The Brony Study Needs You!


Hello everyone!

Sorry for the brief hiatus (at least we finally posted about the conference); things have been busy for both of us. We are wrapping up everything on a new post that should be published later tonight and we already have several cool things in the works for the very near future, including an upcoming interview with Dr. Patrick Edwards (a.k.a. Dr. Psych Ology, of Brony Study Fame).

In our earlier conversations, Dr. Edwards mentioned that The Brony Study has a new survey out, looking at the ways that being in the fandom has changed peoples’ lives, and asked that people try to get the word out to as many people as possible.

Here is what they say about the new survey:

We have launched a new survey entitled: How the Fandom has Changed my Life. We have received many questions concerning the impact (both positive and negative) of the fandom (and MLP:FiM) upon members of the fandom. This survey has been designed to help us answer these question. Please help us by completing the survey. In addition, please spread the word to other members of the fandom.

In addition to conducting the above mentioned ‘How The Fandom Has Changed My Life’ Survey, which will give us information about several general areas of the fan’s life (emotions, thoughts and behaviors). We have also established an email ([email protected]) where Bronies can send us more detailed and personalized descriptions of the impact that ‘being a Brony’ has had on their lives. These ‘personal stories’ (minus personal identification) will be used in our presentations and publications. Please consider taking the survey and then sharing with us your personal story.

The Brony Study team has done some interesting work with the fandom and have been huge advocates of bronies for quite a while now both in the academic world and at the cons and other events they have attended. They’ve been trying to change the (largely negative) ways that psychologists look at fandoms and showing the positive aspects of being a brony and this survey will help them back some of their observations up with some solid numbers (which are all-important in their particular sphere of psychology). If you have some time, take the survey, post your story (you know you want to… all the ones we have encountered are super interesting) and, most importantly, spread the word. They welcome anyone in the fandom to take their survey and are especially looking for people that are newer to the fandom (in order to help them balance out their sample).

You can find the survey at, or by visiting their site at

Thanks a lot!


We’re off to Bowling Green for the Ray Browne Conference!

you can do it

Sorry for the late update on this, but we did get accepted to the Ray Browne Popular Culture Conference at Bowling Green State University. We’ll be headed there in two weeks! The abstract is copied below.

Proposed Abstract

Knowing How to Live/The Magic of Friendship: Ethnographic Methodology and the My Little Pony Fandom

While technologically-mediated interfaces are often understood as producing a different order of anxiety about human socialization, we wish to denaturalize the notion underscoring this view: that media interfaces are strange, foreign, and mysterious in a particular way unique to modernity. Are current media ideologies categorically different an interface than the vernacularization of biblical knowledge spearheaded by the Gutenberg Bible1, the encounter between the colonial west and the non-west2, or the Cold War promise/nightmare of atomic power3? While historical and cultural specificity must be maintained, the encounters are surprisingly similar: early-adopters integrate and mediate the interface as part of their social habitus just as others have their ideologies and ways-of-being jilted by the very same possibilities.

In this paper, we counter Henry Jenkins’ notion that “[n]one of us really know how to live in this era”4 by insisting that people are remarkably adept at living their lives, technologically mediated or otherwise. Technologies result in new ways of doing old things—expressing oneself, forming communities, and interacting with others—and while these new forms can be troubling for some, they quickly become home for others. Using our collaborative ethnographic project with fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (or more affectionately, “bronies”) as a point of departure, we argue for an ethnographic methodology that emphasizes not the strangeness of media technologies to those in online communities, but rather their mundanity and everyday-ness. Our blog, Research is Magic, represents an attempt at participant-observation5 that collapses the boundaries between academic and interlocutor based on those grounds—that we need not “do” the Internet in different ways and places than our interlocutors, and that a more productive way to interact with ethnographic subjects might be to theorize, create, and write with them, in their midsts, rather than far away and long after the ethnographic encounter.6

  1. As the first book printed in the West in any kind of major scale, the Gutenberg printing of the bible made church leaders anxious since it represented a threat to the church’s power in social life. 

  2. The colonial gaze and colonial power changed the ways people on both sides understood themselves and others. 

  3. Views of atomic power were utopian on one hand, since it meant this amazing new form of energy, and dystopian on the other, since the destructive power of the atomic bomb was scary for everyone involved. 

  4. Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Convergence Culture. 

  5. Participant-observation is a form of research that involves deep “hanging out” with the people you want to understand: both participating and observing. 

  6. Anthropologists have traditionally had a tendency to go to some far-flung corner of the world, live with the people there for some number of years, and then return and write books that the people they study never come into contact with. 

