Hetero-normative Maleness and Bronies

I’ve just finished watching the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, which was enjoyable just for the original animation and voice-acting, but of course also for the insight into the lives of people who consider themselves bronies.

The particular genre conventions and representational decisions made in this documentary will probably be an object of a later post, but what it really made me think about was how heteronormative everyone is. For a bunch of people who are imagined by everyone else as effeminate, sexual deviants (not my categories, just phrasing I’m borrowing from others), male fans of MLP are overwhelmingly straight and largely perform male selves in line with what I imagine most people visualize for the average young adult male.

When they DO visually display their involvement in the fandom, they often do it in ways that recast images and ideas from the show in more heteronormative ways: clothing, accessories, or other body adornments are remixed with a series of other male-oriented stuff (memes, games, toy properties, pop culture, etc.) to construct a visual identity that, on first glance, is totally a “bro” (perhaps tending towards geeky, but still…) but strategically bears markers of inclusion in brony culture. And it’s not just true of clothes. Manners of speaking, forms of socialization, posture, etc. — all that stuff is, for the majority of bronies, drawn from the world of “manly” things.1 But in the land of social theory, we’ve largely deconstructed gender, as in this bit from Judith Butler:

If the inner truth of gender is a fabrication and if a true gender is a fantasy instituted and inscribed on the surface of bodies, then it seems that genders can be neither true nor false, but are only produced as the truth effects of a discourse of primary and stable identity.2

 There is a very specific gender play/negotiation going on here for these bronies between that which seems very fixed and that which is more fluid, in which they continue to maintain certain norms of maleness all while feeling a great need to express their deep adoration for a show supposedly for little girls. Here are a few strategies that they use to balance that:

  1. Male fans will often adorn themselves with images of characters that are gender-ambiguous or obviously male. Thus, background characters like Derpy, Big Mac, DJ Pon3, and even Scootaloo provide a more “male” palette of colors as well as characterization that is known to be less obviously “girly.” Rainbow Dash, as one of the Mane Six, also figures prominently, with the most ambiguous gender of the group, though her necessary rainbow palette is often mitigated with t-shirts featuring sharp and bold lines. And the phrase “20 percent cooler.” Like this post just became.20 percent cooler
  2. Memes draw heavily from geek and popular culture coming from male-dominated spheres. 1337-speak references the largely-male hacker culture, and stuff like “The Maretrix Reloaded” (parodying The Matrix) and Obey/Resist poster parodies move MLP imagery both into the realm of males and of adults.
  3. As the documentary references, many fans maintain an ironic stance towards their own interest in the show at first (what the documentary calls “Hipster Bronies”). Even when some of these fans start to lose this ironic stance relative to the show itself, as the documentary points out, they maintain it in terms of their knowledge that what they’re doing is somewhat deviant. People like “The Manliest Brony” play up this irony.
  4. At one point during the documentary, I wrote in my notes: “There are a lot gutteral noises being made for a girl’s show.” Male bronies largely strike heteronormatively male stances in the way they speak and carry themselves. The Bro-Hoof (a fist-bump in any other context) is a prime example.Bro Hoof

I could continue, but I imagine you largely get the point. These are largely heteronormative males choosing to explicitly extract what are to everyone else signs of femininity3, and use them as parts of their performances of individual identity.

So the question on the table is–why? The majority of the commenters have mentioned the gendered stigmas that basically closet your enjoyment of the show…and yet many of you push on. Is it worth it to get called freaks and sexual deviants and whatnot for a cartoon?

To what extent are you thinking about these gender norms when you do MLP stuff? Do you feel you are resisting pre-existing gender norms, or is that not even on your radar?

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

-Jason

 


  1. I don’t wish to exclude bronies who do not consider themselves heteronormative and/or male, but I position myself in this particular post against prevailing stereotypes about bronies and thus that is my focus for now. 

  2. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble. p. 137 

  3. here, I am using the word “sign” in the semiotic sense of “something that stands for something else 

18 thoughts on “Hetero-normative Maleness and Bronies

  1. I will admit I find myself at an odd dichotomy of reading posts and looking at cute artwork while I listen to metal or go into the comic shop to buy the issues of the comic while wearing a metal t-shirt with my beard.

    At this point, I don’t really care about the gender norms. I am a straight male and nearly all my other interests attest to that, so what’s one little cartoon? As I’ve mentioned before, it’s more an age thing than a gender thing that gets my siblings on me for it.

    It was the slight paradox of “Grown men like this?” that got me into the show in the first place.

