Monthly Archives: February 2012

Made it, with Leap Day to spare!

Go figure, the one year there’s an extra day in February I’d get my book up without needing this day.

Friendship by Johnjoseco on DA

I will be working on my fan projects in March, as well as compiling fan stories and putting out another call for art.  Come April, I will try to turn this into an e-book!  Until then, please let me know what I should add, change and etc. I’m completely open to suggestions!

Thanks again for reading, and I hope to hear from you!

Chapter 11: Fin

(Please note that any images used in this post are by the artists listed. They are placeholders and I hope to have art expressly drawn for this book to replace these images. If you are interested in submitting something, please see this post.)

Chapter 11:

Conclusion and / or introduction (will move ideas about, suggestions welcome):

Friendship is Forever by Glenbw on DA

Friendship is Forever by Glenbw on DA

“But wait!” You may be frantically asking at this point.  “I’ve heard some horrible, awful, disgusting things about ponies and bronies and  what they do online!”

If you have those thoughts, I acknowledge that it is true that there are terrible things online, but they exist for every fan group out there.  As mentioned throughout this book, much of the bad pony out there is created by those trying to incite Bronies, rather than by true Bronies.  If you haven’t had these thoughts, take this as the grain of salt – there will be disturbing pony content if you dig too deep online.  I will be writing an annex that addresses these depths of the fandom, but they first and foremost are not considered to be a part of the mainstream Brony community, and second, they do not reflect the morals that the show and bronies themselves hold dear.  Please bear that in mind.

Now that I have outlined what is ‘Brony’ to the  best of my ability, I’d like to readdress the questions I raised in the introduction, and discuss it a little further before bidding you adieu.

Who? and What?
To ask what is a Brony is to ask a question that may only be answered by a cultural anthropologist.  I have offered a humble set of vignettes to show how every brony likes different things about the fandom.  This will vary from person to person.  Many like the same things, but with so many different aspects of the fandom to like, the mass that is Brony is much larger than any single person.  We are all part of the herd.

Bronies are commonly misconceived as guys that like a girly show.  Though most bronies are grown men, this statement is not a true characterization.  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a well-animated series, with rich, dynamic characters and stories that hold morals for both young and old.  It has a world that captures the imagination, and songs that echo that wonder.  It is a show that brings viewers back to a younger, more positive time, when there weren’t stereotypes such as the one that Bronies themselves are cast under.  It encourages friendship without judgement and to live for your dreams.  Bronies believe in all these things, and are not ashamed to say that out loud.

If reading this book has made you a Brony, welcome to the herd.  If it hasn’t, I hope you at least understand the depth of the name ‘Brony,” and accept them for who they are.  If you haven’t accepted these reasons, and still hate Bronies or think that they are all gays that need to go to a brainwashing camp, then I’m truly sorry you feel that way and hope that you will give us another chance.

When?
Though its origins are known, when (if ever) the fandom will end is unknown.  The show has signed on for its third season and  what will happen after that is out of bronies’ hands.  Should the show end, bronies will be sure to continue creating stories, music, videos, art and games of ponies for quite a long time.

To be honest, I see this fandom as being much like Pokémon.  The show, though it originated in Japan, was a very successful animated series that had great characters and songs as well.  And although it did end, there were spinoff series for a very long time after.  While Friendship is Magic does not have a sanctioned trading card game and video game series such as Pokemon, MLP FIm is currently slated for 3 and one half seasons, at least.  And just like Pokemon, I see the fans continuing to produce for quite some time; perhaps they might even make their own fan series on their own.  I also see the creativity of the show, the availability of merchandise, and the love of the fans for the characters as reasons that this fandom will be popular for generations of children.  With any hope, it may one day be as popular as shows like Looney Tunes are to this day.

Where?
Bronies are everywhere, from the smallest towns to the largest cities.  Their presence has inundated the Internet, and they don’t show any signs of going away.

