The Relevant Rise Of Bronies: Neo-Masculinity

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

I felt it was my duty to try to understand the “bronies” movement.

All I knew is that there are apparently young men (typically ages 18 to 35) who are legitimate fans of the kids’ TV show, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

“Bro’s” and “ponies” equals “bronies.”

The thing that makes bronies so interesting is that… (I’m trying to think of an appropriate, inoffensive, non-judgmental, politically correct, social media friendly way to say it)…

They’re not of any particular demographic; especially not the one that most people might assume. In fact, according to this brony survey (page 7), 70% of bronies… (How can I again safely and appropriately say this?) … 70% of bronies like girls.

Most bronies, other than liking a TV show that was intended for little girls, are not necessarily otherwise into “countercultural” things. I learned this when I saw the documentary “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony” on Netflix.

As I watched the documentary, seeing the bronies made me think of Star Wars fans, or Star Trek fans, or comic book fans.

From what I can see, bronies are pretty much just regular dudes who happen to really appreciate the acceptance of all people, as well as love and good morals… lessons I remember from the 1980s animated version of The Smurfs.

(Though most male fans of the show are older, there are younger male fans as well. Just recently, the story of 9 year-old Grayson Bruce went viral, when his mom claimed that school officials banned his brony backpack because it was a trigger for bullying.)

Again, I felt it was my duty, as the dad of a son who for all I know may be interested in being a brony one day, to check out “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” for myself.

So I watched the first episode.

And it wasn’t really my thing. However, I think I can personally relate to where bronies are coming from…

I remember in high school thinking how it would be cool in a nostalgic way to put a rainbow sticker on the back window of my Bronco II.

Simply because rainbows are happy and make me think of the 1980s… like the famous PBS painter Bob Ross and his “happy little clouds.”

But then I realized that’s not how it would be perceived by most people. I didn’t want to have to keep explaining myself over and over what the rainbow simply meant to me personally, so I decided to the leave the rainbow alone.

Instead, when I graduated 15 years ago in 1999, I walked the stage in my yellow Saucony Jazz running shoes, which I happen to still own and even wore today to the Vanderbilt scrimmage football game. Those shoes are, in a way, my version of a rainbow sticker.

They were my way of personally “disidentifying” with the extremes of American masculinity, as a man.

Still today, if I were forced to choose between identifying as a butch or a femme to decribe myself, which I feel is the way the mainstream media portrays men in the polarized society I believe we live in, I would choose neither:

I would chose brony. I would choose to be the male protagonist of the Nicholas Sparks book. I would choose to be Jim Halpert from The Office. Or Peeta from The Hunger Games.

In other words, I embrace neo-masculinity. It’s a natural and relevant combination of being both sensitive and masculine, which is what I know I have to be, as an active and involved father to you and husband to Mommy.

I like the way Lauren Faust, the developer of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, stated this concept in the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony:

“We need to allow men to be sensitive and to care about one another and not call them weak for caring.”

Okay then. I’ve done the homework. I don’t fear you becoming a brony one day. I understand and appreciate what they represent. 

Until then, I’ll continue teaching you why Captain America is actually the coolest.

Love, Daddy

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  1. [...] cousin Calla’s 3rd birthday party. I should point out, that by default, you had to become a Brony for the afternoon, since you were surrounded by two other 3 year-olds, who both happened to be [...]

  2. [...] your cousin Calla’s 3rd birthday party. I should point out, that by default, you had to become a Brony for the afternoon, since you were surrounded by two other 3 year-olds, who both happened to be [...]