A visit to the My Little Pony Fair and Convention
The plastic pastel pony toys aren't just for little girls anymore
Published: July 26, 2012
"We didn't feel like paying the $60 vendor fee, so I just sell them out of here," she says as she shows off the pony goods.
While some are in it for the fandom or the money, others are into My Little Pony for the artistry of the cartoon series. Cole and Emily, students from the State College of Florida at Manatee-Sarasota, came to the convention because they're fans of the newest My Little Pony cartoon.
"I think the new generation of the series, Friendship is Magic, has the most vibrant colors," Cole says.
The show premiered in 2010 on the Hub, a joint venture between cable channel Discovery Communications and Hasbro. The creative director and executive producer of the show, Lauren Faust, helped elevate the pony franchise above its reputation as a little kids' toy. Faust, who previously worked on The Powerpuff Girls, told Ms. magazine in 2011 that she wanted to show that "cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness."
She rebooted the series with more dynamic, complex characters and storylines, and in the process she helped earn My Little Ponies a new and unexpected fanbase: men between the ages of 18 and 35, such as Cole.
"Lauren Faust has a lot to do with it – being that she was an artist on The Powerpuff Girls," Cole says of his appreciation of the series.
Emily interjects: "You're such a brony."
"Yeah, I guess I am a brony," he replies, as he puts his arms around her waist.
Bronies (bro-ponies) are what the male fans of the My Little Pony reincarnation have taken to calling themselves, and Emily and Cole say they have a group of friends at school who meet for lunch to talk about Friendship Is Magic.
"A lot of bronies sit at our table," Emily says. "It's around 10 of us that all watch the series."
At the convention, though, it's clear that some pony fans have mixed feelings about bronies.
"There are two types of bronies," says Nancy, an Aunt Bee-esque vendor from Philadelphia working a table on the convention floor. "There are the bronies that are quirky and polite, that just like My Little Ponies.
Then, there are the …"
She stops. Her table partner, Abby, finishes her thought: "The other bronies sexualize it," she says. "They shouldn't be doing that to a family-friendly show, let alone on the forums, where children go."
Aaron Haaland, the owner of A Comic Shop in Orlando, is a brony. He didn't attend the convention, but when he's asked about the concern some conference attendees expressed about bronies, he dismisses it.
"The Internet rule No. 34 is that anything that exists, there's porn of it," Haaland says. "I take a certain nihilistic attitude about it, you can't stop the Internet. … Even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are sexualized – all the turtles do it with April. People that have a problem with the brony culture should remove the stick from their ass."
> Email Christopher Balogh