Thursday, July 7, 2011
Discussion/Editorial: Ponies As A Creative Outlet
If you had told me at the beginning of this year that I would be writing this, I would have given you a very odd look and went back to reassembling my computer, because I was replacing a motherboard at the time.
This article is after a page break, because it's a lot longer than I thought it was going to be. The tags do not lie this time.
I joined the fandom, as much as anypony can say that they 'joined' the adorable squishy mass that is ponies, around the middle of January on 4chan's /co/ board. I was using this very name, even- despite, of course, the fact that tripcodes were generally frowned upon. This was before we had separate chans, like Ponychan, so /co/ was basically the only place to go for ponies. Equestria Daily was in its infancy, and the Pony General thread locator was considered top-of-the-line in pony organization. How far we've come really is a sight to behold. This blog garners 200,000 hits a day.
One of the most striking things about my time on that board was the amount of original content being produced every single day. Back then, of course, fiction wasn't as common, but you more often than not had very talented artists doing sketches and paintings of these marshmallow ponies and posting them for everypony to see. On-model, humanized, crossovers with other cartoons and video games; you name it, and it had been drawn. Sometimes artists would come in and just draw whatever ponies asked them to. This practice still continues today, of course. It was the main reason I stuck around on the board as long as I did.
It wasn't really the fact that talented artists existed on the board that was so enthralling. After all, this was the comics and cartoons board. You're bound to attract some decent artists to such a place. It wasn't even the fact that a cartoon was generating so much art; much more well-known and 'serious' cartoons and comics got original art from fans all the time. It was commonplace.
It wasn't either of those things that stuck out. It was the idea that it was My Little Pony of all things that was generating such content that had staying power in everyones mind. And in mine.
It was barely two or three weeks of lurking around in these threads that I decided to write something that I hadn't written in a very long time- fan fiction. I had written stories for other universes before, and had even started a novel of my own, but those projects all sort of fell by the wayside after a time. I just wasn't motivated to finish them for whatever reason I could make up in my mind. For some reason, these ponies had made me care about writing again. You could say I was inspired by the sheer creative juices flowing out of the fandom as a whole. I wrote a small (only slightly longer than this article) vignette about Trixie, copied it into an image, as was the common practice at the time, and posted it on the board. I think maybe two ponies commented on it. It most certainly wouldn't have made it onto the blog today. I didn't care. I had contributed, and it felt great.
Fast-forward to today. The blog gets so much original content in a single day that it made those early months look like a drought. Videos, music, fiction, and most certainly art. And then there's the things that no one expected- amazingly detailed custom recolors of the (admittedly) cheap official plastic toys, hand-coded games, and glassware, to name but a few. All in the name of ponies.
Let me say that one more time. All in the name of little multi-colored marshmallow ponies.
I'm sure what I'm about to ask you all is a question you've asked yourself many times. I ask it of myself every time I really stop and think about what I do every day for the blog. What is it about these little ponies that inspires such creativity in people that they normally wouldn't have had any inclination to express? My story is far from unique; even in the 300-word and speedfic events, I couldn't tell you how many times I read the words, "this is my first fan fiction." It still comes as a surprise to me when I read that and find a story that's really excellent. Ponies inspired that person to write something worth reading. The same goes for art. I've seen ponies admit that they had never considered drawing things before these equines came along. Each and every one of them had gotten past whatever artificial stigma exists around the brand (or ignored it entirely), found something inspiring about it, and used it in a positive way to express themselves.
I've been in a few fandoms, and I'll be honest: I've never seen anything like this. It's wonderful, and I'm glad to be a part of it.
So, let me close this article with a question: what is it about these ponies that you think inspires us to do these things in their name? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.