Genres of Fandom: How Does One Brony?

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I’ll admit that I’ve never really considered myself to be a part of any fandom.  I’ll often obsess over a game or a television show and I’ll often find myself creating works—be it art, music, or some sort of game—around these media. However, beyond maybe talking with a few of my friends about the shows/games/movies/whatever, I’ve never really joined in any sort of group of people devoted to any of these things. To be honest, I’m not quite sure why that is.

Coming into this particular study, I am very interested in the expressive works—art, music, memes, costumes, stories, games, videos, etc.—that are coming out of the fandom (which are totally sweet, by the way) and the stigma that is often attached to being a brony (which is the opposite of sweet). Since Jason’s last post begins to deal with the latter of these issues, I’ll think I’ll make my first official post on the former.

Looking through sites such as Equestria Daily, checking out fan art, listening to music, and spending way too much time playing Canterlot Siege 2 when I should be grading, I became very interested in the ways that the different genres/types of creations that bronies make and consume are similar to or different from the types of things created in other fandoms.

Ponies+Tower defense game= Glorious time vampire
Ponies+Tower defense game= Glorious time vampire

While the work created within the brony community is original/awesome, the forms and genres that these works take conform in many ways to those that arise in other sorts of fandoms. For instance, fanfics and fan art take somewhat similar shapes regardless of specific fandom; cosplay is pretty well a universal sign of fandomness; and it even seems like there is at least one tower defense game has been created for every game, show, or movie out there (which is very unfortunate for my productivity… this post was supposed to come out yesterday by the way).  Even being able to talk about (and study) fandom as a general “thing” suggests to some extent that there are specific ways of being in (or, perhaps “doing”) a fandom that have developed over time and, as people become fans of different things, they continue to express themselves in ways that are associated with being in fandoms in general—cosplaying, writing fics, etc.

My questions along these lines, other than perhaps whether or not my observations hold water, are about how the content created around/by the brony community relates to other fandoms you have had experience with (beyond the fact that the MLP:FiM community focuses on MLP). How does one brony? How are the things that people are creating similar to those of other fandoms? How are they different? For instance, I’ve noticed that several previous comments on this blog have talked about the music that bronies are creating (this is particularly awesome to me, as a musician and music researcher). Where several people have commented on the musical aspect of the brony fandom and Equestria Daily (which has been one of my major resources in checking out brony creations) has no fewer than six different music sections in its “media” menu, I haven’t seen as much emphasis on music in other sorts of fandom sites that I have been to. I also found it interesting that Equestria Daily didn’t have a cosplay section until this past August, which certainly doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a lot of cosplay going on, but is still interesting.

Also, on a somewhat related note, I am hoping to write at least one of my next posts on music being made by bronies and will thus be listening to a LOT of music in the very near future. Any suggestions, thoughts, or comments as I go about this would be awesome. What are your thoughts on the music coming out of the brony scene? Which genres do you like to listen to? Who are the best artists? What are the best songs/works? What are the worst ones?

Thanks for reading and for any comments that might come out of this. It’s been great to hear everything you’ve had to say thus far. I think I can also speak for Jason when I say that we’re very grateful to all of you for everything you’ve done to help get this blog started.

-Kurt Baer

14 thoughts on “Genres of Fandom: How Does One Brony?

  1. I’m not a content creator, so this will be (relatively) brief, but I am an avid consumer of fan content. I don’t read much fanfic (in any of my fandoms), but nearly everything else? Yes!

    Art and video edits (music videos or ponified trailers/openings) were very familiar to me from anime fandom. Otaku also seem to be both prodigious and talented when it comes to these things. So music was the first thing to amaze me, also, about the brony fandom. Not just parody songs, but original compositions – this was new to me. Whole fan-made episodes like Double Rainboom and Snowdrop are also fairly unique and very impressive. Star Trek fans do some of that, but it’s never struck me as being quite as polished as these. Maybe live-action is harder, or maybe that’s a real difference in ability; I don’t know (though Star Trek Continues looks like it will be awesome).

