We’ve downgraded our television service since moving. Well maybe more like gotten rid of it completely. But, we still have the internet and our Netflix account. I was bummed that we’d miss some of our favorite shows in real time, but have been pleased with the amount of shows we can still watch like my daughter’s cartoons – including My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Here’s where I have to confess. I started playing cartoons on television during the day when my daughter was one month old. It was a way for me to have something playing in the background while working that might be entertaining for her. At first it wasn’t, but now she likes to look at the screen – sometimes. We would watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic daily not so much for my daughter, but because I had grown to love the show.
As a little girl, I never saw any My Little Pony cartoons, but I knew about the toys. I owned one maybe two, but would play with a bigger stash of them at my grandmothers house. She didn’t know what she had and really neither did I. I wonder if she’s still got those ponies – I’ll have to check. Never knew any of the ponies by name, but I loved their colorful manes and what I now know to be “cutie marks.”
While browsing through Netflix today, I stumbled upon a documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. I was familiar with the term “Brony” and thought that it only referred to the high school/college age males that were fans of the show. Little did I know that it was an entire group of adults, women included, that loved My Little Pony. There’s no way for me to know unless I delve further into the online fandom of Bronies, but I don’t think that many of these fans began because they wanted a fun cartoon for their babies to watch.
Needing something to play in the background while I worked, I let the documentary run. Catching a few segments of it, I was most intrigued by the struggle that Bronies, especially male Bronies, had in society because it wasn’t the social norm for adult-age men to enjoy a little girl’s television show about friendship, magic, and adventure. But, that’s the point. Ironically, those very concepts that Lauren Faust created to inspire little girls was doing wonders for every pony – err – every one.
Some interviews in the documentary had other people describing Bronies and many like myself attributed this term to boys and men. So, they used negative associates like pedophilia, mental illness, homosexuality, and more to tell what they thought Bronies were. While pedophilia in itself is negative the other two descriptions above aren’t and often misunderstood concepts by many groups of people in the United States. But, those are different conversations for other days. Still these terms were often hurtful to true Bronies that weren’t criminals or societal deviants. They were just a group of males that needed a common ground of inspiration to be unique and true to themselves.
Think about finding an outlet, a television show, that empowers you and gives you hope that individuality and friendship are actual good things in the world. Good people, good friends, and good deeds can be reciprocated in a positive environment with no expectations just a common love for a single show.
That’s a message that I want my daughter to grow up knowing and valuing. If she wants to continue to love My Little Pony when she’s sixteen years old so be it. I want her to value herself and her friends. Know who’s true, who isn’t, and that she doesn’t have to compromise what she values for the sake of others. It’s okay to be different and even though as a child being different can take you out of the in-group. Individuality as an adult is embraced and welcomed as a breathe of fresh air, especially in the business world.
So, yes. I am an accidental Brony. Because as a twenty-something mother of one, I find that I love this show a hell of a lot more than my four month old daughter. The graphics are colorful, girly, and just the right amount of spunk. I still love the colorful manes and cutie marks. But, most importantly, I can sit back and watch a few episodes remembering what it’s like to figure out friendship as you grow up. Even though I don’t feel like I identify with any one pony, maybe I am the faithful student Twilight Sparkle who studies friendship and turns those lessons into inspirational messages. I want my daughter to learn from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, identify with one or more of the ponies, isn’t and to reach some sort of self-actualization that isn’t smooshed under the foot rubber of life.
For anyone that is wondering, I did Pony-ize myself in the above graphic for the post. The creativity and graphic design of the show is something that I absolutely adore! Make your own pony with the General Zoi’s My Little Pony Generator.