What is Brony Culture?
Bronies receive a lot of attention largely because people fail to understand what it is that attracts adolescent boys and men to a brand that has predominantly been targeted at young girls. But bronies are no different from men who enjoy Japanese animation, comic books, or any other form of escapism through niche media, especially since the My Little Pony brand has reinvented itself as a franchise that appeals to myriad demographics. And bronies enjoy a kind of brotherhood predicated by their enjoyment of the media, merchandise, and community surrounding the newly imagined My Little Pony franchise. But what does brony culture entail?
Bronies are a group of men that identify with and appreciate the universal messages and entertainment value offered by the television show ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’, as well as the collectible aspect of the brand associated with the toys, and even the creative pursuits available to fans of the franchise. Whereas the primary goal of many children’s cartoons (including earlier My Little Pony programs) is to target a specific demographic with the intent of promoting merchandise, the MLP relaunch that started in 2010 with Lauren Faust’s new show was designed to have a much broader appeal and serve as a touchstone for a large audience seeking high-quality entertainment that offered something more substantive than a 30-minute commercial for a toy. The result is a popular show that appeals to people of all ages and both genders through intellect and collective themes.
Despite the fact that we live in a society that pushes men and women toward separate, stereotypical gender roles, all people struggle with the same desires and fears. We want to be loved. We want to avoid conflict. We want to be ourselves without being judged or ridiculed. In a way you could think of bronies as a sort of support group for guys that are bucking traditionally assigned gender roles that prescribe emotional neutrality, or worse, negative outbursts as the only acceptable form of masculine emotional outlet. Men can be thoughtful, sensitive, compassionate, creative, and community-oriented just like women, and the brony culture allows them to explore this side of their masculine personality within a supportive and understanding group.
The outside world may treat these individuals with scorn, derision, and even suspicion. But brony culture, like any culture, is inclusive and inviting for those who share the same interests, in this case the latest generation of the My Little Pony franchise. And like most things, if people could get past their misconceptions and try something new without prejudice, they too might find themselves participating in and enjoying brony culture.