If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Source of image - Here
Yes, I'm back again to delve into the world of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", some of you might remember the article I posted here last year, which surprisingly became my most popular. Now it is time to do a re-cap of things since then, of which there is a lot to talk about, as the success of the show and the community continues to expand beyond the limits anyone would have placed upon it. For those who might need a bit of extra info on the matter, the show has been airing since late 2010 and has just completed the second season. The fans of the show are commonly known as "Bronies" but it is not specificly composed of just male fans. They show their interest in both creative and respective means, of which you will be very familiur of if you have been part of a fan base in the past, or present.
It was almost a year ago now that I began to notice the show being referenced on forums and Internet pages, and I began to check it out and watch the episodes, never really knowing if it would become nothing more than a fad or would just fizzle out. But covering the episodes in reviews here on Spill changed my perspective entirely as it expanded into a fun, well-structured and entertaining animated series. Season Two matured both in quality and application, with the staff and writers growing in confidence, and also beginning to understand and relate to their Brony followers. It became a balance of keeping things aimed at the intended audience, but at the same time, making the material enjoyable for audience members of all ages.
The themes began to expand into intriguing and new areas as well. Many common storylines were still implemented, but we saw several episodes begin to bring to light more of the characters' personalities. Good examples of this would be "Sweet and Elite", and "Putting your Hoof Down". In the first, we see Rarity gain everything she had dreamed of in terms of fame and success, but at the price of being torn away from her loyal friends to maintain the lifestyle. And in the latter Fluttershy tries to become more assertive, but ends up being consumed by the polar-opposite of her character, almost destroying her in the process. We see more and more layers being added on to the characters in a very believable and beneficial way to the series as a whole.
And of course, we were given plenty times where the team showed that they were not merely creating a show "just for girls". From the brilliant villain that was the Master of Chaos, Discord, to exciting action sequences and a cast that never stopped to expand the world. Areas such as the music and cinematography became very popular too, with the show taking on board a lot of references to blend into the mix. The season finale of the Royal Canterlot Wedding was the summation of everything DHX Studios poured into FIM, taking a simple premise and maximising the potential of it. And it paid off, with record viewer ratings from all sides and a blend of animation and detail that had a very.... Disney feel to it almost. Season Two took what had began as a small project requested by Hasbro, and proved that everyone involved in it was serious, and had total commitment towards making as great a show as possible. It was a joy to follow and review, and although I'll be the first to admit it wasn't perfect, it was still very enjoyable indeed. Of course, some episodes were targeted more specificly at the younger audience and thus did not have as wide a reach to the fans. But that in itself is a benefit when thought about, as it shows the team has not attempted to turn this into a show of a specific theme, it tries to give something to all who may enjoy it.
With all this going on, it was pretty clear that the community was going to grow exponentially along with it. And it certainly did. From fanart to stories, from craftwork and videos to charity organisations and even a little contribution from the voice actors and team on the show. Honestly, it would have been impossible to follow all the progress, but I can safely say that the enthusiasm and quality shown by the fans was pretty astonishing. I began as well to be more active in the Irish group, and took part in a few meetups. And where some people would see them as "weird", they turned out to be extremely enjoyable, meeting some great people who shared similar thoughts not just in the show, but in film and everything else too. It reminded me a lot of my first London Spill Party in 2011 - it didn't take long to realise that we all may have been brought together under one idea, but we all had more in common than simply just that. One Christmas meetup with the "Bronies of Ireland" successfully donated €200 worth of merchandise to charity, and it is something that I still remember with a lot of pride.
Worldwide, the community has gone even further than that, with charitable donations and groups almost becoming the norm. I have said it before but it is worth mentioning once again... the donations are the single element of the Brony community that has made me so happy to be part of. Much of the fan-created merchandise also ends up creating money for charity, so very rarely is any profit sought from this area. And of course, the Conventions continue to expand, with this year being the most elaborate so far. Many of the voice actors such as Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Ashleigh Ball, and Tabitha St. Germain have signed up for panels and signings. And in many cases out of their own excitement to interact and engage with the fans, the largest events are created by Bronies and are unofficial Cons.
But the biggest event will be at this year's BroNYCon taking place in New York City. Not only will it be among the biggest of its kind, but it will also be the main stage for a "Bronies Documentary", which is being undertaken by the voice of Discord and renowned actor John De Lancie. Show creator Lauren Faust will side with Tara Strong as executive producers, and it will focus on showing the community on a level that has not been provided for the public so far. Being just one of the significant events taking place this year, it illustrates very well just how far the fandom has taken. Another significant event will be EverFreeNW taking place in Washington, which will boast a large cast of special guests and events too. These conventions will be taking place not just in the U.S., but on a worldwide scale, with many Anime groups taking in the Bronies so that all will have a chance of meeting with other fans at some time and point.
The show has begun to expand into other medis, with the inclusion into the streaming service Netflix, and also the release of DVD's from the company "Shout Factory". As of yet these have been basic, composed of about three episodes, but boxsets are almost guaranteed along the pipeline. The merchandise and DVD market for this show is very much going to be a huge success in the coming months, and although it has been slow to provide for the.... older fans, we are beginning to see some examples appear. The Brony Documentary will get a large release as well hopefully, but with this area of the pony world, only time will tell. All I can say is that my shelves have plenty of toys relating to Pixar, so I won't be ashamed to add some FIM merchandise to it too.
Any community couldn't exist without its controversy, and the Bronies still appear to be attacked from several sides. Most notable of which has been the media who portray them in a bad light, questioning from their gender and age group, and essentially outlasting them from a very conservative point of view. It was elements like this that made me nervous to follow the show at all in the beginning which is a sad thing; we are in an age where many animated shows aimed at kids boast incredible levels of quality, imagination and most importantly, fun. Look at Avatar: The Legend of Korra, it proves that when applied correctly, a cartoon does not have to be bound by any rules of gender or "core audience". It can contain as much excitement and entertaining storylines as even the most popular network shows. Friendship is Magic is very much in the same boat, except there are those out there who will look no further than the name, and slam it for even existing because of that alone. These same people will believe they are correct despite the fact they have never watched a single episode, or that they focus on just the bad aspects of the community. And when has that ever been new in a fan base? Fan communities and speculative disagreement have existed since the very beginning.
The reason why I bring this up is that it is very unfortunate that some people still seem to think of cartoons as simple-minded and not to be taken seriously. They may take popular exceptions to that rule, but to cast out a show without understanding what t is trying to be is like skipping a film with great potential because of a badly-executed trailer. You don't see the whole picture. Animation can still be fun, irrelevant of who it is aimed at or its set-characters, as long as it remains new and entertaining. In the past year, FIM has gone above and beyond what even the fans expected of it, embracing their loyalty and providing them with a show that can speak to what they see in it. They give the magic that every great animated series down the years has succeeded from implementing. The "haters" still have a loud voice, but that has never stopped any of the popular fan groups from simply enjoying what they have. Sadly it is something that will never fade away, especially on the Internet, but it shouldn't stop people from making up their own minds on whether something is for them or not.
When I first wrote the article here on Spill last year, I still had a few doubts on the viability of the series, whether it could weather the expectations of the fans, and still remain true to its core goals. But it has done that in spades, even without the direct lead of Lauren Faust, the team continued to surprise and delight, and the community has continued to show their appreciation in what are put simply, astonishing ways. Their generosity, enthusiasm, companionship and optimism, reflects the simple morals of what the show tries to deliver. 2012 has seen the Bronies enter the public medium, no longer just a group of fans on the Internet. And I am certain that there are still some amazing things to come, both in the upcoming third series, and in their actions.
Thanks for reading! ^__^