- When I first saw "Bronies" written on a piece ofpaper along with a list of other subcultures my professor gave us, I wasconfused because thought someone spelled brownie wrong. My confusionevoked an interest in researching the Brony subculture. I had no clue what theBronies stood for let alone that they even existed. The first questions Iplanned to investigate were the general questions of "Who are theBronies?" "How and when did this subculture begin?" "Whatare the demographics of this group?" and "What is their purpose?"
The first thing I learned through a wiki search is what"Brony" actually means. It is a mash up of “bro” and “pony” for the reason that the subculture is mostly comprised of adult males interested in the Hasbro’s TV show, My Little Pony: Friendshipis Magic. The subculture startedwhen a clip of the newest version of MyLittle Pony (MLP) aired in November 2010 and was posted on a website called 4chan. From the 4chan website, I found, “4chan is a simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images. There are boards dedicated to a variety of topics, from Japanese animation and culture to videogames, music, and photography.” The site has since created internet memes,become a birthplace for subcultures other than Bronies and is a commonplace forpeople to share their interests anonymously. Shortly after the MLP clip was posted,the Equestria Daily website, dedicated only to My Little Pony news, artwork and information showed up and the Brony subculture began. Bronies surely stampeded the media because in 2012, a documentary called Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, was made.
- Through the documentary, I learned more about why Bronies are so interested in the show. It’s not one simple answer but rather a combinationof the art appreciation and positive message recognition. Some men appreciate the animation, writing style, voice acting and music while others are so attracted to the show because it gives a positive outlook on life, each show has a friendship lesson of the day and all of the messages are applicable in real life.
One Brony, a proud member of the military says he is a Brony because “The elements of harmony loyalty, kindness, generosity, magic, laughter and honesty coincide with some of the army values of loyalty, duty, respect,self-assertiveness, integrity and personal courage.”
Other people, like Lyle, are Bronies because the show is so relatable. Lyle watched it because he was feeling sad and lonely and MLP showed him that positive things to look at. He says life can get hard sometimes but watching the life-like, complex pony characters develop and overcome obstacles in their horse-lives helps him realize that he can put up with more and get through the negative things in his life.
Regardless of what the Bronies appreciate about the show,they all come to the conclusion that the Brony community is very welcoming and accepting.
- Unfortunately, people outside of the community don’t always see eye to eye with the Bronies. In an effort to find more information about why the Bronies do what they do and how they got started, I found an article that interviewed one of BroNYCon’s organizers, Jessica Blank, about the demographics of the Brony subculture. (Some of these stereotypes were also stated in the Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony documentary as well.) It seems as though most people think Bronies are 30 year old, unemployed, homosexual males who live in their parents’ basement.
We tend think that way because “My Little Pony is not predominantly a masculine TV show and our world seems to revolve around stereotypes. But the following article I found by Jim Wares from Star-News explains some of the true demographics of Bronies. He finds out that 85.7% of them aremales and 97% of them are single but not homosexual and not uneducated by any means.
In the above article, it is also stated that Bronies can“prompt caution flags about the infiltration of pedophiles or others of evil intent.” Robert Ward, an administrator of the North Carolina fan base group, replies by saying there are bad apples in every fan group. But if he thought there were“bad Bronies,” he hasn’t met them and he still feels completely safe supporting his daughters’ interest in My Little Pony as well.
This isn’t to say there are no “Bad Bronies” out there and the concern should be dismissed. That’s why I did more research into the topicof Cloppers: a subculture of the Brony subculture. Cloppers, simply put, are people who masturbate to the animated pony characters. While most crinkle theirnose and exclaim disgust, I chose to research the psychology behind Cloppers’habits. The following scholarly article by, Venetia Laura Delano Robertson,explains why people grow attached to animated characters in general. She says that we use animals as metaphors for human condition – they are reflections of ourselves in terms of politics, society and person hood – and they are useful for story-telling and meaning-making.
The following YouTube video then explains, more specifically, why Cloppers derive sexual arousal/pleasure from the show. Although we don’tknow anything about the rhetor, we might be able to assume he is educated byhis use of biology and psychology and invented ethos when he states interactionwith the Brony subculture. He starts by giving a short explanation of what a Brony is and references the Clopping sub-subculture. He then gives his argument by investigating why men look at porn in the first place (focusing on men because most of Bronies are male) and then he looks at parts of the brain associated with Clopping behaviors such as instinctual behaviors, emotions and rational thought. He says Cloppers develop an emotional connection to the characters because they are anthropomorphic – they possess human characteristics. Theemotional brain then recognizes this and an emotional connection is all that’s needed to feel aroused. Their rational brain comes into play because they realize it is only a cartoon character and having sex with them would be impossible but while they realize this, emotions are much stronger than rational thought. He uses the example of agoraphobia to explain that people who are afraid to leave their house logically know it won’t hurt them physically and there’s nothing to fear but the logic doesn’t overpower their anxiety.
(WARNING: Sexually explicit content!)
The YouTube video also does a good job of reminding people that not all Bronies are Cloppers but all Cloppers are Bronies (similar to the idea that squares are rectangles but rectangles are not squares) therefore we can’t say all Bronies are “twisted-minded individuals.” Interestingly enough, eventhe Brony fandom has discussion boards and debates (like the following) voicingtheir opinions on what they think of Cloppers. Are Cloppers really the worst thing in the fandom?
Nevertheless, Bronies, learn from MLP to be proud of who they are. I find it interesting to see how a culture can be changed (or resilient)through stereotypes and uninformed opinions. And it’s amazing how, even through those debates and arguments Bronies face, they are still rising in membershipand welcoming more people into their fandom – something the Brony subculture isfamous for. Bronies have risen from 400 men attending a convention to over 40,000Bronies, Pegasisters (female fans) and Cloppers alike attending the conventions.
Again referencing the Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony documentary, I learned about different places Bronies can show their pride for MLP. BroNYConis one of them, along with PonyCon, BABScon and Everfree conventions. Upon being asked, creator of BroNYCon said these conventions are so attractive because Bronies can be in a safe, nonjudgemental environment where “[the convention] provides an opportunity for people who might not ordinarily socialize with other Bronies to do so in a non-threatening environment.”
More Bronies can contest to the idea that BroNYCon and other conventions of the sort are “place[s] where people can go and be tolerated and accepted it doesn’t matter your age, your gender, anything about you, no matter who you are it doesn’t matter, you can find a place in this fandom and you can be accepted.”