Just call me Twilight Sparkle: a word on bronies

From the "Friendship is Magic" TV series

I feel like the internet has been keeping a magical secret from me. A pop subculture revelation waiting in the (Fluttershy) wings. This gender bending gem is of course, the phenomenon otherwise known as bronies.

Another online miracle sprout of the infamous 4chan, the term “brony” (bronies is the plural) refers to adult guys that are massively into My Little Pony. Specifically, bronies revere the Friendship is Magic genre of MLP (an animated TV series), not so much the plastic ones I remember from childhood (which seemed slightly more demure, and a lot less like Powerpuff Girls). Some say that brony-dom is just another ironic fad, but then again, these fellas are pretty hardcore. They’ve even started holding “Bronycon“- a convention for dudes to share their love of the sparkly horses and magical unicorns (etc) of the show.

A brony in action

Bronies don’t seem to fit any stereotypical gender models- they embrace their proclivity for wearing the rainbow wigs and tribute wings of their favourite characters, while still donning their baggy jeans and gaming-related tees. And although some haters may label this “super gay“, the whole thing doesn’t seem aligned with any particular sexual orientation. There are even reports that a brony, upon finding a like-minded man, will fist-bump and say “bro-hoof!” with his compadre.

Apparently the appeal is the “non-combative fandom” and peaceful friendship story lines. In fact the Executive Producer of the series (up until recently) Lauren Faust (she is so cute BTW), is being hailed as some kind of pony queen/god. It seems to me that Faust is preeetty much the internet version of Judith Butler.

The only thing that worries me about this whole situation is that by all definitions, I am out of the brony club. Turns out women watchers of the show are dubbed “pegasisters“, which seems like 100% lamer if you ask me. I’m just not sure why in amongst all of the brony challenges to normative masculinity we have to get all gender-binary all over again. But there you go.

So let’s keep watching this web-wide fanboy wonder unfold- but I implore you, always challenge the broninormative gender assumptions you encounter.

1 thought on “Just call me Twilight Sparkle: a word on bronies

  1. Came here via a Google search for a reference to “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)” in an episode of Friendship is Magic (I’m a Brony).
    My knowledge about gender theory is quite superficial, but it’s always interesting to come across and I enjoyed reading a couple of your other posts.

    I think because of the subject matter, people’s reactions to the fandom and plenty of reflective discussion about the community, there’s a relatively decent awareness of gender topics that seems to be fostered by the non-combative nature of the fandom you mention. Granted, it’s the internet and there’s plenty of that base-level misogyny of “no girls on the internet”. But at times I’m quite impressed to find that these issues do get discussed outside academic context in what is a mostly male setting.

    For example, the term “pegasister” you brought up is a pretty contentious one to the community. I’ve seen a lot of people condemning the term, sometimes quite adamantly: surprisingly the reasoning is that the term “brony” is supposed to be all inclusive and used gender-neutrally. Most female fans of the show I’ve met prefer to call themselves bronies for inclusion or simplicity, but I also know some who enjoy their somewhat ironic minority status and embrace the pegasister label (or maybe they just like the name).
    I think it’s important to note that the males-watching-a-little-girls-show oddness factor was probably necessary for this to be enough of a “thing” to turn into a subculture, and that the brony title is derived from this origin. Even with the fandom now firmly established, the gender-norm bucking experience remains an important part of the “bro-pony” identity among this largely male group; I find it telling that this is actively overlooked to promote a more inclusive and welcoming community.

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