This morning, my brother alerted me to this story in the Wall Street Journal, about a burgeoning subculture of older people (read: teens and up) who are enthusiastic about the new version of the “My Little Pony” cartoon.
Older male people.
As a free thinking liberal who supports gay marriage, female hockey players and David Bowie, I have no problem with this on any kind of gender-stereotyping level. Besides, there’s a good chance that my previous sentence, in which I lump these male “Pony” enthusiasts in with homosexuals, is potentially offensive to the aforementioned “bronies.” (Yes, bronies. That’s what they call themselves. I know, right?)
(WSJ: Jessica Blank, a 32-year-old computer programmer who is BroNYCon’s organizer, says people inevitably ask her whether the bronies—three-quarters of whom are male—are gay. “Actually, the overwhelming majority are straight,” she says. )
My response to this article and the existence of this subculture – assuming it actually exists and the WSJ wasn’t merely taken over by The Onion for a day – is less “THIS IS WRONG!” and more “WHAT THE FUCK?”
I literally DO NOT understand.
If you’re unfamiliar – and having grown up without sisters, I am completely unfamiliar – here’s a quick synopsis of the show from the article: “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” [is] a remake of a 1980s animated TV show for preadolescent girls featuring plucky, candy-colored equines.
Personally, I’ve never been much into pluck. Or candy-colored things that aren’t actual candy. How about you?
The article is bizarre; the entire subculture is completely baffling. As the father of a young boy, upon reading about it I had to ask myself: if my son were old enough to watch TV, would I let him watch “My Little Pony”?
Well, why wouldn’t I? If I were concerned that my son might be gay, which I’m not, and if I were
Christian insane enough to think a cartoon could turn my son gay, which I’m not, then I wouldn’t be preparing to show him all my old VHS tapes full of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” episodes.
But if I’m to believe the bronies, it’s not any potential gender-confusion that might make the new “My Little Pony” inappropriate for a youngster, it’s the sophistication of the material. From the WSJ article:
The Ponies confront knotty challenges—such as an invasion of adorable but hungry insects called Parasprites—and report to a ruler named Princess Celestia about the life lessons they learn. “The characters aren’t one-dimensional,” said 15-year-old Christian Leisner, a brony in the Berkeley group. “They have flaws, they have backgrounds they’re ashamed of.”
Leaving aside the oxymoron that is “adorable insect,” what I find strange is the idea that these ponies have “backgrounds they’re ashamed of.” Huh? What makes this sophisticated? The idea that the ponies hate their upbringing? (Read this take on the unnecessary “edging” up of childhood material.) Why should characters in a children’s cartoon be ashamed of themselves? Much more than any arbitrary ideas about what constitutes masculinity and what doesn’t, being ashamed of yourself is not a lesson I need to convey to my son; he’ll learn to be embarrassed and feel shame soon enough, not least because his father has a collection of “He-Man” episodes on VHS.
But ultimately, no, I wouldn’t prevent my son from watching that show just because he’s a boy, nor would I have a big problem with it if he were a teenager. If he were 30 and still into it? Yeah, that might give me pause, but for a whole knew set of reasons; I mean, the whole thing just DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. Then again, the way our society is regressing, by the time my son is 30, 30 will be the new 10.
Except, apparently, it already is.