One thing that most bronies don’t think about is the amount of time and effort that they have put into the show and the fandom. Thinking logically about it, there would be far more free time in my day if I hadn’t filled it with ponies. This is a choice, not an obligation; perhaps all addicts say that about their problems, but I think that watching an educational, entertaining show for girls is ultimately a better decision of wasting time than slowly giving myself cancer, finding inebriated promiscuous women at questionable social events, or searching for solace in likewise illegal activities.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that ponies are not an addiction; that we can all kick them out of our lives at any time, there will be no residual effects, and life will go on as it normally does, sans the ponies. Now we’re getting to where there’s sacrifice—time freely devoted to a cause. Jroddie, as some of you may have noticed, has been posting a lot more articles recently; this isn’t because he likes season 4, however. He still hates the direction that the show is taking, convinced that matters have gotten progressively worse since Lauren Faust departed our fair show.
I agree with him: Things have gotten worse since Lauren Faust left. However, my beef isn’t with the show itself.
What is sacrifice without a cause? Simply put, it becomes an addiction. Anyone who smokes in their 40s lost their cause to smoke 20 years ago, when they realized that it was no longer cool and that they’re slowly killing themselves. Despite this loss of reason to suck toxicity into their lungs, they still consume, giving themselves a myriad of health problems with zero benefit. They sacrificed a portion of their time to associate themselves with the “in” crowd, and now it’s something far worse.
When My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic first became a rallying cry for bronies, there was a seemingly unified purpose in our direction. We promoted “friendship,” made jokes, and defended our enjoyment of the show to the commonfolk.
As of the past… year or so, from what I gather—mostly since season 3 started—there has been a visible shift in the brony agenda. A large number of important figures in the earlier days of the fandom evaporated, leaving the later generations of bronies to their own devices. Not all of them have left, but a large number have moved on to the next big thing, leaving a legacy of sorts in their wake.
These initial bronies, whom I was not a part of, made the most heedless sacrifice of the brony community in founding it. They had a cause: “for the lulz.” What better way to give others happiness than through enjoyment? Perhaps not their intention, but that’s how things ended regardless. Their cause wasn’t noble, nor was it obvious, but they were passionate about blowing their new show’s greatness out of proportion.
It was dumb luck that the show they jokingly called incredible actually was incredible, attracting others who unwittingly sacrificed their own time to the fandom—the group I’m a part of. This new brony community has a far different message from the OG bronies, being born out of real enjoyment of the show.
It is here that we find ourselves today, with a self-sustaining brony community which has grown exponentially as time progresses and the minds of more bigots slowly open to the idea that a TV show doesn’t dictate manliness. We have musicians making music, fanfic authors writing fanfic, and artists drawing art.
Are we addicted?
Of course not; we just sacrifice entire hours of our day to a TV show and a community because we have a worthy cause. Which is… what is our cause?
It’s a bit of a stretch, but perhaps bronies haven’t had a legitimate purpose since the early 4channers used it as a trolling method. We each have our own reasons and reservations in regards to why we watch the show, but as far as a unified purpose? There really isn’t one.
So, let’s focus on the show for a little bit. Jroddie has been speaking with us at some length about his loss of faith in the show and its degradation in quality to him over time. Stock community opinion disagrees with him, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.
The hour-long special, Princess Twilight Sparkle, reminded us that the show can still be awesome with another set of wings. The follow-up episode, Castle Mane-ia, reminded us that ponies can still go crazy. The episode after that, Daring Don’t, has reminded us that our ponies are all still very human, for all their pony-ness. For a lot of the fandom, it erased from memory the sour note that season 3 ended on and that was expounded upon with Equestria Girls.
It seems that, as long as new ponies are being released, we still have a purpose; despite how outspoken Jroddie is about season 4 thus far, he still happily writes for The Daily Oat. We’re happy to have such a talented writer, even if his reasons for writing don’t include enjoyment of the show.
So, where do Jroddie’s misgivings come from? What has him so convinced that the show is getting so distasteful that he can barely even bring himself to watch the new episodes? I have an inkling as to this.