    But the breadth of what bronies produce also amazes. Plushies, jewelry, scarves and hats, stained glass, hand-carved wood automata (!! – check out morisato54 on YouTube if you don’t know these), an esoteric programming language (FiM++)…it’s kind of nuts, but does mean there’s something for everyone. And if nothing else, it speaks to the amazing diversity of the herd.

    As for that music, I’m not a fan of dubstep/electronica – I prefer old-school rock and metal – but there’s still plenty for me here. My favorite brony musicians are Forest Rain and Meelz, and my current top brony songs playlist (the order is just the order in which I first heard them) is:
    1. Proud to Be a Brony – Black Gryph0n
    2. Long Way from Equestria – MandoPony & Acoustic Brony
    3. Twilight Sparkle, You’re My Reason to Live – Meelz (one of my favorite songs of ALL)
    4. Great to Be Different – Forest Rain feat. Decibelle
    5. The Way She Flies – Phileo
    6. Lullaby for a Princess – Ponyphonic
    7. The Finest Creatures Ever – Aphylliate
    It’s a pretty eclectic mix, and again, I love that this fandom produces such varied stuff.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Ben. I’ve got to say, I’ve been perusing through the things that you mentioned in this post during my free time over the past day or so and what I’ve been able to check out has been pretty amazing. Those automata are awesome and the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into them are astounding. FiM++ is also incredibly amusing to me (in the best possible sense of the term).

      I started going through the music suggestions that I’ve received thus far, and it is all pretty solid stuff. While I noticed it before, beginning to dive into it all has given me a sense of some of the breadth in the music scene. There really is all sorts of stuff out there and I find it amazing how much of a community has sprung up within the music scene—rather than just covers of MLP songs, people are covering each others’ tunes, collaborating with each other, and creating spaces in which to listen and collaborate. One of the mane reasons that I haven’t yet listened to all the songs that have been recommended (aside from my somewhat extended forays into Meelz’ and Forest Rain’s youtube channels) is that I stumbled onto several of the Brony radio stations out there that I never knew existed and have been streaming from various stations via HoofSounds pretty much all day. Some of the stations are a bit “Wubby” at times (there really is a lot of Pony EDM out there), but it has been pretty nice overall and a great way to dive into the music scene.

      I did have one questions that I was curious if you (or anyone else who might happen to read this… I may have to ask this again on a blog entry, as I haven’t had much luck with comment responses yet) knew anything about. A lot of the songs that I have come across—especially from the more lyrical vocalists (I’ve seen several on Meelz’ page, for instance)—have released or have been requested to release instrumental versions of the songs that they put out. Listening to them, they tend to be just the instrumentals behind the singer with nothing covering the vocal parts, which I thought was interesting. I’m curious how people use these instrumental tracks. Are they the basis for personal covers or further tweakings into wubbalicious dub step tracks, or do people just want to have their favorite pony songs in a format that is perhaps “safer” for use among people that would look down upon songs about Twilight Sparkle et al.? Or is it something else that I am just not thinking of at the moment? Any thoughts?

      1. Since the vocal track usually carries the main melody of the song, I can’t imagine listening to a version with it simply omitted, rather than replaced with something else. So I’d guess they’re being used for covers or remixes, but like you, I’m just guessing. Of course, a version like that is commonly referred to as the “karaoke version” so maybe that’s how they’re being used! 😉

        1. Yeah, I thought about the karaoke possibility as well—which totally makes sense and also implies some brony karaoke going on, which is pretty cool in and of itself. After looking a bit more, I have found a few new versions of songs with the original backing tracks (e.g. Ashtail’s “Song for Twilight [Twi’s Reply]) and a whole lot of covers, so that is probably my guess. Figured I’d post something to try to get some thoughts on it though.

