by Alex Bailey
Nucleus correspondent Alex Bailey, labelled an outsider by the other specialised Brony media reporters, found himself in a strange and creative world of Ponies, plushies and fandom at the BronyCon conference in the US. Here he discusses life, love and the great question: Who is the best pony?
Wanting to check everything out as soon as possible I headed to the vendors’ hall where I was greeted with a swarming mass of humanity that put New York rush hour to shame.
Two things took me back. First was the amazingly high quality of art on display. It ranged from large canvasses to keychains as well as stuff like clothes. The level of work that had gone it to everything astounded me. And I wasn't the only one, because around me people were snatching up merchandise like mad.
The second thing that shocked me was the smell.
Some people will think that I am picking on the Bronies (males fans of the show My Little Pony, aged around 14 to 40) about personal hygiene and that’s not fair. It is fair. We live in a society. We are not animals. It’s not life threatening to have a shower or wear deodorant. The fact that there was a panel on what is called the 6-2-1 rule (6 hours of sleep a night, 2 meals and 1 shower) horrified me.
Wandering around the stalls I eventually found some artists that I knew from elsewhere. I was amused to find that they were both flat out. I quickly asked them for an interview later and proceeded to go see some of the panels.
The panels included how to make your own plushies, how to produce music, how to write fanfics and just about every form of expression. It seems that Bronies are a very creative people and this was on display everywhere. Most of these panels were packed with attendees all eager to ask questions of panelists.
As I wandered around and became acclimatised to the convention its charm began to work on me. I even struck up a few impromptu interviews with attendees.
“So how did you become a Brony?” I asked Luke who was dressed in a bright pair of blue shorts and a t-shirt that had just about every pony on it in one big happy family photo.
“Well I was going through a hard time and the show really helped me through it. And it brought me closer to my cousin. Now we are best friends!” He replied with a charmingly goofy smile hugging his cousin Tim.
“What do your family think?”
“They think it’s a bit strange but they are okay with it,” he smiled back.
Everyone I talked to had similar stories, that these colourful little ponies had helped them through personal difficulties and they had come out the other side stronger. Most people talked about how they had found acceptance within the Brony community. How they had found love and support despite their background, race or religion.
And it dawned on me… This wasn’t just about six equines… This was about how as a species we are always more powerful when we have friends. As clichéd as it seems this message is often lost and the only thing My Little Pony had done was come along and remind us. All these people had been united by the wish to be accepted for who they are and as such found people with the same interest and willingness to accept them.
I checked my watch. It was 6:30. Time to go talk to Dovne and Braeburned. I met up with the guys in the vendor hall and we found a patch of sun to discuss life, love and the great question: Who is best pony?
“Do you find members of the fandom more intense than other people?” I asked both of them.
“I wouldn’t call them intense. Just dedicated. They really go that extra mile,” Dovne replied with a smile.
“The fans I love to meet are the ones who have followed your stuff and seen your work and they really appreciate the artistic content as well as really enjoying the show,” Braeburned added.
“I’ve been told there are two types of fans; the creative and everyone else. What’s your opinion on that?” I asked next.
“Oh yeah. You definitely have those who make stuff and those who follow it,” Dovne replied.
“How do you see the Brony fandom moving forward in the future?”
“There is a current break in the seasons and because of that it has calmed down a lot but I think that when the show starts up again there will be renewed interest. I think a lot of the excitement will come back and as long as they are making this stuff in a similar vein then it will be appreciated,” Braeburned answered.
“I feel that eventually the fandom will merge with others like Adventure Time. I think that the fandom has had a little too much time up on its high horse (excuse the pun). They feel like they are really special when they are just like most fandoms,” replied Dovne. “Eventually it will just become a part of daily life and it won’t be so much of a private club. It’s become a worldwide phenomenon and its becoming increasingly mainstream.”
“Has the community helped you?” I began, but at this point we were told that we had to move by a harassed looking security guard. Apparently the organisers were busy setting up Bronypalosa (the biggest all-Brony concert in the world) and we were in the way.
Finding a new spot we continued.
“When the show started up there was such a lack of fan-created content that those making art were on par with the actually makers of the show. This gave me a really high level of exposure,” Braeburned answered.
“Yeah. I mean the show has allowed me to get lots of exposure and for Brae to become massive,” Dovne put in.
Thanking the guys we parted ways and I wandered back to the hotel for a nap before Bronypalosa.
Keep an eye out for Part III: Equestria or Bust...