So, the latest season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is off to a good start. It looks like they’re trying to pull off a season -length story arc for the first time, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
MLP hasn’t gotten much mention on this blog, although, as one of my most popular posts suggests, I’ve drunk enough of the kool-aid to actually start buying some of the merch. And this is actually kinda weird, since I’ve never amassing the collectibles of any of the other fandoms I’ve had my foot in the door of. Part of this is a change in my sensibilities: for most of my adolescence, my money has gone to things that give you an experience – books, CDs and the like, whereas in my adulthood I’ve come to also appreciate things that just sit there and look nice.
Still it seems as though the candy-coloured ponies are as fascinating to some as they are toxic to others (hey, isn’t it the case that the more brightly coloured wildlife tends have a higher chance of containing exotic chemicals that can kill you?). The extent of the geeky subtext also seems unparalleled in children’s cartoons: the erudite viewer will catch references to as wide a range of things as Stephen Sondheim, Seinfeld, Star Wars, and, most recently, Castlevania.
I wonder if the brony fandom is the pop-culture equivalent of the Austenites – the following that developed around Jane Austen’s works. A large number of them have historically been men. I read an article somewhere arguing that Austen’s depictions of domestic life have acted as a sort of escape for men from the 9 to 5 grind, whereas women have generally lived in that world, and hence it has lacked the same sort of escapist appeal for them.
But of course, Austen is also one of the greatest writers in the English language, and quality knows no sex or race. The anime industry in particular seems to have internalized this; it caught on pretty early with Shoujo (girls’) anime that it is eminently possible to attract large amounts of fans outside of your target demographic if you play your cards right. A similar realization dawned upon Hasbro during this phase of their MLP franchise.
Oh look, I’m getting distracted from my end-of-term work again.