Open Your Mind: Bronies, Party Cannons And The My Little Pony Panel

Devin T. Quin, writing for Bleeding Cool

pony2San Diego is home to a variety of impressive flora and fauna. I have seen a plethora of snails, marveled at the majestic beauty of their cockroaches, and have been awoken by the high pitched screams of their humming birds. Today I am hunting for an elusive beast, a majestic animal which is as reclusive as it is misunderstood; Today we are hunting Brony.

I will not pretend I know anything about My Little Pony. I've seen two episodes of the hit cartoon "My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic." I could probably pick Applejack and Rainbow Dash out of a police line up. That's about it.

So why am I reporting on this panel? Let me explain how Comic Con works:

At home you may have troubles. Your Uncle is your Mother or you're homeschooled by wolves. In your time of need you found SOMETHING, maybe it was sci-fi novels, maybe it was breakfast cereal toys. Regardless of your obsession, and no matter how hard you tried to explain it to friends and family, no one understands your "hobby." Expressing the few things you like to others only seems to earn you more scorn.

But then you come to comic con! You are amongst friends! People like what you like! YOU are free of the scorn and derision of your peers….

Unless you're a Brony.

Every year there is a new fan base that tries to earn a seat at the table. Don't even think of voicing a liking for Twilight at the Con. Furries, plushies and assorted yiffers are hiding in plain sight, waiting for the day of their suffrage. And the Brony?

Everybody feels safe picking on the adult male fans of a show targeted at female children. Lovingly or maliciously, everybody mocks a Brony.

devhugsabronyBut why? I did not come to bury the Brony, but to praise him. Comic Con, if it's about ANYTHING, should be about acceptance. Isn't this the place to let your geek flag fly with pride? As the old adage goes, "First they came for the communist, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist." Why don't we embrace the Brony?

"Bronies have a horrible reputation," agrees super-fan Louisa Tsai of LA. Louisa has put together an amazing Steam Punk Pinky-Pie costume, complete with Party Cannon. I don't know what a party cannon IS, but as I stand next to her in line she is stopped every other minute by folks who want to tell her that her's is amazing.

From a reporting perspective, the gender mix of this panel is 50/50. There are LOTS of little girls here, dressed as their favorite pony. The only little boys I see are wearing Angry Bird shirts and playing gameboy.

ponyphoto1I ask her, as a female fan, whether Brony politics has overshadowed the overall fandom for her favorite show. "In the beginning it was," she says, but she hopes it has died down since then.

The Panel starts promptly, and like all SDCC panels boasts an impressive line. if you weren't in line for this one at least two hours ahead of time, then I hate to tell you that the Pony left the barn and the barn burned down.

The panel is moderated by the very animated Mike Vogel, Vice President of Development of Hasbro. On hand are Jayson Thiessen the supervising director, show writer Meghan McCarthy, composer Daniel Ingram, Brian Leonard the executive director for Hasboro and the voice talents of Tara Strong, Kathy Weseluck and Andrea Libman. The crowd goes NUTS!

"Good Morning, Everypony" says Mike Vogel. I've got a bad feeling about this. He then asks if they can all take part in a group sing of the My Little Pony theme song. AND EVERYBODY is singing. Mixed in amongst the sing-song voice of kids are the unmistakable tenors and basses.

I feel like Indiana Jones at the Last Crusade book burning. I have made a great mistake. I HAVE to get out of here!

What follows is an hour of multicolored madness I will do my best to report on, though I will never truly understand. My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic is heading into it's 4th season. Main character, Twilight, will have a difficult time adjusting to her new dual roles as the Princess of Equestira and a Alicorn, which is a pony with both wings and…you know what? Don't worry about it.

Season 4 will feature 15 to 20 new songs, and will have a plot line which harkens back to the first season. The core rules of the Pony world will be in danger. The panel is careful not to spoil anything. When asked to give a tease, writer Meghan McCarthy only ventures "Were doing something that we've never done before on previous seasons, but keeping it exactly the same?"
The panel confirms that there will be an episode where Pinky-Pie's sister comes to visit, a Spike centered episode and more with Rarity. Daniel Ingram says that everybody's favorites will get to sing a song, including Derpy Hooves. They tease that Vinyl Scratch might get more screen time. Is this even english?

Later we have animatic clips where the Ponies become superhero versions of themselves called the Power Ponies, A scene where the entire Applejack family sings to Twilight about family, and a scene where a former Pony princess freaks out and blocks out the sun.

We also get to see a scene is from My Little Pony: Equestia Girls, the controversial new Pony movie where Twilight is transported to a magical realm where all the ponies are cute highschool girls. They wear pony ear headbands and tail belts to look more like ponies, but they are still multicolored.

Even amongst Pony die-hards, this film was a questionable move. I ask superfan Louisa how she felt about Equestrian Girls. "I hear it's cool, but I'd I'd prefer more ponies."

The voice cast is rocking the panel, energetic, positive and giving a lot of fan service voice work. There is an infectiously positive vibe. When the Q&A section starts, they ask that all the little fans get to be first in line. What proceeds is an increasingly cute parade of little girls, most in costumes, having the best day of their lives.
The questions after the kids are almost all Bronies. I will report the facts, they are akward, stilted and often rambling…this is NOT out of step with any fans at any other panels. I myself still get tongue tied with some of my favorite creators. Next to the children, who were all precious and (dare I say) eloquent, the difference in the fan base is as pronounced as Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.

OMG. I'm getting infected?! I'm starting to understand this stuff! I'VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!

MY LITTLE PONY! La-LA-LA PONY!

The bottom line; An African American woman tells a story to the panel regarding her young niece getting bullied once for "being an african american girl cosplaying a pony. I don't understand that." she says. "Ponies have no race. " Tara Strong agrees "We're all different colors. no one should judge anyone. You tell her she makes a beautiful pony no matter what color she wears."

ACCEPTANCE. Whether we're different races, religions or fan bases, we all have to stand together. ESPECIALLY the Bronies. Today I learned a great deal about these fragile, pretty beasts. I also learned a great deal about myself.

Friendship IS Magic.

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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