My Little Pony
Expect huge amounts of derp and rage, punctuated by /tg/ extracting humor from it.
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
- – I Corinthians xiii, 11
- – The Brony Community
The My Little Pony franchise consists of a series of toys and cartoons created and owned by Hasbro (yes, that Hasbro). As anyone
with even a passing familiarity with the subject hearing the name will know, the target demographic is small girls, and Hasbro generally regards the animated component as an advertisement for the line of toys (just like Transformers and Black Library books*BLAM**BLAM**BLAM*). The "brony" (an oh-so-clever portmanteau of "bro" and, well, yeah) is a recent(ish) term for, in the strict sense, a male fan of the show. These fans, who originated on and have since gathered considerable infamy on the Internet, are also called or refer to themselves as ponyfags, horsefuckers, and a variety of other monikers, and while every enthusiastic fanbase on the Internet tends to sow drama everywhere they go, the bronies have had their notoriety given a leg up by moderator temper tantrums and mass banning across 4chan, not to mention the occasional mention in the mainstream media and the involvement of at least one member of the subculture in a mass shooting.
A Legacy Typical to 4chan
When the fourth generation of the My Little Pony Show, led by Lauren Faust who had a hand in the creation of works like Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends and The PowerPuff Girls, first aired on television, it found itself being discussed on /co/. Whether the first people to talk about the show were male or female is a mystery, but the fact remains that the show itself was vibrant, colorful, and contained some essential elements that have been present in a lot of big cultural phenomena since jobs and money have become more scarce. Namely escapist and romantic themes, including a society where everyone has a role in life thanks to their most prolific talent being stamped on every pony's butts - they almost always wind up working in the right jobs, with unemployment being all but unheard of.
However, the show also featured some (possibly unintentional) dark undertones starting off. There were hints of political dissent, infidelity, ponies who couldn't find their talents doomed to a life of carting manure, and an episode that strongly hinted one of the ponies was a lesbian with an inter-species girlfriend. Most of these undercurrents have been all but lost as of the third season, but at the time, these niggling strings proved hilarious for adults to grab hold of to unravel the sweater of the show. An animation error even led fans to invent a character with strabismus, who was later formally adopted into show canon and then subsequently banned by Hasbro corporate - until Hot Topic pointed out tons of money could be made by lifting the character idea from the fans.
Growing interest in the show, coupled with a range of expressive screen caps, caused My Little Pony to spill out of /co/. People began using MLP for reaction images, and naturally, this raised a few eyebrows. Threads wound up being derailed as people demanded to know what in the hell they were looking at, and board regulars got tired of seeing it explained all the time. It interrupted discussion because it was confusing and new - some began to get angry for this reason, and others got mad because they simply didn't like seeing a cute girls' cartoon becoming a popular cultural thing on a site known as a den of racism and hatred. It kind of screwed up the rep.
Ultimately, MLP probably would have come and gone in the natural order of things, rising up then waning again between seasons. However, 4chan has, for years now, tolerated increased moderator activity, including overhauls to mod power which allows them to ban larger crowds for smaller infractions; this wouldn't have been a problem if the moderators weren't so bad at using their increased power. 4chan's mods are dumbasses - it is not a secret - and sadly, they felt it was their sacred, sworn duty to make an ultimate decision on whether or not My Little Pony should be discussed on the website. They arbitrarily decided the answer was "no."
Thus began the show's meteoric rise, with the conflict between mods and the show's growing fanbase attracting all the more attention and sparking up debates across multiple boards. Posting Pony-related content of any type became a bannable offense everywhere and users began to take sides; ponies quickly became a tool for trolling mods and those in the opposing camps, and needless to say, it all became a complete clusterfuck. It was essentially 4chan moderation at its finest, and the final result is a lingering, yet slowly passing aftertaste where many remember a time that they could not get away from My Little Pony if they visited 4chan at all.
Eventually the moderators had to cede some ground because, as they still have yet to learn, crowds are governed by consent, and the mods didn't have the resources to ban enough dissenters to gain consent by the majority remaining. In a rare moment of Pyrrhic victory, 4chan had actually defeated the site's largest moderator rampage to date. However, although ponies were once again permitted on /co/, a terse stand-off remained, as the mods do not like to lose and they weren't willing to call it quits on the fight.
