My Little “Brony”: Show attracts older audience

By Kathryn Moody

Indiana Daily Student, Indiana U. via UWIRE

In 1983, Hasbro released a line of colorful plastic ponies with vibrant manes, bright symbols on their flanks and a sprinkling of accessories. Young girls went gaga for these new characters.

Twenty-eight years later, college men are doing the same.

In fall 2010, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” premiered on The Hub, a TV station with programming mainly for children ages 6 to 12.

Little did Hasbro know that older men would be swept up by this animated sensation.

“I watched the first episode and, as soon as Fluttershy was introduced, was hooked,” said Daniel Talton, an Indiana U. sophomore and a self-proclaimed “brony.”

“Bronies” — a portmanteau of “bro” and “ponies” — have built a vibrant and involved community in which they share fan art, fanfiction and, above all, their love for “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” and its characters.

Talton says the term “brony” stems from the adult fan base, both male and female, that creates a large base of fan content and interaction with the show.

“There is an absurd amount of fan music, videos, screenplays and fiction. … I’m currently reading one that is at least 300 pages long so far,” Talton said.

Reviews of the show often cite the top-notch animation and production work that goes into the cartoon as a reason the show attracts the unexpected demographic. However, Talton reveals that the adoration is even simpler than that.

“I like the show because it’s funny and the characters are believable and relatable,” he said.

While the term was originally coined because of the male following, older girls have an appreciation for the show, too.

IU sophomore Adriana Giuliani was introduced to the show by another of her “brony” friends. Others often find the show online through YouTube or Memebase, a collection of internet jokes and trends.

“I like ‘MLP’ because it, in some sense, brings back the security and color of childhood but is still stimulating,” Giuliani said. “The stories are appealing and the characters have a lot of depth.”

Indeed, part of the show’s appeal is original Creative Director Lauren Faust’s goal to step away from the overtly girly aspect of the show and instead create a story with rounded characters, a developed setting and adventure-filled story lines.

According to an article Faust wrote for Ms. Magazine, the show wasn’t made “just for girls.”

“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” was to be a show about girls going on educational, complex journeys that could be just as interesting as any “boyish” cartoon.

Talton said people’s reactions to his appreciation for the show are certainly varied. He said one friend thought his interest in the show was “pedophilic.”

Alex Arnett, a freshman at IU-Kokomo, said many people are “weirded out” by his “brony” status.

“I have had very few people actually ‘accept’ it,” he said.

Arnett said he loves to watch the show, but he distances himself from forums such as “Equestria Daily.”

”It seems a little bit too far in my opinion,” he said.

Giuliani said she does not view herself as a “brony” for similar reasons.

“It isn’t an issue about whether I am a girl or not,” she said. “A lot of association with the word ‘brony’ is with the social websites that are around about the show… I am not involved with any of that.”

Regardless, these fans aren’t afraid to express their love for the show.

“It’s a TV show that gives me a few minutes of childlike pleasure for a few minutes every other day,” he said. “The ‘brony’ community is just a collection of fans of ‘My Little Pony.’ No more, no less.”

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