What is MLP?
For all intents and purposes, MLP is simply an abbreviation of My Little Pony. But just as fans of the television show ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ referred to the niche program as ‘MST3K’ and were angry when the general public co-opted the slang, MLP is more than just a moniker for the My Little Pony franchise. In addition to providing a concise means for fans to convey their insider status when talking about My Little Pony, the use of MLP has become a way for true fans to identify with the brand and with the community of followers that have become enmeshed in the world of My Little Pony since the launch of the fourth generation (G4) of My Little Pony products. To an outsider, MLP may seem interchangeable with My Little Pony as nothing more than a name for the popular toy and media franchise. But the term means a lot more to fans.
MLP is an identity. Fans of Star Trek are ‘Trekkies’. Fans of ‘Veronica Mars’ are Marshmallows. Fans of ‘Dr. Who’ are Whovians. And those who have chosen to follow MLP have also come up with names for themselves, including Bronies (male fans) and Pegasisters (female fans). Anyone who grew up in the ’80s was no doubt aware of the existence of My Little Pony toys, and plenty of young girls had an abundance of them. But the brand has changed significantly over the past 30 years since its inception as a simple children’s toy. The latest iteration of the franchise caters to diverse demographics with ponies that go far beyond the original mold, both literally and figuratively.
MLP is a culture. The online arena has made sharing interests possible in a way that is unparalleled, allowing a fan base to grow and spread at lightning speed. And fans of the My Little Pony franchise have embraced this new technology and used it to share their love of the brand and flex their creative muscles, as evidenced by the wide variety of fan fiction and custom ponies that can be found online. There is even a fan-made video game entitled ‘My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic’. Although the game was halted by Hasbro due to copyright issues, ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ creator Lauren Faust has agreed to design new characters for game developer Mane6 to continue work on the project.
MLP is a lifestyle. Those who aren’t a part of the MLP gang don’t often understand what it’s all about. Most think it’s nothing more than adults playing with kids’ toys. But the new and improved G4 My Little Pony is completely different from previous iterations. It’s about taking a treasured childhood franchise and transforming it into a creative outlet that is more than the sum of its original parts, a community complete with products made by and for the fan base.