My Little Pony was allowed a single thread on /co/. It was not the first time that a general thread was used to contain something the moderators did not like to see, but it is a notable landmark in 4chan history, since the use of general threads for the mods' benefit has expanded greatly as a practice afterward. Users went along with it, since it was better than a universal ban; a script was created that directed people to the general threads, which were very active and populated by numerous artists, including /tg/'s own Weaver, the man responsible for Ruby Quest, then going by the name "Glitter Glue".
Unfortunately, the mods were still idiots. Occasionally, 4chan staff would pop in and delete the general thread, which caused chaos. The only possible result was that countless new threads would pop up and almost the entire front page of /co/ would be attempts to recreate "MLP General". 4chan staff would go on banning the new threads ad nauseum, and users would find it impossible to establish a proper, organized thread that followed the rules. This caused various forms of rebellion - sometimes the general thread would be completely relocated to a different 4chan board where mods didn't seem to be as active. There the new general would stay, irritating the locals, until the mods left and the people were allowed to reorganize again.
This ongoing strife of argumentation, kicking the fandom hive, and the growing size of the fandom itself eventually forced the mods to come up with a plan so that they could have things their way while still resolving the problem. Unwilling to admit that their actions were at odds with 4chan itself due to the numerous effects of the abuse, Moot and the moderators once again established a global ban on My Little Pony. But this time, Moot offered an apology which proved empty over time, and he created a new board where the show was to be discussed exclusively. The board was called /mlp/.
So surprisingly, the pony fandom has had a huge impact on 4chan in general and can be inferred to have caused Moot to rethink the way he runs the site in some degrees. Not in a positive direction - he merely works on ways to slow 4chan down to make it easier for his staff to control everything so that he'll never have to admit a tactical loss to his userbase again.
From meme to subculture, and a startling parallelmemeing and in-joke irony into an earnest, unironically appreciative (or at least earnestly unironically ironically appreciative) subculture; in fact it's quite a lot like the path of the edgy Nazis on the next board over, who started out throwing around words like 'nigger' and 'gas the kikes' for the sheer shock value and wound up creating a community of both politically apathetic edgelords and actual anti-Semites and White Supremacists and due to the nature of the boards not entirely enough information to tell who is who. Between /mlp/ and /pol/, both growing up from jokes into real subcultures, which group out of the two is, ceteris paribus, on the whole better adjusted in life in general is left for the reader to figure out (
These two memetic phenomena, arising around the same time, might be thought of as two very divergent strains of the same memetic virus, exploding in completely opposite directions, one in extreme reaction to certain societal tendencies in the modern world and one taking them to even more extreme extremities. Their post-post-postmodern Internet manifestations both similarly grew and developed from a few people memeing about into a fairly large subculture with high visibility, online, at least, if hardly something one is likely to see walking down Main Street. Unite the Right and BronyCon both happened, though. Understandably the media got considerably more excited about people goose-stepping around for the cameras in Charlotesville and things subsequently getting out of hand once AntiFa showed up and started throwing shit and arguably the most culturally resonant civil disturbance since the Rodney King riots ensuing (pace Charlotesville being an order of magnitude at least smaller in scale), versus a bunch of smelly neckbeards congregated to sperg about kawaii desu ponies in Baltimore and a bunch of NSFW happened in hotel rooms and some Bronies got the crabs. The President was hardly expected to make a statement about that...
Leaving the politics aside as beyond the scope of a silly article about a silly fandom, what's relevant to our interests here is that, to press the comparison, like many things on 4chan (parts of /tg/ by no means excluded), what began as a wildly unserious community with little claim to relevancy has, one has to admit, expanded to encompass some undeniably talented individuals, not unlike the furries. Just like the furfags, some of the Brony artists actually generate a fair bit of income out of their manchild fellows, and of course, there are those non-Brony and non-furry artists are willing to sell their souls and take commissions of fur and hoof for coin, all in all it's basically like in that classic cartoon about furries (in fact, a lot of online artists taking commissions state right front and center 'no anthro' or 'no ponies' or the converse, or even 'ponies OK but nothing NSFW', etc.)
