August 23, 2012

I Live With A Brony

Many childhood Saturday mornings began with this:

Though sometimes, they included this:

Today, my lunch often is contained by this:

Behold, I am a girl raised by the 80’s.

Twenty years later, My Little Pony has been rebooted- just like many others. I have a theory that they wait just enough time so that the characters we most love are resurrected right about the time we have our own kids. “Oh my gosh! I loved Thundercats! My kid will, too!”, they (the nameless, powerful, cartoon-resurrectors) think we’ll say.

Of course, rarely do the new versions stick around. Why? Because they are lame. Though, I suspect an audience exists for a He-Man/She-Ra revival, but they are probably not watching Cartoon Network. But, I’m wandering away from my original thought.

Back to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It barely registered my attention, as I assumed that it was another short-lived remake. The big-eyed characters (what is WITH that trend?) pushed them further aside, though it did earn a short blip on my radar when I heard the chick who did Powerpuff Girls was behind it. But then, I caught wind of the “Bronies”.

Typically refers to 13-30 year old male fans of the 2010 reboot of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but may also include females.
Brony = Bro + Pony
While generally associated with a negative stereotype by outsiders, due to it's former 80's frilly girly-girl twinkle-toed tea-parties and all-female main casting, bronies are attracted to the new show by it's good animation, acting, writing, and humor.
Thanks, Urban Dictionary

Now that I live with my friend and her family, I have the opportunity to observe the Brony up-close in his natural habitat. My roommate’s 17-year-old son digs MLP: Friendship is Magic. He watches the episodes, he has a brony t-shirt… so you know it’s hardcore. It’s genuine- this is not an act of irony or sarcasm (I’m looking at you, guys who wore pink shirts when we were in high school to make some kind of statement on manliness). There are even talks of a Brony birthday bash in the near future.

So what’s the deal? I watched the first half of the pilot episode the other day. It’s cute, not too lame (and admit it, if you go back and watch most of our 80’s cartoons, you will cringe through most of it). I will probably watch a few more when I have a spare moment or I’ve seen all of “How I Met Your Mother” that Netflix has to offer.

This is what gets me, and why I am even writing about it in the first place. Bronies rock. For real. Think about it, how many of us had the guts to defy stereotypes and really get into something that was not popular?  What interested you, but was outweighed by the reaction you’d get in the school hallways? I can only equate it with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shoes in second or third grade. I loved the Turtles- watched the cartoon, sang along with the movie soundtrack cassette tape (“..walk straight… don’t need to mutate…”), collected the trading cards and chewed that rock-hard stick of tasteless gum included in that foil pack. Heroes in a half-shell, baby.

So when I saw these shoes, I HAD to have them. I didn’t want to believe my mom when she pointed out that they were for boys, and it only took a moment to realize I didn’t care. These sneakers were destined for my TMNT-loving feet. I can still picture the moment I stepped off the bus at South Elementary, looking down at my new shoes as if Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo would give me the dignity to withstand the inevitable criticism.

The truth was, I was ridiculed for so many other things as a child, what was one more? At least I had happy feet. “Yes,” I answered, “They’re boy shoes. And I don’t care.” No amount of mockery could extinguish my Turtle fangirl light.

Is that how it goes for you, too, Bronies? Stick with what you love. Demonstrate that no person fits in a nice, neat little box. Increase your defense against misguided criticism and continue to know what you love and why you love it. Make decisions based on what you know to be true, rather than what is popular with those around you. Choose the pony life of color and adventure over the sheep life of black, white, and gray.
And maybe, in twenty years, the nameless, powerful, cartoon-resurrectors  won’t have to reboot MLP: Friendship is Magic. Like the Flintsones and Jetsons, it may live unchanged through generations. Or, at least, in your heart.

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