A Brony Tale
A fun inside view of the world of My Little Pony fans, which while entertaining didn’t go deep enough.
I have never watched My Little Pony, but remembered seeing screenshots, memes and clips of it everywhere on the internet a couple of years ago. I even used an image from it in a tech talk I did at the time. The bright colors and clean animation looked great. But, it was one of those things that came from nowhere and I wondered how it had gotten so popular. While I guess I could have watched an episode to find out, it just didn’t appeal to me. So this documentary seemed a great way to find out more.
I heard about A Brony Tale on the Screenrant Underground podcast towards the end of 2014. When I got home from the office that night, not quite remembering the name, I looked it up on Netflix. One result popped up. Jay and I sat back and started watching. 5 minutes in something didn’t feel right. It didn’t match up to to what I heard about and after 20 minutes we bailed out. It was really boring and, superficially, kind of low budget looking. They couldn’t be more than one documentary about adult My Little Pony fans could there?
It turns out they could, and we had been watch Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012) instead. The movie I wanted to see wasn’t on Netflix or anywhere else so we forgot about it, until a couple of weeks ago when we stumbled upon it again. This one was much much better. By having one of the stars of the show, Vancouver-based voice artist Ashleigh Ball, the writer/director Brent Hodge found a wonderful way lead us into the world of “Bronies”, and someone for us to share a journey with.
During the course of the movie we meet Bronies from all walks of life. A group of high school kids, a veteran of the United States military, a fitness instructor, a husband and wife psychologist team, musicians and more. Not the original target audience of the show! In fact one, one survey found 86% of bronies were male and the average age was 21, 62% of the Bronies were in or had completed college. It also found that there were no difference in rates of employment or the sexual orientations of Bronies vs Non-Bronies general population.
Something that really stood out was the careers people ended up in within the My Little Pony world. From websites and online stores, to conferences and even radio stations. Not a radio show, but a full radio station filled with shows about it. While some of these people genuinely seemed to be turning their passion into a job their love doing, I struggled to believe others hadn’t just found a niche they could exploit and make money from.
A Brony Tales strong point came from how fun it is to hear people share the joy they get through the show. Seeing the community that had built around it and friendships that had been made. The documentary seemed to become a promotion for Ashleigh Ball’s band Hey Ocean at times. Which could have been annoying if it was wasn’t for the fact I really liked the music.
It was really interesting seeing how popularity for the show grew on the internet. It would be fascinating to study the “viral growth” of My Little Pony. Which brings me to the one problem I had with the documentary, it’s lack of real depth. Aside from a few pieces of demographics, I was left wanting to know more a lot.
At one point the psychologists talk briefly about how after major traumatic events populations gravitate towards an escape. He says:
“The Roaring ’20s were a reaction to World War I. The beatniks and the Bohemian generation were a reaction to World War II. You had the Korean War, but Vietnam came really quickly, and what did you have after, during that, but the hippie movement? You know, don’t trust anyone over 30.
Then you get into 9-11, and I think that 10 years later, this is what we’re seeing. We’re tired of all the violence, we’re tired of the terrorism, we’re tired of worrying about this. Let get to something that is tolerant, friendly… we can escape into it.”
I wondered if they was any evidence of this and would like to learn more about the theory of escapism, and how it affects population groups but it was passed over. In it’s defence it just it wasn’t the focus of the documentary.
Overall, I enjoyed a Brony Tale for the most part, getting a little bored in the second half, but glad I finally managed to see it and learn about the hype behind My Little Pony.
3 out 5