On the other side of our original comparison, there are politically and historically astute and earnest National Socialists now posting on /pol/, achieving at least some success in propagandizing a certain sector of the populace (as /pol/ would be extremely loath to admit, however, not a few of their constituents are from a demographic not entirely without overlap with /mlp/), alongside much milder political tendencies, which actually arguably have had considerable and outsize real-world impact (the political use of Pepe the Frog—ultimately derived from a piece of furry art, incidentally—got way more media attention than Bronies ever did.) The Nazi faction on /pol/ is smaller (fractionally among /pol/ posters, that is) than portrayed but less pleasant than they'd want you to think, just like the sexual aspects of furfaggotry and Bronyism, but of course the most perverse/extreme voices get a lot of attention.
Somehow, though, contrary to the general rule in these situations, in the "mainstream media," this was the case with only one of the groups: the Bronies somehow (probably with a big assist from much larger societal trends surrounding "redefining" or "deconstructing" "gender roles") have managed to have mostly positive portrayals of themselves made in the mainstream media, which almost entirely ignores the fact that the fandom is, in fact, a wretched hive of scum and villany full of pornography (as a simple Google search will reveal) and not infrequently blatant pedophilia (>Horse-News warning: disturbing, NSFW reading delights in documenting the rather alarming frequency with which members of the fandom are busted for child pornography and solicitation and worse.)
In fact it's rather amazing how much positive media attention has been given (from articles to a documentary to an off-Broadway play) to the phenomenon without nary a mention of the near-pervasive sexual aspect to the fandom ... somewhat in contrast to the way furries were received, at least initially, when they first came to the public's attention (though the full NSFW depths of than fandom were only touched upon in general, as in the infamous CSI episode, people generally viewed it in an odd-at-best sexual sort of way, while the Brony phenomenon is generally regarded as a harmless, even endearing one. The Wikipedia article, well-guarded by Brony apologists, and fully supported by apologetic citations as per Wikipedia policy, is demonstrative).
Fa/tg/uys have a historical record of wishing to be the little girl, but the days when /tg/ stood for /totally gay/ and/or /touhou games/ have long since passed and are merely a happy memory now, so our beloved board responded to the Pony plague in much the same way that /tg/ responds to everything it doesn't know how to feel about: violent anger.
For serious, it's just another iteration of the same thing. We saw it before with Touhou, we'll see it again some other time and wish that Ponies were the least of our problems. Regardless, /tg/'s mods never learn from their past mistakes, and fired up the Commissariat - discussion of My Little Pony on /tg/ is now Extra Heresy and will be responded to with bans. Because much like with chakats before them, /tg/ has a built-in excuse literally as old as /tg/ itself; suffer not the furry to live.
Ponies are still common-as-hell on /b/, /f/, and /co/, but they're infrequently brought up on the other boards anymore, /tg/ included. The addition of the /mlp/ board gave bronies a general board to post their content. The mods make it too much trouble to fight for it anywhere else, as the global ban is still in effect and the chances of it being lifted before the fandom dies out is slim.
The general reaction to any mention of ponies on /tg/ varies between simple exuberance, to indifference and apathy, to Khorne-pausing RAGE depending on how well you roll, though the second scenario is more prevalent overall. Even with the bans in place, fans on /tg/ have proven their time-honored ability to get shit done and produced a veritable arsenal of Pony-flavoured RPGs, including titles like Don't Rest Your Hooves, Ponyfinder, Poor Unfortunate Foals and other things that can be found on the internet and had their genesis in /tg/. It just goes to show that even when something's completely ridiculous, /tg/ won't be prevented from dicking around with it and trying to make some win in the process, or at least prying some laughs and mockery out of it. If you go looking around the seven Internets, you can even find fanfiction about the main cast playing D&D, which is like product-placement Inception when you remember it's all owned by Hasbro now. Just as planned. While 40K has fallen to the filthy plague of pastel-coloured horse loving man-children, regular Warhammer has not, owing to the fact that WHFB has largely into obscurity outside the Tabletop scene due to being overshadowed by it's futuristic, grimdark counterpart.
