• Editorial: From a Fandom Not So Far Away: Toxic Fans


    With this short lull in the season, it’s a great time to do more analyzing of our favorite ponies and their adventures. However, the criticism isn’t going to end at the characterization or setting choices, it will continue on to how writers, actors, artists, directors, and producers either succeeded or failed at bringing us the stories we wanted to hear.

    Thus the MLP:FIM staff are not exempt from the same scrutiny their art goes through, but unlike the characters they helped create, they are personally affected by the words of us fans.

    I think we can all agree there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and hurtful scorn, but where is it drawn and how do we know we've crossed it?


    By this point, I’m sure many of you have heard about all the controversy with the Star Wars fandom and actress Kelly Tran. It’s infuriating to imagine anyone could say such hurtful things to another person, but it's almost unbelievable that it was said by people who called themselves fans. Such a horrible mess and certainly something we’d never want to have happen in our fandom.

    As fans of MLP, we’re all pretty invested in the success of the show. We love these cute little ponies and we identify with them so much! Still, it's only natural that certain aspects of the show might rub us the wrong way from time to time.

    I know there are more than a few who are angry just by looking at this.
    But believe it or not, disagreeing with the staff is okay. If you haven’t noticed, analysis and content creators have made up a good chunk of our fandom sharing their quips and ideas. We’re able to engage the material the MLP staff gave us for pleasure while pointing out plotholes and inconsistencies. We aren’t required to agree with everything the artists, writers or actors do.

    However, these discrepancies tend to focus on the show not on insulting the show’s staff. When fans don’t make an argument against the ideas and concepts but attack people with the intent to harm, it’s frustrating for us all and sometimes a little scary.

    Animation errors happen through the series; some have even become our favorite parts.
    When someone treats creators poorly, they create a toxic environment for both the artist and other fans. There isn’t any constructive criticism or coherent dialog being had, rather hate filled discontent is raised and people end up disengaging the rest of the fandom in fear of being attacked.

    Many feel there was wasted potential with Celestia's character.
    So how do you know when you’ve crossed the line from honest critique to entitled bullying?

    When you take your personal experience with ponies so seriously that you are blinded to the experiences of others, that's when you step over the line.

    "They're boycotting me!" Or better said, "They're no longer enjoying my dresses not because of their quality, but because they rather hurt me."
    When we as MLP fans talk about things we don’t like in the show, we need to stay mindful of the fact that there are real people putting this show together. They are allowed to make mistakes and have bad ideas just like we do. They are also allowed to have different opinions about their characters, and can take the show in any direction they want.

    I feel I need to emphasize again that it’s okay to not agree with their choices. It’s okay to say writers or editors didn’t impress us with an episode. That’s half the reason we create reviews, fanart and fanfiction.

    But we as fellow human beings should never be using phrases like, “Those writers are stupid. They should just fire that composer. That voice actor didn’t even try.” No matter how strongly we might feel about something that happens on the show, the people making MLP will always be more important than the cartoon itself.
    Knowing A.K. is Daring Do, I'm glad Quibble never told her how Sold-out and Dumb-down her life was.
    If you disagree with something, examine your reasons for why. Make sure to remind yourself that your reasons are only one person’s opinion. If you do mention a staff member by name, imagine how they might react to your opinion (maybe even imagine you gave the same critique to the way they eat a Reese’s Peanut Buttercup, there’s no wrong way to eat one after all.)

    Appreciate the fact that an entire team of people worked countless hours to make a show that not only you can enjoy, but also hundreds of children in its target demographic.

    Personally, I don't like Starlight, but so many other bronies do. I'm glad the staff added her for them. Seriously, this show doesn't exist just for me.
    We don’t have to like everything they do, but we don’t get the right to attack them for trying to produce something wholesome in the world. If you feel you have a right to attack anyone online (or in real life), I would recommend seeking help for that. Odds are your bitterness is seeping into other aspects of your life and it will eventually destroy you, your relationships, and the respect you desire others to have for you.

    Having the Element of Laughter make others cry does seem out of character, but there's no need to emulate Pinkie's bad behavior here to the episode's writer.
    If you know you've been unnecessarily mean, don't beat yourself up over it, just decide it's time to stop. We're a pretty forgiving group around here. Commit to being a more thoughtful reviewer and take a pause before future posts and people will notice the difference.

    There will always be hateful people in every fandom, but to quote Rian Johnson, “We [the true fans] like and dislike stuff, but we do it with humor, love and respect. We’re the vast majority, we’re having fun and doing fine.” Bronies, we can do the same.

    All of us have rallied around this show. MLP has been so much more than just a 30-minute break on Saturday mornings. This staff’s willingness to embrace our unusual fandom was a welcome relief in the face of the media and the cultural storm that came against us.

    Let’s not hurt these people we’ve come to love over a moment in a cartoon that we didn’t enjoy.

    For archival purposes, you can find the IntenseDebate comments for this post (if any) archived over here