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Adventures in Subcultures: The Bronies

2012 August 8

I’m hoping this’ll be the start of an all-new series on Bad Reputation, where I delve into a misunderstood, secretive, or just slightly odd subculture. Today, we’re going to start with bronies.

Origin of Species

Let’s start with a little background.

Once upon a time (1982), in a marketing meeting far, far away (Rhode Island), Hasbro decided to take on the My Little Pony intellectual property. They marketed it pretty much exclusively at girls. The toys were sold with world-shakingly innovative features such as brushable hair and a unique mark on each character’s butt.

The theme continued with a couple of animated series – in which the ponies partook in such riveting activities as going to school and dating – and even a feature film. This was pretty standard stuff for Hasbro, who had long since realised the value of getting kids involved with a cartoon. My Little Pony continued on form, with few variations on the core premise, until 2010.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Everything changed in 2010. Lauren Faust, animator supreme, was roused from her cryogenic slumber. Her mission: to turn a tedious, gender essentialist franchise into something that would break gender boundaries and interest a whole new generation in animated ponies with magical tattoos.

There’s also the horse porn fanart, but we’ll get onto that later.

Faust lists the things that she hopes to achive with MLP:FiM in her Ms. Magazine article about the issue. To quote –

There are lots of different ways to be a girl.

[…] This show is wonderfully free of “token girl” syndrome, so there is no pressure to shove all the ideals of what we want our daughters to be into one package.

[…] Cartoons for girls don’t have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness. Girls like stories with real conflict; girls are smart enough to understand complex plots; girls aren’t as easily frightened as everyone seems to think. Girls are complex human beings, and they can be brave, strong, kind and independent–but they can also be uncertain, awkward, silly, arrogant or stubborn. They shouldn’t have to succumb to pressure to be perfect.

Yes, My Little Pony is riddled with pink, the leader is a Princess instead of a Queen and there probably aren’t enough boys around to portray a realistic society. These decisions were not entirely up to me. It has been a challenge to balance my personal ideals with my bosses’ needs for toy sales and good ratings. […] There is also a need to incorporate fashion play into the show, but only one character is interested in it and she is not a trend follower but a designer who sells her own creations from her own store. We portray her not as a shopaholic but as an artist.

Lauren Faust, I think I love you. And, apparently, I’m not the only one. MLP:FiM gained a fucking enormous audience, across all gender identities. For example, let’s take a look at this video.


Just fucking look at it.

Right, good, so what actually IS a Brony?

Wikipedia will know, right?

Brony is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Krzyżanów, within Kutno County, Łódź Voivodeship, in central Poland. It lies approximately 12 kilometres (7 mi) south of Kutno and 40 km (25 mi) north of the regional capital Łódź.

No, probably not. Let’s try Urban Dictionary and ignore anything referring to a sex act or requiring specialist equipment. It might take a while.

A name typically given to the male viewers/fans (whether they are straight, gay, bisexual, etc.) of the My Little Pony show or franchise. They typically do not give in to the hype that males aren’t allowed to enjoy things that may be intended for females.

That’s better. Pretty accurate, too, though I understand that it’s not a gender-specific term (so pay attention to the word ‘typically’ there).

So what do bronies care about? Why are they bronies? I wouldn’t dream of putting uninformed words in their mouths. I went digging for some My Little Pony forums, and put out a little questionnaire via Twitter and Reddit’s /r/mylittlepony.

I didn’t have much luck finding any insights on the forums, but I found this post very sweet…

brony-seeking-question: screenshot of a forum post asking: have you ever been out in public and found out someone's a brony? did you talk to them about the show? if not, would you like to?'

…and this reply absolutely hilarious when taken out of context…

Screenshot reading 'I have seen on many occasions strangers with pony gear on.'

…but I digress. I digress pervily, but it’s definitely digression. Let’s move on to the questionnaire.

The Bronies Speak

“What is your gender identity?”

bar chart showing gender of respondents: men are in the lead.

I discovered after putting the questionnaire online that some female MLP fans call themselves “pegasisters”, so there’s potential selection bias in the results. Still, it validates what I was hoping for – that the majority of responses were coming from the male-identified side of the fandom.1

“Were you a fan of the My Little Pony franchise before Friendship is Magic started?”

pie chart with a majority of No answers

The community seems to be nearly exclusively focused on the new iteration of My Little Pony, without any pre-existing interest in the older material.

“Would you be happy for most or all of the people you know to know that you identify as a brony?”


The number of positive responses to this surprised me. MLP fans get a hard time online, and it can only be worse in meatspace. Perhaps the show’s message of love and tolerance results in a more optimistic viewpoint, or attracts those already predisposed to one.

