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It was three years ago today that I wrote a blog about how I became a brony, or a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. This was a rather well-received blog, with only a few people who showed disdain for my fandom of the colorful cartoon, and I would say it's the most important blog I ever wrote on this website. Not due to its content per-se, but because it changed how I used GameInformer.com. I wasn't just some member with a podcast anymore; I was THAT guy. I was a brony; I was a guy who liked My Little Pony and brought it to GIO. Some people liked this, some people despised it; and I understand both viewpoints.
But, I'm rambling a bit. I want to use this blog to look back on that post, look back on what it caused (both the good and the bad), and I want to use it to thank a whole bunch of you.
First, let's get everyone up to speed. A brony (or pegasister, if you prefer the more female oriented version) is someone outside of the target demographic who is a fan of the television show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. This can include males, females, teenagers, and adults. And it's a little odd, right?
Why would anyone aside from little girls like My Little Pony? Well, when you see the words "My Little Pony", what do you think of? Is it this?
Because when bronies think of My Little Pony, they think of this:
Some people may not find this to be a very big difference, but to the keen observer, it's like night and day.
You see, even bronies find the first three generations of My Little Pony to be far too girly. Crazy, right?
Maybe it's not as crazy as you think. You see, bronies constantly say that they just like a cartoon. It's like someone saying they like Adventure Time, or Gravity Falls, or The Legend Of Korra. Those are all made for children, right? Or at the very least, they're marketed towards children. But fans of those cartoons always talk about how good they are, and that their writing is on par with plenty of "adult" television shows.
Well, that's how Friendship Is Magic's fans feel about their show. Yes, it's a show about candy colored ponies in a magical fantasy world, but the show's writing manages to sell you on the idea, and you begin to enjoy it. Now, I'm not trying to sell anyone on the show or anything with this blog, but I felt like all of that information was necessary for people who may not understand bronies. Everyone caught up now? Good? Good.
Now, you may be wondering what it means to be a "brony". Why must they have a group name? Why can't they just like a show and that be that? Well, that's getting into a whole other branch of "geek culture", called a fandom. Fandoms are an odd bunch; they're basically the fans who are a bit too obsessive. They're the fans that write the fanfiction, that make the fanart, and that go to the conventions. The thing is, there's nothing wrong with that at all. These are people who are finding other people with a common interest, and making friends; some of which can become friends for life, or even romantic partners. I know you've all seen stories about how two people who met in, say, World Of Warcraft have now gotten married, and you may even laugh or scoff at that. But why? They're just people, like you or me, doing what they love, and finding people that complete their lives while doing it. Is it really that different then meeting someone at school, or in a club? But, I've digressed a little bit.
Fandoms are trekkies. They're whovians, they're homestuckers, and yes, they're bronies. They're not just fans; they're a community of fans. They're all in a single group thanks to one common interest.
And I think that's the main reason any hardcore fan wants to associate with a fandom name; because they love the community involved with what they're already attached to. And by calling yourself, say, a Trekkie, you're showing in your introduction that Star Trek is an important part of your life. It's the same as calling yourself a gamer. You say your a gamer, and that instantly informs someone that you love to play video games; and it attracts other gamers to you. Now that you have common ground, you can instantly strike up a conversation about video games. This is true for any fandom. Everyone in a fandom always has something to talk about with each other because they're all heavily interested in a single thing.
Now you know why My Little Pony fans call themselves bronies, but you may still be wondering why they have to go around showing it all the time. Nine out of ten bronies on the internet will have a My Little Pony profile image, or even bronies in real life will be wearing a shirt with the colorful equines. Why can they just stay in their groups and leave other people out of it?
Well, I personally think it has something to do with the first thing we talked about. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as much as it has going for it, is still a show about pink horses and rainbow-colored pegasi. In most people's eyes, it's still just a show for little girls. I believe bronies want to change this; they want to show people that they not only like a "show for little girls", but that they consider it quality television. That's why bronies tell all of their friends about the show. They want to say, "Hey, I'm not crazy. I like My Little Pony because it's a good cartoon." And that mentality spreads, for the better and the worse. Now, do some bronies take it too far?
Absolutely. Heck, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't take my love of the show too far at one point. But I feel like some of that is just human nature; it's the combination of sharing something you love and being right about it that sends you into a strange high that makes you want to show it to everyone. When I first got into the show, I thought I was going completely mad, so I felt a need to check my sanity by telling all of my friends about it. Once they agreed that it was a good show, I felt much more comfortable with that fact that I liked it.
Or, maybe we're all just insane.
Some of you may find bronies disgusting. You may think they're perverts, low-lifes, or the stereotypical fedora-wearing, neckbeard-having internet dwellers that's become so popular lately. And some probably are. Some bronies can be awful. Some can be idiots. Some can be straight-up psychotic. But that's not a brony. That's a bad person. It doesn't matter what they enjoy; if you're a bad person, then you're a bad person. Bronies aren't all bad people; nor did they create bad people. Trekkies didn't either. Or whovians. Or gamers.
