Hi everyone!

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Welcome to Research is Magic! This is a research blog started by Kurt Baer and Jason R. Nguyen at Indiana University. We’re interested in creating a venue where fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic — or more affectionately, bronies — can share with one another and with scholars the value of the community that you have built around this show. More specifically, we’re interested in:

  1. What it means to be a brony;

  2. The creative works that MLP:FiM fans make for one another; and

  3. How bronies come together to make friendship/magic.

Unlike a lot of research, where “field research” is done within a community but “THE Research” (the paper you publish) is back in the university, we think they’re kinda the same thing, and probably the first is even more important. In other words, if you contribute to this blog, you’re doing research! (ooOOOoooh!!111oneoneoneeleventy-one!) More specifically, we’re asking you to respond to us and to one another as we raise questions about what it means to be a brony.

So, thank you for stopping by, and please introduce yourself and let us know why you love FiM in the comments below!

P.S. Everything on this site is covered under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License–that includes everything WE write as well as anything YOU contribute. You can also get more study details.

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11 thoughts on “Hi everyone!

  1. Just your average 24 year old guy who happens to like candy coated miniature equines.

    I like the animation for the show, I like the design, I like the voice acting, I like the writing, I like the music. Hell, I like everything about it.

    It’s kind of filling a programming niche I didn’t realize I had. But then, having already been a fan of “Lucky Star” and “Azumanga Daioh” before watching the show, I think I was already on track.

    1. In terms of American shows, did you watch stuff like Powerpuff Girls or Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends? I sorta think of those as having some similar features, but of course the adult (and especially adult male) fan base doesn’t even compare.

      In other words, what’s the path that got you to FiM? Through anime fandoms around shows like Lucky Star?

  2. I actually started my ‘brony-hood’ when I started to see some pony things on the internet near the tail end of 2012. On a whim, I went to youtube to watch the first episode…and I’ve never regretted it. Almost a year later, I am the director of two Pony Projects on my youtube channel.

    What I like about the show is that it’s optimistic and happy in a way that doesn’t want me to brush my teeth with steel wool. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air in comparison to everyone else wanting shows/games/books to be ‘Darker and Edgier’. I feel that some people have forgotten that being colorful, happy, and sweet isn’t a shorthand for a bad show, that something can have a message of friendship and love without sounding too cheesy.

    I love the fandom for the sheer creativity and artistry that is showcased and brought to attention through websites like ‘Equestria Daily’. I personally think I’m decent to what I contribute to the brony community, but I am simply astounded by the level of skill and creativity brought forth in some other works, such as the animation ‘Children of the Night’ by Duo Cartoonist and the song ‘My Cadence’.
    I think a lot of the creativity and work I put into my projects stem from wanting to contribute to the substantial talent found in the brony community. And I think this happens to a lot of other creators out there (Though, I’m more of an adapter than creator), which I enjoy about the fandom. Not to mention, a lot of the community are extremely considerate and helpful to others. There is a fanfic author who posted about how her depression is starting to affect her writing to the point where she couldn’t write anymore. The comments that followed were completely supportive of her, and as a result, she was able to complete two more chapters of her ongoing story.

    I will admit, there are two types of bronies I HATE: The ones who obnoxiously try to push MLP to others, and the ones who make pony porn (Good quality clopfics excepted).

    In the end, I love being part of this fandom and will continue to contribute what I can to a wonderful community.

    1. What sorts of pony stuff was it that first attracted you? Stuff being generated by the fandom? My introduction to the show was also through content (esp. Fan art) and talk about the show (and talk about the existence of the brony fandom, both by bronies and non-bronies).

  3. When I first started watching MLP: FiM, I had the same mentality that most people have: ‘I can’t believe I’m watching this, this is incredibly girly, childish, and immature.’ But I kept watching. Then I watched more. And more. I noticed how smooth the animation was, how realistic and spot-on the voice acting was. I enjoyed the storytelling that each individual episode had. The music was incredibly catchy, and actually FUN to listen to. I became emotionally attached to all the different characters, and noticed all of their different strengths and weaknesses, and how the show explored each of their traits and built on to them to provide compelling characters. Combining all of these different attributes into a show about colorful, magical talking equines and positive, uplifting life-lessons that I as an adult can still learn from, this show became something that really stuck with me. The show alone literally changed my output on life. I have become much happier, more optimistic, and a much more friendlier person to everyone I meet. I never envisioned myself becoming obsessed with a show called “My Little Pony,” but you know what? I did. When Hasbro asked Lauren Faust if she could revive their dying, childish show, she decided to reinvent it in a way that could be enjoyed by literally EVERYONE. Age and gender are no longer factors in deciding who can like this show, as you can tell from looking at bronies all around the world.
    The brony fandom, in my opinion, is THE greatest fandom in the world. Not only does the fandom spit out incredible music, artwork, animations, fanfics, and so many other fantastic creations, but just about everyone in the fandom takes the lessons from the show to heart, and demonstrate kindness, compassion, and joy in a world so corrupted by hatred, greed, and intolerance. Having only been a brony for a few months (since April of this year), I can happily say that I have discovered something so incredibly amazing, and everyday I am reminded how happy I am knowing that I belong to this group of people. I could go on and on and on about how inspiring the show and the fandom are, but it honestly falls upon all of the non-believers out there to pick it up, give it a chance, and find out for themselves why so many people around the world are actually enjoying this.

