Confound these ponies!
Now if I were to openly announce that I have watched a few episodes on the new "My Little Pony" series which premiered this fall, it might elicit some strange responses from my peers. If I were to tell you who the most frequent visitors of My Little Pony: "Friendship is Magic" videos on YouTube are, you might raise an eyebrow. The first of the three groups are females 13-17, no qualms there. But the other two groups are males 18-24, and males 24-34. Why would a show with overtly feminine overtones attract such a large male audience? Though the shows head animator, and Powerpuff Girl Creator Lauren Faust's intention was to create a show that both girls and their parents could enjoy, it's hard to believe she would target the young adult male demographic specifically. Nor would Hasbro likely be marketing the show and their products to males, especially ones considered adults. Males who have begun watching the show have proudly taken up the label of "Bronies." That's what sparked my curiosity into watching the show.
The show gained interest on the internet after it was featured in an article about the end of creative animation. The article ended up on 4chan, a popular forums site known for its hordes of users and influence on internet memes such as Chocolate Rain and Rickrolling. Though the users bashed the article, it generated interest in the show. Once "MLP: FiM" hit 4chan, it only spread through the anals of interment creation, generating countless images and memes from the males who watched a few episodes.
Twilight Sparkle is one of the leading ponies in the show. She is a unicorn from the magical city floating in the sky known as Canterlot. She is a big book worm, and spends most of her time with her friend dragon Spike, reading and studying under the tutorage of the wise and benevolent Princess Celestia, ruler of all the land of Equestria.
One day, Twilight receives a message from her teacher saying that Twilight must learn about the magic of friendship, and assigns her to visit and stay in Ponyville, and make some friends.
This is the general background for the story, and most of the episode plotlines stem from this. Ultimately she makes friends with five other ponies, each different in a way, but representing an important aspect of friendship.
There's the outspoken, hardworking farm horse named Applejack, the classy almost stuck-up fashionista unicorn named Rarity, the shy animal loving pegasus named Fluttershy, the seemingly random, party loving horse named Pinkie Pie, and the Tomboyish fast flying pegasus known as Rainbow Dash.
They all go on a number of adventures, and at the end of each episode, a lesson is learned and Twilight reports what she learned back to Princess Celestia. Now while the show can be a little overly cutesy at times, (look at its target audience) the lessons learned are genuine and not contrived.
The six main characters, while still only ponies on a kids show, show growth. It's not like a lesson learned in one episode, then completely lost in the future ones. Episodes focus on the main cast, and deal with problems they have. While the characters do represent what the show would label as the six elements of friendship (honesty, generosity, kindness, laughter, loyalty and magic) they are still far from perfect. They get in scuffles with one another, get on each other's nerves and make plenty of mistakes. But through it all, they learn how to overcome their troubles to become even better friends. There are even musical performances, with the ponies' vocals easily rivaling (do I dare say) the cast of "Glee." Don't believe me? YouTube "My Little Pony, Winter Wrap up" or "Art of the Dress."
While it is a serious show in regards to lessons, it still is a lighthearted show with plenty of humor, all of which is extremely innocent in nature. Unlike many other kids shows these days, which rely largely on toilet humor, "MLP: FiM" relies largely on silly innocent and cutesy jokes, as well as a large array of pony puns (such as saying everypony, instead of everyone). From the perspective of a 90's kid growing up and watching shows such as "Rugrats" and "Hey Arnold," the show's quality easily makes it one of the best children's cartoons out there.
Why does the show resonate so well with males 18+ though? Perhaps it's a sign of man's longing to protect innocence, similar to how fathers are constantly portrayed as wanting to preserve their daughter's innocence for as long as possible. Innocence is something that seems to still be valued in our culture, from belief in Santa, to supporting children's fallacies of where babies come from. Protection of innocence may be something hardwired into the male mind. With shows out there such as Bratz, trying to portray lessons through barely human, sexually hyperbolized girls, it's refreshing to see a children's show of such quality and purity.
Being almost all the way through the first season, I guess I am officially a Brony. If anypony has doubt about whether I am being serious or not, check out the first few episodes. You'll be glad you did.
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