Overlapping fanbases have resulted in large amounts of crossover fiction and fanart - including the somewhat bizarre meeting of MLP and Warhammer 40,000, amongst others - and they are guaranteed to incense at least a few people every time they rear their mutated heads. Including you, once you reach this page's gallery section. Look out, here it comes!
Oh yeah most of the Dawn of War cast also did VA work on FIM, most notably Farseer Taldeer's who voices Princess Celestia and Firaeveus Carron who voices Chief Thunder-nuts. In the exact same voice. Meanwhile, Shas'O Kais is done by the same guy who does a gay sea serpent and an annoying little kid on the show.
/mlp/ is one of 4chan's more active boards. It's also probably the most tragic.
During seasons one and two of My Little Pony, the board was populated with a huge number of fans discussing the show. A few of /tg/'s old artists, who haven't been seen around /tg/ proper since the great content purge of 2009, were there on a regular basis producing hilarious comics, stories, and drawings for the young fandom. The extreme proliferation of materials led to the creation of a website called Equestria Daily, as well as numerous others, and thousands of Youtube parodies and song remixes which range from very good to inconceivably terrible.
However, in the time between seasons, /mlp/ finds itself struggling to discuss new content. The board was made mainly to satisfy 4chan's moderators, not because the fourth generation of My Little Pony had so much going on that an entire board to itself was really necessary. During these times, the site discusses or sometimes destroys fandom artists, official show staff, or Hasbro's corporate politics. In time, the fandom had also developed a number of ongoing sub-cultures that were entirely sustained by fan artists. Notable examples include or included fluffy ponies, Milky Way, Flutterrape, Anon in Equestria, Ponies on Earth, Satyr Abomination, ass worship, bat ponies, and whatever else can be made into a series during the hiatus. In other words, the board is active, but somewhat starving for material related to the actual show.
The board also had a terrible janitor who was so bad at his job that he became a joke around the site. He was often apathetic, deleted threads inexplicably, and didn't seem to have a purpose beyond wasting everyone's time. Eventually, the board named him "Scruffy", after the janitor from Futurama who seems to have no purpose or positive influence on anything. After that, he was always depicted as the character, and Scruffy's face was sometimes plastered over questionable or NSFW content as a kind of jab at the guy. He wasn't exactly liked, but he wasn't a scourge. Yet.
Eventually, that changed. For unknown reasons, possibly a visit by Lauren Faust, Scruffy began a crackdown and /mlp/ got to re-live the days of bans and fighting for the right to post content on their own board. He arbitrarily chose a number of the generals to die, some because of racy content and others just because he didn't like them and Global Rule #6 allows a mod to delete anything he feels falls outside of "positive contributions". He rapidly went from a character teasingly thought of as someone who couldn't do a job to someone who was actively doing his job very badly. Further outrage ensued when screen caps from the hidden janitor board, /j/, revealed Scruffy to be a total dick hole who obviously kind of hated the board - maybe all of 4chan while we're at it, but that's our moderators for you.
Around this same time, Hasbro realized they were sitting on a money printing machine, and instead of standing back and leaving it alone to just print money, they began hitting it with a sledgehammer in the hopes that the machine would produce some kind of totally new money with a more enticing scent that would be more valuable.
Lauren Faust left the show by the middle of season two. The exact reasons have been left to speculation, but it probably a variety of causes. MLP has been noted for dealing with constant executive interference, and its writers have complained that there are frequently "too many chefs" in the kitchen. But there's also evidence of some events in Faust's personal life which may have led to her resignation.
Anyway, by the end of season two and all of season three, Hasbro was actively injecting lame ideas into new episodes, culminating with the release of a brilliant plan: clutter the main character up with a pair of goose wings and call her a princess. Disney is making tons of dosh on princesses! How could this go wrong?