  2. I’m not a content creator. Well, I do have a few fanfic ideas brewing in my head that I just never put down on paper.

    But the sheer amount of fanart amazes me. I had created a DeviantArt account back in 2008 and until I got into the fandom in July 2011, I had only favorited about 200 pieces of fanart across multiple series. Since then, that number has ballooned to 26,000 pieces of art, nearly all of it pony. And it keeps growing every day. From single pieces to comics, there’s so much and it’s wonderful.

    I haven’t gotten too much into the music aspect. Most of the songs seem to be electronica and/or dubstep and I abhor that style of music. But I’ve managed to find a few artists who work in a genre I love.
    Yes, there exists Brony Metal. Search out Equestrian Lord, Ponysphere, and the best of them all, L-Train. These guys have made the songs I like the most.
    Since we’ve reached the point where we’ve got fan covers of other fansongs, L-Train has produced probably my favorite cover of the fansong “The Moon Rises”. There’s also his excellent “Symphonic Metal Tribute to My Little Pony” (a metal suite of most of Season 1’s songs. A little upset that the didn’t include the CMC theme song from “Show Stoppers”, but whatever) and “Symphonic Metal Tribute to A Canterlot Wedding” (exactly what it says). I’m hoping that he finally does one of those Symphonic Metal tributes to “Magical Mystery Cure”. He did entertain the notion that he would.

  3. I must say that the sheer volume of music that this fandom produces is one of my favorite aspects of this fandom. It was the pony work of Alex S. that initially got me into dubstep! For your research purposes I’d recommend looking at the songs listed in this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH8mQOhYpv0

    It’s a list of the top 25 brony songs of 2012. It includes most of my favorites and is in my opinion a representative sample of the best of brony music.

  4. I must say that the sheer volume of music that this fandom produces is one of my favorite aspects of this fandom. It was the pony work of Alex S. that initially got me into dubstep! For your research purposes I’d recommend looking at the songs listed in this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH8mQOhYpv0

    It’s a list of the top 25 brony songs of 2012. It includes most of my favorites and is in my opinion a representative sample of the best of brony music.

  5. There was a modified version of Rock Band at BronyCon 2013 and hundreds of songs to choose from, so I imagine there is at least some demand for purely instrumental tracks to be applied to projects like that. Then again, sometimes an instrumental is just nice to listen to, like the instrumental version of Winter Wrap-up.

    The music in the show was a big draw for me and when I started branching out into the community I began by finding downloadable versions of the songs from the show. Even today some of my favorite songs are from the show itself, such as the Smile Song and Art of the Dress. I’ve never been a big fan of techno or dubstep so there is a large part of brony music that I can’t really relate to, but there is such an impressive breadth of music being produced that there is a style for everyone.

    Some of my favorites are Forest Rain and BlackGryph0n, though I also enjoy some from Aviators, Living Tombstone, and Mandopony. Nightmare Night is one of my favorite songs and the videos that have come out to accompany it are simply incredible.

    One of the very first things I ever saw from the community was Snowdrop. If you haven’t seen this 14 minute video, you’re missing out. The story is wonderful and deeply touching. Soon after i watched Double Rainboom and was similarly impressed, though in this case it was because the video was so lighthearted and fun.

    I’ve also been looking at drawings for a long time. There may be a lot of videos and even more music, but there is a food of drawings. I usually like the pieces that stay true to the show, so those that aren’t highly anthro or feature the characters in outlandish costumes or situations. Some of my favorite works are by Skyline19 on DeviantArt. I gravitate specifically to scenes depicting familial relationships, so Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash feature in many of the works I choose to save. I also have a collection of Apple family pictures.

    There are fanfics to read by the thousands. This is a field I haven’t gotten very deep into, but I have read My Little Dashie and I thought it was wonderful. There are many, many others though. Some are shipping, or grimdark, or adventure, or crushingly sad and emotional.

