Bronies, Fandom, Homogeneity and Sterotypes

Bronies and Bronyism has long solidified itself into the broader cultural consciousness as a phenomenon with a lot of positive, inclusive qualities that have also been a contributing factor in the success of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. But has the fandom of Bronies ruined the enjoyment of the show for others and could a similar phenomenon have negative connotations for a different show?

Disclaimer: I am not a brony.
Disclaimer: I am not a brony.

It seems strange to discuss this now, long after the show and it’s fandom has become established, yet this post was prompted by a thought by Jimm Pegan:

It’s worth considering because it’s a distinct possibility. Sailor Moon has a lot in common with MLP; both shows sharing an all-female cast, values like love, friendship, and courage, and being targeted at a young female audience too.

What Jimm highlights is exactly what this post on The Round Stable discusses; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is inextricably linked with it’s Brony fandom. While such a relationship has undoubtedly been positive in many ways, the pitfalls haven’t been addressed to near the same extent.

The problem with Bronyism is that it automatically encompasses all fans of the show, even if they do not consider themselves Bronies. People who simply watch the show and don’t necessarily exhibit fan-ish behaviours are automatically considered Bronies.

It causes further problems in that while a Brony is a bro who likes ponies, the concept (at least on the surface) doesn’t address female fans at all. These ‘pegasisters’ are, not necessarily marginalised to any real extent, but are certainly distinct from Bronies. Even the Brony documentary throws light on the fact; the film follows male fans but devotes all of five minutes to how similarly-aged female fans feel they are perceived and appreciated.

Digging deeper, it’s apparent that Bronies have a definite sense of identity and purpose on a scale not seen in other shows. That has been a great benefit in regards to organisation and communication, but it does homogenise the fanbase. Adult men liking My Little Pony is one thing, but Bronies (as the Round Stable article points out) like the show in spite of the show’s femininity, not because of it.

To that end, as Jimm points out, Bronies have claimed the show for themselves. Since they have, the show has been inseparable from them and it’s hard not to wonder if that will become a liability in the long term.

Bronies tend to skew young, very young in fact. The majority are under 25, well within a person’s formative years. In time, they will move onto other things, other fandoms and so forth, and while the show is extremely popular today, that might not be the case in a few years time. Sure, the Hub will program reruns until nobody watches, but look at what Spongebob has become because of that.

So with a new Sailor Moon series on the horizon, there’s a real possibility that if a group of rabid fans outside of the target demographic usurp the entire fanbase, they could (inadvertently or not) alienate casual fans or potential fans. Even if the show is a success, the diversity of the fandom will be compromised. That would certainly put a dent in the ability of anyone to enjoy the show for what it will be; a great anime series based on a terrific manga featuring superb female characters.

4 thoughts on “Bronies, Fandom, Homogeneity and Sterotypes”

  1. There were plenty of adult male fans of Sailor Moon when it original aired on TV both inside and outside of Japan. They even communicated with each other online as well but they never actually came up with a name for themselves that had the same connotations as Brony.

    They generally referred to themselves as Otaku which in Japan basically meant a person with an obsession with a particular subject, not just animation, to the point of shutting themselves away in a single room and never leaving. It did became a far more negative word in Japan after a murderer was accused of being one. Other Otaku dismissed this by saying he wasn’t a real Otaku because he had left his house to find the victims he murdered. Although just like any loan word it soon lost all meaning when adopted by Western fandom so now people only think it refers to fans of Japanese animation and comics.

    No self proclaimed Brony has murdered anyone yet but the misogyny and pornographic fan art that floats around just strengthens the already negative connotations of adult men watching a children’s show aimed at little girls. The second I knew the term Brony was going to go sour was when I saw fan art of a Nazi uniform clad Pony. Yes even a self proclaimed Nazi can be a Brony.

    Do some of these fans have mental health issues that they attach to their obsessions? Maybe, maybe not. Mental health is a subject that confuses and frightens people so when they’re presented with certain cases they tend to lose all reason and immediately go for an easy target to point at and vilify to assure themselves that it could never happen to them. How could a man kidnap and kill children? He was warped by cartoon smut. Some guy molested an under age girl? He watched cartoons aimed at little girls. People have been doing these sorts of heinous acts forever and still do them today without any outside influence. There is a far deeper root to these sorts of problems that will continue to be ignored by the general populace because they’re afraid to confront it.

    1. Perhaps there will be a term for male fans of girl shows if it begins to transcend shows on a large scale.

  2. Isn’t the goal of a show to find an audience and or them to keep watching it to the extent that they have enough reason to continue making it? The audience should drive the show as much as the show drives them. I don’t see why bronies “owning” a show is bad in anyway. Also, I was told that someone who does nothing but casually watch the show shouldn’t be a brony if he doesn’t chose to, though I suppose it depends on who you talk to.

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