    I push on because I enjoy the show and (most parts) of the fandom. It’s more preemptive avoidance of wanting to deal with it with anyone that makes me keep it hidden.

    On that point of Dash usually being favored for being slightly less girly, my personal favorite character is the most girly one in the show: Rarity. In fact, I prefer the girlier characters over the more androgynous ones. To compare the Princesses, one theory given to why Princess Luna has so much popularity is that she’s the only Princess who has no shade of pink anywhere on her (that among many other reasons), but I prefer Celestia and even Cadance, who is derided as being the Pretty Pink Princess.

    I am not acting against any gender norms. When I’m not indulging in my love of the show, I’m just your average guy in his mid-20s. It’s just a TV show, not some life changing phenomenon.

  2. I am not male, but I will say that what drew me into the show was the fact that men my age (early-mid 20’s) were raving about how good this show is. I eventually got hooked. I also got my now-husband and now-brother-in-law into the show as well.

    I can speak foe the two of them a little bit. They are avid gamers and both have a bit of am inner child. My husband has a weakness for cute things. He recently bought a Bulbasaur plushie at a convention and he will cuddle with it and take it with him around the house. I can’t tell you why he likes these cute things, but it may have at least something to do with the fact that he grew up on a few cartoons and a lot of video games with cute and funny characters so that is what he enjoys.

    I stayed with MLP, too, because it was reminiscent of cartoons that I grew up watching. They were putting 90’s quality into a modern cartoons, which seemed rare.

    Again, not a male, but I find anything like this article to be fascinating. What I personally wonder is if MLP is really all that “girly” to begin with, and what masculine qualities can be seen in the show to the point where an unsure male can justify watching it.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’d love to hear a bit more about your relationship to the fandom. The interesting flip-side to the heteronormative masculine aspects of the fandom is that much discourse on being a brony seems to assume bronies being male, which is often, but less and less overwhelmingly the case. The dynamics of being a woman within the fandom seem like they could be very interesting (being a female in a largely-male fan base in a show aimed at much younger females). We’ve got a post coming out (in the morning, most likely) that brings up these issues (in a fairly awkward way, perhaps, but hopefully some more dialogue can emerge and we can get opinions from people within the fandom that are actually female).

  3. As a member of the older male contingent, (I’m 53), I can speak as to my experiences…no one gets it. My eldest son, who is in the twenty something cohort, introduced me to the show, and I latched onto it with a vengeance. Candy-colored ponies aside, the characters express a true friendship with each other, and that is a great part of the appeal. I focused on Derpy early, not because of the male palette, but because I am the father of special needs children, and Derpy expressed my own hopes for them; she always tries hard, she doesn’t give up, and she is caring, considerate, and sincere. These are things I want my own children. MLP speaks to the best in all of us, if we would take the time to listen.

    1. Hi RobinThese are great tips and beautifully presented. Thank you for them — you have reminded me about “first name basis”. I used to put my name at the end of posts but have not been doing this recently!Bev recently posted..

  4. I can honestly say that gender doesn’t factor into it at all for me. I enjoy what I enjoy, and that’s all there is to it. If that means I’m going against social norms of masculinity or trying to rebel against cynicism or whatever else analysts have tried to label bronies as doing, it is completely tertiary to the fact that I love the show, and I enjoy sharing that love with others.

    I have two shirts, one is a crossover of the Big Lebowsky with MLP and the other is a crossover of Dr. Horrible and MLP. I bought them not because I was trying to cloak myself in masculine imagery while displaying MLP, but because I like all three and saw an opportunity to display it efficiently. There is massive overlap between bronies and ‘geek’ culture in general, but it may not always be readily apparent who is into what other fandoms. Wearing a Dr. Whooves shirt at a convention is a quick way not only to identify yourself as a brony, but also as a Whoovian. Maybe you’re a gamer and a brony, there is a whole line of Dragonborn Fluttershy shirts that cross Skyrim with MLP.

    The brony community is expansive. It transcends gender, demographic, race, religion, politics, and even age. While it is wonderful that all of us share something in common, deeper bonds can be formed by sharing more in common. I think the inclusion of pop culture into MLP themes is simply a way for fans to more fully express who they are to one another, in the hopes of finding kindred spirits and sharing that much more.

    Maybe I’m an outlier, but I have never once asked myself if what I’m doing is sufficiently “manly” or not. The bronies I associate with don’t see the world through those lenses and it just isn’t a consideration for me in the slightest.

