. It gave me the boost and the excitement that I continued watching even after my goal of getting to those episodes.
However, the internet struck again and made me think that a large majority of “Bronies” were 4channers that lived in their parents’ basement, guys that wouldn’t let me just be a fan and wanted to label me, and welcome me to “the herd” as if I was some super fan, when I really only just thought some of the stories and ponies were cute. People kept trying to put me into a group, tell me I lied when I said I wasn’t that big of a fan and generally were being huge assholes about the whole thing. I was extremely annoyed, and it made my reality crash back and cleared the fangirling over de Lancie. I still watched, because I found a few of the ponies and some of the stories cute, but it got to the point where I started fast forwarding through parts of the episodes just to get them over with.
Once season two’s finale was over, I questioned if I would continue watching the show. I decided to cosplay as Twilight for AnimeNext, mainly because I already had everything I needed. Then came BroNYCon. I was questioning if I would go or just stay home, and finally decided to go and sit outside. Then I started wondering if there were other’s that had similar ideas and feelings on the series as I had. I started getting ideas for this editorial, and a survey that I could take with me and find out what other fans of the original series thought. I sat through mockumentaries, and crappy documentaries degrading the original series and those that led to this latest one. Finding the Clopper (porn obsessed fans) community didn’t help, even though I have no problem with Rule 34, but there were some really unsettling pictures and the comments that went along with them had me questioning the sanity of “Bronies” in general.
I decided to bite the bullet and go anyway. I wouldn’t be able to get into the con itself, but I knew the area and knew there would be plenty of people outside to observe and plenty of people that I could get to take my survey. I was in for a treat.
I know those that were able to go inside on Saturday had a very different response, but I found what I was looking for. I found people that were just into a cute show, I found people that actually went to troll the con and make a fool of themselves, and I found people like me. I found a whole collection of girls that were fans of the original series and got back into MLP with this new series. I found girls who found the term “Brony” something that they wanted nothing to do with. I found fans that wanted to participate and bring up the original series in discussion or cosplay and were turned away by guys that wanted nothing to do with the origin of their new favorite show. I felt better. Before this I hadn’t really found anyone that had similar experiences as I had, and thought that I was just being overly sensitive, but I found I wasn’t. Granted I know some really nice guys that are into MLP, but the internet really screwed up the fandom for me, entirely.
I had thirty people take the survey between my in person surveys at the con itself, and the online version I made so that I would have a broader sense of what people thought. Of that number, sixteen were fans of the original 80s version of My Little Pony. These were the main surveys that I was looking for. The range of women, just like me, that might have problems now with the fan base.
Half of all those that took the survey refused the fan “labels” that are out there for the show. And not surprisingly, it was mostly those people I was looking for to take the survey. They also were the ones that took a while to get into the new series in the first place, having heard about the show and not liking the idea of new ponies, or being told of the show by guy friends or the internet.
I asked what kept these people in the fandom itself, and it was a resounding response of the story and the characters. Some added in the animation, and I was not surprised to see the younger generations of watchers were the ones most interested in that. Flash type animation is seen more often now, and the closer the age range got to the original fan generation, the less animation was said to be a reason that they were still in the fandom. The youngest three that took my survey, all under 20 years of age, said the fan base and Bronies in particular were the reason they were still fans of the show. I can’t say that I didn’t expect the age from the answer, but it makes me wonder what it is about the fans that make the show itself enjoyable. Perhaps the internet memes or the Pony Music Videos help.
Out of all the surveys, only one person was weirded out by guys being into My Little Pony. Most were very much ok with guys being in the fandom, but questioned the sanity of those that perved on the characters or were so into the show that they went crazy over merchandise and things of that nature. It was also almost unanimous that they all were annoyed at guys saying harsh things about the original ponies. Some understood that they don’t expect the guys to embrace the first generation of the show, but there was no reason to be harsh or put down those that did enjoy it. “I get nasty criticism for loving something I grew up with,” was one such comment.
This is what started this editorial for me. So many people getting harshly criticized for loving a show they grew up with. Even those that are ok with the fandom as a whole are pushy and annoying in other ways. It’s not everyone, but from what I’ve seen in my own experiences, the majority of fans are either entirely rabid, or fans to the extreme. I know it’s because the fandom is so new. You see these kinds of extremes with many fandoms, especially when the internet is involved, but once the fans grow up, or at least realize they’re being idiots, they calm down. I can’t wait for that to happen. Maybe then I’ll be able to label myself and really enjoy the fandom as a whole. Until then, I’ll happily fast forward through episodes to get to the parts that interest me and stay far far away from those that destroy the fandom.