It’s easy to mock that which seems strange and unfamiliar to us. And what could seem stranger than the phenomenon of Bronies? For the uninitiated, Bronies are a fandom-culture centered around the animated series “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” And they are bros – adolescent and post-adolescent men – who are not in fact the intended audience for this show. Which brings us to the documentary “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony,” now available on dvd.
Through the course of this documentary we meet some of these fans. We hear what it is they love about the show, what it means to them, and how their love of it affects their families and friends. Although I’m sure there are creepy dudes in this fandom, as there are in every fandom, you won’t find them here. This is a pretty self-aware bunch of guys who just happen to be unwilling to give up this little bit of happiness simply because there are some who find it weird. Do they have the show to thank for that attitude? Psychologists point out later in the documentary how My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic teaches the kind of emotional intelligence that it’s important to learn as a child, and be reminded of as an adult.
The documentary also travels to a few American and European conventions where Bronies gather to share their enthusiasms, as well as the art and music the show has inspired. The fans also get a chance to see and interact with some of the show’s voice actors, writers, and even Lauren Faust who, though no longer with the show, was responsible for envisioning and developing this version of My Little Pony (while Hasbro’s goal may have been to sell toys, hers was to tell interesting stories with complex characters).
In today’s world when reality tv can often lead us fearing for humanity, it’s nice to see a documentary about people so influenced by a show that celebrates friendship as exemplified by qualities such as honesty, loyalty, laughter, kindness, and generosity. While Chinese astrology may list 2014 as being the year of the horse, I’m going to call it year of the pony.