Feb. 6, 2013 -- A Kickstarter-funded documentary on the Brony subculture by Bronies themselves is facing backlash from women who argue that the film excludes them and their experiences, as well as from fellow male fans who feel the documentary doesn't offer a complete portrayal of male My Little Pony fans.
A Brony, as defined by the inimitable KnowYourMeme.com, is a portmanteau of "bro" and "pony" used to describe "a teenage or adult male fan of the TV cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FiM). According to the site, these young men were, at first, viewed as being outside of the cartoon's expected demo of young girls, but Bronies have since "grown into a widely recognized fandom subculture and continued to retain their presence and influence on internet culture and its hub sites.
Which brings us back to the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony, which can be purchased online, and why it's facing all matter of criticism. As Daily Dot's Aja Romano writes, the documentary seems to be "an earnest attempt to positively portray the group, and it's part of an ongoing attempt by Bronies to change the public's perception of what they do. Still, many Bronies feel that the film's subjectivity is its downfall, and that it ultimately fails to respond to, or even approach, any of the major critiques about the fandom."
My Little Pony fan Steve Holt, summed up the documentary's tone as "hey we like something we're NOT supposed to like, we demand an award."
The documentary has also received criticism for not offering a farther-ranging glimpse of the show's fans, which include male fans who don't necessarily feel persecuted for their interest, the series' female fans, and the darker side of the fandom, including in-fighting and bullying.
And then there are still other aspects that went largely unexplored. On a Reddit thread about the film, one Redditor asked whether the documentary mentioned "clopping" -- slang for masturbation, and another part of fandom. He was told that it is mentioned:
"The literal quote in the animated sequence was: 'The talent is their glory, never slowing, never stopping, from the music to the stories, and the artwork and the clopping Oh dear. But let's steer away from that and...'"
Another Reddit user echoed the sentiment that, while he enjoyed the documentary overall, it would have done well to include "people like me, otherwise known as the majority" for whom the show and its fandom is but one facet of life, and not a dramatic, fraught complication. Another fan agreed, adding that, "I feel like it still sends the wrong message that watching MLP is something that is or should be treated like a misunderstood taboo to the rest of the world, like it's something you have to 'come out' about, and 'confess' to your family. That doesn't really help legitimize the brony fandom."
As for the show's female fans -- also known as "pegasisters" -- they may very well be included in another proposed fan-created documentary on the subculture. For, as a very thorough article in Global Comments points out, there is an aspect to the rise of and media fascination with Brony culture that isn't explored:
Ironically, of course, the bronies' own behavior en masse in the fandom reinforces the same old male-centre/female-margin dynamic, as does much of the media coverage. Female fans are squeezed from the frame as objects worthy of consideration of their own. Some have proposed the male-centric term "brony" be applied to all adult MLP fans, an unreflexive marking of the male as universal. This is indicative of a broader claiming of the text as normatively the domain of men, a far from unique dynamic in fandom – just one of a million reasons why a feminist narrative like MLP:FiM is still so sorely needed by girls and women.