“What appeals to you about the show itself?”

I thoroughly enjoy the idea that a show can be feminine, and ‘made for girls’, without being an overblown, over-prissy tea party. The deconstruction of gender binary and gender stereotypes present in the show is admirable and wonderful.

– anon

It is refreshing to see a show, even amongst children’s programming, that is completely lacking in cynicism. The show and the characters within it are un-selfconciously idealistic and positive. It provides fantastic role models for children of all genders, and the world it has built feels rich and fully occupied.

– Tim (@trivia_lad)

The entire show just feels right. When I’m watching MLP:FiM, it’s like I’m a kid again and I can enjoy the childishness of the entire thing without care.

– Shawn X (@shawnyall)

The character diversity (for once in a children’s show, the fashionable one isn’t the bad guy) and I’m a sucker for the innocent humour included. The characters also have tragic (in the classical sense of the word) flaws: the representative of loyalty is self-centered, the representative of generosity manipulative, and when the representative of Kindness gets mad, even the Hulk would tell her to calm down.

– anon

“What do you dislike or resent about the show itself?”

The vast majority of responses to this question were “nothing, nada, zero”. It seems the community is generally very happy with the show.

It’s a shame Faust had to leave, season 2 was a very different show compared to the first and even though it’s still good something felt like it was missing. I attribute that to Faust’s absence.

– Bret (@the_red_bobcat)

Although strong, not-even-slightly sexualised female role models are a wonderful thing, I am not wholly comfortable with the representation of male characters in the show. With only one or two exceptions, male ponies are represented as stupid, or comic foils, with roles that tend to be service occupations. Unless an episode requires a stallion MacGuffin (See: a Canterlot Wedding, where you get a male character of high social status, though he is very easily manipulated by a strong, evil female character).

– MiaVee (@MiaVee)

“What are you particularly proud of about the brony community? What do you enjoy about being part of it?”

I’m proud of what we do. We start charities, we raise money, we’re so united and loving. Really, I enjoy the love in the brony community. Everyone is just so understanding, caring, and enjoyable. When I first started watching and putting myself into the community, I didn’t know what to expect. But as I opened up more and more, they accepted me without question. They gave my life an entire new part to enjoy, and changed me forever.

– Shawn X (@shawnyall)

I particularly enjoy the community’s openness towards almost every type of person (at least this is true for the Reddit section).

– anon

I am proud of the grown men who are not ashamed of watching a girls’ show just because it is for girls. I like the “love and tolerate” message and the lack of outright trolls.

– Meghan E

I think one of the strongest indications of how the brony community aren’t all creepy, socially inept, hygiene-incapable, sexual predators is the eagerness of the producers and actors on the show to engage with them. The Hub ident produced to promote the second series, a reskin of Katy Perry’s “California Girls” called “Equestria Girls” gives a shout out to bronies, Tara Strong on Twitter actively engages with bronies (as does Andrea Libman, to a smaller extent).

– MiaVee (@MiaVee)

“What negative experiences have you had or known about in the brony community? What would you change if you could?”

The only real negative experience that I’ve known about is the discrimination against a sub-section of bronies called ‘cloppers’ – people who fantasize/look at lewd pictures of characters from the show. The cloppers themselves don’t bother me – it’s the fact that most of the fandom acts like it’s this skeleton in the closet and are extremely ashamed of it, when really it’s not a big deal.

– Rpspartin (@rpspartin)

Anything involving shipping. No no no no no just stop. The show is cute and fine without shoehorning madeup lesbian relationships.

– anon

The only bad times I’ve seen are all the haters that continue to try to bully us. But I wouldn’t change anything. Some of these people just need a friend and we’re more than happy to be that.

– no name provided

Having people approach you and say “My Little Pony? Are you an 8 year old girl?” is part of being a brony, but you can live with it because once you tell them to watch the show it’s an amazing feeling to have that same person come back to you and say “Yeah, sorry bro. That show is amazing!”. Anything that’s rock and roll enough for Andrew W.K. (who’s hosting a “What Would Pinkie Pie Do?” talk) is rock and roll enough for me!

– Bret (@the_red_bobcat)

There is still a lot of misogyny and ableism. Many bronies seem to think that because it’s good, it can’t possibly be for girls, and thus deny that it’s a girls’ show. Alternatively, many get offended when it’s called a girls’ show because they still equate “girly” with ’bad.“ I’d rather seem them embracing the girliness of it, and responding ”yes, it’s for girls, because girls are awesome. Everything for girls should be this awesome.”

– Meghan E.

I’m reluctant to use the term “brony” to describe myself because in every corner of the internet are snarky non-fans seeking to smear every adult fan of the show […] as a fandom overall it seems a lot more welcoming, gentle and understanding than the elitist bullcrap you can get around diehard fangirls and boys for any other show/game/movie.