Why?
Indeed, if you learned anything from this book, I hope that you understand that “why” cannot be answered for every brony as one collective whole.  But if you see a brony at your work or at the library or on the street, it’s okay to ask them why.  Every story is personal and reveals the brony’s true talent that connects them with this massive fandom.  It is a thing of pride and gives bronies the unity and acceptance that we hope everyone else will also hold dear.

Thank you for reading this.  I am so truly happy that I can share this little bit with the world, and hope that it does help the world to understand this amazing fandom.

~Riftwing

Chapter 10: Brony Meetups

(Please note that any images used in this post are by the artists listed. They are placeholders and I hope to have art expressly drawn for this book to replace these images. If you are interested in submitting something, please see this post.)

SPOILER WARNING! THIS CHAPTER MAY CONTAIN CONTENT THAT IS IN THE SERIES.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, WATCH THE SERIES NOW!

Chapter 10:

Brony Meetups: Where fantasy becomes reality!

As their population swelled, Bronies began to meet up with other local pony fans to watch episodes together, look for toys during epic quests to Target and Toys -R-Us, and just to hang out.  Brony meetup groups are considered a ‘safe haven’ for bronies, where they can go to be with other fans that would indeed love and tolerate, you, no matter who you were. With other Bronies, it is cool to like My Little Pony.  In fact, the lack of fear or shame about their love of all things pony often leads to very relaxed Bronies who may act a bit crazy, but it’s because it is who they are, like Pinkie Pie and her hyper, yet cheerful personality.   And although some Bronies may show this ‘open’ side of themselves all the time, for others, meeting accepting Bronies is just what they looked forward to, as they don’t have to worry about what the others ‘think’, and they know that they will not be judged when at a meetup with Brony friends.

Meetups are often coordinated online, via forums, and on Deviant Art pages, Facebook and Meetup.com. Though large cities will inevitably have more people attend, meetups can occur in any city, and every day more and more of these groups are posting pictures of their newly discovered local friends.

...and this isn't even all the bronies!

 

I belong to the Washington, DC meetup group, which, though not as large as NYC, still has over 185 in the meetup group and live meets often have over forty people.  They are held monthly, and anyone can suggest a venue.  DC tends to just meet at public spaces such as libraries and restaurants, but other meetups will have Bronies play mini golf, watch a movie, or tour a museum together.

At our library meetups, usually we begin by just greeting everyone (name tags included!) and welcoming newcomers.  We all have something to talk about (who is best pony?), so the social atmosphere is quite high.  Bronies wear their shirts, pins, hats, necklaces, etc. and bring their plushies, figurines and art. Even if bronies might cover up their Fluttershy shirt with a hoodie on the street, pony is out in the open at the meetup.  In the background, fan music is played and/or sung, and bronies play video games on their laptops and iPads.

Behold, our collection of awesome!

Artists show off their wares and board games are played, similar to a normal ‘Game Shop’.  Once an hour or so has passed (or as soon as the newest episode has downloaded), then everyone sits down and watches a few episodes.  Some of the best moments I’ve experienced in meetups thus far are when all the gathered bronies cheer for a particular scene (sonic rainboom, Derpy speaking, etc), and when we sing along with the main theme and episode songs.  We all know it’s a bit ridiculous to be singing like that, but it’s funny and fun, and it just feels good to be in a close-knit community like this.

As with most of the young demographic, free food is a highlight of many meetups.  Those that can, bring food or donate to the cause.  Those that can’t are not pressured in any way to recompense for the food, and in fact are encouraged to eat it all.

As an avid cook, I take great interest in the food that is cooked (and photographed) both at meetups and at Brony birthdays.  Every month, I see amazing works of baking, and fans have begun to outdo themselves with regard to this talent.  At the October DC meetup there was a cake decorated like Sweet Apple Acres.  Other cakes posted online have characters like Rainbow Dash on them, often with text saying ‘20% Cooler Birthday’ or the like.  Some bakers make cupcakes decorated with cutie marks or ponies faces or the like.  There are frosted cookies, pies, chimicherrychangas, pancakes… if it is a food, it will soon be made into a pony shape.  Fear not, for I know this prediction will come true.

