A few months back, I became aware of a phenomenon known as “bronies” – grown men who are hardcore fans of My Little Ponies. As a child in the 80s, I was aware of the Ponies themselves, a magical race of talking ponies with amazing names like Lickety Split and Sweet Stuff, mainly because my much “girlier” little sister was obsessed with the series, whereas I was all about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To each her own.
I was incredulous when I learned of the bronies and just how ridiculously dedicated they are. The fan base creates a truly amazing variety of fan art – videos, paintings, mash-ups of every kind, and sites like Equestria Daily have all but exploded. So a series aimed at small children (and marketed aggressively at girls) now has an internet-enabled community of adults who mash up pony art with other popular media, and obsessively watch the new episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
So why is this astounding community the focus of this week’s geek column? Because there are few things nerdier than the geek fascination with “internet neo-sincerity” and the ways in which fan communities interact with their media of choice. From a June Underwire post:
Recently, a brony actually conducted a semi-scientific study of brony behavior. He compiled a nearly-90-page report of data collected from an online survey (hence the “semi” in the “semi-scientific”), and the results were absolutely fascinating, and even more than a little gay:
They love children’s shows, they “come out,” and they tend to be educated …
What I want to know has to do with subcultures within the subculture. Fifteen percent of the respondents to the survey were female, so we know there are adult women in the brony camp. What about queer women? Are there any les-bronies out there, loving the fabulous show about sparkles, magic and friendship? With all the fan art that’s out there, I’m almost surprised to note that I couldn’t find a single The L Word/Pony mash-up, given the incredible variety out there. Ladies, you know what to do.