So the other day, I went to see “The Avengers” – you know, the movie being celebrated as The Greatest Thing in Geekdom since Tricia Helfer? – and it struck me that Fluttershy, like Bruce Banner, could also have a Miss Hyde lurking underneath her timid disposition. We’ve seen signs of her inner rage a precious few times, but what if she went all out berserk?
Done on Adobe Photoshop, with a Wacom Bamboo. Rough-hewn, because I’m lazy like that.
For those of you who don’t know Fluttershy, she’s a sweet little winged pony from the show “My Little Pony”, and who is so painfully shy, it’s… painful. I’m pretty sure this is what her pony pals imagine, when she does blow her top off. Cute and awesome, at the same time, don’t you think?
But of course, that’s not what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What the fucking fuck! This twenty-eight-year-old guy is gushing about ponies and a cartoon show meant for little girls?!” Or, as the less-articulate would say, “That’s so gay!”
Three months ago, I would’ve said the same thing. I remember the “My Little Pony” cartoons of old, the full-length features and the 90′s revamp (as a kid I was indiscriminate when it came to choice of TV programme), and the gushy gooey sappiness of the entire franchise was something a child can quickly grow out of. They were better as toys, and best as paperweights or baubles on office desks.
Early this year, I started noticing colorful marshmallow ponies show up frequently in funny gifs, image macros and gravatars. Who were these creatures, who didn’t remotely resemble the My Little Ponies I knew of? And what were they doing in sites definitely not meant for ten-year-old girls? And what was so interesting about them, to have spawned millions of video remixes, and a huge fan following of adult males who called themselves “bronies” and were proud of this?
I had to know. And thus, I dove headlong into “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”.
It made for compelling viewing. Here’s a show that has anthropomorphic fillies prance around, look cute and extol the virtues of friendship, sans sarcasm, wry wit or anything remotely off-color. No robots, car chases or explosions, even. In short, it had nothing I like or want to see in a cartoon. And yet, I kept watching. One episode led to another, and before I knew it, dawn was breaking and I was half-way through the first season.
It helps that the animation is great. Clean, fluid and amazingly emotive. Think ‘Danny Phantom‘, ‘Samurai Jack‘ and ‘The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers‘ all rolled into one, and top it all off with jeweled anime eyes. It also helps that it’s funny: for a TV program whose target demographic is “under 11″, it had a whole lot of attitude. I actually found myself chuckling through out.
I became a fan. I followed “Friendship is Magic” episodes diligently. I keep tabs on the Pony fan art scene (impressive, impressive stuff on Deviantart; do check) and also the dark side of fandom: the disturbing fan-fiction and the sheer amount of WTF videos, all of which could account for why parents have raised issues with this internet sub-culture.
What can I say? The Internet is a magical place filled with many things, from the happy to the horrible, from the pleasant to the perverse, from the dazzling to the demented. Dig around long enough, and you’re bound to find every single mainstay of your childhood corrupted. Oh God, the things I’ve read about Donald Duck and Alice in Wonderland, among others…
So let’s not go around slinging mud, crying “FAGGOT!” and attributing moral corruption to the bronies alone, shall we? If you guys say you still love “Jonny Quest” and “He-man” (both, you have to admit, are corny as heck), “Friendship is Magic” is worth a shot. Good, clean entertainment, if you choose to ignore the timeless dictum that guns are only for boys and ponies only for girls. As to the rest who continue to rage against what they feel is a slap in the face to manhood, well…