  5. As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t really care if anyone thinks less of me because I show off that I like My Little Pony. And most of the reason I don’t care is that I’d think less of them for having that very opinion. At least if they feel that way because they think it’s a kids’ show, they may simply be ill-informed of its quality – but if they feel that way because it’s “for girls” they really have no excuse.

    I’m pretty stereotypically male in many of my interests. Geeky interests like Dungeons & Dragons or Star Trek or computer programming aren’t exactly seen as “manly” but they’re nonetheless seen as very “male”. But I don’t take solace in that fact; I just don’t care one way or the other. I don’t say, “Well, I like My Little Pony and shoujo anime and the color pink, but I also like cars and Scotch and WWE Raw, so it’s okay!” I just like what I like, and think everyone should be free to do the same without judgement.

    I recently asserted to my wife (when she was having a bout of wanting to be – or at least appear – more “normal”, a condition I don’t suffer from) that, “the gender binary, like most gross oversimplifications, is just a crutch for weak minds.” Part of the issue is the subtext we apply to all these labels we use. I’m all for labels – they let us say in a word what would otherwise take a paragraph – but people need to stick to the strict meaning of these labels. If I’m a “geek” it means I like one or more of science fiction or fantasy or games or comic books. It doesn’t mean I live in my parents’ basement; it doesn’t mean I’m desperately single; it doesn’t mean I’m so obsessed with these things I can’t hold down a job. Similarly, why should being a man mean I’d rather watch football than My Little Pony? These things don’t seem in any way connected to my gender (or my sexual orientation).

    I’ll grudgingly admit that the notion of gender, separated from biological sex, is so wrapped up in these social constructs that if we tear them all away it may cease to exist entirely, but I’m also not entirely certain I have a problem with that. And this is the other part of the issue – the uglier part. Most people who think it matters that men like masculine things and women like feminine things (with the glaring exception that they ought to like one another) probably haven’t bothered to think about why it matters. The correct answer, of course, is that it doesn’t, but of note is the fact that masculine things are seen as “better” than feminine things. This is why it’s not so bad if a woman likes masculine things, but it’s almost never acceptable for a man to like feminine things. If this effect was limited to judgements about silly things like what people watch on TV, it might not be so bad, but it extends into things like career choices as well. (See this recent NY Times column for a good deal on that as it applies here, like how more women are entering male-dominated fields but hardly any men are entering female-dominated fields.)

    Stereotypes can be applied a lot of different ways. Commonly, the problem is assuming that all members of a group exhibit a certain trait, and being blind to those that don’t. But another way is to assert that to be a member of a group, one must exhibit a certain trait. And this can be more insidious and just as destructive. There’s a clear difference in severity between telling a young man that My Little Pony is off-limits and telling a young woman or a young black person that various careers are off-limits, but they’re also clearly of a kind. Treating people as individuals and accepting them for who they are, rather than assigning them to boxes and expecting them to conform, is something I truly care about. Every person is complex, so why shouldn’t we each be allowed to build our identity a la carte, rather than pick from a set of trait lists that have been predefined?

  6. I know I’m not a freak or a sexual deviant for liking a cartoon so I try not to let what critics might say bother me. However, I don’t parade my fondness for MLP:FiM around and invite criticism either. It’s obvious that the show is not considered “masculine” but I don’t think men or boys should be limited to only liking “masculine” things.

    I am a man and am comfortable with myself even though I’m not nearly as into things like American football or other things that a 22 year old man might be expected to be into. I enjoyed some activities that might not be considered masculine while growing up and might have been a bit more sensitive but I never thought that I was not a boy/man. My mother was around more when I was young because she worked weekends only and when growing up I often heard her complain about men and seemed to be under the impression that I would be the same way. Even as a child I know that irked me. And since then I’ve tried to be the kind of man who tries to show that you don’t have to be a jerk to be a man.

    I was very conscious that I am defying pre-existing gender stereotypes while enjoying the show. I was very hesitant about watching the show at first and questioned my masculinity but I quickly got over it after realizing how much I enjoyed the show. It’s just something fun, cute, and wholesome without being saccharine. The fact that it is meant for girls doesn’t bother me too much because it’s really good and have enjoyed a lot of other “feminine” things. I just wish that a lot of young girl’s entertainment was not so poorly done that I automatically assumed it would have been bad in the first place.