– MiaVee (@MiaVee)

“Free text time! Tell me whatever you think that I should know. Trivia, gossip, you name it. This is your moment.”

The brony community is huge, and rapidly growing. Like any other community of fans, it is impossible to define the composition, interests, and behavior of its members succinctly. I’d ask, gently, that you please keep this in mind while writing your article.

– anon

I became a slightly more positive and confident person by watching the show.

– anon

All ponies are equal, but some ponies are more equal than others, including Rarity exclusively.

– DocTavia

Rarity is best pony. Anyone who says otherwise is just jealous they aren’t as fabulous

– anon

The only thing I request is that it be made known that Rarity is easily my favourite.

– Bret (@the_red_bobcat)

“The Derpy Controversy”

derpyDerpy Hooves is what’s called a ‘background pony’. She appeared in the crowd in one of the early episodes, and her unusual eyes earned her an instant cult following in the MLP fandom.

Ever attentive to their fans, Lauren Faust and the rest of the team decided to put Derpy in more prominent positions, and even give her a few lines.

This prompted a few equality-minded fans to complain – ‘derpy’ being a reference to presentations of learning disability. From One Survivor To Another wrote an open letter to Lauren Faust on the issue, and followed up with a smackdown to many of the privilege-tastic counter-arguments that were made.

A modified version of the episode featuring Derpy was released on iTunes with ‘fixed’ eyes; however, the original version was contained in the DVD release.

I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of this one here – you can read more about Derpy Hooves’ history on Know Your Meme if you like – but my point is simply that there was discourse in the fandom on the matter. There were strong feelings on both sides, but it’s nice to know that at least the argument could be conducted (mostly) reasonably.

What did we learn?

What, other than the fact that anyone who has expressed a preference wanted to be very vocal about their love for Rarity?

Well, it seems that the MLP fandom are extremely accepting. “Love and tolerance” – a term so popular that I presume it’s from the show – is paramount. We’ve seen this before, in communities like furries and otherkin. Don’t get me wrong – it’s an admirable trait – but it does lend itself to being accepting of the extremes of the community without significantly challenging them. Deserving or undeserving, that’s something that can get a community a bad name in general.

There is an undeniable degree of childish naïveté in the community. Potentially expected due to the nature of the show, it does seem to result in marginalising those who ‘clop’ or enjoy fanart/fanfic of the characters in adult situations. Controversial one, this, and this is only a personal view – but I see it as slightly odd but harmless. The fanart and fanfic are drawn and written, and so they don’t harm any real person. If someone wants to pat their flanks to imaginary ponies in compromising scenarios, it doesn’t harm anyone else.

The community seems to revel in the fact that the production team for the show is interested in what they care about, and are willing to name or give cameos to formerly nameless ‘background ponies’ that gain popularity with their fandom.

Bronies – and the ‘pegasisters’ that I’m sorry to have neglected in the survey – seem to be, on the whole, genuinely lovely people that just so happen to like cartoon ponies. Is their fandom a bit strange? Sure. That said, though, how many fandoms aren’t?

And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to watch the first few episodes of the first season. It might be terrible – it might be great. What I’m fairly certain of, though, is that it’s not going to piss me off.

  1. Ed’s tiny note: I’m wondering how our trans* readers may feel about the way we’ve differentiated our categories here. On reflection, it might have been more inclusive to label the “male” and “female” categories “cis”. We did want to avoid any implication that someone who is trans* cannot simply have access to the general terms of “male” or “female” – this is not a view we hold! – but we may not have succeeded, and it’s just as arguable here that we’ve done the opposite. Similarly, the question of whether to involve more or fewer ‘categories’ took some ruminating, and Dave took a while crowdsourcing views on this. In any case, I thought I’d say we’re always happy to receive feedback for future surveys. []
47 Responses leave one →
  1. August 8, 2012

    Rarity got the biggest number of fans? Oh man, she’s the Rachel of the lot. Bah. Rainbow Dash – now she’s pretty damn awesome. Fiesty, competitive, probably queer, underemployed… Ok, I may be projecting.

    I’m only about halfway through season 1 though so maybe Rarity gets better. Maybe.

    My awesome flatmate wrote a thing on MLP a little while ago, about how MLP is actually a cute & hopeful look at 20-30 something life: You have various kinds of underemployment while people chase their dream jobs, the one who still lives at home & has family commitments, the graduate student… and friends being the main support network.

    Read it:

    • dave permalink*
      August 9, 2012

      That post is utterly awesome.

    • Phillie Chi permalink
      August 21, 2012

      Come back to us when you’ve finished season two, and we’ll discuss…things.