Terrible people exist. There's nothing more to it. They've always existed, and they will always exist. But for some reason, whenever a bad person does something illegal, and they just so happen to be interested in something besides the crime they've done, everyone who likes the same thing is currently a target. It happens with gamers all the time, and it's such an illogical conclusion. People seem to assume that criminals are not human. That they're some sort of cartoon caricature that only thinks of evil. And it's simply not true.
Are they good humans? Of course not, they're criminals. But they are humans, and humans like entertainment. Even the worst person who has ever existed probably liked a few TV shows or movies. That doesn't mean that those pieces of media are corrupt; it means that the person is corrupt.
Uh... huh. That got a little more serious than I was expecting. I'll just get off my soapbox now.
But with all that said, it's not hard to find controversy in the brony fandom. Which bares the question: Why do people even consider themselves bronies? They're certainly not going to change the public's eyes on My Little Pony in a day, and most people will probably assume that they're some form of pedophile. Why don't they just like their show and avoid the backlash?
Well, that's an extremely subjective answer, so I will only answer it from my viewpoint. But if any bronies that read this want, they can answer that question on their own terms in the comments.
Personally, I still call myself a brony because this fandom taught me a life lesson that I think about every day. And I know that probably sounds lame, or like a stupid sob story, but I'm being honest. This blog is more or less an open letter to the GIO Bronies, the GIO community as a whole, and anyone else reading this.
Dear Princess Celestia:
Being a brony for these past few years has taught me something very valuable. That is, you can't judge a book by it's cover. I know that sounds cliched, but it's true. You can be cynical and talk about how much you think you'll hate something without trying it, but what's the fun in that? If you refuse to try something simply because you assume you won't enjoy it, you're robbing yourself of something that you adore. Even if you have a solid grasp on what you like and dislike in life, you're never going to truly know your feelings toward something unless you try it for yourself. As Stephen Fry once said, "Taste every fruit of every tree in the garden at least once. It is an insult to creation not to experience it fully. Temperance is wickedness." Something may look stupid, or childish, but maybe that's exactly what you need at that point in your life. You never know.
Your faithful student,
*Ahem*. Sorry about that. Let’s move on now, shall we?
When I first wrote the “How I Became A Brony” blog, I obviously had no idea what it would cause. I just wrote it because, hey, ponies were cool. But after I published it, the positive responses gave me an idea. I could create a group for these people to share their pony opinions, or fanart, or whatever they wanted. I would use Game Informer’s member group system to try and meet all the bronies on the site. With a help from a few friends, I had the group started up, and I was excited to see a few posts.
Now, I figured there would be about ten members, tops, and it would die in a few months. Boy, was I wrong. GIO Bronies quickly became a hit amongst certain members; even veterans like God of Irony, Rabid Chipmunk, and Superking were joining the group. It became a bit more than a group of fans, it became an actual community. To this day, I still believe it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done on the internet. It’s had its ups and downs, and we’ve all had our fair share of issues with each other, but I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world. While the group isn’t currently as active as it once was, I still adore checking in every day to see if anyone has posted something new.
Returning to my “How I Became A Brony” blog, I sure was immature when I wrote that. What an idiot I was. It doesn’t feel like three years ago; it feels like ten. It’s amazing how much the opinions or beliefs of teenagers can change in such a short time. I don’t think I truly understood some of the stuff I was saying back then. And I certainly didn’t understand how to take a joke; or how to make one, for that matter! Today, I wouldn’t be caught dead saying stuff like, “I love trolling haters with funny pictures.”
But that’s all a part of growing up, I suppose. We’ve all said stupid stuff when we were younger. Heck, we’ve all said stuff less than a year ago that today makes us cringe with regret. But we learn from our mistakes, and we use that knowledge to better ourselves as people. Not to mention that, in the comments, I was certainly making a fool of myself. But, I learned from that experience, and now I’m, like, the nicest and coolest person ever. Right? Right.
In this last portion of the blog, I’d like to take the time to thank a few very important groups of people.
First, I’d like to thank all of the Game Informer staff for letting us run amok on your website, and not banning us upon the sight of rainbow ponies. You guys are the greatest, and I speak for every GIO Brony on this website when I say that we couldn’t ask for a better gaming website to be associated with. Hopefully we haven’t annoyed you guys too much in these past few years!
Next, I’d like to thank every member of this site who isn’t a brony for putting up with us as well. I can only count a couple of times that we’ve ever gotten flak, and considering this is the internet, a place of anger and hatred no matter where you go, that’s a bloody miracle.
Last, but most definitely not least, I’d like to thank every single person who ever decided to join the GIO Bronies member group. Whether you post every day, or you’ve never made a single post, the fact that you joined in the first place is equally special to me, and I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to meet you all. These past three years were absolutely glorious, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for that little group. I’ve made some amazing friendships in the GIO Bronies, most of which I still talk to on a daily basis, and I’ve seen other friendships blossom into something beautiful. Maybe I’m a little too sentimental, but hey, you know what they say.
Friendship is magic.
I can post about video games sometimes too y'know.