These are my last interviews for this series. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of my thoughts and feelings on bronies and the MLP fandom. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Tell me about how you got into this fandom? What is the draw?
The way I became a brony was somewhat strange. I actually used to fall into the “hater” category for bronies. I thought they were just a bunch of creepy old pedophiles who had an almost religious fascination with cartoons.
I consider myself open about being a brony. I don’t parade around with my Sonic Rainboom shirt under my Spike the dragon hoodie with my Rainbow Dash necklace around my neck while blaring brony music from my phone that has a Princess Celestia cover. I’m not THAT kind of brony. Those people are just obnoxious. I’m an open brony in the sense that, if the subject comes up, I will not be afraid to admit that I love the show and am a contributing member of the brony community.
Tell me about how you got into this fandom? What is the draw?
Getting ‘into” the fandom was a bit of a tricky mess. My girlfriend and I both “got into” the show in early 2011, before there even really *was* much of a fandom. We were both very much aware of the existence of things like fanfiction and fanart. She discovered a lot of the former (as she was an avid fanfiction reader at the time, mostly falling into Doctor Who and X-files fics) so it wasn’t out of the norm for her to tell me about some silly pony related story she’d just finished reading. Personally, I’d vowed to steer clear of all of that and just enjoy the show, as I felt at the time that “fandoms ruin things.”
That was until I stumbled into “fan music,” … something I’d never really encountered nor heard of before. I saw quite a few remixes and original pieces, citing ponies as their influence or muse. I thought this was a pretty intriguing concept, and as I eventually dug deeper I found a community called “My Little Remix,” which was where many of these people whose work I’d been admiring online all congregated. I made it a point to join immediately so that I could beseech them for knowledge, exchange information, and grow as a producer. I never had much intention to contribute to this community they’d built — I was just hungry to learn.
Eventually, by participating in some of their IRC based music creation challenges, I was convinced to create pony-themed music of my own, and while I’ll do my best to feign humility, it’s not an understatement to say that I started gaining recognition pretty swiftly. I eventually published a few songs to youtube, got featured on Equestria Daily a few times, hit over 1000 subscribers within a couple of months, and the rest is pretty much history. While I’m not as involved with “the fandom” as I used to be, I still sit pretty at over 15,000 subscribers on youtube, most of it coming from the MLP stuff.
Best and worst? You’re going to get a different answers from everyone. I personally think the solidarity that defined brony culture in the early days is one of the best things that came out of it. So many people were so insecure about liking it, and finding other people that were into it secured instant camaraderie among peers. That’s probably one of the reasons why it infected so many corners of internet culture in its infancy — so many people were reaching out, almost like beacons, advertising their constituency for brotherhood. That same camaraderie is also one of the worst parts about the fandom — there are no shortage of people who behave poorly and have sullied the name over the years, and that camaraderie blinded a lot of people to thinking critically about this behavior, poisoning the well, so to speak. In the early days we were so grateful to find someone, anyone, who understood this weird thing we were into, it was really difficult for most people to turn around criticize those same people they were grateful to have, even when they recognized behavior worthy of criticism. We felt like we were all in this together, and when “one of our own” got out of line, there was no rush to admonish or scorn that behavior. As a result a lot of this negativity stewed for a long, long time as people of differing ideologies quietly tolerated each other, feeling they were prohibited from levying legitimate criticism. Finally a few “outsiders” penetrated some sections of the fandom, co-opting it with their personal brands of politics, and began to fragment that camaraderie.
While I do mourn the loss of that collective “brotherhood,” it’s also hard to ignore the newfound self-awareness that has come with that splintering of interests. People are a lot more cautious about what they say and what they do, and perhaps that’s a good thing.
Are you open about liking MLP or is it something you keep to yourself, why?
I’m completely open about liking MLP, but then again I’ve got it pretty easy. I’m a college graduate, I own a house, I have a full time career doing work that I love, and I’ve been in a long-term heterosexual relationship for over 5 years. By all of society’s heteronormative standards, I’ve done everything I’m supposed to, so in that respect I feel like I’m a bit exempt from a lot of the criticism my younger peers have to contend with. I’ve “made it” so to speak, and I don’t feel like my interests or hobbies are anyone else’s concern at that point.
Obviously, being a Brony comes with its fair share of stigmas and issues. What is something that you’d like to tell who prematurely judge you for being a Brony?
Honestly? Nothing, but then again I don’t tell people “I’m a brony,” either. I normally just preface my statement with a bit of a challenge, to the tune of, “Yeah, I like cute shit.” That, in and of itself tends to kill whatever criticism would have been levied at me. I’m fully aware of some of the problematic things the “fandom” as a whole has done, and I think it’s immediately evident, just by willing to entertain and engage that fact, that I’m not a principle contributor to the bad stuff.
People tend to forget that you can only take away from something what you put into it. I still associate with the “brony fandom” because I’m willing to set aside (but not minimize) the negative impact, and focus only on the aspects that bring me joy. If you ask me that’s the whole point, and I only share “the fandom” with people that have a similar mindset. You don’t need to be ignorant of the negative stuff to take earnest delight in the positive stuff.