As I am a baker, I decided to try to do a bit of pony baking myself for the December Brony DC meetup.

Woohoo, cooking skills~

While I cheated and used boxed batter, I did dye each layer, and then painstakingly assembled my rainbow cupcakes.

Rainbowy Pony Goodness

They turned out great, and were a welcome addition to the holiday party.

FTW

With this under my belt, I felt  confident that I could make something even more awesome and cool.  Thus, I will try to make a made-from-scratch, hand-decorated Pinkie Pie cake for March’s meetup.

[[Insert adventure here]]

bronycon poster by Tim Kangaroo on DA

bronycon poster by Tim Kangaroo on DA

The largest brony meetup by far is the BroNYCon, which started as a simple New York City meetup, but because they had so many people in such a small area, it was evident that they could expand it into a pay-to-attend convention with a large venue, live music, pony merchandise,and special guests to grace the meeting with their presence.

Guests at past BroNYCons have included Brony musicians and bands, video and music video producers, and even a skype interview with Daniel Ingram, the vocal musician for the show!  As these BroNYCons get larger and larger, they are getting even more guests.  At January 2012’s meetup, this included a few of the voice actresses in the show.

For reference, the following are the main voice acting cast of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  They are from Ocean Productions in Canada and the voices are recorded in Vancouver, Canada.  Names with an asterik (*) next to them have attended or are confirmed to attend a BroNYCon (as of February 2012).

 Ashleigh Ball*                Rainbow Dash & Applejack
Claire Corlett                  Sweetie Belle
Michele Creber               Apple Bloom
Andrea Libman*            Pinkie Pie & Fluttershy
Nicole Oliver*                 Princess Celestia & Cherilee
Madeline Peters             Scootaloo
Tabitha St. Germain     Rarity, Princess Luna, Granny Smith, Derpy Hooves
Tara Strong                    Twilight Sparkle
Cathy Weseluck             Spike the Dragon

Bronies appreciate the efforts of these women and have welcomed them wholeheartedly.   At Brony conventions in particular, fans are exceedingly enthusiastic about the show, and convention planners try to invite guests of honor to meet and greet the fans.  Although Lauren Faust has not gone to one yet, she is scheduled to attend the BroNYCon in July, which all Bronies are anticipating with bated breath.   Daniel Ingram, the vocal musical composer has skyped a live interview, and the supervising Director, Jayson Thiessen, attended a con as well.  Other guests include Studio B artists, Pony video game developers and many of the famous pony musicians such as Acoustic Brony, MandoPony, Eurobeat Brony, Mike the Mic, WoodenToaster etc.

The fans are able to express their thanks to those that work on the show at such conventions, and cheer wildly at each guest appearance. However, whether or not those that work on the show can attend these gatherings, they do see (and sometimes receive) many signs of fan appreciation.   Bronies often can express their heartfelt thanks openly when they make gifts for those that gave them this show.  Bronies have even held ‘thank you’ projects, such as live-casting a marathon of pony shows and fan videos the night before Season 2 began.

Fans contact those that work on the episode via Twitter, e-mail, websites, and by going to venues that the artists frequent, whether it is a concert or a convention that is completely unrelated to ponies.    It can be appreciated by these Pony Providers, or they may laugh it off, or it might even be annoying.  For example,  John de Lancie (the voice of Discord) was utterly perturbed at the amount of Bronies that commented on his Twitter account about his work as Discord, especially because by the time the second season had finally had aired he had forgotten about that one-day role.  de Lancie had no idea that the fandom even existed and was shocked when they began to ask him questions about what it was like to be a part of such a big thing, who his favorite pony was, and if he was going to come back to the show as Discord again.  On September 18, 2011 he said on Twitter, “Roddenberry warned me that I had no idea what I was getting into with Star Trek.  Someone should have warned me about My Little Pony! Egads!”  Though his reaction is humorous, it shows that My Little Pony fans can indeed be fanatics, who appreciate any and every influence that others make on the show.

