HasBronies vs. Pegasisters
- Introduction to Bronies...
- "Every nerd has a favorite TV show they watch religiously and know inside and out. But My Little Pony seems like an unlikely object of fanboy love. Since the show debuted last fall on cable channel Hub TV, it’s attracted a growing number of male fanatics. Their love of the show is internet neo-sincerity at its best: In addition to watching the show, these teenage, twenty- and thirtysomething guys are creating pony art, posting fan videos on YouTube and feeding threads on 4chan (and their own chan, Ponychan)." -ANGELA WATERCUTTER 06.09.11
MLP fandom is a cross-subcultural encounter that could only happen at the end of the decade, in large part because of social media like YouTube and especially Tumblr. It is not actually a unified and singular fandom, but Bronies stand in for the entire fandom as the segment that is both most transgressive and most privileged.
- Vernacular quantitative research (21,637 responses):
- About 85% male and 15% female, 75% age 15-25. About 66% heterosexual, 14% bisexual, 10% asexual, and 4% gay or lesbian. Also, almost everyone who responded believed that the term "brony" can apply to males and females.
- "Female and genderqueer members of MLP fandom have been just as dedicated and just as intense and just as creative as the ‘brony’ segments, but as above, are ignored in popular perception because society has decreed that something isn’t REALLY interesting and cool until the white guys accept it... So, please, stop using the term ‘brony.’ It reinforces the gender divide in a very subtle, insidious manner, and asserts that even in unmistakably feminine arenas, the opinion of men will always carry greater weight than the opinion of anyone else." -PEACHESINHERE
- "Imagined in the often destabilized, but always exclusive, terms of adult, heterosexual men, however, that collaborative engagement with the series is constructed in opposition to female, non-adult, or queer users excluded by this discourse. Not only were the bronies imagined within a very narrow scope of identity categories, but all the attention focused on the creative practices of memes, remixes, and mash-ups helped to situate this engagement within technologized discourses of convergence that eased the assimilation of the participatory phenomenon surrounding a hyper-feminized series into dominant spheres of masculinized value and legitimacy." -DEREK JOHNSON, "Participation is Magic: Collaboration, Authorial Legitimacy, and the Audience Function" in A Companion to Media Authorship (2013)
Beyond the Fourth Wall
- It seems as if the show's creative team coveted the sheen of legitimacy conferred by the Bronies while Hasbro coveted their purchasing power. Regardless, the official promos and episodes were soon speaking directly to this unexpected audience. Derek Johnson suggests that we can understand this relationship via terms like "co-creative labor" and collaboration (in both senses), with the caveat that hierarchies of authority and distinction persist in these unequal collaborations. In this networked arrangement, who or what operates as management?
- This kind of co-creation promiscuously transgresses media boundaries, forcing the creators to negotiate and sometimes narrativize the conflict between the organized screen space of television and the frenetic, memetic chaos of online video. In the season two premiere, "The Return of Harmony," Discord (the bad guy) figures anxieties about the perverse productivity of the fan community.
- [Hasbro TOSsed the full episodes from YouTube - more on that soon]
- The "chaos" Discord manifests in Equestria references YouTube memes like "Chocolate Rain" but more generally the chaotic distortions, mashups and transformations that characterize many MLP fan videos.
- [this video is associated with a genre known as YTP or "YouTube Poop"]