Tag Blog: A Continuation of Kurt’s ‘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 (Series 1 and Series 2). This is a guest post from Series 2 by Adam Sullivan (a.k.a. Harmonic Inferno) and follows “Covers of Covers of Fan Content” by Kurt .


A Continuation of Kurt’s ‘Covers of Covers of Fan Content’

By Adam Sullivan a.k.a. Harmonic Inferno ( Young Spark/ Winthrop University Rock Hill, SC)

After reading Kurt’s previous post several times over and not knowing how to continue on I had to think about what I should write about. It took a long 5 hours (well, not really 5 hours, but it felt like it!) of wall ball and talking to friends on Skype but it finally hit me: Talk about what I know best.


Being an activist for a few years now on my home blog, and now the more recent addition of Team Young Spark, this is the prime example of what we look for in that field. For those whom are unaware, arts activism is the act of pushing for continuation of an art or the arts in general. In my case I push for all arts from drawing and sketching to music and story writing so forth, nearly anything they can come up with. When I say nearly anything, I mean anything. The brony community is known for its artistic creations, good and bad. We have a lot of people whom are very creative and can create a lot of stuff out of almost nothing. This group of artists range from fan music, creating new stories from show characters and drawing their favorite ponies to creating pony themed meals, dance routines and even laser light shows based on the show.

m_a_laserson_by_laserpon3-d5x5z6w copy

The people in this fandom are very creative, and as I stated before the creations range in variety and quality. I love the meme that Kurt posted about the non-brony hearing “pony-step” and think it was professionally done because sometimes that is the case. The “actual” DJ-Pon3 (not Vinyl, though she is good too!) is a professional DJ. He was before the herd and used the herd to hone his craft to then propel his talent.


The same can be stated about Gabe Newell and Markus “Notch” Persson (creators of Half Life and Minecraft respectively), both being professional game designers and bronies. Stephen Colbert, actor and the host of The Colbert Report amongst other shows, is also considered (or was, depending on how you prefer to look at his mentions to the herd) to be a brony.

9108 - crossover parody The_Colbert_Report

The point I’m trying to get at is we need more people whom are famous and are bronies to help the younger ones try out what they want to try out. The way I personally perceive “the herd” is a plethora of people that create a very unique community that encourages arts and creativity.


People who want to experiment with being an animator can talk to other bronies and create this autonomous feeling of “comfort” and “compatibility” without the fear of rejection. We like to help others when we can because we know what it is like to need help. It also creates a perfect place for those whom want to learn other talents can find peace in doing so, as the case with myself. I am a musician and composer by trade but I’ve always wanting to get into animation and film editing among many other things. This group of people have shown me how to analyze cartoons on writing, form, voicing, development, and so on, not to mention basic foley. With these tools, I could go about making my own show if I wanted to or give back to anyone who wants to know the information. This is why I mentioned the previously mentioned people, we need them to come in and help share their knowledge from their level of craftsmanship. It would create an atmosphere for the arts that would be hard to beat and would create a positive influence into the community as a whole.

The Anatomy of a Trolling



We had a particularly drawn out trolling incident show up on our twitter feed a few days ago that we decided could be an interesting source for discussion. Luckily, we were able to catch up with Adam Sullivan (aka Harmonic Inferno), who runs Adam Sullivan’s Music Theory Blog; and has helped start Team Young Spark, and he was willing to talk to us. The post covers such things as the trolling incident on his twitter account , “pandering” to the fandom within MLP:FiM, media ideologies, and fedoras. Check it out below the break!

Continue reading The Anatomy of a Trolling

Open Topic: Music


So we have been discussing the fandom’s music production, particularly through Twitter and in our marathon study sessions at Starbucks. And we really just want to know what you guys think of fandom music, period. Here are some possible seeder questions (but as always, go wherever your heart desires):

  • What do you make of the wide range of production skill?
  • What qualities do you look for or value in music coming out of the fandom?
  • What brony music do you listen to? How do you find and listen to it (BronyTunes, Youtube, EQD, a Brony radio station, etc.)?
  • What do you think of the genres that fandom music tends to be made from? Why those?
  • How does it compare to other music you listen to? What else do you listen to?

Wub Wub

“Resistance is futile, hugs inevitable”: Discourses of Resistance in the My Little Pony Fandom – Abstract submission to IU-OSU Conference

Resistance is futile, hugs inevitable

Hi again everypony!

Thank you so much to everyone reading, following, and commenting here at Research is Magic since October. The comments on our last post really show how thoughtful and inquisitive this fandom is, and it’s been so much fun to interact with you all. We’ve been working to keep this train going, and that means we’ve submitted an abstract to present at another academic conference (we’re still waiting on the status of our Ray Browne Conference abstract…stay tuned)! This time, it’s the Indiana University/The Ohio State University (IU/OSU) Joint Student Conference in Folklore and Ethnomusicology. The theme for the 2014 conference is “2014: Decentering Power: The Art of (Everyday) Subversion.”

