Let me say something positive about the bronie phenomenon.
(For those of you don’t know: Bronies are adult, often male, fans of the children’s show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Yes, that’s right, the same franchise as the toys from the 1980s. For more information, check out this PBS Ideas video, which goes into some similar themes as this post).
Like most societies in history, we have a society with gender norms that lead to some degree of inequality. Both men and women labor under the influence of patriarchal gender norms, which leads to costs for men in terms of unjust privilege and women in terms of being disadvantaged. I think this is fairly sociologically inarguable.
It’s easy to look at stoning of women or sex slavery or the wage gap and be afraid that we as the sexes can ever understand each other. It’s a subset of that human problem, that fear that we can’t find a way of treating each other with more love and compassion.
But bronies show that there’s more common ground than we ever imagined.
A show targeted primarily at 2 to 11 year old girls has developed a passionate and active adult fanbase, with a large amount of men being invested in this show.
Lauren Faust and the later creative people on the show managed to find a way of speaking to young girls and adult men at the same time.
There’s a basic and elemental humanity that we all share. As I have searched for a solution to the problem of creating a better world, I have seen that so many of our difficulties are shared.
Feminism as a movement has managed to enable men to be able to enjoy publicly something targeted at little girls, because it’s very smart.
Unfortunately, there is a backlash against bronies. Perhaps some of these MLP fans may be aggressive, engendering hostility; there’s been backlash against Christopher Nolan movies too. But I honestly see that so much of this backlash is based on having a “masculine” worldview (masculine as in the social construction of masculinity in the West, not some underlying masculinity in our genes which I am sure is there and I am also sure no one knows). It’s based in part for many on dismissing feminine values. It’s based on that demon in our heads thanks to the corruption of patriarchy that tells us, “Men shouldn’t like a show for ponies, because that’s for girls”.
Art is subjective. Our preferences are subjective. But what the bronie phenomenon has shown is that today people are freer than ever to enjoy what they please, no matter their gender, race, creed or politics.
And that is something we should all be striving for.
So rock on, bronies. I don’t share your enthusiasm for your show, but I do love that you can see the beauty in something that wasn’t meant for you. And your fandom pushes us forward by allowing us to reject that some media or some ideas are “for” a certain group of people no matter their quality.