Others that work on the show welcome Bronies with open arms, and even offer to do interviews with the Brony media.  And while Hasbro hasn’t made any official statements regarding these ‘bronies’ that have been created around their cartoon, the fact that the Hub have made videos like ‘Equestria Gurls’ gives fans hope that they blessed this creation.  However, Hasbro has requested that some Episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that were hosted online and on YouTube be removed, so the extent that they will allow the Bronies to use their property has yet to be known.  On a happier note, the HUB network themselves are quite positive about the Brony community.  Margaret Loesch, the CEO of Hub, said in a November 28, 2011 interview that “we decided to salute and embrace all the viewers who have embraced our brand.”(46)

Finally, of course Studio B animators love the bronies, and have placed hidden and blatant fan service, such as adding more Zecora to Season 2, having Derpy Hooves both named and given speaking lines, and making great reaction faces when the characters get upset.  For that, bronies consistently thank Studio B.  Not only do Bronies leave thank you notes and art for these hard workers, but for Christmas 2011 the fandom took donations, as well as signed letters and banners of thanks, and sent them off Studio B to try and show just how incredible the show is.

Celebrities have also been noticed catching on to the Brony hype.  Due to the increase on popularity of My Little Pony, some celebrities have been associated with it, either by chance or through endorsement.  For example, Bill Clinton did an interview a segment on NPR’s weekly quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell me!” where he was asked three questions during the 10 minute grilling about the characters of My Little Pony.  Though ‘easy’, he did answer them correctly.  When Anthony Bourdain tweeted about watching ponies (and loving Pinkie Pie), the fandom immediately celebrated and embraced him (metaphorically, of course).  Bronies were also given a shout-out on the Colbert Report on August 1, 2011.

There are also many cases of articles being written about the bronies.  When this happens in places like the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Huffington Post and Time, it does increase Brony exposure.  Unfortunately most of them just skim the surface of who and what bronies are.   With this book now complete, I hope that it will help to flesh out the thin thread of information that has been set out into the public sphere.

As I stated in the beginning, this book is by no means inclusive, but it was coordinated with, edited by, and written by Bronies.  It’s the best thing we have to date.  Perhaps, once the show is over, I or another of my fellow Bronies will be able to better summarize the Brony culture, but until then, please share this book with any and all that ask about Bronies.  And if you have more questions feel free to ask me, or even that brony office mate of yours.

Footnotes:

46.) Source: http://adage.com/article/special-report-americas-hottest-brands/america-s-hottest-brands-pony-friendship-magic/231166/

Chapter 9: Ponies are Memetastic

(Please note that any images used in this post are by the artists listed. They are placeholders and I hope to have art expressly drawn for this book to replace these images. If you are interested in submitting something, please see this post.)

SPOILER WARNING! THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS CONTENT THAT IS IN THE SERIES.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, WATCH THE SERIES NOW!

Chapter 9:
Memetastic: A further exploration into the way ponies have infiltrated the Internet


The rabid reproduction of everything pony has led to an interesting aspect of the fandom: all of this pony art invading the interwebs.  I speak of the growing memes of ponies in forums especially.  For those who don’t frequent web forums, they are simply message boards where images or pictures can be posted.  In addition, each user has their name and a picture next to their posts. In the days of 4chan, as I mentioned in the introduction, ponies began to be posted more and more frequently as screen captures covered with white or black bold text, also known as image macros.  The use of ponies in the beginning was mainly in jest: while some harassed users with ponies, others simply made fun of the people that made fun of people who posted ponies.  Others were Bronies that tried to stand up for ponies in spite of it all.  This chaos led moderators to start banning this pony harassment.  Unfortunately, this led to more pictures of ponies being posted in other forums, spreading the crazy.  One famous early pony meme stated ‘Mods are asleep, post ponies’, which was one example of a bully, or ‘troll’, posting pony images saying to post pony images when moderators weren’t looking, in an attempt to further upset those that didn’t understand or want cute ponies on their board.  To say that this is an accurate description of the events is a lie, but this is a generalization of the birth of the insanity of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as an online presence.