The idea for the paper has been heavily influenced by our recent conversations with the community, and we hope that shows through below. As with the previous abstract, I did my best to annotate the academese of the abstract, but here’s a tl;dr version: when analyzing a situation where people claim they are resisting some kind of power, we should be careful to realize that (1) there are many power relationships at play in addition to the one people focus on; (2) people may not be the underdog in all of them, and (3) a focus on resistance tends to ignore other sorts of community labor that may be equally important.

Proposed Abstract

“Resistance is futile, hugs inevitable”: Discourses of Resistance in the My Little Pony Fandom

Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, or “bronies” (a portmanteau of ‘bro’ and ‘pony’) often profess an ideology of “love and tolerance,” which they feel is in opposition to perceived injustices from society at large. Often singled out as “sexual deviants” or “childish,” many within the brony community have taken an explicitly oppositional stance toward the normative biases that have led to their stigmatization1 . Given that, it would be relatively straightforward to describe their actions as resistant to hegemonic orders of gender, sexuality, and age2 , but we argue that an analytical orientation that positions bronies as resisters trivializes their rich social interactions and effaces complicated power dynamics within and peripheral to the fandom3 . Drawing upon resistance as an analytical frame dangerously privileges acts of resistance to societal norms over other meaningful acts (e.g. creating a safe space within the fandom). Positing a unified fandom against larger societal norms also obfuscates the complex power relationships at play within the fandom itself, where the discourse of love and toleration can mask oppressive behaviors as opinion or diversity4 . In this paper, we draw from our ethnographic work with the brony community to describe issues of identity latent within broader, binary discourses of resistance and hegemony. In doing so, we argue for an understanding of resistance as a discursive strategy that indexes power relations but which must not be mistaken for a schematic of them, particularly because ideologies of identity do not identically reflect the social hierarchies in which they function5 .


  1. Put otherwise, some bronies clearly take an FU stance to people who make fun of them 

  2. Cultural hegemony is the idea that, given a certain power hierarchy, the powerful in society produce cultural expectations and normative behaviors that maintain the status quo and which are accepted by everyone else. Antonio Gramsci is the go-to scholar for this concept. 

  3. This critique of the value of the idea of “resistance” draws heavily on Lila Abu-Lughod’s article “The Romance of Resistance.” 

  4. We’re referring to ways in which “tolerating other points of view” may allow harmful perspectives to continue to perpetuate 

  5. In other words, referring to something as resistance or making something appear to be resistance is a strategy available to people regardless of whether they are “actually” resisting anything. The fact that they do it “indexes” or signals to us that there is a power inequity, but it may not be the same inequity that the people involved say it is. 

Girl Geeks/Gamers and the Fandom. A Conversation.

Gamer Luna - The Pwned


We (Kurt and Jason…and Dom, I guess) had a really good time doing the last conversational-style blog, and it garnered a lot of attention on the blog itself as well as some on other sites like Equestria Daily. One critique that we found really useful, however, was that we were probably a little flippant in our treatment of questions of gender in the fandom. Of course, that’s the very definition of male privilege–the ability to be flippant about gendered experiences that aren’t your own–so we really wanted to do something about that.


We invited Michelle to write a post a few weeks ago that proved to be a hit, and it raised even more questions about gender in the fandom, so I asked Michelle if she would dialogue (trialogue?) with us about those issues and share with us a different set of experiences about this and other fandoms. Thanks for being a great sport Michelle! -j&k

Check out the entire conversation below the break!

Continue reading Girl Geeks/Gamers and the Fandom. A Conversation.

Anthology 3 Viewing Party: Thursday 01/09 at 8:00 PM EST

Ponies the Anthology 3

Hello Everypony!

After looking at the poll results, we’ve decided to have our viewing party for PONIES The Anthology 3 this Thursday, 9 January at 8:00 PM (EST). So come join us, bring friends (or acquaintances, or cats that like to romp around on keyboards… we’re not picky), and enjoy a lifestream of an awesome video that is jam-packed with the work of many incredibly talented members of the fandom. We’ll provide the link and post the conversation (all of them this time…) on the blog. It should be a fun time.

As with last time, we’ll post a link here a little while before we start streaming. If you happen to happen to be around Bloomington, IN and own a decent pack of sled dogs, hit us up and we can let you know where the two of us are watching—we could be doubly co-present or something.

So yeah: Anthology 3… Thursday… 8:00 PM EST… We’ll Post the link here. Hope you can make it!