    I go to meetups and am pretty active in my local brony Facebook group. I’ve been fascinated by the community ever since I started looking into it and I make it a point to read scientific studies and try to learn more about this strange and wonderful group of people.

    So that’s how I brony. As to your question about how ‘you’ should brony, that’s one of the wonderful things about it: you can brony any way you want to. There is so much content of every sort available that there is literally something for everyone. All you need do is determine what you like and pursue it, you’ll be amazed by what you find.

  6. I’m also kind of hesitant on involving myself too heavily in fan communities but for some reason the brony fandom got me to try out lots of things I have not before. I’ve enjoyed lots of things but I never really went out of my way to talk to and meet other fans of things I liked. The sheer diversity of material in the fandom is what impresses me the most.

    I never really looked up much of any other fandom but I heard a lot of the bad things about them and also some of the good as well. At first I avoided a lot of material like fan fiction and fan art because of the bad things I heard or saw about them but after testing the waters a bit on Equestria Daily, I actually gave them a chance and (mostly) did not regret it. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there but there’s also a surprising amount of good material as well. I’m not a huge music person in general but there is some great original material as well as remixes of official songs and I do enjoy some of it, especially instrumental music. For some reason I just really enjoy the show’s songs too which I found surprising since I’m not a huge music buff. It might just be that the show’s songs are more classically based typically and not so heavily electronic like so much music is today.

    As for the pony fandom’s relationship to other fandoms, the one thing I can say is that I’ve seen so much “ponified” material based on other shows that it has introduced to things I may not have come across otherwise. Plus there are lots of crossovers which have introduced many fans to other works such as Fallout: Equestria. I must admit that I tend to avoid crossovers with things I am not too familiar with though (at least with fan fiction) so crossovers usually come from fan art or videos I stumble upon.

    A lot of the art is fantastic and in fact even started making some myself. I’m not the greatest but I surprised myself with what I was able to make sometimes. One thing I’m VERY hesitant on is rule 34 material and I appreciate that it is usually filtered out pretty well. I know people make it and enjoy it but I recognize there is nothing I can do to stop it so I hope that it is usually kept from younger viewers or even parents.

    There is a lot of awesome craftmanship done with custom figurines, plushes, and other awesome work like woodcarvings. I used to try and consume about everything I could the summer I first got into the show (2011). However, I slowly just found my niche of things I enjoy like certain fan fiction, art, comics, videos, podcasts, and to a lesser extent music.

    I’m not super active online and am kind of hesitant to get too active but I have branched out and have gotten involved a lot more recently on deviantart and FiMFiction. I’m also in a meetup group but haven’t been to too many meetups but they have been pretty great in general. I’ve even been to Bronycon twice which was my first and only convention I’ve been to.

    I guess what is great about the brony community is there is so much out there and the fans are so diverse that you can find just about anything that you can “brony” to. The thing that I appreciate the most about the brony community is its sincere enjoyment of the show and that it tries but does not always succeed in promoting friendship and just trying to be a good person. It also is nice that many bronies tend to try and be somewhat kid and family-friendly (although that definitely doesn’t always happen). Sure, it’s silly that cartoon ponies speak to so many people, male and female, young and old. However, in a world filled with so much cynicism, violence, hatred, and other problems, it’s good to get a refresher on lessons that we often learned as kids in a fun and colorful way without insulting the viewer’s intelligence much. It’s genuinely a fun and touching show which is good when a lot of children’s entertainment, especially for girls unfortunately, is not so well done.

      1. @Danny

        I believe so! You are the Danny whose first meetup was the EQG one and we met again in Bronycon and everything, right? I thought I recognized parts of your posts from talking with you but I wasn’t sure =P.

  7. Damn skippy buddy, good to hear from ya again. Hope everything is going well in your neck of the woods. I’m counting on you to keep everyone in line until I move out there in about 7 months. I imagine I’ll see ya at the next con too?

    Oh and on topic.. uh.. social networking. Yeah, that’s a thing bronies do =)

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