    • Joshua B. permalink
      August 21, 2012

      Wow, that really has surprising potential to be an accurate take on things. It’s very well-reasoned, anyway. Most people cite personalities for their reasons behind liking any of the characters more than the others, though, so I’m not sure it’s totally correct. (I’ve never heard anyone mention “she has ambition and wants to join the Wonderbolts” as a reason they like or relate to Dash.)

    • Anonypony permalink
      August 23, 2012

      “MLP is actually a cute & hopeful look at 20-30 something life”

      This. Anybody who’s ever done web design or any form of consultancy work will appreciate “Art of the Dress”, the episode that got me permanently hooked. The point of the episode being that sometimes the customer *isn’t* always right, and that it doesn’t matter how much you want to be their friend, sometimes you have to put your hoof down and deliver what they needed, even if it’s not precisely what they wanted.

      Edit: Actually, I was referring to the song and moral of “Suited for Success” (Season 1, Episode 14). The one that hooked me was Applebuck Season, Season 1/Episode 04, which dealt with self-imposed overwork. Season 2, Episode 3, “Lesson Zero” treated it even better, but by that time my brain had already gone to the pony side.

    • Anonypony permalink
      August 23, 2012

      Edit: I derped. I was referring to the song and moral of “Suited for Success” (Season 1, Episode 14). The one that hooked me was Applebuck Season, Season 1/Episode 04, which dealt with self-imposed overwork. Season 2, Episode 3, “Lesson Zero” treated it even better, but by that time my brain had already gone to the pony side.

    • HMorris73 permalink
      August 23, 2012

      Actually a lot of people say they didn’t like Rarity during the first half of season one only to have her grow on them during the second.

    • Ganondox permalink
      July 12, 2014

      Rarity is actually the least popular, while Fluttershy or Twilight is the most.

  2. kaberett permalink
    August 9, 2012

    Yep, as a trans* reader I absolutely share your concerns about the way you’ve formulated the categories, in that I read them and recoiled slightly from the screen :-/

    For what it’s worth, the best way I’ve seen to do this involves inviting people to pick any labels they apply to themselves: so give a list that includes options for “male”, “female”, “non-binary”, “trans”, “cis” etc – I get very very twitchy about setting up “trans male” and “cis male” as different categories, rather than subsets of a category.

    • dave permalink*
      August 9, 2012

      I really appreciate the input. For clarification, the intention behind offering them as different items wasn’t to segregate, but more to allow people to choose what they felt most comfortable with, if you see what I mean. A blank text box is the best solution sociologically and ethically, but it isn’t really an option when you’re trying to graph groupings!

    • Miranda permalink*
      August 9, 2012

      *nods* Thanks for the feedback, kabarett.

  3. August 10, 2012

    As a side note: the bronies vs pegasisters things comes about, in my opinion, because it’s considered normal for females to enjoy Friendship is Magic, and not normal for males to do so.

    This is because, in the public intelligence at large, females (like me) played with MLP in childhood; they (unlike me) enjoy sparkly, pretty, pink things by default; or they (hopefully unlike me) have lower intelligence levels and so find intellectual fulfilment in a “children’s program”.

    It is not considered normal for men to enjoy this program, because they should watch programs about manly men kicking a bit of leather around a field, explosions and Hitler/sharks. At least, I assume.

    It’s almost a case of privelige; as a female I have the privelige of being “normal” in my adoration of ponies, whereas someone who does not identify as female but still likes ponies is automatically “different.” This is one of the situations where males seem to have been cast in the role of minority.

    There has never been any open hostility to females in the brony community afaik (and they should remain innocent until proven guilty), but the very name – brony, from bro, an abbreviation of brother – implies that bronydom is a fraternal concept and that females can never truly understand.

    As a further note, I would like to argue that your research is inherently flawed, because Rainbow Dash is clearly the best pony.

    • Phillie Chi permalink
      August 21, 2012

      I would inject my opinion here. The term Brony is very much a gender neutral term, steming from the depths of the internet where it was created, a place called…well I can’t remember what it was called but it’s there. The word Brony is actually not short for Bro Pony but rather comes from the /b/ boards of 4chan. That is where it was originated. The controversy that sparked the brony community wasn’t one of gender equality but more so one of general acceptance, hence the phrase “the mods are asleep, post ponies” After the flame wars that took place on that board, the bronies left there and migrated to their new home called ponychan. Bronies are in essence a thriving community of refugees.

      • Phillie Chi permalink
        August 21, 2012

        Also, Twilight Sparkle is clearly best pony :)

      • August 21, 2012

        I’d never really wondered where the word originated – I just assumed it had emerged from the amorphous grey mass that is Teh Intarwebz.

