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Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (Review)

An interesting documentary

by Martin Hafer

Depending on your age and background, you may well be aware what "Bronies" are.  These are, usually, adult male fans of the recent animated My Little Pony series; a series intended for very young girls.  The folk who made the shows were surprised by this phenomenon. It seems that adult men are now its most rabid fans and have begun organizing giant conventions for My Little Pony which are every bit as big as you might find for Star Trek or anime.

The purpose of Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony appears to be both to explain this fandom and to also normalize it as much as possible.  Nice and very likable teenage and adult men are interviewed about their obsessions with these incredibly happy and sweet cartoon characters.  And, the film features charming narration by John de Lancie (who does the voice for one of the characters on the show and is also adored by Star Trek fans for playing 'Q') and it also has many interviews including the show's creator as well as another one of voice actor Tara Strong.  They all seem to agree that it's a benign obsession and the notion of these guy emulating the positive messages of the show isn't a bad thing at all--and the film does a great job in normalizing this fandom.  However, it also seems to occasionally miss the proverbial elephant in the room.  This is because two big problems really aren't addressed in the otherwise entertaining film. First, the women and children who like the show are mostly ignored.

Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony
Directed by
Laurent Malaquais
Cast
John de Lancie, Alex Tibcken, Tim Star
Release Date
19 January 2014
Martin's Grade: C

Now I know that the film is about adult fans but the film says a Brony can be a man or a woman, yet not many women are interviewed and the focus clearly is on the guys.  No young girls are interviewed.  That is all very odd, especially in light of the second problem.  There's a far darker side of many of the Bronies.  The Brony movement began on 4chan -- a website often linked to some of the stranger, more militant folks lurking on the internet. In light of this, it isn't surprising that some of the Bronies have a much more sexualized view of My Little Pony and there are quite a few reports of inappropriate behavior by some of the Bronies at conventions or on websites.  Sexual harassment, an unnatural infatuation with children, anatomically correct pony pillows or fan art and emotional bullying are sometimes serious problems.  Now I am not saying all or even most Bronies behave this way, but it is a problem--one often addressed on the internet yet oddly missing from the documentary. 

Sites such as Ponies for Parents and Brony Stupidity (among others) point out many examples of inappropriate conduct that clearly indicate that not all Bronies are as nice and benign as the ones you see in the film.  Try a Google search using the terms "My Little Pony porn" and you'll come up with tons and tons of examples of amazingly twisted fan art and porn videos.  Yet, inexplicably, the film never mentions any of this.  When a film ignores such obvious controversies, it becomes, in a way, more like propaganda than a documentary -- the main reason I felt a little uncomfortable watching this otherwise well made movie. Just be aware that there is far more to the fandom than you see in this film.

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