• Belgian Magazine "Humo" Posts Giant pony Article


    A Magazine over in Belgium called "Humo" did a whopping four page article on the pony phenomenon, covering just about every aspect of it.  Luckily, we have a bunch of Dutch guys out there willing to translate! Head on down below the break to check that out.  





    Santa Claus, think before you act


    Grownup fans of “My Little Pony”


    “My Little Pony is epic. Like Star Wars”


    I have vague memories about my ‘My Little Pony’-doll from when I was a kid. She was pale yellow with a blue tail and blue manes, but whether she also had a name? No idea. According to my childish eyes, she wasn’t good for anything more than brushing her syntethic locks with the included little comb. Needless to say: We weren’t that inseparable. Weird that the same little toy horses ├íre cherished by some - grown - men. A conversation with four so-called ‘Bronies’.


    In an Antwerpian (the province of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium.) beerhouse I’m sitting across four healthy looking young men between 17 and 24 years of age. They have spread out their greatest goods on the table: A bunch of ponies - small, large, in plush or plastic - whom they all know by name. Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy are staring at me with their anatomically incorrect eyes. And then there’s the shirts, the wallet, the backpacks and the uncountable number of buttons, everything ‘My Little Pony’-related. Huh? Did I miss something?


    Mick, Mike Matthias and Jan raise no doubt about it: they are ‘bronies’ - think bro, think pony, say brony. They are grown men (with here and there a grown woman) who openly admit to be crazy about the little girls show ‘My Little Pony’.


    Mick: “I used to watch Youtube-movies of gamers. One of those gamers I followed once tweeted something about ‘Applebuck Season’, the third episode of the first season.”


    Mike (interrupting): “No, ‘Applebuck Season’ was the fourth episode. ‘The Ticket Master’ was the third.”


    Mick: “Correct, I’m sorry. So anyway: I watched the entire episode without thinking about it too much. And then another. And before I knew it I watched the entire first season and couldn’t beat around the bush any longer: I was a brony.”


    Mike: “Please don’t confuse the current ‘My Little Pony’-series with the toy line from the past. Ever since the series came on the television, the show has been re-invented a few times. We, bronies, are fans of the fourth generation of ‘My Little Pony’. We weren’t interested in the previous versions - at the most we buy eachother some old merchandise for each other’s birthday, as a way of inside joke.”


    The current generation of ponies saw the light of day in 2010, when Lauren Faust - known in the cartoon scene as the godmother of ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ - took control and created an entirely new tv-series commissioned by toy-manufacturer Hasbro.


    Mike: “Whereas the older series were about a bunch of crazy ponies with high-pitched voices, it has now become a serious cartoon with a solid story and ingeniously worked out characters. You could call it epic. Yeah, kinda like ‘Star Wars’.”


    Before I could say ‘Luke, I am your father’ Mike starts telling about Equestria, the world where these ponies live in. And about Princess Celestia and her evil sister Nightmare Moon, whom was banished to the moon for a thousand years by Celestia. At the beginning of the first season Nightmare Moon returns to Equestria and the six main characters - excuse me, main ponies - have to use the Elements of Harmony in order to defeat her.


    Mick: “When Faust put the ‘My Little Pony’-universe in a new jacket, it was obvious that her idea was to let the entire family enjoy the show.”


    HUMO: Ok, but it’s still wrapped in pink packaging, with lots of glitters and streamers. Why ‘My Little Pony’, and not the Carebears or K3 (a children’s music group of three woman)?


    Mick: “Because that’s for kids (hilarity).”


    Mike: “If the series were about little robots, with exactly the same storyline and exactly the same characters I would still love it.”


    HUMO: But that’s the point isn’t it: they aren’t little robots. They are pink ponies who live in a sugarcoated world. If I had had psychoanalytical ambitions, I would have called it escapism.


    Mick: “Don’t be fooled, there are bad guys as well. (Points to an evil looking, blue-purple pony). This pony sent an entire army to the capital of Equestria. (Talking about Chrysalis here, don’t shoot the interviewer for not knowing she’s actually not a pony.)


    Matthias: “Yeah, and there’s a bit of fighting every now and then as well. Of course, it never results in any bloodshed. After all it’s still a cartoon little girls are also watching.”


    Jan: “I can’t speak for all bronies in general, but I’ve just about had with all the violence that’s constantly exposing itself to you on tv and the internet. I don’t mind violent games - I do play some ‘Call of Duty’ from time to time - it just feels good to take a few steps back and relax with some ponies.