        If the concensus is that boy-bronies are truly happy for girl-bronies to keep on using the term, that’s awesome, as it makes it even more inclusive :)

      • waffle911 permalink
        August 22, 2012

        The etymology of “brony” has long been debated, with very little evidence available to definitively pin it as originating from either /b/rony or bro+pony. The pony phenomenon itself originated not from /b/ (the “random” board), but from /co/ (the cartoons and comics board). There, though, they frequently referred to themselves as “/co/lts,” lending some credence to the /b/rony argument. However, since that would still require the insertion of an “r,” leading to the first syllable of “/b/ro,” which was sometimes used as the root for other permutations of “bro” on /b/, an argument could be made that it was in fact a result of both /b/ro+pony.

        And indeed, I corroborate that while “bro” may seem to imply masculinity, “brony” is considered to be entirely gender-neutral and all-inclusive. Girls have the option to use “pegasister” as a feminine alternative if they prefer, though really it just sounds awkward when said aloud.

  4. Yed Rellow permalink
    August 10, 2012

    For a different perspective on bronies and bronydom, curious readers might wish to peruse this SomethingAwful thread:

    • Tylendal permalink
      August 21, 2012

      I’m a fan of the show, and I enjoy watching it. Whenever a news article comes out, they always focus on the strange people, the weird people, the creepy looking people.
      I remember seeing picture of Bronycon in mainstream media, looking at all the various people, and thinking “Wow, they just look weird and awkward.”
      Then, I saw something that made me feel a lot better. A camera had been set up in the main hall, to capture video of everyone coming in once the doors had opened, and guess what? I realized that the vast majority, almost everyone, coming through those doors looked pretty normal, and that the people I thought seemed really creepy, were almost non-existent.

      Most of us are just here because we enjoy watching a unexpectedly well made show.

    • GotDerp permalink
      August 27, 2012

      You want to show people a different view on bronies, so you link a something awful page…
      The page is satire at best, although the writing style shows more of hate and anger in the author.
      “By now I’m sure you all know of the latest weird obsession that has taken the less socially adept parts of the internet by storm: My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic. You probably also know of the fandom of 14 to 40-something awkward (mostly) men who worship the show, known as bronies. If you haven’t been introduced to bronies yet, you’re probably better off just leaving now. This thread was created because the Awkward and Ugly thread was getting absolutely inundated with brony pictures. Nobody can seem to find a brony meet-up picture that isn’t at least somewhat awkward or ugly, so they all qualify for that thread and are drowning out everything else. This gives you an idea of what you’re in for if you stay.

      If you’re intent on staying, this thread is for posting pictures and videos of bronies and brony meetups and laughing at them. This thread is also for finding/exploring brony websites and forums and posting weird and funny poo poo they say and do.

      This thread is NOT for discussion of My Little Pony itself, organising of brony meet-ups, or talking about how your fedora totally doesn’t make you look like an idiot.
      Here’s some other rules, requested by Butt Wizard”

      Quoted from the thread, If that does not show the bias going into what they are saying, you can see by reading some of the posts.
      These people seem to be angry that bronies exist, and want to waste their time trying to spread false accusations about the fandom, and seem to want to be validated in their hatred of us.

      I’m not saying the odd/awkward/nasty parts of the community aren’t there, but this thread wants to portray the extreme as the average. Now lets go into some examples from the thread.

      Brony: An adult male that has become obsessed with the children’s cartoon show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Usually identifiable by a complete bankruptcy of muscletone and a mysterious abundance of free time and disposable income to spend on My Little Pony merchandise. A blighting presence on the internet. Also a very, very embarrassed little town in Poland.- This is the immaturity of these people. They categorize all bronies into weird losers, and the writing style is enough to make you realize the anger in the writer.

      Pegasister: A female brony. Extremely rare, generally overweight.- this site is pro feminism, and you link people to something that says this, great logic there.

      I’m pretty sure any competent person can see past the exaggeration/lies.
      Ex. of exaggeration: Cupcakes is a dark story about murder, and is popular. Grimdark fanfics are not usually popular, but most people tolerate them. Cupcakes is one of the grimdark fanfictions that became a standout and a fanfiction that was read for curiosity and to be in the know about it, apart from the people that enjoy grimdark. Fallout: Equestria is not all about killing. It’s based on fallout, so there is violence, but the characters and story are why it is popular.
      Lies: Bronies send Lauren Faust porn and get mad when she blocks them. I’m pretty sure people know that sending porn to someone usually doesn’t get a good response. And Lauren has dealt with the trolls that try to send her those images to try to get her to be disgusted with bronies as a whole, no actual bronies that I’m aware of.

