And if you have, perhaps you’ve heard about the rumored dark side of this fan movement—the sexualized element that is present in all kinds of fandom (erotic Star Trek fanfic, anyone?)—but when it’s associated with a colorful, sweet, innocent show intended for girls aged 2 to 11 like My Little Pony … well, the whole thing may seem a little creepy.
I thought that perhaps the new documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony, recently out on DVD, would delve into the dark side of this fan movement, but … no. Despite its darkly hued, “unauthorized”-look cover art, it turns out this disc is decidedly “pro-Brony,” a well-done if one-sided piece of propaganda designed to reassure us that there’s nothing wrong with the guy who lives down the street and sports My Little Pony T-shirts.
Hey, that’s cool. Any documentary worth its salt has a point of view, and this one certainly does, even if it smacks of the type of video that a controversial religious cult would release to improve its public image and encourage people that this group isn’t really that scary at all.
The presence of actor John DeLancie—yes, Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation—who voices a character on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, isn’t much of a surprise, as he’s one of the executive producers of this project. The participation of Friendship is Magic creator and former showrunner Lauren Faust (also a credited Exec Producer on this doc) and voice actor Tara Strong (amazingly, also a Bronies Exec Producer!) indicates that this certainly was made with full cooperation from the franchise.
Again, cool, but if you’re looking for an expose of the dark side of the Brony life, this ain’t it. What we get is a very sympathetic look at Brony culture … the misunderstood teenage boys who find solace and understanding among fellow Bronies—and their concerned, conservative dads; the musicians, writers and artists who’ve started an entire remix culture, creating and exchanging new content inspired by the show; and the normal-guy grown men who really, really, really love the franchise—its values, its colors, its cool Flash animation … or maybe just that they dig seeing nice stories about talking ponies.
I’m not qualified to delve into the psychology behind this fandom, nor will I judge—hey, I’m on record for attending comic cons and reading graphic novels and getting fanatic about certain TV shows. If the Bronies dig what they’re doing, and they’re not hurting anyone while they do it, more power to ’em.
This is a nice documentary, filled with lots of warmth and affection for a shared passion. We get to see a Bronycon—a convention of these folks that attracts thousands of fans, mostly men. We get to meet some of the most passionate fans—people who have built their lives around the show and its philosophies with near-religious fervor. We see the Bronies’ charitable efforts, and hear discussions on how the show’s themes of giving and caring have influenced such efforts.
And it all wraps up with joyous Bronycon footage and an uplifting song, all perfectly executed to give Bronies and non-Brony viewers a warm, sunshine-y feeling about the whole thing.
Again, no judgment. But I can’t help thinking there’s another Brony documentary waiting to be made, one that might show the other side of this fandom—the side that Faust and DeLancie and other icons of Brony culture apparently don’t want the public to dwell on.
And I think that could make one hell of a documentary.