Tag Blog: Covers of Covers of Fan Content

Tag Blog - Series 2
Tag Blog is an idea inspired by TAGJournal and Dr. Susan Lepselter at IU. We write blog entries about the My Little Pony fandom, then ask someone else in the community to write a follow-up and tag the next person in the chain. There are currently two concurrent series, one started by Jason (Series 1) and another by Kurt (Series 2). This is the first post of Series 2 by Kurt.

Covers of Covers of Fan Content

by Kurt Baer (ResearchIsMagic.org / Indiana University Bloomington)


One of the things I love most about the brony fandom is the place that original fan content holds within it. Brony-made content is created, circulated, and adopted in ways that I’ve never seen in other fandoms, with content made by bronies becoming in many ways as central in the fandom as anything officially released by Hasbro. Stories, songs, and art based on the show are created, which then serve as the basis for new works as they are used as inspiration, covered, or adapted by others in the fandom (which themselves serve as the basis for still more works or even, eventually, incorporated into the original show as a nod to the fandom). These references —even just considering the ones based within the fandom itself without touching other references to other shows, fandoms, etc.—build upon each other into an incredibly dense network of ties that serves as part of the shared “stuff” allowing the brony community to distinguish itself as a community. As someone that has never done much within any fandom studying the ways bronies create a sense of community in digital space, I’m very interested in and curious about the ways these references are used. As a music scholar and a musician, the way the happens within the brony music scene particularly fascinates me. While I’m definitely not aware of many of the best examples of this sort of covering, re-covering, adapting, and ‘intertextual’ linking, I do know it is pretty awesome and (from what I can tell) it seems to be very important to a lot of people.

As an example among MANY: The other day, I came across this video of the song “Brew: The Prequel” by Shwabadi on Youtube.

Which is A) a pretty solid performance and B) a cover of this song by Rhyme Flow/ DJ Flowny

Which is a rap version sampling this song (one of my personal favorites) by Lenich & Kirya

Which is an gypsy jazz version of the song “Pinkie’s Brew”

Which is from Friendship is Witchcraft, a FanDub of MLP:FiM.

That’s some Inception shit going on right there… AND. ITS. AWESOME.

*Mad props to all the creators of these videos. They are all incredibly awesome*

3 thoughts on “Tag Blog: Covers of Covers of Fan Content

  1. A tangent to this, I suppose, is how many different works can come together to form one larger whole. Let me use the Nightmare Night SFM as an example.

    For this particular video to exist, 3 different creative works needed to happen. We had to have the song as a basis, found here:

    other people had to create the 3D pony models for the SFM. Here’s a video about that process:

    Finally, yet another person had to use the models and sync them to the music to create this video:

    So while I totally agree that there is a lot of covering that happens in the community, I also feel that with so many different parts all coming together a lot of the works are, by necessity, collaborative efforts by many individuals to create one single piece of art.

    1. That definitely does a good job looking at the multi-media aspect of the whole thing, as well as the fact ways that these references—or, as you point out, even complete works made by different people—to come together within one particular work (or even one minute reference). As we are ostensibly looking at issues of community within the fandom (at least as pretext for writing our papers about MLP), the density of these references is really interesting to me and seems really important. There’s a system of signification at work here; a way of creating bonds between people within the fandom through reference to a shared set of signs (sign in the sense of something that represents something).

      I think, since it is fresh in my mind/off the presses, the new Anthology is a stellar example of these kind of references and connections. The amount of fan work and collaboration that went into the video is phenomenal and the references to different ideas and works within the fandom are pretty crazy/awesome—and then there are all of the other references to other bits of pop culture that really make the Anthology what it is. I feel that, as daunting as it is for me (as someone newish to the fandom) to get it under my belt, it is impossible to underestimate the significance of this sort of signification/communication through a shared set of signs.

      On a side note, while I am fairly good at reading at lease some of these references, other interests that I hold in internet and pop culture give me a bit of a leg up in terms of knowing what stuff is about compared to some (like knowing Latin when learning a romance language, perhaps?). When I show stuff like the anthology (or even memes and some of the blog posts here) to my wife, she doesn’t even know where to begin to get the references. Not sure where I am going with this, so I am going to end this sentence with a period and then hit post.

  2. At the end there you were beginning to make the case that the brony culture grew out of internet culture, and having a general knowledge of internet culture helps understand the brony culture. This is absolutely true, and something that I’ve taken as a given in this particular context.

    Just look at how everything started. I don’t want to give ‘all’ the credit to 4chan because I feel that the values of current bronies do not match those of 4chan, but in the beginning the movement began there, among people who were well versed in internet culture, memes, and games. It has grown almost exclusively through the internet, and as such it picks up ever large numbers of internet people along the way. Many internet people are also gamers, so there are strong influences from that as well.

    If you’re really trying to understand something, it isn’t enough to just examine how and where it is right now, you also have to look at where it came from and how it grew. Brony culture grew out of the internet, spread via the internet, and mostly lives on the internet. Therefore it stands to reason that to truly understand brony culture, one must understand internet culture in general. Otherwise, how would you know what the hell nyan Rainbow Dash was about? Or Dragonborn Fluttershy, or minecraft Sweetie Belle, or the myriad “Deal with it” memes, or… basically anything the fandom does.

    Come to think of it, maybe that’s why it’s hard for outsiders to penetrate this particular beast. It isn’t just about the ponies anymore, it’s about all the other stuff as well. The level of knowledge required to really understand it seems to be growing by the day, and it’s probably really hard for newcomers to find a foothold through the torrent of content.

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