      If you want facts about bronies, go to actual articles like the one on this site, rather than a thread about Brony hate.

  5. wererogue permalink
    August 21, 2012

    The Derpy Hooves response actually bothered me somewhat. I definitely think it was pretty tasteless to take the only visibly wall-eyed character and make her shining moment a clutzy catastrophe, and that her original voice was pretty evocative of somebody making fun of kids with learning difficulties; but to “fix” her eyes is to then erase the only visibly disabled pony on the show.

    I’d have much preferred a fix to the actual problem – the idea that stabismus implies clumsiness. An episode where the character learned to be more careful, focused on carelessness rather than on sight ability, would have been awesome. I guess they just wanted to get out of the fire as quickly as possible, but I was quite disappointed to lose a part of the character.

    Anyone who comes past my desk can tell that I’m a Brony – I have a little Rainbow Dash under my monitor. I don’t buy stuff to display for most cartoons that I love, but with all the Brony-hate going on I really felt like I needed to be “out of the closet” to help people normalize it in their heads.

    Personally, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion since I was a kid that girls were getting a raw deal as far as cartoons were concerned, and MLP:FIM is my proof that an awesome show for girls is an awesome show for everyone. After all, most of the girls I knew growing up were watching the boys shows – because they were better.

    • Violet CLM permalink
      August 21, 2012

      “her original voice was pretty evocative of somebody making fun of kids with learning difficulties” — her original voice was done by someone who didn’t know she was supposed to be voicing a female. Slight difference.

      • wererogue permalink
        August 21, 2012

        Oh, as I understand it, the whole event was a calamity of miscommunication and aggregate fail, with nobody really aware of what it was that they were building. But that’s not an excuse – it’s a reason, and regardless of the origins the effect looked deliberate and meaningful.

    • Justin permalink
      August 22, 2012

      Fun fact, Scootaloo is a disabled character with a bigger role. She is actually incapable of flying and likely never will. Or at least that is what the mapping from Lauren Faust would state though as seen from DHX and the writers things can change.

      • Ganondox permalink
        July 12, 2014

        He did say *visibly* disabled.

  6. August 21, 2012

    It does really bother me some of the misogyny I’ve encountered in people disliking Fluttershy. Like, vicious hatred that seems really out of place considering they all want to talk about how they’re all about love and acceptance, but apparently only so long as you aren’t *too* girly or anything.

    • waffle911 permalink
      August 22, 2012

      I actually find this comment somewhat shocking, as I have never encountered this. I’m a Flutterfanboy myself, and I can tell you that in most of the “Best Pony” polls I’ve seen with the largest response rates, Fluttershy was rather consistently in the top two by a wide margin.

    • Justin permalink
      August 22, 2012

      Hate is a strong word. I could understand to what extent people could dislike Fluttershy, but the fact is it all comes down to preference. People who often like Twilight the most will usually be polar opposite to that of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy. Hate would only be viable if the characters legitimately insulted them in some way and considering how the show is, I highly doubt that possible.

      • Ganondox permalink
        July 12, 2014

        Pinkie Pie, Twilight, and Fluttershy are my favorite three ponies.

  7. August 21, 2012

    @Meg: I am a Flutterfanboy and the owner of Boorushy (a large collection of diabetes-inducing art of Fluttershy), and despite meeting a few people disliking Fluttershy, I did not see any hatred for her. At all.

    Maybe it’s just the fact I rarely go outside of Reddit.

    • JunkJunk permalink
      August 21, 2012

      I’m not really sure where Meg’s notions come from, but there is a TON of Fluttershy love out there. In fact it’s so great amongst amongst certain parts of the fandom that Japanese bronies have even gone so far to as adopt Fluttershy as an honorarily Japanese( ). So cast aside the notion that there is a copious amount of hate for Fluttershy outside of Reddit.

  8. Tylendal permalink
    August 21, 2012

    “I wouldn’t dream of putting uninformed words in their mouths.”
    Thank you. That is all.

  9. Kencolt permalink
    August 21, 2012

    Ah. Love and Tolerate. Well, that’s NOT from the show. Not… exactly.

    It’s a motto amongst Bronies. You see, at the start of the fandom– on 4chan, I believe– a lot of people started posting pony related pictures– and got a lot of hate. Well, that’s usually the typical start of your classic internet flame war. You know. “Dat guy is a fag” and “Are U on drugs” and a lot of FU FU FU FU FU… the usual.

    But somehow, the evolving brony community decided to reply with, “Oh? I’m sorry you feel that way. But okay, you’re entitled to your own opinion. Have a nice day.”

    And the anti-troll reponses continued in that fashion. For every “Ur a faggit” there was “No, I’m not, but I can see where you might get that idea.” For every “U suk” there was a “Well, sorry to hear you feel that way.” For every… well, you get the idea.

