Hello, everypony! Today just happens to be International Geek Pride Day, which makes me extra excited and proud to be bringing you this week’s Fandom Friday piece. So settle back, because your day is about to get 20% cooler.
The internet-wide craze over My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic isn’t new. In fact, the My Little Pony franchise is anything but new. Back in the 80s, Hasbro began marketing a line of toys that eventually spawned cartoon series, straight-to-dvd movies, and in late 2010, one of the biggest, most loyal fanbases the internet has ever seen. (Rainbow Dash would be proud.)
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the fourth generation of the cartoon series. Developed by Lauren Faust (of Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends fame), this series, from its inception was meant to challenge the preconceived notion of a typical “for girls” show. While Hasbro of course wanted to make sure the show would help to market its toy line, Lauren Faust created characters with a surprising amount of depth, adventurous settings and storylines, and content that was informational and educational. Though she stepped down after the first season, the strong foundation Lauren Faust gave the show has undoubtedly forever changed the way consumers look at not only My Little Pony but children’s (especially narrowly focused “for girls”) entertainment forever.
Even with as hard as Lauren Faust tried to pull MLP:FIM away from the stereotypical “for girls” show, the cartoon itself was still being targeted toward an audience of girls between the ages of 5-10. But after the show’s debut on the American cable channel, The Hub, an entirely unpredicted and unprecedented fanbase of boys and men ranging anywhere in age from 13 to 30. These fans, who call themselves Bronies, are some of the most wonderfully loyal fans out there.
MLP:FIM is unique in this respect. The show is unabashedly full of joy, but not in a way that becomes an overly sugared mess of flat characters and shallow storyline. Each of the main characters (commonly referred to as the Mane 6) have strengths and weaknesses. Each pony has traits that everyone can learn from and aspire to incorporate into his or her own life. With relatable characters teaching good lessons, children are able to learn within this simply joyous environment while adults are reminded of those same lessons.
Oh, and did I mention the music? I’m still singing Winter Wrap-Up.
And that’s not even my favorite of the cartoon’s songs. I seem to randomly burst out into Pinkie Pie’s Smile Song at least once a day. It fills me up to the brim with a wonderful, pure joy. And every day could use a little more of that!
Oh forgive my manners! I’ve thrown all this music at you without making proper introductions! So if you are unfamiliar with the ponies, allow me to introduce you to the Mane 6!
First up, we have Twilight Sparkle. She’s a very bookish unicorn who loves learning more than anything else. She is extremely gifted with magic – in fact, it’s her very special talent. She is Princess Celestia’s star pupil, and was sent to Ponyville to learn how to make some friends. She is extremely organized and takes a very analytical approach to problem solving. Her talent makes her a bit insecure as she worries about being able to fit in.
Next, we have Rainbow Dash. This brave, bold pegasus pony represents loyalty. She can be a bit brash and arrogant, but she would never leave a friend in need. Her special talent is her super speed. She is extremely athletic and competitive and has even broken the sound barrier with her Sonic Rainboom. Rainbow Dash is definitely one of the most rough-and-tumble of the ponies.
Let’s take a look at Pinkie Pie! (In the interest of full-disclosure, Pinkie Pie is my favorite pony.) Representing laughter, Pinkie Pie is a bouncing earth pony with a penchant for parties. She loves making sweets – but not as much as she loves making people happy. Pinkie Pie, however, can be bad at communicating with other ponies and can come across as overbearing at times. But no matter what, she will do her best at whatever she tries.
Next, we have Fluttershy! This demure pegasus pony is painfully shy. She has a special talent that allows her to communicate with animals. Despite her timid nature, she has a heart of gold, and because she represents kindness, she has stopped a rampaging manticore and soothed an angry Cerberus! Despite being a pegasus, Fluttershy prefers to stay close to the ground. While it takes her awhile to open up to other ponies, she is the most caring friend a pony could ask for.
Time to meet Applejack! This earth pony is hardworking and the most honest pony you’ll ever meet – in fact, that’s what she represents – honesty! She is extremely trustworthy and easy-going, unless it’s time to get a job done. She is fearless in the face of danger, but she has a tendency to bite off a bit more than she can chew. But even though she can spread herself a bit thin at times, she’s always ready to get her hooves dirty to get a job done properly.
And last, but certainly not least, we have Rarity. This stylish unicorn has an absolute passion for fashion. She can seem a bit shallow with her constant focus on fashion and other such things like make-up and her days at the spa. She absolutely will NOT dirty her hooves if she has a choice. Though her special talent is for fashion design, she represents generosity. She is willing to give so selflessly, be that a custom designed gown for the Grand Galloping Gala or a friendly ear to listen.
Now, to be honest, I came to this fandom a bit late. I didn’t start watching the episodes until season one was already complete and season two was underway. But recently, when the series showed up on Netflix, I sat down and rewatched every episode back to back. And I was once again completely hooked in a matter of minutes. It didn’t take me long to figure out what it was about this show that draws people from all walks of life to become completely diehard fans. I found myself able to relate to all of the characters and got wrapped up in the music and the stories. Not to mention all of the awesome nods to its older audience – including a character who pays homage to Mr. T and a Big Labowski scene in a bowling alley. But these nods don’t take away from the truly joyous nature of the show. Oh! And the puns! All the puns! (I am of the belief that puns are the highest form of humor.)
When I’m watching My Little Pony, I can’t help but smile. And some nights, everyone needs a smile.
And I am far from the only one who feels this way. There are thousands of Bronies (and Pegasisters) out there who share my passion. Even my husband is among them, and he wouldn’t try to deny it. After all, he came into the bedroom a couple nights ago to inform me he should have named his current Skyrim character “Rarity” because of all the gems she’s been finding! Check out some of these tweets of other MLP fans professing their love for the show!
Now, with any fandom you get a lot of fans coming out of the woodwork to make tons of amazing fanart and fanfics and music, but in the MLP fandom, the sheer volume and quality gets turned up to eleven. (I mean after all, what ELSE are we going to do while we anxiously await Season 3?!) I’ve scattered this post with some of my favorite fanart gathered onto my iPad from the amazing fansite Equestria Daily. And a huge part of the MLP fandom is fan music. The sheer amount of it out there is astounding. I’ve only been sifting through it for a few days and I’ve already got a playlight of two hours pumping in my ears nearly constantly. Check out some of my favorites below!
The unfortunate thing about writing an article about something as massive as My Little Pony is that it’s impossible to accurately convey everything I want to say about the fandom in one go. But perhaps the most wonderful thing that I should say is that despite my own personal struggles, I know that this community and this show will always be able to bring a smile to my face. It doesn’t matter who my favorite pony is (Pinkie Pie) or what my favorite song is (The Smile Song) or even what my favorite episode is (Oh don’t make me choose!!) – what does matter is that this show is something special to me. And when I need a boost, I browse my fanart folder, pull up my fan music playlists, or pop on an episode of the show. And in no time, I’m feeling Pinkie Keen.
So what do you think about ponies? Are you a Brony or a Pegasister? Do you get to go to BroNYCon or Everfree West? Have you even given the show a chance? (If you haven’t, give it a shot!! You can’t knock something until you’ve tried it – which is actually a lesson taught in one of the episodes!)