• Popular Gazeta Wyborcza Magazine in Poland Releases a 2 Page Article on Ponies - English Translation

    8 seasons later, and the news media still can't help but talk about our crazy little fandom here. We've been in just about every corner of the world at this point, and the interest keeps on going.

    A polish newspaper called "Gazeta Wyborcza" has dropped off two pages talking all about the pony thing. It's all in polish, but we have a translation courtesy of Polonius if you are curious to read it.

    Head on down below for that!

    Warning: It does delve into the "Dark Side" (AKA CLOP) Side of the fandom, but only for a paragraph 
    Also mainstream media using the word "clop" for that still makes me laugh all these years later. 


    The Brothers of Rainbow Ponies

    Article by Jan Król, photo by Albert Zawada (Gazeta Agency).

    Translation by Polonius

    World is dark, cold and grey when you’re meeting with stupidity, hatred and hate.

    Daniel will never tell his colleagues from a factory what he has in the box in the bottom of the wardrobe. But if he will be in a relationship, he will must confess it. It can’t be hidden too long.

    Stitching as the means of making friends

    Today there’s six of them: four men and two women. From under a small, dark-haired man’s jacket stand out a horse head. Dmitrij puts out next ponies from a bag.

    It’s afternoon in Warsaw centre, next to the subway main station. It’s not a convention, it’s just casual, weekly meetup of Bronies – “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” cartoon’s fans.

    In a moment all of them will go to KFC. But not for eating. They only want to talk about ponies. At evening maybe they’ll go to someone for pony karaoke.

    The first episode of the cartoon about popular among children rainbow ponies was aired in USA in 2010 and one year later in Poland. Probably no one expected that adult men will be the fans of that cartoon. They call themselves Bronies, from words “brothers” and “ponies”.

    Dmitrij has a beard and a long hair. Age? About 25 years old [in reality much less, but he doesn’t like to confess it – translator note], how much – he doesn’t want to tell. In the fandom, the My Little Pony’s fan’s society, he is known under his nick Dmitrij Akonom.

    He was interested by ponies back in 2013 when his friend from internet forum recommended him this cartoon. He has spent summer holidays at the lakeside back then. He has watched all episodes on small smartphone’s screen.

    From that moment ponies doesn’t miss him even in a bus. With his favourite Twilight Sparkle plushie, standing out from jacket’s inner pocket, he takes a bus in the city every day. In a bus they reading books and watching the city behind the glass together. People are laughing. – I don’t care about that – Dmitrij assures.

    He became a brony 5 years ago. He went to a meetup in Warsaw at first time back then.

    The first local fandom groups in Poland appeared in 2012 [in reality at summer 2011 – translator note]. The Warsaw Bronies Association (Stowarzyszenie Warszawa Bronies), which was by Dmitrij friends, has only 2 years now. In all Poland there’s several associations and foundations: in Cracow – Polish Bronies Foundation Canterlot (Fundacja Polskich Bronies Canterlot), in Katowice – Bronies Silesia, in Tricity [Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia – translator note] – Tribrony, in Wrocław – Bronies Wrocław. But in every bigger city there’re non-formal groups. Several thousand people summary. Associations compete with each other. They have their emblems and flags, they organize cons (as Dmitrij remember, the biggest polish convention had about 400 attendees).

    At closed Facebook group there’re 2155 people. According to last year poll organized by one of the fans there’s 65% men, mostly adult. The oldest man is 36 years old, the oldest woman 26.

    – Female fans are called Pegasisters, but in Poland we rarely use that name – speak Dmitrij. – For girls it’s rather childhood prolongation. For some – just nostalgy, for another – another cartoon which they like. Girls aren’t interested in groups and weekly meetups anyway.

    At meetup in City Cultural Centre in Katowice at this year February this was seen with the naked eye. Among the fans from Poland and Czech Republic majority were men dressed with My Little Pony t-shirts, with ponies under armpit and a mustache under nose. The youngest attendee was 12 years old and was one of the few girls. – I’m amused that she doesn’t match here – her mother spoke. – She’s too young. But about these adults, I think that this is a harmless hobby. If it makes someone smile and it’s a rebound from the world, so why not?

