Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of “My Little Pony”
directed by Laurent Malaquais
starring Tara Strong
“Squicky.” That’s your first thought when confronted with the idea that 20-something males are addicted to a TV show designed to sell six-year-old girls plastic toys. Is this just weird, or is My Little Pony a show that possesses enough subtext to appeal to adults yet entertain children, like Rocky and Bullwinkle did a generation ago? In this day and age of gender-crossing marriage and nontraditional families, we are hardly in a position to judge, but still — this is just a BIT weird. The only advice I offer is: sit through the show, and decide as you leave the theater. Personally, I’m still open. This might be a subsection of a harmless deviancy, but it might just as well be an innocent pastime that happens at the intersection of the adult world and that of still easily manipulated children.
The documentary is structured around a half-dozen Bronies, (Bros who love Ponies), and their personal stories of coming to love Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong), Princess Celestia, and Cheerilee (both voiced by Nicole Oliver). Their journey is not easy. Alex is from rural North Carolina where his love of Ponies leads to unpleasant confrontation with local rednecks. Other Bronies face similar discrimination; there’s an unpleasant subtext in the pursuit and general “You ain’t from round these parts, are ya?” Yet the individuals portrayed seem well-adjusted and sociable. Theirs is an obsession not that different from Civil War re-enactors or train spotters. There’s even a remix DJ Element to the movement from Israeli DJ Yoav Landau (The Living Tombstone), who provides jumping beats on his blogs with Pony-oriented dance music.
They all arrive at the climax of the film in a convention called “Bronycon.” Here we see fans in their native environment — true believers devoted to an obscure cartoon and dressed in Pony tails and cutie marks. Like all conventions, they become immersed in a welcoming environment that validates their obsession and moves them from outsider to insider. Parents come to understand their children, children demonstrate there is nothing to worry about, and everyone goes home happy. Not really any different than Comic-Con or Omnicon — here the true believers can connect, dress up their fantasies in a non-judgmental way, and have fun flaunting their fetish with no fear of Beavis or Butthead showing up with baseball bats and messing up an otherwise good time.