    I don’t really care that I am defying gender stereotypes by watching the show while by myself now. The only time I really care is while I am in a public area where showing my fondness for the show would cause more problems than it is really worth. I don’t really want to hurt my chances at working (as unlikely as that would be) so I don’t broadcast my love for the show everywhere but I’m not too afraid to bring it up or talk about the show where it doesn’t really matter. Plus, as much as I love the show, it is not the only show I watch and certainly not the only part of my identity.

    I do think there’s a tendency among fans to use androgynous ponies , especially the high school or younger crowd. I tend to just go for more subtle shirts with symbols or words indicating that it’s pony related rather than ponies or the word brony on it. I’d rather be able to wear my pony shirts fairly often in public than only use them for conventions. I don’t choose my pony clothes or merchandise to look more masculine or anything though. I have a range of shirts and other merchandise that is a bit more subtle, which I wear fairly often, and less subtle ones I use for conventions or meetups and when I’m home.

    My favorite pony is Twilight who is probably a bit more androgynous than some but I also really like Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity who are definitely a bit more girly than others. I really like Applejack but I’m not nearly as fond of Rainbow Dash who is often used for Brony Merchandise. I like all the mane 6 and many other characters on the show but my fondness varies and my merchandise varies just like that.

  7. I suppose there’s a related question that needs to be asked here. The post specifically asks about resisting gender norms but many of us so far have stated that they don’t really matter. But therein lies a bit of a problem because as Benjamin pointed out, these gender norms are so deeply ingrained in society. This being the case, is there any significant difference between actively rebelling against gender norms and not paying attention to them? If there is a difference, does that difference matter to an outside observer? I guess what I’m saying is, is it even possible to do MLP stuff and ‘not’ resist gender norms?

    You guys also asked why we continue to do this even when faced with such opposition. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, nor do I want to get deeply philosophical about any of this, but it seems to me that the reason anyone ever does anything difficult is because they believe it to be worth the effort. People go to work because they value their income more than their free time, people fight wars because they value their cause more than their life, people own pets because they value the companionship more than the extra cash, etc etc. For me, I do MLP stuff because I love it, and that matters more to me than appearing sufficiently manly to some external observer.

    1. These are great points. For one thing, I think it’s a sliding scale between ignoring gender norms and rebelling against them. As much as I “don’t care” about them when deciding what to wear, if nudged into self-reflection, I do take some pride in thumbing my nose at societal norms that I see as detrimental. But it’s not the first thing on my mind, and I wouldn’t wear something I didn’t otherwise like just to make that point. However, there are certainly those who would, either because they care about change or they simply enjoy being an iconoclast (or, again, a bit of both).

      You hit the nail on the head asking if that distinction is going to be seen by others. 99% of the time, it won’t be. I think it physically presents identically, so unless someone takes the time to talk to the brony, they won’t be able to tell. Relatedly, I think there are far fewer hipsters in this fandom than a lot of major media has reported, and the belief that there are so many of them is just because hipsterdom is so widespread and so few people can believe that we love a kids’ show this much.

      Also, to someone who does value gender norms, the difference won’t be relevant even if explained. If someone values a rule, they’ll take just as much offense to, “I don’t care about this rule and will violate it when it suits me,” as to, “I hate this rule and will violate it whenever I can.” The reason they take offense at both is because both push anyone who gets this message towards disregarding that rule; both weaken that rule. So you’re right, of course; a man can’t show his love for something “girly” without resisting gender norms, whether that’s the first or the last thing on his mind when doing so.

  8. Call me optimistic, but I think this whole exercise is going to be really fun. I enjoy talking about the show well enough but I’ve been craving a forum to discuss stuff on a deeper level, and this seems like it’s going to be the right place.

    Anyway, back on point. I agree with you on the sliding scale thing and there are definitely a few who do things specifically to upset the system. I tend not to wear pony stuff in public, but it isn’t because I fear reprisal or because I’m embarrassed for myself, it’s because I don’t want to make other people uncomfortable. I’m not sure where that falls on the scale. It’s a habit I picked up after talking to the Brony Study people. According to their research, only about 15% of the population is even willing to be open minded about the show or about us; so while I am absolutely proud to be a brony I don’t go around shoving it in anyone’s face because I understand that most people don’t want to see it. It’s their choice and I can respect it. Considerations of gender don’t factor into this at all for me, nor does the idea of social rebellion.

    As to the hipster stuff, the Brony Study people again had some very interesting findings on that front. Apparently back in 2010 when bronies started to become a ‘thing’ most of them were hipsters. They did it specifically to poke fun at norms and to stand out, or they enjoyed the show ironically. Over time a lot of that irony has turned to sincerity and today most bronies are legitimate fans out of real affection for the show. One of the researchers said something I will never, ever forget. He said that in the course of their research a brony from back in the old days made this comment, “These new guys don’t understand, ‘Love and Tolerate’ started as a joke.” He responded, “No, you’re the one who doesn’t understand. It isn’t a joke anymore.”

