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!
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.
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.