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“Brony” is an Internet slang term used to describe a teenage or adult male fan of the TV cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FiM). Though initially seen as a cult phenomenon outside of the show’s traditional demographic of young girls, the Bronies have since grown into a widely recognized fandom subculture and continued to retain their presence and influence on Internet culture and its hub sites.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a Canadian/American flash cartoon series, produced by Studio B Productions, based on Hasbro’s My Little Pony franchise. Since its on-air debut in October 2010, the series became an immensely popular subject of discussions, reaction images and image macros on the web. The term “brony,” a portmanteau of “bro” and “pony,” was coined on 4chan shortly after the pilot episode of the show on the Hub network. For more information on the genesis of the Brony fanbase, please read KYMdb – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The presence of Bronies on 4chan’s /co/ (cartoon) and /b/ (random) boards rapidly grew in the following months of 2010 and early 2011, as documented in a series of statistical graphs published by the MLP fan news site Equestria Daily.
The first Urban Dictionary definition of “Bronies” was submitted on December 23rd, 2010, describing the group as “people who take pride in watching My Little Pony.” There are 16 definition entries for the term “Brony” on Urban Dictionary, as of June 2012. Despite the outgrowth of the fandom, Bronies continued to maintain their presence on 4chan, contributing to the growing body of often shockingly perverse and graphic fanfiction and fanart based on the characters and the plot of the show. On February 16th, 2012, moot created the /mlp/ (pony) board on 4chan with an acknowledgement that it was time that they had their backs turned to “one of the biggest subcultures in 4chan history” and that they were “giving the ponies the home they deserved from day one”.
As of July 3rd, 2012, over 300,000 results can be found under the search query “Friendship is Magic” on the art-sharing website DeviantART. In addition, several groups dedicated to the fandom have been created as well, such as MLP-FiM and MLPFriendshipIsMagic. The popularity of art also spread through Equestria Daily’s Drawfriend posts.
Brony musicians often post on the MLP: FiM music forum site My Little Remix and stream music on the radio site Ponify.me.. Bronies and the musical staff behind My Little Pony were reported on in an article in Rolling Stone, in which the show’s main composer Daniel Ingram praised several brony musicians, including The Living Tombstone, Alex S., and Eurobeat Brony.
While “brony” is the most commonplace term used to describe the male fandom on 4chan and elsewhere, those who post ponies mainly on 4chan’s /co/ (cartoon) board have identified themselves with the term “colts" while female fans of the show have been referred to as “pegasisters.” Throughout 2011, additional slang terms were adopted by the Brony community, which became known as “Bronyspeak”.
The inaugural event was attended by 100 people and featured Cabal, the founder of RainbowDash.net and Jayson Thiessen, the show’s supervising director. The second BroNYCon was held in September 24th, 2011, which was attended by 300 people and featured the Equestria Daily founder Scotellaro. The third event was held in January of 2012 and attended by 800 people.
The fourth BroNYCon took place from June 30th to July 1st, 2012, with more than 4,000 attendees and a number of the show’s production staff members and voice actors, including Lauren Faust, John de Lancie and Tara Strong. During the event, documentary producer Michael Brockhoff created a documentary about bronies, featuring de Lancie, Faust and Strong as executive producers. The project was funded with over $320,000 from Kickstarter supporters.
Brony Thank You Project
In May of 2012, MLP: FiM fan James Turner launched a fundraising campaign titled “The Brony Thank You Project” on IndieGogo, which aimed to raise $2,000 to run an advertisement on the Hub television network thanking those involved with the show for their efforts.
On May 8th, the Internet news site The Daily Dot published an article about the campaign, noting that it had already raised over six times the initial projection. By the end of the month, the campaign closed with a total of $16,576 in donations. On July 2nd, The Daily Dot published an interview with Turner, who claimed he would be donating the excess funds to the children’s charity Toys for Tots. On November 5th, the 30-second commercial began airing on The Hub network, featuring messages from fans of the show thanking the creators. On the same day, the BronyThankYouFund YouTube channel uploaded an extended version of the commercial, which included a full list of the fund’s contributors (shown below).
On May 10th, 2013, the Brony Thank You Fund announced they had received status as a 501©(3) nonprofit organization and would become retroactively tax-deductible. On May 15th, The Daily Dot published a follow-up article reporting on the Thank You Fund’s new tax-exempt status.
The Colbert Report Brony Shoutout
On August 1st, 2011, Stephen Colbert gave a shoutout to “…all my bronies that may be watching” during a broadcast of The Colbert Report (shown below).
The Jerry Springer Show
In August of 2012, the staff of The Jerry Springer Show sent out a call on the Internet, looking for bronies to appear on an upcoming episode. The brony community quickly rallied to warn others that this could paint bronies in a negative light. Tara Strong offered similar advice through her Twitter account. Despite this, a segment of an October 2012 show dealing with “Outrageous Guilty Pleasures” included purported bronies Tim and Autumn (shown below, left). The two later posted a separate video claiming they were authentic bronies and wore strange costumes during the show to avoid copyright infringement (shown below, right).
Associated Press – Guys Who Like My Little Pony Gather for ‘BronyCon’
The Daily Dot – Tara Strong spearheads brony campaign against Jerry Springer