In June 2011, the television station Adult Swim began running one of their signature ‘bumps’ during commercial breaks, which read the following:
“New word we just learned that we wish we could unlearn
Brony [bro-nee] n. An adult male fan of the children’s cartoon My Little Pony
Updated all-time list of creepy weird things that scare us
3. The word “moist””
Adult Swim wasn’t lying, this phenomenon actually exists; a group of men, self deemed as bronies, seeking out to be the ultimate hipsters, liking what nobody else possibly could: My-Little-Pony. No, really. No, really! In 2010, a Hasbro owned television station The Hub, recruited Lauren Faust, creative mind behind “The Powerpuff Girls”, to create a television adaptation of their new My Little Pony toy line, premiering October that year.
The website Cartoon Brew released an article attacking the show with a surprisingly alarmist tone, claiming that the ‘creator-driven’ era was over, and that this was a show with no substance outside of promoting toys. 4chan, the largest image board on the web, caught wind of this articled, and decided to watch and see what all the fuss was about.
Ironically enough, the article brought the board’s attention to a show it may otherwise have ignored. Not only did the show have the same wide-eyed charm which the Powerpuffs used to call our masculinity into question, but the show uses flash animation, resulting in a show with the polish only a television series can provide, but the visuals and design of a web cartoon one would find on YouTube or Newgrounds. Most watched episode one of the series expecting to be through after a 20 minute investment, but fell into the devious trap of a cliffhanger ending, the second half of which would conveniently air a short two days after the article. The users were hooked; perhaps too much so.
Pony topics and images began to pop up so frequently across 4chan, ANY other discussion became nearly impossible. On a NSFW board where literally anything goes, My Little Pony because the first topic banned outright. The ponies continues to spread their influence to other sites, however, like Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube, and even brought to the attention of other media such as Fox News and Game Informer magazine. On an episode of the “Colbert Report”, Steven Colbert even goes out of his way to give a big shout-out to any bronies who may be watching.
Did we lose you? No? You’re still reading an article about “My Little Pony?” Good! The show follows a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle and her assistant, a young dragon, as she learns magic and makes friends in Ponyville. You can’t see yourself ever sitting through this can you? When looked at objectively, this show shares many elements with media accepted by people outside the child demographic in the past, such as “Pokémon”, “Adventure Time”, of course “The Powerpuff Girls”, and even “Harry Potter”.