Bronies: What is Happening to Manhood?

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Earlier this year, I wrote a blog where I questioned what it means to be masculine in today’s era.  Today, I ask the same question but this time by using a specific culture as an example: Bronies.

What are Bronies?  To give a bit of history, in 2010, Lauren Faust [director of The Powerpuff Girls and an artist behind Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends] developed a reboot for Hasbro’s My Little Pony franchise animated series.  This new installation is called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a show initially intended for young girls, but with good taste (i.e.: unlike the animated series’s predecessors).

The show was [and is] a huge hit for the young audience.  However, something unexpected happened: the show became widely popular among men as well, primarily ages 13-30.  Do note this infatuation is not ironic—these guys truly love the show.  They watch it with pure joy, create/share an exceedingly amount of creative art, write fan fiction, and so much more.  This group of people have created a massive culture, and it is from this demographic that we have the term “Bronies.”  Bro+Ponies=Bronies  (Though the term has evolved to include women of the same age group, as well)

That said, Bronies have received a lot of heat.  Many are befuddled—to put it nicely—as to why grown men would be into a “girl’s show” about the power of friendship.  If you’re new to this phenomenon, I’m sure you’re just as confused.  After all, aren’t “men” supposed to be watching football, revelling in Michael Bay’s films, or playing Call of Duty?  Why would men sing along to songs about a royal wedding or the coming of spring?  Why are guys infatuated with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

Their answer: it’s a good show.
That, and the culture that comes with it is rather awesome.

I have to admit:  I was a hater a year ago.  I thought it was utterly ridiculous that my friends from college would be into such a show.  I was also rather annoyed at how much of group conversation was invested in Brony culture, be it about “bro-hoofing” or “cutie marks.”  It became a bit repulsive.  But after coming across an episode while I was sick and making a few deals, I watched the show with open arms, and I have to say: it truly is a good show.

I have been waiting to write a blog about the overwhelming number of bad kid’s shows today.  There are a lot of shows that feed on the attention-lacking children that have no substance.  MLP:FiM is an exception.  It is rather reminiscent of what was good in kids’ shows growing up.  The animation is great.  The songs are catchy [and I don’t feel embarrassed to listen to them, unlike many I watched growing up (e.g.: Pokémon or even Cowboy Bebop)].  The characters are fun.  But most importantly, this show has a good message in every episode that transcends any age group.

In the past, adults watched shows like Star Trek that had a good message every episode, be it political or social.  There are still adult shows that follow that queue, such as LOST or Doctor Who.  While the messages that MLP:FiM offers are not as cerebral as the previous examples, they are just as important and more universal.

But Jon… it’s about freakin’ ponies.

True, but does that nullify one’s masculinity?  What defines manliness and who establishes it?  Is it unmasculine for a man to wear a dress?  Men throughout the world wore skirt/dress-like bottoms, be it the kimono in Japan, the kilt in Scotland, or the tunics in Hyrule.  It wasn’t until the Mongols—barbarians—made pants and conquered Eurasia that a new bottom attire became the main fashion up to today.

Nerds were made fun of less than half a decade ago.  Now, thanks to technology, they are on top of the world.  Women were seen as weak (to put it lightly), even to the extent that books were banned if a woman left the man and lived (i.e.: Ibsen’s A Doll’s House).  Now, they are seen more and more as equals to men.

These conventions are constantly in flux, dependent on the culture we live in.  Manhood is constantly evolving.  Thus, to say that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is unmanly is… invalid of a statement.  The fact that men thoroughly enjoy the show proves that the show is just as much applicable to girls as it is adult males.

About Jonathan Seligman

Jon is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of NWYT. While his main profession is in education/music/history, he has a deep passion for philosophy, theology, ice cream, and everything else that life has to offer. See All of Jon's Posts

Comments

  1. Nice Work! You got on equestria daily in less than a day 😛
    http://www.equestriadaily.com/2013/10/nightly-roundup-797.html

  2. Blüdbjørn the Fortituidous says:

    Haters can call me girly all they like, but if a Hydra threatens my village, I’ll grab a warhammer and give a barbarian battle cry. Even if a cute, purple unicorn who happens to be a badass mage is standing by my side against the onslaught.

    Together, we drink from the skulls of our enemies that night. I bet Twilight loves a good oatmeal stout. If not, I like cider just fine. I make some really wicked throatstripping kick-in-the-skull-juice.

    http://imageshack.us/a/img819/7789/y858.jpg

    • Jonathan Seligman says:

      I respect that, Blüdbjørn! I’ll share a drink with you… though, perhaps I don’t share as fierce of a spirit as you: I’ll choose a glass to drink from. But that’s great that you make your own cider. I used to experiment making my own root beer… but life happened. Keep it up, warrior!

  3. Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, this show is just SO much fun, and if you don’t love it, you don’t have a soul (imho)!

    • Jonathan Seligman says:

      Thus we have Alex 🙂 Hah. I definitely agree with you, Carys: it’s a fun show, and I hope more people can realise that.

  4. When I first saw this re-tweeted by Twitter bot @BronyRT, I thought it was going to be another article that was going to hate on the fandom (Because of the title).
    But I decided to read it anyway and comment on anything I thought would have been out of place.

    After reading it, and finding out that you’re actually enjoying the show, I was ecstatic!
    Glad to read that you joined the heard. xD

    Have fun! /)^3^(\

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