  4. Ponies made me a better person. Not kidding, I changed drastically after joining the fandom. I am more optimistic and generous, less cynical and sarcastic, I started to attend to meet-ups and I met tons of new people. I am also much more childish and silly, to the amusement of my non-brony friends. I became a “funny guy”, nobody saw that coming.

    So, the main reason I love the show is that it had a huge positive impact on my personality. Obviously it isn´t the only reason 🙂

  5. Hiya, I’ll try to keep this short since I gotta go to work soon.

    I joined the fandom in the summer of 2011. I had seen numerous pictures and references to the show on many different online sites. It got me curious and I watched. Having watched stuff like Shugo Chara, and a whole plethora of other anime, I wasn’t immediately turned away by the more saccharine aesthetic of the show. The strong character had a lasting resonance with me, and before I knew it I had watch the whole first season.

    For most shows it would have ended there, but then I found sites like EqD which were getting into full swing by then, and I was astounded to see some of the high quality art coming out. It floored me. I had never before been part of a fandom. I had shows I loved and books I adored and praised, but never was I one to join a fandom. However, I soon began to see this fandom as a sort of bridge between the amateur and professional realms. There were people of incredible talent at work here, and there were also beginners. There was no longer a coherent dividing line between the two. I saw before me a path that had seemed entirely hidden to me before, no matter where else I had looked.

    I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never had taken the proper steps towards fulfilling that goal, but the fandom provided me with a way to head toward that goal. And I am very glad I took those steps. It has been an amazing journey and I’m going stronger than ever. I try to help new authors improve and I discuss writing on a regular basis. It’s a very rewarding and lovely experience.

    Thanks for reading,
    ~SilentBelle

    1. Thanks for your post, SilentBelle. If you have the time or desire to do so, I would love to hear a bit more about your story as a writer within the fandom. Where were you seeing the strong division between amateur and professional (was it in terms of people with published books and everyone else, or are you talking about it in terms of other sorts of scenes as well)? What sorts of avenues are there for professional writing within the fandom? Are you seeing professional as a certain level of artistry/popularity, or are there ways to make money writing within the fandom (this might be a dumb question, but I also like writing quite a bit, but have never thought of it as something that I could earn any income from—beyond being an academic—in the way I could do with music or more material crafts). Through what means have you most been able to improve your writing? Have you been able to use your writing within the fandom to gain an audience for works that aren’t based around FiM, or are you mostly writing from within the fandom now? Where are these writing discussions taking place? Anything that you might have to say would be awesome!

  6. Hi, I’m Ben, a 35-year-old software engineer in New York. (I also get really long-winded when I write, so grab a comfy chair and cup of coffee!) I’m a life-long geek, so becoming a brony wasn’t too much of a stretch for me – I was already a trekkie, otaku, gamer…. In fact, both friends who recommended the show to me said, “It’s a great show, and exactly your sort of thing.” Probably because I’ve been a big fan of a lot of shoujo anime, as well as other cutesy shows like Pokemon and Hamtaro. So unlike many bronies, I didn’t even question it; it went right onto my Netflix queue. I fully expected to like it based on their recommendations, but of course it’s nearly impossible to predict what will really grab me and make me fall in love with something.

    So the question is, with everything about the show – writing, humor, music, animation, voice acting – being really top-notch, what pushed it for me from, “This show is really good!” to, “Holy crap, this is one of the greatest things and I just want to watch them all over and over and buy all the merch and attend all the cons and…”? Probably two things.

    The first – and I want to say “deeper” – one is the characterization. Few shows, let alone “kids'” shows, have characters that are so true and believable and complex. Although I most closely relate to Twilight, I first noticed this in Applebuck Season. Like Applejack, I’m fiercely independent, and find it difficult to ask or even accept help when I need it. So that really resonated with me, and as the show went on I saw more and more instances where a character’s qualities or flaws reminded me of myself or someone close to me. That’s a pretty rare thing, even in entertainment aimed at adults, and it led to me caring very deeply for these characters.