    And then- as best I remember someone made a motivational poster of Twilight Sparkle (who IS best pony) saying…

    “I’m going to love and tolerate the SHIT out of you.”

    I’m not sure– but I suspect that’s when our credos became set. We love and tolerate. You’re in your rights to be meanies. You’re in Your rights to have misconceptions. It’s OK. We forgive you. Nopony’s perfect.

    It’s led to charity work, brilliant fanarts and stories, )(And a few perverts– I can’t deny that) and a great community.

    Proud to be a Brony, me.

  10. brian577 permalink
    August 21, 2012

    I don’t agree with the assessment that we are being naive about cloppers. Image is important and by marginalizing cloppers we have managed to get a lot of positive press and acceptance. Something furries failed to do and they payed (and are still paying) the price for it.

    • waffle911 permalink
      August 22, 2012

      At the same time, though, such adamantly active marginalization in principle is rather hypocritical (this is what I’ve seen a lot of in our fandom). R34 is an absolute rule of the internet for a reason. People that enjoy those sorts of things will always exist, and accordingly the existence of such content is unavoidable. Much of the “marginalizing” of cloppers is far too aggressive in its stance and goes against the credo to love and tolerate even those that like things we don’t like.

      It is far more important to simply acknowledge that yes, if you look for it, it exists as it does in every other fandom, and that there will always be doors that shouldn’t be opened by those who already know they won’t like what they find; it’s much more important to emphasize that the number of cloppers is far, far outweighed by the number of non-cloppers, than to outright ostracize the cloppers themselves for their interests and the potential damage they can do to the fandom’s image.

      Rampant hypocrisy and foul treatment of others both inside and outside the fandom for whatever reasons is much more damaging to our image, and I’ve witnessed all of this in many bronies’ behavior pretty much anywhere on the internet not dedicated to the fandom. The rampant two-way flame wars in YouTube comments are just the tip of the iceberg and certainly do nothing to help our image. Sadly, you just won’t find much in the way of classic 4-chan “Love and Tolerance” anti-trolling from bronies in these venues anymore; we’ve come such a long way from our humble roots, and the message has been heavily diluted in the course of our rapid expansion.

      While the false portrayals furries and sexuality in the media were certainly damaging to that fandom, I think what really made it toxic was the amount of drama that seemed to surround them wherever they went, both inside and outside the furry fandom. Bronies are already fast on that path, unfortunately, and I just hope we can continue to learn from the furry fandom’s mistakes in time to prevent similar irreparable damage from happening.

  11. Violet CLM permalink
    August 21, 2012

    “Once upon a time (1982), in a marketing meeting far, far away (Rhode Island), Hasbro decided to take on the My Little Pony intellectual property. They marketed it pretty much exclusively at girls. The toys were sold with world-shakingly innovative features such as brushable hair and a unique mark on each character’s butt.

    The theme continued with a couple of animated series – in which the ponies partook in such riveting activities as going to school and dating – and even a feature film. This was pretty standard stuff for Hasbro, who had long since realised the value of getting kids involved with a cartoon. My Little Pony continued on form, with few variations on the core premise, until 2010.”
    I’m sorry, but this isn’t really accurate. You seem to be talking about generation 3.5, which started in 2009 (and to a lesser extent generation 3, which started in 2003, or maybe “My Little Pony Tales,” from 1992). The first _decade_ of material, though, was rather more action-oriented than even the modern Friendship is Magic show and included a whole lot of adventures and villains. The animated portions of the franchise definitely veered hard into traditional dating-and-stuff girls media after about ten years, but it didn’t start out that way.

  12. August 21, 2012

    Finally, someone actually thinks rationally about the whole ‘clopping’ thing. Honestly, so many bronies and non-bronies over-react about it.
    Sometimes I feel like grabbing their shoulders and shaking them while screaming, “This is the internet! How have you not encountered something infinitely worse than frickin’ cloppers by now?!”
    I mean hell, the fact that people jerk off to cartoon porn is hardly new, nor is jerking off to cartoon porn involving animals and creatures. We humans have the disgusting/awesome ability to sexualise pretty much anything, so why do we keep reacting so violently when yet another layer of our perversion splatters its way into existence?
    Or maybe I’m just too accepting of everyone’s fetishes.

