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!
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.
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.
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.
While I cheated and used boxed batter, I did dye each layer, and then painstakingly assembled my rainbow cupcakes.
They turned out great, and were a welcome addition to the holiday party.
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]]
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.
Posted on February 27, 2012, in Chapters and tagged baking, Brony, cooking, Cupcakes, FIM, Friendship is Magic, group, meet up, meetup, MLP, MLP: FIM, My Little Pony, Pony. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.