Saturday, April 12, 2014

All about Pony mania or My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, also referred to as MLP, has gained a wide following amongst men and women above the target age of show.  They often go by the moniker Bronies, or Brony.

I ran into this community quite by accident through Doctor Who, when I kept seeing pony versions of the Doctors, and most of them were of the 10th Doctor.  Intrigued, I decided to delve further into this community.

As someone who has been a part of many communities such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Evangelion, I’ve found they generally attract the same people over and over.  With MLP it was bringing in a new group of people, one that straddles the line between mainstream and geek chic.

With many articles, and videos on Youtube, trying to explain this Brony phenomenon, I have decided to give you my take from inside the community.

My Little Pony 101

First we have to cover what the show is about, what makes it different from previous generation, and how it became what it is today.  The show follows the adventure of a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle. She can do magic and is sent to the town of Ponyville by her teacher, the princess Celestia, on the eve of the Nightmare Moon, when Princess Luna will return after 1000 years trapped in the Moon. Princess Lunca is Princess Celestia’s sister.
In Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle meets up with five other ponies:

  • Applejack (tells the truth, Southern farmer), 
  • Rarity (egotistical, loves fashion, hates messes), 
  • Fluttershy (shy Pegasus, is good with animals), 
  • Rainbow Dash (overly confident, has a confident fa├žade but underneath she’s vulnerable), 
  • Pinkie Pie (party animal, has a cannon, very-hyper, and voted most likely to be a serial killer).
Together they stop Princess Luna from plunging the world into permanent darkness; basically doing Princess Celestia’s dirty work.  After this is over Twilight Sparkle stays in Ponyville to learn about friendship and magic with her new friends.

What MLP is really about

While most people might decry the show as kids material, and they would be right about season 1.  It's in season 2 that things take a turn to the more adult side of things.

The first season is heavy on the morals, with some adult humor and ideas thrown into the mix.  But what sets this show apart is that there are no humans in this universe. 

The characters themselves express very humanistic traits, and expressions.  Twilight Sparkle is high strung and can easily go off the deep end.  Rainbow Dash is everyones overly confident friend who’s not really confident in her own abilities.  Also the danger that they must face is real, from spurning friends, and -- one of the most disturbing two minutes in television -- when Pinkie Pie goes insane.
With season 2 the series knows it is a hit among adults and the show becomes much more enjoyable for adults.  With the rise of a character known as Discord, voiced by John de Lancie, who turns everything into opposite, the truth sayer becomes the liar, the party animal becomes despair and so on. 

Another episode takes on Greek mythology, and modern political discourse, in a funny but serious episode about the founding of the land by the three races; they did not always get along and were starving.

Another episode introduces the concept of cider, which is essentially an alcoholic drink that all the ponies love to drink, but they never have enough. They are all a bunch of lushes.
Why My Little Pony succeeds with adults
So how did this show take off?  In many cases it has that classic Saturday morning feel without all the modern technology.  The writing is witty, entertaining, and better than many prime time programs.  Also it has a message that communicates to people in this day and age of uncertainty, crime, unkindness, and more.  It harkens back to the ideal that you can get along with people and build a relationship on trust.  
But what sets the community apart from others is that it has staying power.  While many people might believe it will die out, collapsing on itself; instead it is gaining critical mass.  It is also different in that it is more artistic than other shows. There is a ton of fan art available for this show, from shirts to buttons, plushies, and more.  People write their own songs, have meet and greets, and generally enjoy the show.  
While not everyone will enjoy the show, just get used to the idea that it will be around to stay for a while, and that the community itself will be around for a long time as well.  Star Trek only had three seasons and that fandom has been around for decades.
With a new MLP comic on the shelves and more than 100,000 orders for issue #1, this community is here to stay.

About The Author

Kevin Winter is someone with an opinion about almost everything. A comic fan of several years, he can be seen around Empire's Comics Vault on Wednesdays, and generally spouting an opinion (if anyone wants to hear it or not)... also trying not to get on Ben's bad side.

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