    At a meetup organized by Dmitrij at Warsaw Bielany [district – translator note] tens could be met. The main theme was developing your hobby, because Bronies try to diversify their meetings. One time they organize running contest, another concert. The Przewalski’s Ponies arrived specially from Russia, they play pony theme music. In Warsaw meetup’s schedule there’re a poetic activities, pony dance, playing cards tutorial, drawing workshops, karaoke and “Stitching as the means of making friends” panel. They learned how stitch socks for their plushies.

    Dmitrij organized meetups plenty of times. He doesn’t earn huge money by this unlike some people think. One time I’m 200 zlotys in the red, another I’m in the black. Meetups have a lecture or workshops formula. One time he lecture 8 hours about his favourite pony, Twilight Sparkle, he prepared 200 slides. – Eight hours non-stop? – I can’t believe – There was 10 people maybe – He admit. – Some went out and went back after an hour. But it’s something after all.

    Cons are ending mostly with charity auction, for example for animal shelter. Auctioned are plushies, figurines, drawings…

    Dmitrij likes Twilight Sparkle from the first episode. She’s the most pretty character for him, mostly because violet and navy blue colour. She’s also the smartest – she reads a lot of books like he also does. He admire that she’s caring mother. He also likes her personality – she’s withering but not malicious. Firm, persistent to achieve a goal. Nice and kind, she tries to be reasonable. In one episode ponies are hiding from a zebra. They don’t know her, they think that she’s a witch who will curse them. Only Twilight doesn’t believe it. – It’s a good episode about not judging book by its cover – Dmitrij explains. At the end every pony befriends with the zebra.

    Dmitrij lives with his mother (she doesn’t mind her son’s interests, father mocks about them a little). In the room at Warsaw Bródno [district – translator note], all walls have posters with his favourite unicorn. Next to a bed there’re pony cups, plushies, flags, colourful pillows and boxes. There’re a lot of books on shelves. Plushie pony’s watching being between Aristotle and Plato texts. Because philosophy is Dmitrij’s passion. How’s he cultivate it? He responds that he “seats, reads, writes, talks with peoples”. For a living he only need what he earns at part-time jobs, poster hangout for example. With money, as he say, he wouldn’t have much to do. He rarely goes to cinema, never to café or restaurant. From Warsaw he mostly goes in fandom cases – for meetups in other cities. Or to Prague for Czequestria, one of the biggest pony’s fans cons in Europe.

    For my request he summarizes the philosophy of pony world – Pony are epicureans, the simplest ones. They think that pleasure leads to happiness as the greatest goal.

    This city doesn’t like colourful hair

    At Saturday, at 3 pm, when there’s dark yet, Daniel wakes up in his rent studio in a small town. He eats breakfast and slowly prepare for going out. He goes 7 kilometres across sleepy town to the factory. During the lunch break he doesn’t seat with others in the canteen. He prefers eating alone and texting with other Bronies.

    Two years ago he met them for the first time, but they have texted with each over for one year back then. They’ve met at railway station Łódź Kaliska – he, Bartek, now his closest friend, and Kamil. They felt like old friends. – This is a strange feeling when you meet people whose interested in the same thing – describe. They celebrate New Year in Sopot, later they were in Warsaw. Daniel travels with no one else like with them. Acquaintances sometimes arrives to him.

    But despite multiyear practise in the fandom, Daniel wouldn’t dare to go to Bronies convention yet. – I’m scared. What people whose I would meet on the street would think? What my colleagues from work would think when they will see my photo from a con?

    Because Daniel would like to go to a con dressed in pony t-shirt. In his city he doesn’t imagine go out dressed like that. It can end bad – work colleagues mocking or even broken window. It’s not a tolerant city. Here colourful hair or different look is a laughing stock.

    Daniel dreams about moving out to Poznań or Warsaw, because there would be different. He will find a job. He must only reserve some money for renting a flat.

