“They’re standing there and telling Rainbow Dash she’s awesome,” calls out a college-age male wearing a camouflage shirt.
He is one of about a dozen college students, over half of them male, watching a marathon of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” (MLP) in the Science Fiction Forum located in the basement of the Stony Brook Union.
These adult fans, known as Bronies (a mix of bro and ponies), were not the original targeted audience for the 2010 remake of the 1983 animated television series.
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” airing on The Hub, follows eight adorable main characters – Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Spike the dragon and Princess Celestia – on their adventures through the magical land of Equestria.
Originating on 4chan, the most popular image board on the Internet, the MLP fandom has moved mainly onto pony-centered internet message boards like Equestria Daily or Ponychan. On Reddit alone, there are over 7,000 registered bronies.
Bronies at Stony Brook University and across the nation are moving to bring the fandom to an offline setting. Events like BroNYCon, where adult fans of the show are gathering to celebrate all things pony, have happened in “Manehattan” several times and are planned for the future.
Jesse Kremen, standing at just under six foot with his facial hair neatly trimmed into a chinstrap, is a huge MLP fan. He plans on attending BroNYCon in September with some close friends.
He also posted a number of fliers in the Union hoping to meet more bronies in person.
As giggles pour from the flat-screen TV mounted on the wall next to a small mural of a green dragon and a painting of MLP’s main character Twilight Sparkle hanging in a gold frame, Kremen works diligently on his black Toshiba laptop creating an original pony on Inkscape.
Kremen says he finds the show “refreshing,” stepping away from the usual “dark media” he is exposed to. “You don’t have to revert to being a child to enjoy it,” he added.
Anne Marie “Ri” Greco, a female brony (known by the Internet community as a pegasister), also loves how heartwarming MLP can be. Even though it’s labeled as a children’s show, she says, “The plot lines are still interesting,” and the show is “still funny for people our age.” Ri also added that “It’s about friends, which people lose sight of as they get older.”
The president of the Science Fiction Forum, like many bronies, is a fan of what Lauren Faust, the creator of “MLP: Friendship is Magic”, has done for the program. “I really respect her,” said the president of the Science Fiction Forum. “She did a girls’ show that’s not really a girls’ show.” He also added that Faust has “brought new life into the show, adding more intense characteristics.”
Not everyone supports the bronies in their love of these pastel cartoon characters targeted at 7-year-old girls. There are many online “trolls” and even face-to-face bullies who wish to separate the MLP followers from their fandom, which is clearly stepping away from many gender and age stereotypes.
Following the positive theme of the show, bronies are known for remaining non-confrontational when provoked. There are tons of macros, or captioned images, floating around the Internet spreading the message of “love and tolerance,” which is a main theme of MLP.
Kremen has one of these macros saved on his computer. The brony-famous picture is of the unicorn Twilight Sparkle standing in front of apple trees with white lettering across the top and bottom reading “I’m Gonna Tolerate & Love The SHIT Outta You.”
Because of these pony-haters, not all bronies are so comfortable with taking their love of the ponies offline. A brony who wishes to remain anonymous was surprised when he fell in love with the ponies after seeing them on the front page of the Know Your Meme website.
He recalled thinking, “It can’t be that good,” but after watching the first few episodes he couldn’t stop. “I love them all too much – I love them like sisters,” he smiled, admiring Kremen’s pony artwork.
Disclaimer: The bronies in this article have not taken credit for the chalk drawings that have appeared around campus.