Bronies Review
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The first time I heard the term ďBrony,Ē Iím pretty certain I had the same reaction as the rest of the population who have been exposed to his odd corner of fandom. I mean, this has got to be a joke, right? I remember my little sister watching My Little Pony back when we were kids in the Ď80s, but now youíre telling me that not only is it back but itís got a sizeable following among grown men? Now we have Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony to prove that, yes, not only do bronies exist, but there are enough to pack a convention hall with guys, gals, and an ocean of glitter.

Bronies follows a pretty traditional storyline for pop culture documentaries. We meet a handful of fans from various backgrounds early on, get a primer on the creation of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (the fourth iteration of the franchise), attend a BronyCon, and get a little information from cultural critics and psychologists on this particular moment in media fandom.

  
 
Given that a greater audience probably hasnít sat down to watch this cartoon, Bronies could have fleshed out the introduction a bit more. From the included clips, itís pretty clear that the new series has adopted a more dramatic tone and a faster pace than the one my sister used to torture me with (yeah, thatís my story, and Iím sticking to it). That John de Lancie is one of the most prominent members of the voice cast and a vocal proponent for the show certainly canít hurt. His sing-song introductions scattered through the documentary are a highlight.

The profiled fans range in age from mid-teens to mid-thirties and cover several continents. Thereís a general theme of disbelief that accompanies their confessions, along with plenty of confused family members and friends. Nearly all of them realize the seeming disconnect between themselves and the audience for which the show was created. Most describe how the showís themes helped them with a personal struggle, whether inspiring an Israeli DJ to create more music or helping a young British man diagnosed with Asperger syndrome to find a welcoming social community.

While these stories of personal breakthroughs can be inspiring, they donít always translate well for those not in the group. One of the more interesting aspects of the Brony phenomenon is the vital role of the Internet in creating this fan community. Given the unusual nature of their interest, it makes sense that most Bronies would be natural introverts. By connecting through social media, YouTube videos, and fan art websites, a fairly disparate group can create their own communityóone that they are intensely proud and protective of. When the documentary focuses on this network, it rises a level (though not a high one) above the rest of the material.

I doubt that the Broniesí fandom will last as long as the more enshrined franchises, but itís a great example of how fan communities can spring up seemingly from nowhere. Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony provides a fairly straightforward snapshot of that phenomenon. It probably wonít win many new converts, but at least it can answer the question of how in the world something like this comes to be.


DVD Review:
Bronies comes in a fairly bare-bones package, featuring just a pair of featurettes focused on Brony conventions in England and Germany. Each provides some extra interviews with fans and con organizers, but neither adds much to understanding Brony culture.

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