Other memes include reaction faces, which simply are posted images of a pony’s face as a screen capture while the pony is expressing emotions such as anger, disgust, or confusion.  A great reference for these is at WelcometotheHerdplz on Deviant Art.  Often these are posted by itself, and others then post a reaction image to react to the reaction image above it.   It is a self-feeding cycle.  Now, the stereotypical pony meme macros are well established, and with every new episode, new images are captured, captions are made, and more ponies are posted on the Internet.

[TL:DR Internet memes are often confusing and feed off one another, and many have been based off pony images. ]
I personally find them hilarious, but there are many that get a bad first impression of ponies due to the insane postings by others that may or may not be Bronies online.

As the fandom grew, it migrated off the wilds of the 4chan /b/ message boards that so many habituated.   In fact, many pony-focused message boards and websites sprung up in 2011.  Some were news sites like DerpyHooves.net, everfreeradio.com and EquestriaDaily.com, and some were message boards like ponychan and mlpforums.com.  Wiki sites about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic were created.  ‘Wiki Magic‘ occurs as edits after every episode quickly create new pages and new creative works.  These wiki pages host information on the episodes, characters, and plots, as well as galleries of fan art and speculation about future episodes.  Some wikis with pony content include Wikipedia.com, MLP.wikia.com and knowyourmeme.com.

Art began to find its way into Deviant Art, and art sites such as ponibooru began.  With every additional pony website, the presence of Bronies online grew, and as the first season drew to an end there were exponentially more fans of the show then than there were in the spring, just months before.

As mentioned in the music chapter, when the first season drew to an end, it also brought with it a time of new new pony creativity.  Instead of fearing such an emptiness of cheer, Bronies rallied when they knew the end of the season was nearing.  Already it had been announced that due to its increase in popularity, the show was not going to be cancelled.  Still, some worried that a lack of new shows would cause the new-fledged fandom to wither and die.  Instead, they formed groups that hosted contests such as the Remix Wars, themed art contests, and a call for pony fan fiction.

This worry fueled an excess of creativity which founded much of what the fandom is today.  This aggressive content creation took me to the the point where I began to be overwhelmed by pony.  I saw how much bigger than a simple Internet presence the Brony movement had become.  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic had a life of its own: a life that was manifested in the Bronies that ceaselessly created more amazing imaginative, creative works.  It was incredible, but there was simply too much submitted to be able to experience it all.  Still, although no single person can see everything that Bronies have created, if you know what you like, you can hope to find everything made centering on things such as a favorite character or a favorite song that has been remixed.  Still, it’s a lot of pony.

In part because of this pony fandom explosion, memes have been created that are almost ‘inside jokes’ to bronies.  Many are based off of lines from the show, and were mentioned in the episode summaries’ ‘Meme Maker’ sections.   The following are more memes that have been gaining momentum in the past year:

The most popular meme that Bronies say, (though it isn’t directly from the show) is that “we’re going to love and tolerate you, no matter what.”  It originated as a response of pony fans to trolls on web forums, who tried to an annoying extent to make bronies upset and angry with them.  Instead, Bronies vowed that they would not react to these posts.  It wasn’t worth their time, and besides, ponies don’t sink to that level of meanness, ever.

“Confound these Ponies,” is a common response to images of pones and their cuteness.  It was inspired by the Merrie Melodies short, ‘The Dover Boys’.  As their popularity grew, fans and haters alike would say “confound these ponies, they drive me to [insert vice here].”  However, some do point to virtues as well, as ponies do have a good influence on fan behavior.
“Deal with it” was a recycled meme that was meant to simply depict smugness by a character wearing glasses.  This quickly was associated with Rainbow Dash, and she became a symbol of Brony pride.  Yes, she had rainbow hair and lived in a fantasy world made just for girls.  Yes, even though Bronies are not necessarily gay, they can still like rainbows and ponies.  It is an extension of the love and tolerance meme.  The majority of self-declared Bronies are comfortable liking things that other people don’t like, or just don’t understand.  As such, those that don’t understand how this can happen just have to deal with it.(45)

