As fanboy obsessions go, this one seems pretty harmless.
Just because you’re over the age of reason, and just because you’re a guy, doesn’t mean you can’t be infatuated with/enamored of all things My Little Pony.
It could be worse.
As cloyingly sweet, colorful and cutesy, little kiddo icons go, My Little Pony ponies are a lot less gag-inducing than Barney. But not, I’m afraid, quite as interesting and charming as the TeleTubbies.
Still, this would be somewhat analogous to if guys of my generation, back in the late sixties and early seventies, had been reliving their childhoods by obsessing about Tiny Tears or Betsy Westsy dolls. Or setting up My Little Margie or Annie Oakley Fan Clubs. Or playing jacks.
Instead of focusing on what guys of my generation were obsessing about when they were in their late teens and twenties: getting high, getting laid, and getting out of the Vietnam War.
But the times, as our bard did inform us, oh, so many years ago, they are a-changin’.
And these days, young men flock to BronyCon Summer 2012, which was held last weekend at the Meadowlands, and:
…which drew 4,000 men, women, boys and girls, many in colorful wigs and costumes. (Source: AP article on Boston.com.)
Not that I had anything better to do last weekend. But still…
And 4,000 folks decked out in My Little Pony gear at the Meadowlands?
Somewhere, if he can budge under all that concrete, Jimmy Hoffa is rolling over in his grave. (And, ba-da-bing, what would Tony Soprano say?)
One of the attendees was Dale Fjordbotten
"I thought about what people would say. `It's creepy. It's weird. It's a ... show for little girls,'" said Fjordbotten, from Staten Island, N.Y. "It's just a great show ... the story line, the plot, the beautiful animation."
Now I suppose that it’s not out of the question that something that looks like this has a great story line, plot, and animation. And that it’s not – oh, so sexist – a show for little girls. Yet if I were a betting woman, I might be inclined to bet that this is not one of those shows, like Sponge Bob, that is entertaining enough for wide-eyed kids and interesting enough for jaded adults. But, hey, I’ve only just seen the little plastic toys, with their little plastic manes, and their little plastic combs. What do I know? Just from the look of things, I would guess that watching this show unaccompanied by a minor would, for me, be akin to torture. Modest torture, surely. Nothing that rises to the water-boarding level. More like fingernails-grating-on-the-blackboard torture. Or freeze brain from sucking down a pina colada torture. But torture, nonetheless.
"I discovered that there's nothing to be ashamed of being a Brony," said 19-year-old James Penna of Mastic in Long Island, N.Y. "People are into what they're into."
Yes, James, you are so right. Sometimes what people are into is truly horrific in nature and, thankfully, being a brony – the name for male My Little Pony fans – is not in this category. But sometimes people are just into something that’s just sort of…odd.
The resurgence of interest in My Little Pony, which was a fad in the1980’s, came about when Hasbro hired animator Lauren Faust to create a new series for the pastel herd, “Friendship is Magic.”
Faust told The Associated Press at BronyCon on Saturday that she never imagined the show would be such a hit with teenage boys and young men. She said her main target was little girls, but she hoped to draw in moms and perhaps some boys with strong characters and compelling story lines.
"We live in a society where saying that something is for girls is the equivalent to saying that something is stupid, or saying that something isn't worthwhile," Faust said.
"I think that's awful and I think that kind of attitude needs to be changed," she said. "And these men are doing it. ... They're proud that they're forward-thinking and modern enough to look past this misogynistic attitude."
Faust is, of course, dead on when she points this out. Girls are always expected to tag along and be interested in TV shows, books, movies that feature boys. But let a girl be the leader, the one with the adventures, the one with the ideas, the one in charge, and it’s box-office poison.
What weirds me out here is not that the My Little Pony appeals to boys. It would be great to see little boys watching “girls shows” without having anyone wig out about their masculinity. I’d say ‘bravo’ to that.
What’s peculiar to me is the age of the bronies, young men who, in a prior generation (mine) would have been trying to get laid, etc. And in the prior-prior generation (“the greatest”) would have been fighting on Guadalcanal.
It just seems, well, a bit too juvenile.
A couple of the BronCon conventioneers dropped a bit of an explanation.
Zac North is 26. He came to BronCon from Dayton because he likes that the show is:
“…colorful and innocent, which is something I don't have in my life," the 26-year-old Sam's Club worker said. "I like the community away from the show."
And Gabby Pantaloni from Hershey, Pennsylvania, had this to offer:
"After watching the show, I could see why anyone of any age would like it," she said. "I think it just makes us all feel like kids again. Some of us are afraid of growing up. We're all just kids at heart.”
I think that Gabby has a lock on it.
These are scary times.
The brony generation is getting out of college saddled with a lot of debt, and trotting into a shaky job market. And for those who didn’t go to college, or who didn’t develop some strong skills, the future looks even more gloomy.
Sure, they’ll grow up. They have to at some point. But I suppose if they want to spend a couple of years escaping with My Little Pony, you can’t really blame them.
I kind of wish they were spending the time trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives, and how to make the real world a better place.
It’s hard. It’s scary. And there’s no guarantee out there that things are going to get better.
My Little Pony may help you cope in the short term, but in the long run, the bronies are going to have to cowboy up.