Five years ago, if someone from the present met me (having used a time travel spell) and informed me that I would be a fan of the latest incarnation of My Little Pony, I would be rather incredulous. Not about watching something whose target demographic I was clearly outside, but about watching something whose express purpose was to sell merchandise. Such entertainment never sat well with me, both due their ethical standing and the quality of their actual entertainment.
But as of today, I see no shame in calling myself a brony. Part of it’s due to my changing political views regarding capitalism. But it’s mostly due to MLP:FiM proving itself to work despite the constraints of a demanding executive board, and having an appeal all its own (as I’ve discussed before). Had the show been broadcast on IFC with none of their characters appearing on toys or tiny backpacks, it would probably draw in subscribers to Adbusters.
The only moments when MLP:FiM irritates a little is when it can’t help to remind the viewer of why it exists, usually in the form of plot contrivances wherein the main characters all change their physical appearance: Different color schemes, pretty butterfly-like creatures, or even sparkly crystalline versions of themselves. Especially problematic are the instances where knowledge of where the show’s priorities lie leads to the predictability of major plot revelations. (Does the mysterious chest with magical keys contain something surprisingly drab and ordinary, à la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Or will it be something bright and shiny, whose miniature physical simulacrum will stand out in an aisle at Target?)
After having seen the Big Special Episode whose airdate on the show’s fifth anniversary was presumably deliberate, the cynical part of my brain wants desperately to remind the rest of it that its major reveal was probably due to the demands of the merchandising department. But as it has been for the past several years, I can’t help but set such concerns aside and enjoy the show for what it is.
Many of those outside of the fandom find bronies odd, if not outright depraved, and given some of the show’s fan-made content, it’s hard to blame them. But given what the overwhelming majority of bronies are like and what they make, I will still readily count myself among their ranks. I’m not ashamed to be part of a community whose members can take inspiration from this and create something like this. For all its occasional, shall we say, eccentricities, the bronies are not something to be feared or even underestimated (in terms of both their artistic talents and philanthropy).
Even so, I suppose I’m not very hardcore a brony. I have yet to attend any conventions. I have purchased no merchandise save for the comic books, a DVD, and a hat. (Perhaps some traces of hippie reside in me still.) And I’ve only drawn one piece of fan art (which — SPOILER WARNING — the Big Special Episode has officially rendered non-canonical). But if anyone asks me point blank if I’m a brony, I’d certainly say yes.
And if someone asked me “Who is best pony?”, as someone already had when they saw me in the hat, I’d just as certainly reply, “Twilight Sparkle.”