Rainbow Dash’s catchphrase, “twenty percent cooler” has to be the most overused meme in the fandom.  When she says this comment in ‘Suited for Success’ and declared that her dress “needed to be about twenty percent cooler”, it was a hilarious line.  But overnight, everything associated with Rainbow Dash was twenty percent cooler.  Simply having Rainbow Dash or her cutie mark on a shirt or notebook or car made it twenty percent cooler.  The ‘deal with it’ sunglasses were now 20% cooler.  And everyone said the phrase way too much, about everything.  To this day, the phrase is still overused, even though most Bronies understand that it is.  It’s gotten to the point of being ridiculous, but everyone still loves it just a little too much.

“My little pony / ponies”.  Yes, the show’s script writers keep trying to get the title of the show into the actual lines spoken by the characters.  I find in quite jarring when they are said in the cartoon, but it is another little thing that people say to describe a group of younger or smaller bronies.

In the show, whenever a lesson is learned and they write to the Princess, every letter starts with “Dear Princess Celestia,” and is signed by Twilight as “Your Faithful Student.” Often times when Bronies write one another (or write essays or e-mails), they will start out their note with the greeting of “Dear Princess [whoever],” and sign it as “Your faithful student, [their name].”  Though also slightly overused, the greeting can be used to feel out bronies that may be closeted.  For example, a student once wrote an e-mail that began with “Dear Princess Celestia,” to his teacher, and completely forgot he did it until after it was sent.  (The horror!)  But the teacher was a Brony, and wrote back in jest, “My faithful student”.   This happily ever story shows that Bronies can be anyone and anywhere.

Rarity, when overworked and stressed, often claims that a snag in her plans is “The. Worst. Possible. Thing!”  She dramatically pauses between each word, and when done shouting, she falls onto a ‘drama (fainting) couch’ and wails at the top of her lungs.  This overly dramatic exclamation of woe is often used by fans in a sarcastic manner when something goes awry.

“Foreeeever” is the jinx that Pinkie Pie says to Twilight Sparkle in ‘Green is Not Your Color’.  While it directly meant that their friendship would be lost if a promised secret was told, it is often used just as a threatening and creepy word that indicates the space-time continuum.  Additionally, it is often used along with “one of us” to indicate that once a Brony, you’re a member of the herd for life.

When Pinkie Pie told her story about how she saw Rainbow Dash’s sonic rainboom in ‘The Cutie Mark Chronicles’, she finished by saying, “…and that’s how Equestria was made.”   In true Pinke fashion, she did not ever say that her story was about how she got her cutie mark (which is another issue altogether).  The fact that a random ending was tacked onto her story has made this a quote that people use to substitute for “Too Long, Didn’t Read (TL:DR)” which is posted after long stories, or as a reply to a long winded, random or off-topic comment.  A second meaning to this story was created when ‘Hearth’s Warming Eve’ was aired.  That play described how Equestria was truly made.  Fans now believe that Pinkie Pie may have gotten her cutie mark from the founding of their nation, or that even the Hearth’s Warming Eve tale is not the true origins of Equestria.  The debate rages on.

ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE!  When Luna came to Ponyville for Nightmare Night, she spoke in a very loud voice , which she called the proper, traditional Royal Canterlot Voice.  Bronies attribute this to the equivalent of CAPS LOCK, which is yelling in type in forums and chat.  This phrase is also sometimes used to mock those that yell in said caps locks.

These are but a drop in the bucket of  memes that exist on pony.  If you are interested in finding more, my best reference was Know Your Meme.  Since then, a memebase for ponies has also sprung up on the Cheezburger network, though it is more of a meme aggregator, whereas Know Your Meme gets into a bit of each meme’s histories.  I must add a word of warning: some memes are not suitable for children or those that are easily offended… but then, so is the Internet.

Footnotes:

45.) In an interesting aside, part of the reason I’m writing this book is so that people don’t just have to accept that people like My Little Pony.  I want the general public to not just ‘deal with it’; I want them to understand why grown men like ponies, even if the public doesn’t themselves.

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