  13. ProfessorOats permalink
    August 21, 2012

    “Love & tolerate” isn’t from the show itself. It was originally a response to trolls that’s gotten a bit out of hand. I suggest you read Headless Horse’s article “Love, Tolerance, and Other Myths” on The Round Stable

  14. Justin permalink
    August 21, 2012

    Great article which remained entertaining and inclusive. A few things I like to say as a being a brony myself and knowing a few people who hate bronies (yet are my friends… makes more sense than you would think). I ended up joining the community mostly because I saw a few fan made things that showed legitimate effort that seemed to show how much they cared about the show and gave it a shot. Once I got further involved in the community, they have been inviting, caring, and most importantly interactive in a positive manner. Taking on what this fandom had started, I have looked to strengthen this message by encouraging people to be creative and giving constructive criticism to build on those getting started.

    The whole Derpy controversy was a dark day for the brony community imo. My stance in that from the start was Hasbro must have had a good reason for doing it and appreciate that they gave us that in the first place. Needless to say the fandom went into an ignorant rage, though understandably so for something they held dear. If anything, I hope those that were enraged can look back and learn from that experience.

    For the stance of those that hate the brony community from personal experience. It is foremost an act of ignorance, but not in the way you would originally perceive it. The friends I mentioned actually like the show, but do not want to associate with the brony community. The reason being that to many across the internet, people despise them in claim that they are shoving the show down there throats (the creations from the brony community being widespread). The ignorance of it is that they use excuses such as it is a young girls show to attempt to break the message that bronies represent of love and tolerate. No matter how well you can explain to them that we do not mind if they hate the show just do not hate the people, they will continue in hopes of demeaning what the bronies stand for. So in all honesty, I can stand for what I believe in with this community and just disregard the haters that care not to show an understanding to the community.

  15. Mario permalink
    August 21, 2012

    I actually got a person to leave a videogame Facebook group by just continuing a conversation about pony videogames, namely Fighting is Magic. Instead of watching the video and becoming intrigued by the animation and game mechanics, he immediately left in disgust. It’s weird because gamers were society’s former scapegoats who were stereotyped as vagrants, good-for-nothings, unhygenic virgins. Now it’s bronies because we actually challenge views of sexuality and gender. There’s such an irrational hatred of us I don’t think even lepers suffered.

  16. August 21, 2012

    well the community itself was welcoming and i think some trolls over-reacts that some viewers are actually males. some fact i dug up, while researching it before watching the show itself, was that some bronies was (not to offend other bronies) too persisting on showing that the show itself is great and that they should try watching it themselves. well come on the classic wile e cayote skit on feeling pinkie keen is just hilarious. you will never see that kind of ’90s comedy anywhere. um, back on what i was saying. the flame war on 4chan and banning of pony related mods is just wrong, banning something that is actually interesting to begin with is just playing stupid. i just became a brony in a few months but i really quite enjoy all the love and respect they give with each other. there is no problem if their’s a lot of trolls out there, they will just keep on trolling somepony who really love something that they don’t understand. just let them be. what kind of fandom we will turn out if there’s no troll out their to troll us. just keep on loving and tolerating everypony.

    note: i always get confuse on using there and their, and sometimes mix them up. if anypony who is reading this a grammar nazi, you are welcome to correct it.

  17. August 21, 2012

    Being a brony is the most amazing experience anypony will ever have. The love, the idealism, and the overall awesomeness that is both the show and community will never be outdone.

  18. Phillie Chi permalink
    August 21, 2012

    To anyone who still has an issue with Derpy Hooves, I invite you to find on YouTube a story called “Bubbles”. You…will…cry. And you will be grateful for it.

  19. Silent Petrichor permalink
    August 21, 2012

    I think that the reason why many feel hostile towards the “clopping” section of the fandom is because when people think of grown men liking My Little Pony, the first thing that comes to their mind is what cloppers are, grown men who are sexually aroused by ponies. Many bronies want to protest to say “But bronies aren’t like that”, however that wouldn’t be true. There is a part of the fandom that is like that. To see so much hatred directed towards bronies while knowing that they cannot truthfully negate their hatred makes many non-cloppers feel hostile towards them. Not to mention that a lot of cloppers are really open about their habits. I think many are afraid that the image of bronies would be tarnished by that.

    Also, if you would like to read up on more brony studies, check out the Brony Study ( and the survey of the brony community by Know Your Meme (

  20. Niels Olof Bouvin permalink
    August 21, 2012

    Thank you for a wonderfully detailed and well-reasoned article. Your representation of the fandom with its strengths and foibles was, I thought, very fair. I have had the privilege of meeting many of the people behind the show (at BronyCon), and they were very nice indeed, but what impressed me most was how incredibly nice and positive the crowd (of 4000 bronies) at the con was. I note in passing that Rarity is indeed best pony.

  21. Orion permalink
    August 22, 2012

    Just wanted to put out there for this wonderful post:

    The phrase “Love and Tolerate” appears nowhere in the show, it’s always just kind of been there among the fans.

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