As is the case with a lot of things, I was the last person in my office of young, hip professionals to learn about the Bronies trend. Bronies, I am told, are a growing demographic of young men ages 18 to 35 who are fans of My Little Pony, a cartoon TV show created in the 1980s and originally aimed at little girls. Hasbro decided to revitalize the franchise with the release of the 2010 movie, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and found an unintended audience of young men who liked the upbeat storyline, the anime-style animation and, well, ponies, I guess. The Bronies trend is now officially a thing, so much so that there is an acclaimed documentary about this community of men who celebrate, and sometimes dress up like, little ponies.
Upon learning about this from my hipster co-workers, then doing a quick Google search, my reaction was disbelief. Why on earth would adult men, some of them middle-aged adult men, obsess about a cartoon for little girls? I even thought about writing a smug, what-is-the-world-coming-to blog post about a fanboy trend run amok. Then, something curious happened. My three-year-old son started watching My Little Pony. It soon became his favorite show.
And you know what? It’s not too bad. It’s well-written, the animation is sharp and inventive, and there are many pop culture references (scenes lifted straight from movies like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example) that adults can appreciate. Unlike some kid shows, the overarching theme is positive and socially progressive – it’s the story of how six very different ponies join forces and learn that they can accomplish almost anything if they work together. I like it better than one of my son’s other favorite shows, Super Hero Squad, which is about the Marvel superheroes working together, mostly to blow stuff up.
A few weeks ago, we went to the mall with our son and stopped by a Build-A-Bear Workshop. He had no interest in building and naming a Teddy Bear. From the time we walked into the store, all he wanted was the baby blue Pony, Rainbow Dash, which also came with her own set of roller skates.
We got him the stuffed animal, which he immediately wanted to take outside. My wife, seeing an opportunity, strapped the pony to the back of his mostly neglected John Deere bicycle, and suggested he take his new friend for a ride. Our son got on the bike, started peddling, and has been crazy about it ever since. He doesn’t even need Rainbow Dash to accompany him anymore on bike rides to the playground. Still, she was the catalyst. I guess that friendship really is, as they say, magic.