    Matthias: “The entire fandom started on the forumsite 4chan: a journalist wrote a bad review about the first episode of ‘My Little Pony’. Without even seeing it, he tore it down with the only argument being: ‘This show has been made just to sell more toys.’ Of course, this caused some forum users to get writing and out themselves openly as a fan.


    Mick: “The more fans that started gathering on 4chan, the more hatred it developed with other users. After a while the scolding got so bad - ‘Bunch of horsefuckers!’ - they shut down everything that had something to do with ponies. Right now, Bronies are allowed on 4chan again, but that’s not needed anymore: We’ve got our own websites now. In the United States they even host an annual ‘My Little Pony’-congress called BronyCon. Last year the event got around eightthousand visitors. That’s crazy!”


    BLUE-AND-PINK WALL


    A unique thing is that the creators of ‘My Little Pony’ have completely embraced the bronies: Faust and the voice actors let themselves be worshipped at events like BronyCon. They also put the series full of running gags that go completely over the heads of the average six year old.


    Matthias: “Per example, in one episode they let three ponies re-enact a scene that’s clearly based on ‘The Big Lebowski’.”


    Jan: “There’s also Derpy, a pony who appears in the background somewhere in the first season. Due to an animation error she was cross-eyed. The bronies immediately spotted this and since then Derpy has been some kind of a mascotte for the community. She’s smuggled in every episode by the creators, just for the bronies.


    Matthias: “In season two they went one step beyond and even gave Derpy some lines. The community went bananas: ‘Derpy speaks!’ For bronies, things like this are serious business.”


    HUMO: But does that still make the series appropiate for little girls?


    Matthias: “Faust and Hasbro keep a close eye that the cartoonmakers never lose their target audience.”


    HUMO: Actually you’re purposely breaking down the blue-and-pink re-inforced concrete wall that seperates the boys- and girlsworld.


    Mick: “I wouldn’t say purposely.”


    Mike: “A lot of bronies are aware of that in the beginning, but after a while you just become a fan.”


    Matthias: “We certainly aren’t pro-active fighters for gender-equality. Bronies don’t get out in the streets just to tear down this blue-and-pink wall. But that being said: We don’t mind going to Bart Smit (a local chain of toy stores that frequently sells the latest merchandise such as blind bags) and start snooping around the girl toys looking for ponies, even though the cashier always asks: ‘Is it a gift?’.”


    Mike: “I did have some issues when I first went to the girl-isle to buy a pony, but that’s because I was still a teenager aged 14. Eventually, I didn’t buy anything then, but I later returned with my mother. She did give me a weird look when I said what I wanted. Also, when I got outside I had a bit of a mixed feeling: ‘Hm, I have just bought ponies.’


    Jan: “It’s true, the intro to every episode is extremely girly and sugarcoated. (We checked: we have never heared the words ‘friends’ and ‘magic’ so many times, red.)”


    HUMO: So do grown men need friendship and magic this much?


    Mick: “Don’t we all need friends? Every episode contains a certain lifelesson. Take the episode ‘The Ticket Master’: Twilight Dash (again, don’t shoot the interviewer for this) got two tickets for the grand gala, but she has five friends. What to do? They learn to cooperate, to compromise: that’s what it’s mostly about. That’s just slice of life isn’t it?”


    Matthias: “Not that the episodes are real eye-openers for me, but I don’t mind the moral message they bring across.”


    Mick: “Ok, you expect from men they watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘The Walking Dead’, but that’s just the point: I also watch those. For me, the two can perfectly co-exist.”


    Matthias: “When I watched the first episode of ‘My Little Pony’, I thought: ‘Oh no. Are they actually going to sing in this?!’ But a few moments later I had to admit: ‘This song isn’t all that bad.’ So yeah, there’s a little boundary you have to get over to become a brony as a grown men.


    Mick: “That boundary is even crucial for the fandom. Without it, this fandom would never be this close.”


    Jan (nods): “You come for the show, but you stay for the community. The sole fact you are open-minded about something like ‘My Little Pony’ says something about you: You are open, friendly, actively engaged on the internet en pretty introvert in real life.


    HUMO: In other words, a nerd?


    Matthias: “Sure. And we’re proud to be.”


    Mick: “Why not? To us, nerd isn’t a term of abuse.”


    Mike: “I’m even proud I am part of a community of people who openly dares to admit to watch a show about little, pink ponies. In the beginning I thought we would become a community of social outcasts, but now we’re just friends.”


    Matthias: “On the internet you sometimes read stories about people who were so depressed they were on the verge of suicide. But then they became bronies, and a whole new world unfolded before them.