    Six years ago, to kill a boredom 18 years old Daniel switched on TV. He watched the cartoon by accident. “It isn’t bad” – he thought. Animations interested him even earlier.

    After some time he started a YouTube channel with ponies where he putted different clips – from episode’s amateur dubbing to his own animations and let’s plays of his games.

    – I was laughing about myself – Daniel admits – And I started to fear of myself. After all, I was raised in different way. More stereotypically, that something is for one and something is for another gender. I thought that they’ll call me a freak because I stands out from social norms. Somebody would think that I’m not 100% man.

    He’s fascinated by Bronies community, how people reacts to each other. – Feeling of partnership, working together, lack of rivalry – he describes. In internet projects there were sometimes even 20 participants only for preparing a movies for others. People went back from work or school and lived another life about witch was known only by them.

    At technical college Daniel was one of the best students. From 25 people in group only he and on colleague pass the technical exams – half of them didn’t even pass finals. – And I wanted to be dream’s constructor – he remember.

    Technical drawing and designing was easy for him. – It was amazing. Like building a new world. – he thought during his apprenticeship when he saw as his very own made part worked in the machine.

    But today he’s disappointed. He works at factory not designing new machines. After college he haven’t had a lot possibilities – there would be more with an engineer title. Daniel try studies, but he haven’t passed some exams. Math was his weakness. – It’s a pity that I haven’t go to better school – he speaks embittered.

    He doesn’t have good memories from college times. Colleagues often mocked him, they’ve put his backpack out from the window. And at the same time they’re asking for a help with math. Daniel started to play it out: I’ll help you, but you must tell something to him and take away something from another one.

    – How did you feel about that?

    – At least I had a peace – he speaks – but also a feeling that I can’t live like that. It isn’t me.

    Maybe that’s why the history of Sunset Shimmer such appeal to him. It’s an orange mare with with red curles and green eyes. At first “My Little Pony” movie Sunset leaves the pony world and goes to human world by the portal. She became a human – a teenager who starts to rule in a local high school. Not knowing what the friendship is, she aim to goal with whatever price it has only to learn at the end, that the real power is something else. Thanks to behaviour change she make friends. Daniel also made real friends just in fandom. He lives alone, but until he can, after coming home, call to Kamil, Bartek or his wife, he doesn’t mean.

    – Although I want to invite them for my wedding in the future – he admits. In the city there’s lack of places where he can meet peoples with similar interests. As teenager he’s been going to drawing workshop at local culture centre but unfortunately it was closed. He doesn’t goes to clubs – alone he would put to shame after all.

    Daniel stammers since his childhood. A logopaedic therapies only helped for a while, it always came back. – W-when I’m about to get to know someone I know I will certainly fa-falter – Daniel explains. – At the back of my ha-had there’s always a feeling, that this person could be mad about that.

    At the internet there’s not to worry about that. He’s friend Bartek meet his wife on the dating website, but he is from Warsaw and at small town it’s much harder.

    Except his favourite character Daniel has also his own OC (“Own Character”), the character which represents him. Grey pony with black mane and orange eyes was put in his avatar. These colour chose long time ago.

    – That’s what it’s all about, it’s like a metamorphosis, he’s just like me. I’m not standing out. I’m lost in the crowd. On the picture of his YouTube channel I see two hugging ponies. It’s Sunset and Daniel/ - I wanted they’re be together – he remember. – It was a joke but I leave it as it was.

    The desire of the better world

    Bartek always likes watching cartoons. He’s YouTube channel was started back in 2008. Four years later, he studied at university back then, he translated the first episode movie about ponies for 9 years old sister.

    Today he has 415 clips and 10 thousands subscribers. The most popular movie was watched 619 thousands times. Bartek is 26 years old, he is married but still – on 5 days average – he upload translated movie. They’re amateur foreign clips, because he’s honest he puts original links in description. Translating is simple, but subtitles editing takes even few hours. Bartek doesn’t earn money from movies. His channel is watching only by pony fans (he ask for not writing its name cause it could case hate comments).

    – Why this cartoon and not another?