Then they took their next step. They introduced a spin-off called Equestria Girls. It was a novel concept in the way that it took a bunch of young adult characters with clear future prospects, an open world full of magic, and a friendly, colorful atmosphere, and then completely obliterated all of that by making the ponies into human, teenage girls trapped in motherfucking high school. It was a movie, and the entire plot revolved around how much the high school basically sucked compared to the pony universe. To the total, utter, unparalleled shock of Hasbro's astounding marketing teams, somehow, a show about pastel girls in the shackles of a tired, stressful cliche of a system did not capture quite the same audience.
Season 4, 5, and 7 were heralded as Awesome by the show's fans, while Season 6 was much more skubby, as many felt that the creator's OC was taking up too much screentime and wrecking the lore. Season 4 gave us a huge fight between Tirek and Twilight, which you can watch here. 5 introduced a cult of equality dedicated to erasing cutie marks, the Cutie Mark Crusaders get their cutie marks, and time travel. Twilight gets a student of her own who is obscenely powerful and might be the creators' pet. Season 6 had several sweeping changes to the Equestria, the biggest being the overthrow of Queen Chrysalis. Season 7 has the return of six legendary heroes from pony history, including a wizard named Starswirl.
In the distant past, the three tribes of ponies (earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns) live in their own nations. They aren't quite at war, but they all hate each other. A terrible winter storm blows in, freezing and starving them and worsening relations. So all three tribes set out to find a new home. Turns out the winter storm was caused by creatures called windigos (not to be confused with Wendigos), who feed on hatred and are repelled by friendship. So the three tribes become friends and drive the windigos away, and found a new country called Equestria.
Two immortal god-princesses are crowned rulers of this new nation: Princess Celestia, who rules the sun, and Princess Luna, who rules the moon. Shortly thereafter, Equestria is menaced by a variety of threats: the Sirens and the Pony of Shadows are two of the biggest threats, though it's a dangerous world and there's the occasional pissed off dragon or cruel sphinx. The banishment of the Pony of Shadows leads to the creation of Equestria's most powerful magical artifacts: The Elements of Harmony. These are the win button in Equestria; not even the most powerful reality warpers are immune to these things.
Several more threats menace Equestria, and the princesses fight them all off with the Elements of Harmony: Discord, Tirek, and King Sombra most notably, but it seems likely there were more. This culminates in MLP's own version of the Horus Heresy: the corruption of Princess Luna into Nightmare Moon, and her subsequent banishment to the moon (which is clearly stolen from the TRUE AND HONEST story of the fate of Sylvana in the classic webcomic Sonichu, just like the unicorn sacrifices totes are stolen from the psyker sacrifices in 40K.)
The show starts a thousand years after Nightmare Moon's banishment. An upper-class shut-in nerd named Twilight Sparkle is sent to a rural backwater town to make friends. Despite initial misgivings, she makes them, and six ponies reactivate the Elements of Harmony and become their new bearers.
Most of the show is about these six ponies' everyday problems and how they're resolved, but season premieres and finales often are heavier on the lore and adventure.
Ponies, obviously. Unicorns, earth ponies, and pegasi make up the vast majority of pony races. Earth ponies are natural farmers, and provide almost all of Equestria's food and lumber. Pegasi can move clouds around, and are in charge of the weather. Unicorns once raised and lowered the sun, but that required 10 of the tribe's young men and women to give up their magic for life, every day (sounds
awfully familiartotally stolenit's not stolen it's all Hasbro from 40K) Since Celestia and Luna took on the burden of raising and lowering the sun, the unicorns' niche hasn't been as clear. One might say their role is to advance the study of magic and technology, though a lot of them don't have magic beyond telekinesis.
A few of the notable other races are described below:
- Griffons - Greedy, selfish creatures. Were once a proud warrior race, now they live in straw shacks and grab every bit they can.
- Buffalo - Pretty much the setting's Native American equivalent.
- Crystal Ponies - A kind of pony that lives in the Crystal Empire. Have translucent skin and polygonal pupils.
- Dragons - Pretty close to D&D's dragons, but not as evil. One of them falling asleep near Equestria is a major threat, as their snores produce unbreathable smog.