    Mick: “I understand that completely. In some way or another, the show creates happiness.”


    HUMO: Maybe they’re putting in subliminal messages?


    Jan: “Yeah. Buy our toys! And look around, it’s working! (laughs).”


    THE JUDAS PRIEST PONY


    HUMO: Does the brony-being come forth from some act of rebellion?


    Jan: “Maybe, yes. I’ll say: It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about me. I am who I am. A friend of mine even has a tattoo of his favourite pony on his arm.”


    Mick: “But there are also closet bronies: they don’t openly admit being one. I don’t know if there are any BV’s (“Bekende Vlamingen”, famous people from Flanders)  that have outed as a Brony but I think they exist. Perhaps Jonas Geirnaert (Nerdy, Flemish comedian/presenter)? (laughs).”


    Mike: “I had one of those closet-bronies in my class. It took him months before he came out.”


    Matthias: “Yeah, but you’re still in high school. I was already in college: There, people don’t really care anymore whether one has a weird hobby.”


    Mick: “Pff, I came out right away, even though I still was in high school. I even did a Powerpoint presentation about my favourite Brony website.”


    HUMO: Didn’t you fear bullies then?


    Mick: “I had my share of bullying in the past, but ponies didn’t have anything to do with that. I think we all got bullied at one point, no?”


    Mike (nods): “I’ve had my share as well, online and in real life.”


    HUMO: How did your friends react to your coming-out as brony?


    Mike: “My mom has grown used to it in the meantime. Recently, she even won a big plush pony for me at the fair. Really, I shit you not.”


    Mick: “My parents are actually quite happy. At least now I’m getting out and do I have friends. That used to be different. Three or four times a year we organize a big meeting for all Belgian bronies - last time there were about ninety of us - but in the meantime we know each other so well we even get together to do other stuff together. These days, I’m even so outgoing I talk to people in the streets when I see them wearing a brony-shirt. We all do that. Bronies also have an own handshake: the brohoof.”


    Jan: “My father wasn’t weirded out when I told him I was a brony. He knows I’ve got some deviant interests. I’ve been a metal fan for a long time. Like many bronies.”


    Matthias: “Those two have much in common: most people think metalheads are some obscure devilworshippers, but they are actually very open-minded people. Just as with the bronies they’ve got a bit of a ‘live and let live’ mentality.”


    Jan: “In the documentary ‘Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony’ they interview a guy from the conservative south of America. Because he has a ‘My Little Pony’-sticker on the back of his car, they trashed it with baseballbats. I’ve never encountered anything like that before. Not even when I’m at Graspop, wearing my brony-shirt. I’ve got one like the Judas Priest album ‘Painkiller’, but instead of a silver robot there’s a silver pony on the motorcycle. I’ve never had any problems with that. On the contrary: Most reactions are quite positve. I also don’t mind walking around the streets with a cosplay. For a meet I once dressed like Hoity Toity (a pony with Karl Lagerfeld-glasses and ditto white wig, red.) and rode the tram around Antwerp with it. One other time we were with a few bronies on the tram and a little girl picked up on our conversation. She clearly was a fan of the show, so we got talking. I even gave her a little pony - I always carry a few in my pockets. It was adorable to see how excited she was.”


    RULE 34


    In our country, the ‘My Little Pony’-movies didn’t reach the cinemas. In America they did, which caused a strange mix of both little girls and grown men in cinemas. You don’t need to have a wild running fantasy to start thinking about pedophilia.


    Jan: “Especially the American bronies get that kind of criticism.”


    Matthias: “I don’t start discussing with those haters. It doesn’t matter anyway. Of course, ‘My Little Pony’-porn exists, but you’ve got that with everything. It’s called ‘Rule 34’ of the internet: if it exists, there is porn of it. Just do a quick search for ‘Sesame Street’ and put ‘Rule 34’ behind it, look at what kind of nasty pictures you’re getting. Bronies also get a lot that ponies are gay. Yet, I’m dating my girlfriend for a few years now. Who is, by the way, also a fan of ‘My Little Pony’. Not in extremis as I am, but she watches the show.”


    Mick: “In the US, a psychologist once did a big survey within the brony community: the percentage of homosexuals is actually lower than the average in the rest of society.”


    HUMO: I can’t restrain myself: Do you sleep with a plush pony in bed?


    Matthias: “No. But I do sleep with a plush red panda I got from my girlfriend though. Or should I, like the real man I am, say (lowers his voice): ‘I sleep with a brick, damned!’ No, gone with the stereotypes!”