Friendship Is Magic And Bronies Are Real
Sometimes, when you peer into the darkness at the underbelly of society and pop culture, you emerge on the other side with a newfound respect and honor for a group of dedicated folks who have an almost super-human passion for a 5-year old girl’s playthings.
This is kind-of, sort-of, but not really — one of those stories.
Back in July 2012, at the uber-overdone and Hollywood-adopted Comic-Con, comic publisher IDW announced that they had teamed up with Hasbro, Inc. to bring yet another successful brand to their portfolio. The brand? None other than My Little Pony. Based on the Hasbro characters present in the aforementioned animated series, the announcement proclaimed that the comics would offer “all-new stories featuring the beloved ponies Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Applejack.”
The announcement, while some would have hypothesized, would have shaken the pre-school and elementary school girl cliques with the force of an 8.9 on the richter scale — actually had more impact on a different slice of pop culture. That demographic? Male twenty-somethings. It seemed that while the animated show was (of course) being loaded up on Netflix by parents so their young children had something mindless to do, that a group so well-known for a pocket of disposable income and a penchant for collecting every single comic book variant ever announced, were actually the ones in the center of the IDW crosshairs. They were the ones who were discussing the animated shows in online forums, buying the collectible trading cards, securing collections of mini-figurines, action figures and playsets. It was this group that was the motivation behind taking the animated series to a whole new level of merchandising and collectability.
That group… This group… Is referred to as the Bronies. And they even have their own website.
If I have to explain where they came up with the name, you can skip the rest of this article. But suffice it to say, take five minutes to search for the term in your online browser of choice and you’ll be flooded with pages of adult, male fans of the My Little Pony canon. Visit your local comic book shop at any point this month (when the first of the issues start to roll out) and if your LCS is legitimate at all, you will see a wall full of pony items. More trading cards, collectible figurines, stickers, tattoos, and a pre-order list for what is now tracking to be over 19 variant comic book covers for Issue #1 alone.
It’s obvious, someone out there thinks there’s money to be made.
A recent article on Comics Beat announced that pre-orders on Issue #1 had exceeded 90,000, and as of the time of this article — the first issue was completely sold out and on its way to a second-printing. At 90,000, you’re talking The Walking Dead numbers. And I will go out on a ledge here and tell you that these 90,000 pre-orders are not by dads for their little girls.
It’s the Bronies.
So what is it exactly that the Bronies love about My Little Pony that is driving all this Star Wars-level fanaticism? Is it the loveable ponies and their sweet disposition? Is it the fact that their values are timeless, and by following the simple heart-filled motivations of Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash, ones’ day to day activities can be infused with a positive glow we haven’t seen since Small Wonder hit the boob tube? What is it exactly that is driving the most appealing (to advertisers) demographic of this country into the arms of Princess Celestia and her flittery, floating butterfly spawn?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Perhaps sometimes, when you peer into the darkness at the underbelly of society and pop culture, you emerge on the other side more confused than you were in the first place.