The Brony way is up

by Toby Manhire / 20 June, 2011
Thousands of grown men are obsessed with My Little Pony. What could be more wholesome?

Last week it was despotic Smurfs. Today, in part two of a two-part series – diminutive novelty toys popular in the 80s making startling headlines today – it’s My Little Pony.

Specifically: Bronies. This most remarkable of fanboy groups consists of grown men who just happen to have a thing for the plastic little equines. Not an icky thing, as far as I can tell, but an earnest, wholesome enthusiasm for My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the television show that breathes life into the coruscant wee hoofers. And there are loads of them.

I am not making this up. If you don’t believe me go search for it yourself. Start at 4Chan, the enormously popular image forum that quickly became the launch pad for squillions and squillions of Brony artworks, video mashups and fan fiction. “Every nerd has a favourite TV show they watch religiously and know inside and out,” explains Wired. My Little Pony might be atypical, but it’s not a victory for ironists: “Their love of the show is internet neo-sincerity at its best.”

One of the leading fansites, Equestria Daily, run by a bloke called Shaun, “gets roughly 175,000 page views per day”, says Wired. And there are plenty more. If you’re properly keen, a comprehensive collection of all the Brony sites and other Brony essentials can be found at the Brony Wiki site. Bookmark it now, or better still bookmark it now on your colleagues’ computers.

A useful account of the evolution and growth of the phenomenon is at – where else? – Know Your Meme, which notes that it has not all been happy galloping for Pony fans:

Not every individual takes kindly to “bronies”, though. Numerous people have attempted trolling them. Incessant attempts of trolls to stop pony threads have been likened to the destructive never-ending hunger of parasprites, a creature first introduced in the series during episode 10, “Swarm of the Century.” This likeness has caused the term “parasprite” to often be used in place of “troll.”

As one commenter on the Wired piece notes, the brony explosion is not, for the most part, unusual. “Wired is shocked, shocked I tell you that there are fans who create fan works!” mock-gasps Michelle B. “Newsflash, Wired: hardworking fan writers and artists exist in every fandom. They're just majority female, so not valued.”

True enough, but the fact that in the case of bronies it is fanboys inescapably makes it more compelling.

It has also spawned – of course it has – one of those Hitler/Downfall subtitle offshoots (Herr Hitler: “I loved those fucking ponies and THIS is how they repay me?), which, it has to be said, almost certainly means the shark has been jumped.

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