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Review of Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony
by headfallsoff
Posted on September 25th, 2019
Neutral 4
Overall Rating
a real missed opportunity, this. there's a great film to be made here, but this just is not it. i think this needs a longer review to explain just why. so, my little pony: friendship is magic. i have a friend who watches it, i watched like half a season on his request, it's a well made kids show. it's funny, it hits the right emotional beats, it's not going to set the world on fire, but it's really good for what it is. well made kids shows are nothing new, nor is the phenomenon of kids shows having a niche adult fandom. adventure time. avatar. so the question then follows: why are bronies such a thing in culture? the answer lies, essentially, in masculinity. and let's just be real for a minute: masculinity is the worst. if you take a look back at just how boys are socialised, it's not a pretty sight. you're taught to be unemotional, you're taught to ignore empathy, you're told to be dominant at all times. the toxicity of masculinity is why we live in such an awful rape culture, for example. think about the insults that are used. would a man want to be called a bitch, a pussy, gay or a wanker? the answer is the latter, it's still an insult, but it's not a gendered insult. the insult to men becomes stronger when you imply they are "less of a man" rather than "being a fuckin' asshole." we tell boys (and importantly here, girls) , growing up, that being feminine is the worst thing you can be. this is a real, huge societal problem, made worse by its invisibility by just being the dominant, status quo ideology. so this show comes along, and it is the least masculine thing on earth, due to the cultural identity of mlp. but also there's something about the show, it has an honesty, an unashamedness about itself when it comes to these super syrupy, yay stick together love forever friendship messages. think about every example of male friendship on screen, hot fuzz, bashir/o'brien from ds9, whatever -- they're couched in self conciousness, distance, complications. emotional openness, true emotional openness is hard for guys, because of how they're raised - it goes against the very core of this societal construct of "masculinity." so when i say this is the least masculine, i don't just mean "it's for girls," but it offers something that guys cannot get from any media aimed at them. at all. this in mind, it's no surprise that some of them latched onto the show and found it as important as they did. the documentary touches on this a little bit, but not very well. it ignores the entire second half of the issue, perhaps the most important half, because what i've written above doesn't answer the question. it explains why guys might like it, not why guys liking my little pony is a thing. and that is because brony culture is actually a perfect example of the toxicity of masculinity. something which the documentary never acknowledges, an omission which renders the entire exercise pointless. think about it though, the show is a show for little girls. but now that some men like it, the entire conversation shifts to be about them. to justifying their enjoyment of the show within traditional masculinity, essentially to reconciling their identity and gender with their enjoyments. whenever my little pony: friendship is magic is discussed, it is almost universally within the context of how it happens to be enjoyed by dudes. now that men are involved, it has to be legitimised in a way "girl stuff" just doesn't need to be. look at this webcomic. it's very, very applicable to both brony culture and the wider scale how society values the issues of men above the issues of all others. the movie never becomes aware of this. it just joins in the same conversation, either defending or attacking bronies. the question is "is or is it not weird that some guys like this?" and never develops the self awareness. the questions you should ask in this film are "why does it matter that guys like this? why do guys like this at all? why do others get weirded out by guys liking this? and what does this example say about us as a species and how we socialise our children growing up in different genders?" and that's where the disappointment comes in. there's the possibility here for a documentary that uses this specific situation as a study, in microcosm, of our societal values, but that opportunity is not seized. instead, it's a kind of defensive look at an outsider culture that skates the line between "a film bronies can watch and feel good about themselves" and "a film others can watch and laugh at bronies" in a manner so dishonest and uncomfortable it feels like a shitty channel five doc at 8pm on a thursday.

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