    Apologies for the roundabout response, but I completely agree that there are far fewer hipsters in the fandom today than the media would have us believe, but apparently that wasn’t always the case. I think the initial hipster surge, if you will, has colored this fandom in the eyes of those outside. This image does seem to be changing, but change will be slow.

    1. We’re definitely hoping that this could be such a forum for discussion, as there is a lot of this sort of discussion and theorizing that goes on in the fandom that is both beneficial to the fandom (we believe) as well as the little slices of academia in which Jason and I reside. Give us a shout if there are any issues that you think should be addressed in posts. We are always on the lookout for things to focus on and we are also planning to start opening up the blog a bit to allow for a few others to author posts (this goes for others that may be reading this as well).

      Regarding the sliding scale, that reminds me a lot of theorizations derived from Antonio Gramsci’s notion of hegemony (which is best read as HEGEMONY!!!!!!!, since the dude was totally hardcore and did a lot of his writing on scraps of paper in prison). Gramsci, taking a Marxist view of class struggle (hence the imprisonment… Marxism wasn’t taken to kindly in fascist Italy during his time) describes the fluidity of power relationships (one group isn’t just the dominant group, there is a constant power stubble and a constant give and take). This struggle and the results of it are what he calls hegemony. The relevant thing here (sorry if I am being a little longwinded) is that Gramsci speaks at length about the ability of the dominant group to legitimize and naturalize its values. The point being that this sort of power struggle (perhaps not necessarily bourgeois vs. proletariat) is constantly happening. There are people entrenched in the dominant values of “the way things are” that are enforcing that position and also people working to impose different ways of looking at the world. This isn’t necessarily conscious, or even seen as an act of resistance, but there is a constant push and pull going on for and against dominant ideologies and dispositions.

      Moving beyond that into hipsterism, I’m always intrigued when people talk about ironically liking something. I’m still not sure that it is a thing that you can do that is any different from just liking it (except for maybe exhibiting an awareness you “aren’t supposed to” like it) or, if it is, that the line that separates “ironic liking” from “liking” is really thin and really weird. I also am a subscriber to the theory of hipster relativity (see http://dustinland.com/archives/archives464.html for the awesome Dustinland Webcomic on the issue), where hipster is mostly used as a term applied to other people or actions that are more or less hipster, rather than a term that is necessarily denotes a community (which it does to some extent, but I feel it is used more as a comparative term). I’m not sure what your thoughts on that are.

      Finally, before I wrap my comment up, I am definitely interested in “The Brony Study” (we just mentioned it a little in a post that should be going up soonish) and would love to get into more dialogue with their results at some time. While the research Jason and I do is much more qualitative than their study, we are in many ways interested in different aspects of the same issues of identity. I’m a bit hesitant to buy into some of their conclusions, such as that “part of the attraction [of bronies to MLP:FiM] is that it is a break from the chaos and conflict caused by the events of 9-11-2001” (Edwards and Redden 2013, http://www.bronystudy.com/id32.html), but on the whole their study is interesting, makes some good conclusions, and has a lot of nice quantitative data behind it that is definitely worth checking out. I think that it is interesting that, within the typology that Edwards and Redden set up of types of bronies (I believe that their “early study” was around 2011, only 7% fit squarely into the “Independent Brony” category—the one that most represents an “ironic,” “hipster” liking of the show. Not sure where I am going with that, but it is an interestingly small number for the hype that that sort of ironic stance, if that is what it is, seems to get.

      1. I mentioned on Twitter that as a geek, I see hipsters as one of my “natural enemies”. It was only half joking. When they claim to “ironically” like something, it carries a clear sense of disdain for that thing – “Oh, I’d never ACTUALLY like this stupid thing, but isn’t it funny to pretend I do?” And often, especially lately, it’s been things appropriated from geek culture which I truly do care about. So that disdain is in part directed at me.

        That said, my wife has a theory – which I’m not ready to subscribe to OR to dismiss entirely – that the whole “ironic” thing is a smokescreen. That any hipster really does like whatever they claim to like ironically, and what’s actually pretend is the irony, because they do think that either sincerity in general or sincerity towards that specific thing would be somehow bad. (Either because it would open them to ridicule or something else.) It’s an interesting idea, but I’ve steered far too clear of hipster culture to feel like I have a good enough read to gauge its veracity.