- Changelings - Love-eating shapeshifters. Think succubi and dopplegangers rolled into one. Went through a civil war, most of them mutated to be non-parasitic.
Other Setting Tidbits
Magic is an everyday thing at a low level, with roughly 1/3 of the population being basic casters and the other 2/3 having passive magic. Powerful spellcasters are very rare, with Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer the two most notable ones.
Being attacked by monsters has become an everyday thing for the town of Ponyville, as they border the Everfree Forest. Everfree is a very strange place to the ponies, where nothing works as it should: the clouds move on their own, for example.
Around puberty, every pony figures out their special talent, which is represented as a mark on their butt. There was a cult of equality that removed ponies' cutie marks.
tl;dr: The once growing and dominant Brony fandom has finally settled into a more niche environment, like the Beast Wars and Gem fandoms. While not dead, it's more a fandom that's... "just there," as opposed to some attacking force plaguing the internet, as it had been in the past.
And on behalf of the Brony Community...We are sorry for all the cringier members of the fandom.
*BLAM* >implying there are other kinds. Innocence Proves Nothing!
True, the tide of momentum it once possessed is fading, convention attendance is down, which means casuals are departing, which actually means only the most hardcore degenerates are left.
These days, the possibility of photographing Christian Weston Chandler may in fact be the biggest draw to said conventions (speaking of post-mortem analysis, the Honourable Mayor of Cwcville is arguably Brony patient zero, showing off his My Little Pony dolls in a YouTube video in early 2007, three years before the word "Brony" was even invented.)
To get a feel for what these guys are trying to apologize for just do some quick digging online.
A subject of skub among the fandom is if the show got better or worse after Lauren Froast left. However one can look foward to laughing at both the rage and butthurt that will come when the show is replaced by a full season of 30 minute episodes of the Equestria Girls spin off after Season 9.
- /tg/ Related
- Little Pony CCG - A pretty fun variation of MtG which stresses multi-color decks and solving friendship problems instead of killing each other.
- Tails of Equestria - Recently announced official P&P role-playing game poised to come in winter 2016, written by Alessio Cavatore of Games Workshop fame.
Fan made content:
- Ponyfinder - the Pathfinder splatbook for MLP races and classes
- Don't Rest Your Hooves - the horror of Saturday-morning cartoons
- Savage World of MLP - the Savage Worlds splatbook for MLP
- Rainbow Warriors - A Space Marine chapter whose colours are disturbingly similar to Rainbow Dash.
- My Little Dwarf Fortress - use your hooves to strike the earth! Now with 441 different pony hairstyles.
- Poor Unfortunate Foals - A completely homebrewed system for horror roleplaying as fillies and colts lost in the Everfree Forest of the MLP setting.
- MLP 45E - the D&D 5E splatbook for classes, races, feats, etc.
- /tg/'s general outlook on the My Little Pony phenomena can be accurately portrayed thus.
- Quest Archive - /mlp/'s quest archive.
- 4chan's pony board - The dedicated board for ponyfags and is SFW(Most of the time). Has surprisingly copied /tg/'s ability of being immune to trolls. Simple explanation really, they have both endured so much misunderstanding in the past (both having the fat,basement dwelling stereotype) that any hate is just background noise.
- derpibooru- Pretty much /mlp/ lite and more pictures and not fully there on the trolling part (most have a "don't like it, filter it" mindset)
- Behold as a DeviantArt sperglord completely ruins any fondness you may or may not have for the series
- Video Review
- Opinionated review of My Little Pony FIM
- A fairly accurate depiction of a archetypical brony.
- A fairly accurate portrayal of Brony-Imperium relations
A SPEHSS MARE-EEN mini.
Yep. Celestia just got claimed by the Ultrasfmurfs. Probably to get
purgeda better spiritual liege.
He walked me through the ruins of Victory Bay, celebrating the slaughter I had carried out there! If you had been there, you too would see what a rotten veil of lies our chapter has become!" - Avitus
Nor Paizo. Ponyfinder is your new RPG.
Anyone still not convinced the faggots have gone too far?There are worse abominations.