When you hear someone say it, you may be taken aback.
Creeped out, perhaps.
But the phenomenon is real, and it’s bigger than you might think.
“I am a 33 year old male that likes My Little Pony,” said Brian Lingle.
That makes him a “brony.”
A brony is an adult or teen male who enjoys watching the television show “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” on the children’s television network The Hub. They have no shame in coming out of the “brony closet.” Even some celebrities, such as Seth Green and Weird Al, admit their love for the show. They’re everywhere all of a sudden, even here at Las Positas College.
The first episode of MLP:FiM came out in October 2010. The creator, Lauren Faust, who also worked on both the “Powerpuff Girls” and “Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends,” wanted to develop Friendship is Magic beyond the typical poorly written, overly girly show. She wanted to create a show that connects to a varied sampling of viewers. MLP:FiM follows the adventures of young ponies with names such as Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle as they learn valuable life lessons.
“It’s more realistic. It shows that everybody’s got flaws and they’re just trying to work through it,” Lingle said.
The first smatterings of bronies gathering in mass occurred on sites like 4chan and deviantart, which offered places for bronies to talk about their love for the show.
After a while, however, a backlash developed against the onslaught of brony fan fiction and art. They were ridiculed all across the Internet.
This led to the development of brony-friendly sites such as Equestria Daily and My Little Pony News for them to chat and share their art inspired by MLP without the fear of being mocked.
Naturally, bronies began to seek out others who felt the same love toward MLP and to meet and gather in person.
In New York, they began to meet up in small groups until Jessica Blank, a diehard fan that also goes by the name Purple Tinker, founded the first brony convention, BronyCon, in 2011. There were only a hundred people at the first convention. By the fourth BronyCon, held in Seacaucas, N.J., more than 4,000 bronies attended. Bronies from all over the world get decked out in costumes inspired by the bright colors of the show and gather with their female counterparts, known as “pega-sisters.”
One pega-sister at LPC shed some light on the mystery behind the unisex fascination with My Little Pony.
“I got into the fan base first, then I got into the show,” Katyana Haught, LPC student, said. “It’s got a weirdly deep, involved storyline for a kid’s show.”
The creators of MLP are quite aware of their devoted fandom and encourage it. Popular artists of fan fiction and art are sometimes offered jobs working for MLP or asked to make special guest appearances at BronyCon. Some websites release artwork weekly from well-known artists.
The fans feel like they’re contributing to the show, giving bronies and pega-sisters something to strive for.
While the phenomenon has gained in popularity, the backlash that bronies initially faced on the Internet sometimes crosses over into the territory of real-life bullying.
“In high school, I had a guy call me gay,” LPC student Sage Arthur-Flores said.
Not everyone is aboard the brony-train — some still find the idea of grown men watching a children’s show aimed towards girls to be creepy.
“It’s a cutesy kid thing, you’re going to get shit for it. It’s not a big deal,” Haught said.
Many bronies face insults from closed-minded people. Some would say that there’s nothing wrong with an adult liking a harmless children’s show.
But there are some people who can take something as innocent as MLP and turn it into something dirty.
According to “rule 34,” every obsession has a dark side. UrbanDictionary.com defines rule 34 as a “generally accepted Internet rule that states that pornography or sexually related material exists for any conceivable subject.”
Yes, there are people who are sexually aroused by the characters on the show and share their erotic art with each other on the Internet.
They are known as “cloppers.”
One clopper recently gained quite a bit of notoriety on the Internet by revealing just how far his obsession with the show had gone.
The individual in question sent a letter to a deviantart user named “Kevinsano” demanding he cease creating pony-ography depicting MLP:FiM character Twilight Sparkle.
The man claimed to be engaged to Twilight Sparkle.
“Twiley is a sweet and fairly vanilla little mare who I treat with the utmost love and respect,” the man rants in his letter, “and she definitely does not deserve to be portrayed as some kind of sexual slave who likes being dressed up in sleazy attire, wearing a collar, getting sodomized and having her face ejaculated on.”
He even described the nature of the so-called “relationship.”
“To express my love in a real tangible way,” he wrote, “I have a beautiful hand made custom Twilight Sparkle plushie that I can hug, kiss, cuddle up in bed to, go to sleep with at night and take out on the town to do all the fun things that normal couples do.”
He asserted that “Twilight Sparkle is not your plaything nor your property, she’s my fiancé.”
Despite the few bronies who like MLP because it turns them on — the majority of bronies love MLP for its sense of community, the feeling of being accepted and being around people with a common interest.
The main characters that often have adventures still hunker down in their small town with friends and have jobs.
Fans of the show find that few things nowadays combine innocent humor with adventure.
“It’s kind of nice to have everything that’s crazy in life then have something random and sweet for a half an hour,” Haught said.
As for the rest of the brony-nation, they are probably gearing up to ride to the next BronyCon— which will giddy up in Baltimore, Md. this August 2.