    The second seems more shallow, but I think is at least as impactful: the show just makes me happy. It’s really, really difficult to make something as unrelentingly cheerful and bright and cute as MLP and not have it be cloying and grating – and I say that as a fan of things that are cheerful and bright and cute! I don’t think there’s a magic formula to it, either; I think that what makes it possible *is* the top-notch writing, real characters, serious conflict, and all the rest. Shows that are irritating because they’re “too cute” are probably actually irritating because they’re so shallow. It usually is kids’ shows that are susceptible to this – many creators make a show both cute and shallow because they think that’s all kids can handle. But I think any show as shallow as, say, Barney (and I know that’s not entirely fair because it’s aimed at such young kids they may not be able to grok anything deeper) would be annoying even if it weren’t cutesy. The real problem is it’s monotonous. Another such dichotomy would be: I like Hello Kitty merchandise (cute!) but not the show (shallow!)

    I’ll also say that bronies are awesome, and although I’m primarily a lurker – with only occasional EqD comments, and participation in studies like this one – I’m still more engaged with this fandom than I’ve been with others. I consume a LOT more fan content from bronies than I ever did from other fandoms, whether it’s things like art and music or things like articles and analysis videos. And their charity and generosity are amazing, and have inspired me to do a lot more in that area as well.

  7. Well, since you asked so nicely…

    I’m Logan, in my late 30s and in the UK. I got into this fandom through the furry fandom, which I’ve been in for just over a decade. Plenty of my furry friends already loved the show by the time I started doing so (spring 2012) and — perhaps unusually for a newcomer my age — several of them were around my age or older. Actually, a couple (both male) had been into MLP since G1 days.

    As with so many fans, it took me a few episodes to truly get into MLP:FiM. My own epiphany came with “Dragonshy” — and, yes, Fluttershy has been my favourite pony ever since, though Scootaloo now runs her fairly close. I like musical-style songs, so Daniel Ingram’s music became a big attraction. The second half of S1 was so good that I was completely hooked. (I still think it’s the most consistent run of the whole series so far.)

    I deliberately avoided fandom stuff until I’d got up to date (meaning the end of S2) but once I started looking into it, I was blown away. Not so much by the art, excellent though some of it is — furry is very art-centric and I wanted something different. The fact that writing could actually get views (unlike on FurAffinity) was a plus, since unlike drawing that’s something I can more or less do, but it was the music that blew me away. It still does — MandoPony’s recent “When You Were Here” is an example.

    Despite a decade in the furry fandom, I’d stayed on the fringes and never attended a meet or con, though I did still make several very good friends. After 18 months in the pony fandom I’ve written fanfics, been to numerous meets, attended BUCK 2013 and set up an MLP-themed blog. I’m far more active than I’ve been in any fandom since the days when I wrote fanfic and Lapine expansions for Watership Down.

    Like Ben above, I really like the atmosphere in this fandom. Sure, there are always going to be a few exceptions, but the vast majority of bronies I’ve come across have been good, friendly people. The brony forum I contribute to the most, UK of Equestria, really does feel like home, and it’s brought me a lot of happiness and friendship. (And magic!) I could ramble on for a lot longer, especially about the fandom’s uncanny ability to empty wallets, but I reckon this is long enough for now!

  8. This is a topic that I’ve thought a lot about over the last few months, and given my tendency to tell stories and write at great length, I’ll try very hard to reign this in and be succinct.

    I’m 30 years old and I’m about to receive a Master’s degree in computer science. I started watching the show in February of 2013 because that was the first time I had heard any of my peers actually discussing it, and I decided to give it a try.

    I will always love the show because, for reasons I don’t fully understand, it helped me through an extremely dark time in my life. I had been broken and this silly little show helped me put the pieces back together and recover the person that I had been before, something I will always be grateful for.

    I started digging into the fandom itself by visiting the site My Little Brony on the cheezeburger network. It just so happened that this was right around the time that Kiki Havivy died, and I was absolutely blown away by the outpouring of emotion from the community. I had never seen any group of people unite in such a manner for someone they had never met. If you haven’t looked into the goings on at this time I highly advise it. The way the community responded to that little girl showed me that there were still decent people in the world.

    I was also deeply touched by the way the community embraced Derpy as a character. They absolutely adored her and were outraged when Hasbro tried to erase her flaws. Having dealt with a stutter since I was 7, this reaction spoke to me on a deeper level.

    When I met my first bronies I was again surprised. These guys were some of the most open, accepting, and welcoming people I had ever met. They had no expectations of me, no judgements about me, just an enthusiasm to be around one another and a genuine happiness that I could join them.

    BronyCon 2013 was the first convention I had ever attended and I was completely blown away by what I experienced there. I have never in my life seen a place so incredibly joyous. The people there were so happy just to be there and be with each other. Nothing else mattered, not religion or politics or race or gender, the only thing that anyone cared about was that all of us loved the show and loved being together.

    MLP and the brony community give me a glimpse of a world that is driven by the good in people, accepting of everyone, and happy to simply be together. I sincerely believe that if everyone had a little bit of brony in them the world as a whole would be a much better place.

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