'My Little Pony' People: Lessons From A Land Called BronyConSerge Bielanko
First off, in case you are kind of like me/living with my head in the thick of the clouds, you need to know that My Little Pony is not just another 4-inch plastic piece of crap-ola that came in your kid’s Happy Meal three years ago, to be played with on that one ride home and then doomed to some hideously sad Toy Purgatory down under the car seat, between the nubs of petrified french fries and old binkies and car wash receipts.
Oh, hell no.
This thing is way way bigger than that. WAY bigger. In a nutshell, the little cutesy brightly colored pony toys developed by Hasbro have gone through several life-spans and reincarnation; and for the last couple of years My Little Pony has enjoyed a sort of spectacular rise, thanks largely to the cult-like following that they’ve acquired with the hub animated cartoon series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
Now, that’s nothing extraordinary, really; just another tale of children’s television and big industry colliding to make a little scratch. But what is somewhat unusual about the success and popularity of this the show is that it has amassed a rather huge following in the what might be categorized as the “non-typical” fan department. In fact, if you were to have traveled down to the Meadowlands outside New York City this past weekend, and were among the 4000+ who forked out 65 bucks for the two-day pass to visit BronyCon Summer 2012, a convention/gathering held several times a year for dedicated followers of the young horse gang. And… well, you might have been pretty surprised to find a whole lot of boys and men who count themselves amongst the uber-fans.
They call themselves “Bronies.”
And according to a Yahoo! report out yesterday, they have been gathering several times a year to unite behind their passion for all things-Pony, despite the fact ( and even because of the fact) that people raise their proverbial eyebrow whenever someone who happens to be someone other than a little girl mentions that they really love the show.
And to be honest, my initial reaction before reading any of the flurry of articles to hit the wires over the last 24 hours was pretty reckless; just another lazy version of WTF.
“Who the hell are these guys?” I asked myself.
In an instant, I knew that I wanted to write about them. But what I thought was my story, well, …I had it all wrong.
The first thing that popped into my mind was that there must have been a side room, some parent-stable off to the far edge of the North Jersey complex that ended up full of the eye-rolling/coffee swilling/ suburban dads in sport sandals who had a little themselves a bit of Taxi Duty for the afternoon. I immediately pictured a boiler room of husky men and their flip-flapping pages of Sports Illustrated and the Daily News and The New York Post; The Land of Great Separation: where males “hung in there” while their daughters held hands and giggled and shrieked like guided missiles out in the big hall every time someone mentioned the word “Pony.”
But of course, I was magnificently wrong and spectacularly way off-base. It turns out that the big news out of BronyCon is BronyCon itself. It’s little girls, sure. But it’s also older girls, too.
And also boys.
And also men.
See, it turns out that contrary to what would even seem remotely possible at first glance, there are a whole lot of residents in the My Little Pony universe and a whole bunch of them are of the male persuasion. And despite any stigma that might be initially attached to being cast as an unlikely fan of a cartoon that features, well, little ponies, these guys are committed to being a fan of something they claim is just plain entertaining.
“It’s just a great show … the story line, the plot, the beautiful animation,” 25 year old college student, Dale Fjordbotten told Yahoo!
That got me to thinking that I’ve never seen the show, mostly because my very young kids have somehow not managed to hit on it just yet. But still, I can relate to the whole “strange fan” thing, I think. I mean, I have like twenty different episodes of Two Fat Ladies dvr’d and if anyone ever even pretended to have a problem with that, or the fact that I watch them a-freaking-lot, I would probably beat them down with an ancient cast iron skillet and cook them into a giant salty cod/potato/leek pie and it would serve them damn right.
The truth is, it’s real real easy these days to be the nonchalant a-hole. To cast aspersions and make passing judgements on other people living their lives, bothering no one, is as common a practice among so-called intelligent/educated Americans as it is a hot dish served up cold by the more traditional Haters and Rednecks and Do-Gooders and Bible-Thumpers. And whenever I get even a remote passing whiff of any of those types getting anywhere near my glowing Double Rainbow Sphere of Ever Expanding Consciousness/Zen/Advance Tactical Human Progress In The Name of Love…I swat them away. Like gnats, because that is what they are.
So, I’m coming out as a fan of BronyCon today. In a way, they remind me a lot of what America stands for. The real ‘freedom’ stuff that lots of blowhard people talk about with one breath and then work diligently against with their next.
And no I’ve never been there, but I have a feeling I would dig it. In fact, I know I would. Mark it down.
Especially if it was my daughter or my son who was just dying to go there, dressed up like their favorite cartoon pony character, to hang out with all the other beating hearts who need to hang in the name of passion, to know they are not alone.
What could ever be wrong with that?
We need more of that.
We need whole bejeweled mountains of it, and you know it and I know it, and if you don’t know it, then I will probably eventually, in the name of a better life, end up cooking you into a steak and turnip pasty somewhere down the road.
(Check out this sweet short vid I found on YouTube; it shows a BronyCon Day in the life of a ten year old boy. I like this kid and his dad a lot.)
Video: YouTube/viral video genius