Last weekend, approximately 10,000 (mostly) Young Adult fans from all over North America filled the Baltimore Convention Center. If you’re my age, you’re probably wondering if Bruce Springsteen has come back from the eighties. The answer to that is, no.
Question: Was the teen heartthrob band One Direction Playing?
Answer: Nope, 1D played at the Meadowlands this week—I know, their biggest fan, my niece, Aileen, had front row seats. I’m guessing she still has a mile-wide smile and some degree of tinnitus.
But no. It wasn’t a concert. The big draw was BronyCon 2014.
What is BronyCon?
At BronyCon, adults of all ages, teenagers, and a few children (I suspect some parents are clandestine Bronies) come to socialize and share in their love of all things Pony. In addition to a huge, huge, huge vendor hall with all types
of art, music, and other pony paraphernalia, various panels explore subjects ranging from writing Fan Fiction to interviews with the show’s voice actors. Many of the attending Bronies (think Bro and Pony) wear costumes depicting a wide array of characters seen on the show. Like any good club, they have code words for virtually everything and hundreds of insider jokes.
If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon of Bronies, this is where you’re wondering: Why would young adults, particularly male young adults, be at all interested in a cartoon intended for small girls? Are they gay? Or perverted? Or just weird?
I’ll admit, when I first saw our 6’ 1” son wearing a tee-shirt featuring a big-eyed pinkish purple pony with a unicorn horn, I was, well, concerned. When I discovered he was a regular attendee of the My Little Pony Club at his college, I decided to investigate. What is a Brony?
So I watched the Netflix documentary, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.
And then it made sense for me. Bronies are weird. But wait.
If one defines normal young adulthood by what many of the so-called popular kids do: getting drunk and/or high all weekend, trying to hook up with girls for the thrill of it, or forging an impenetrable fortress around your heart in order to tolerate the jokes and ridicule of friends, then Bronies are not normal.
Bronies are tenderhearted. They admit to liking a colorful, well-written show that highlights the qualities of friendship. Some will cry in public. Many are self-described nerds, misfits, socially awkward. Most want to make the world a better place. One young man in the documentary has Asperger’s Syndrome and is terribly awkward socially, but feels at home with other Bronies.
Why is this?
Judgements are not allowed in Bronyville. Judgments would go against the love and tolerance theme of the show. There is a pervasive sense of grace and acceptance that frees the Bronies to be themselves without fear of the stifling judgment or ridicule they might receive in other settings.
The first episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic describes the elements of harmony attributed to each of the different pony characters: honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, and loyalty. The last element held by Twilight Sparkle can only show up when the others are already present. The last element is magic.
Imagine the magic 10,000 honest, kind, generous, loyal, and laughing young adults can have. That’s BronyCon. It’s my new definition of normal in an abysmally abnormal world.
Watch this fun video celebrating Bronies from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Hub and see if you might be a Brony.