On Watching an Episode of My Little Pony with My Son
Yeah, I know about bronies.
I was introduced to this term
by a student, an 11th grade boy who wrote an
essay about being a brony,
part confessional, part defense
of the show’s merits, partial
explanation of the idiosyncrasies
of this particular kid. At first,
I didn’t believe such a thing
existed, but a short little research
excursion gave me plenty of insight.
Indeed, the brony exists: a young boy,
a teen, or an adult male who is a fan of the
show My Little Pony, a show
whose target audience seems to be girls,
children, I would say, up through
pre-pubescence, and maybe including
a few outlying teens. Not only are
these boys and men fans of the show,
but they have chatrooms, they go to
conferences and conventions,
they buy the paraphernalia, and they
value, deeply value, the show,
its art, its writing, its characters, and
not least of all, its message to the world.
There’s even a documentary. Yes,
there’s even a documentary.
So yeah, I know about bronies, but up until
only a couple of weeks ago now,
my eight year old son had not.
It turns out, a friend of ours
has a son, ten or twelve, who is a self-declared
brony, and confessed as much to our
eight year old, who at first, thought this
was strange, and yet, couldn’t stop
talking about it. Fast forward a few days
and he’s streaming episodes of
My Little Pony, Friendship Is Magic
on the iPad. “Watch one with me, Daddy,
and maybe we’ll both become Bronies.”
In the episode my boy chose for us,
the main character, Twilight Sparkle,
a unicorn pony, has two tickets to a party
and all her pony friends want to go, and
this of course results in a wild competition
between all the pony girls to win the affection,
and thus the ticket to the party, from their friend.
Twilight’s miserable, of course, because she has to
choose between all of her friends and doesn’t want
to disappoint any of them. Finally, the cut-throat hijinks
gone overboard, the straws that break the pony’s back,
Twilight breaks down. Mortified, one after another,
the friends realize how shitty they have been, and each
in turn relinquishes her claim to the ticket.
In a final act of selflessness, our heroine, Twilight,
relinquishes her own ticket, saying simply,
if all of my friends can’t go, I won’t go either.
And this, in a way, to me at least, seems like a
bold move, a brave thing for our unicorn pony to do.
And yet, her little dragon side-kick (one of the few
male characters in the show) barfs up magically
six tickets, one for each of Twilight’s buddies,
and a seventh for himself despite his pretended
disinterest in the “girly-gala.”
I’m disappointed in the magic barf that
brings forth the tickets for everyone and
the happy ending, I would have been more satisfied
with a sacrifice all of the ponies are making
for their mutual happiness, but, truth be told,
when the show is over, I reflect on my general
response to the show. Not once did I roll my eyes,
not once did I laugh in derision, not once did I feel
inclined to walk away while shaking my head.
Okay, I said, I can see it. I can see it.
I can see young boys in an age that has
(not wholly) but more or less shrugged off
the bigotry and sexism of their parents’
and their grandparents’ eras, has embraced
sexual ambiguity and diversity of identity
as a given, and has found great reward,
possibility, and some liberty in the perspective
of the feminine. And while I doubt my particular
boy will ever grow tired of hitting things with a stick
or staging full on death matches with his stuffed bears,
nothing is lost, and much perhaps is gained, by a
healthy dose once in a while of My Little Pony,
Friendship is Magic.