  9. I don’t really have much experience with hipsters, but I might be able to help clear things up as to the ironic enjoyment of media. For years and years now, I’ve loved to watch bad movies. While I watch one, I am keenly aware that it is a bad movie. I love to see just how ridiculous or silly a given movie will go and I make fun of it the whole way down. I love these movies specifically because they are bad, and I think (maybe?) that hipsters take a stance close to this.

    Garnering enjoyment from something specifically because it rubs society wrong, or because you revel in its flaws, or because it you’re one of the first to ‘discover’ it is very different from having genuine affection for the work as it is presented. The enjoyment is no less real, but it comes from a very different place. One is based out of (for lack of a better word) malice, while the other comes from appreciation.

    I completely agree about the Brony Study. I think some of their conclusions are… I don’t want to say wrong, but overly complicated? I tend to look more at their statistical data and shy away from their theories and speculations.

    1. That is a great point. I’m also a big fan of bad movies (and music), so I totally get where you are coming from. I guess, to change up my line of thinking a bit, I find the lines between ironically liking something and just plain liking something to be very interesting and permeable. On one level, my love for bad movies is based on some whacked-out version of aesthetics where I revel in things because they are ridiculous and they invoke awesome reactions in people. On the other hand, there is an aesthetics, there is a genuine enjoyment, and it does revolve around the works (Troll 2 fans are fans of the movie Troll 2). It is a contrived system in much the same way my snobbiest of music friends like Mozart for very strange classical-music-y reasons (Oooh…. So he follows the voice leading rules or whatever…. So what?) and use them to set themselves off from popular society. What is interesting to me is how one set of aesthetics is marked as ironic and the other is marked as “good taste” or some junk like that. Any act of community creation also defines what is not a part if that community. Some certainly do use this negative definition as one of their main reasons for being part of a community, but the use of the term “ironic” and the degree to which ironic liking of the show is seen as a fundamental category distinct from other types do liking the show suggests some interesting power relationships with cultural norms (or something interesting, at least).

      It is also interesting what people can be ironic about and what they can’t, as I am not sure that too many people can get away using the distancing mechanism of ironic liking for things that are in violation of certain norms–I’m not sure R. Kelly could ironically like R. Kelly stuff, for instance, or that one could ironically become part of the Klan or something in the way one can become an ironic member of a fandom. I think it is interesting the ways and places that ironic liking works (and doesn’t) as a phenomenon. Also, I find it interesting how associated it is with being a hipster… What was it still called ironically liking something before the rise of the hipster as a category? I’m sure it was around long before that.

      Anyway, I digress. Very good point.

      On another note, what are your thoughts on the way the Brony Study categorizes bronies? We’ve been using the hipster/creative/moderate typology from the Brony documentary, but they use an interesting 5-category system that is organized around very similar principles. I haven’t seen people throw around those terms (active, secret, mixed, etc.) quite as often in my limited searches, but it is an interesting typology.

    2. I agree 100% about the Brony Study. I’d also label their conclusions as overly complicated, at least, but I also wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re “wrong”. If nothing else it seems like they over-emphasize certain things which are probably minor at best. One example would be the idea that love of the show is an escape from fear about terrorism. Like, maybe? Somewhere deep in the back of some fans’ subconscious? But they seem to cite it as a pillar of the show’s success among adults, which I just don’t buy.

  10. I believe the use of the word ‘ironic’ arose more out of a lack of anything better to call it. Both groups clearly enjoy a work but that enjoyment comes from a very different place. Due to this difference, I don’t believe the two groups can discuss their common interest without upsetting one another, because one group is built around mocking what the other adores. I also feel that this difference created a need for different terms. If affectionate enjoyment was to be labeled as ‘standard’ enjoyment, what then do we call the other?

    We can’t really call it anti-enjoyment because that means something completely different. Perhaps we could call it antagonistic enjoyment? I feel that accurately describes the sentiment, but casts it in an unfairly negative light. I think that ‘ironic’ is merely a label and, as Benjamin mentioned, useful for allowing us to state the idea of antagonistic enjoyment in a succinct and fair way while separating it out as a unique category.

    I must admit that I didn’t pay too much attention to the categories the study created. While I understand the need for rapid categorization, I also understand that most people are far more complicated than that. I remember looking at the categories, realizing that I didn’t feel that any of them were a good fit for me, and moving on. In light of this discussion I may need to go and re-examine them.

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