Both a slur and a term of endearment.
The term “Brony” is a mash up of the word “Bro” and “pony”.
It is used to identify anyone who is a fan of the TV show “My Little Pony”, but who does not fall under the show’s targeted demographic (little girls).
Yes, that’s right, there are adults (grown men, even) who are fans of the show My Little Pony.
And not just “fans”, mind you. These people border on OBSESSED.
Why exactly the show has garnered legions of such unexpected followers seems to be a difficult thing to nail down. The most common reason cited seems to be the combination of cute characters and witty writing. That, combined with the show’s pedigree (creator Lauren Faust was responsible for the extremely popular cartoon “Power Puff Girls”, which also enjoyed a fan base of adults, despite its obvious kiddy themes)
ensured it would be a hit… but “hit” is a bit of an understatement.
The show has essentially gone viral.
What started as a simple sharing of a quirky video online via popular English image board 4chan has quickly exploded into pandemonium and obsession rivaled by the likes of Star Trek’s “Trekkies”.
People around the world have jumped on the Pony bandwagon, with dedicated online communities that have documented every character, place, and event in the entire My Little Pony world (as well as created their own fan made additions).
I’ve gone in search of Bronies here in Tokyo Japan to find out if I can find out what the broad appeal is…
So essentially, it’s cute, witty, and fun. Something made for kids, but that has something adults can find entertaining, too, not unlike a Disney movie. That would surely account for the ease of which the show is able to seduce new fans at such alarming numbers.
The loyal legion of Bronies can even go militant when the mood takes them.
On January 21, 2012, a fan favorite character by the name of Derpy Hooves, who had hitherto been a background bit player, was finally given speaking lines in the show.
The pony, who had been accidentally drawn in the background of an early episode with two googly eyes, was an endearing inside joke between the series creator and the fans, making cameo appearance in the background of episodes in an almost “Where’s Waldo”-esque fashion. When it was revealed that the beloved character was going to be given a speaking part, the fan base erupted with delight, claiming “victory for the Herd!”
However, not everyone was pleased with the debut. The voice the character was given was rather… “retarded” sounding.
Many people took offence to the combination of this and the character’s name, “Derpy”, which is often used as internet slang for someone who is acting mentally handicapped. After being inundated with requests from activist groups, the creators decided to change the character’s voice for the DVD release of the episode, to present her in a less negative light… the fan outcry was swift and massive.
Petitions were raised in the thousands to have the original voice returned to the character. In the end, the creators agreed to a compromise: they could not change the original voice for the already released DVD, but they would use it for any future episodes in which she appeared.
Once again, cries of rejoice were heard throughout Brony kind.
For they had achieved that which no one thought possible or probable: grown men had banded together to save a mentally disabled non-existent pony-character on children’s TV show meant to be watched by little girls.