    – It’s took a liking. Some peoples like “Star Wars”. They identificate themselves with Luke Skywalker and feel hype when in the cinemas there’s “The Last Jedi”. Pokémon also was created for children, but when two years ago “Pokémon Go” went out it was played by everyone, especially by adults. Nowadays there’re even cartoons for adults. For example “Family Guy”. But a plenty of people doesn’t understand it even yet.

    He remember when, as he was 16 years old, went to colleague do a homework together. The friend watched “Totally Spies!” at that moment and his father didn’t have any problem with that. But Bartek couldn’t even watch “Transformers” in fear of laughing about that. Father called cartoons a nonsense.

    With attacks against the cartoons Bartek meets even today. – There’s a priest Marek Bałwas, whose clip was an internet hit. Due to sermon he spoke, that “Hello Kitty” cartoon is a devil work. And then others tell that ponies are devilish or “Harry Potter” is an occultism.

    On the movie we hear that the priest speak about evil spirits whose took control over the children because they have started watching “Harry Potter”.

    Some peoples are ignorant. When someone grown-up in Polish People’s Republic times [cold war times – translator note], and for him a cartoon is “The Floppy Bear” or “Reksio” [really popular, old polish cartoons, btw still good and “Reksio” doesn’t even have dialogs so I recommend to every one – translator note], when he hears that adults watch cartoons and create community around them, it could be really mad. But as in Poland as in abroad plenty of people watched “My Little Pony” because they had a depression. Series motivated them to work on themselves. Me too found many friends thanks to this cartoon.

    In the apartment in Warsaw Mokotów Bartek has four colourful plushie ponies. A wassailing Priest didn’t even notice them. Rainbow Celestia, navy blue Luna, yellow Fluttershy and mint Lyra. Lyra is his favourite, he receive her from his wife for a birthday. At first he was afraid to tell her about his passion. When he heard about that, she was surprised and she laugh, but in a warm way. Nowadays they watch the cartoon together.

    – World is dark, cold, grey when you’re meeting with stupidity, hatred and hate. What is better than an escape to the fantasy world? – Bartek asks rhetorically. – It’s similar to ours but also creatures which living there have better personalities. They’re humans in bigger share than humans are today. Maybe the desire of better world is what attracts us the most. You cannot however lock yourself there, it needs to be a springboard from dark side of life.

    And he adds: - Some peoples lives with hatred to every one who stand out in some way. They don’t accept that you’re dressing in different way or comb. They can find something on you and harass you because of that. Coming back from school a few times I was beaten up – he narrates being annoyed. – By the people who I know. Without a reason, just because I was different.

    A pony with a pony

    – For some people this is a really delicate issue. – Bartek admits – If to the world the bad opinion will go, it’ll be a drama for them.

    In community erotic and pornographic arts and animations are called “clops”, from an English world describing a knocking of horse hoofs. At the biggest forums posting such things is banned. – If someone would do something like that among the young people under a certain age, fandom will be mad – Daniel speaks. He knows, that everything about ponies can easily go to children.

    There’s a groups only for that. They’re used by adults but also by teenagers. – Ponies are natural or humanized, for example with breasts or with penis. Or human with a pony have sex. Ponies with ponies – Dmitrij describes.

    Some people make it as a joke, others want to earn moneys by that or just being noticed. There were many discussions about that in the fandom. Some see it as a problem, others think that’s about freedom. The fans are adult, they can make something like that, no one is harmed.

    As Dmitrij, Bartek and Daniel assure, fans of pony erotic are a minority.

    Box in a wardrobe

    Dmitrij doesn’t have plans for the future. His friend organized manga and anime conventions, now he works for a big company organizing similar events near Warsaw. Dmitrij could do that also, he organized plenty of different kind of meetups, he would do want he likes.

    Bartek dreams that when he’ll have children they will watch My Little Pony together. – And we’ll can normally talk about that – he emphasize.

    Daniel on the bottom of a wardrobe have a box, inside which they’re: Sunset Shimmer plushie, two pony figurines and cups. He doesn’t open it for a whole year.

    – Are you ashamed of them? – I ask

    – Let’s say that they’re waiting for leave this place.