Since the end of season 3 all the way through to the current day, I have had some problems surrounding the show. They’re not as blatantly representative of what my misgivings have been in the past, however; I wasn’t a big fan of season 3’s direction, but Equestria Girls was quite good, and season 4 has been considerably positive so far.
At this point, the issue, to me, can’t really be shoved onto the show; although it isn’t perfect and never has been, it is still of a much higher quality than any other cartoon of its type in recent memory. Instead, I’ve found reason to be discontent with the company running the show.
So, a small note on why I dislike Hasbro’s current direction of the show: I spoke in a previous article about Hasbro’s decisions as a corporate entity in order to ensure the future of ponies, landing them rights to distribute a Japanese version of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic at the cost of making the show less free for everyone. I know fully well that they have good intentions whenever I see a copyright takedown of an episode on Youtube or a livestream for the new episode that got shut down, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy or support corporate pandering. As it is, the episodes tend to stay up for quite a while before they get taken down, and the majority of the streams still work, so I’m still under the impression they’re turning the other cheek unless absolutely necessary; it’s just disheartening to know that it’s happening at all now.
What good is sacrifice if all you do about your sacrifice is complain? A 40-year-old smoker complains about the cost of cigarettes, the cold he has to suffer when he’s “enjoying” his cigarettes, and the health issues he sustains due to smoking cigarettes, yet he will never blame the cigarettes themselves, nor will he blame the company that manufactured the cigarettes, for his miserable addiction. Likewise, alcoholics never blame the bottle, nor do they blame the brewer; they do, however, blame their friends for taking them to parties where they end up having a bad experience.
Yet, Jroddie blames the show, and I blame Hasbro; are we blaming the cigarette and the brewer for our dissatisfaction? I don’t think so. The fandom, to us, is the cigarette, and the fandom is also the brewer who creates the bottle of alcohol; the show and Hasbro are environmental factors, our cause for not wanting to admit we’re addicted, yet somewhere in our hearts we know that we are.
Or, perhaps we’re still searching for a reason to want to sacrifice our time for the fandom.
Whenever a worthy cause comes about, those who rally under its banner find themselves fighting the fight of righteousness (no religious connotation here, just a cause that is right). Well, news outlets are mostly positive about us now, and the negative news about bronies out there is more often disregarded than noticed. The world is still learning what we’re about, but we have documentaries of great quality, conventions to meet with our fellow fans, and an internet presence that is usually very prompt in delivering quick, accurate information on the brony fandom.
What cause do bronies still have? Do we even have one? Are we sacrificing for our fandom, as have so many bronies before us… or are we feeding an addiction?
The natural reaction of all people is to deny they’re addicted to something; it offers some small amount of comfort to know that you’re in control of yourself completely and totally. To admit that your willpower is weak enough that you can’t kick a self-imposed addiction takes a departure from self-absorption that most are unwilling to take the dive to find out.
Do I think I’m addicted to ponies? Well, no, of course I don’t; who would willingly admit they are? Being a time martyr of the fandom seems a lot nobler and gives far more solace than having to admit an addiction. I write fanfic and news because I want to, not because I have to… right?
Perhaps those who departed from the fandom long ago are the only ones who truly sacrificed for us to exist now. Perhaps we’re the only ones who sacrifice, and they only did it to entertain themselves for a little while, eventually finding it boring and moving on. It doesn’t really matter now; we’re still here, and they’re not.
Do we sacrifice? That’s really a matter of debate; I personally feel that the majority of HiE fics are from the obsessed who want to be in Equestria so much that they’ll self-insert and are so in denial that they won’t admit their character is a self-insert. Is that sacrifice or just a means of living out a fantasy? Perhaps it’s both.
That being said, perhaps the entire fandom is living out a fantasy. Based on the amount of good art, good music, good fanfic, good videos, and good conversation that has been a direct product of the show, we really like Equestria and its inhabitants therein. There’s nothing wrong with liking a fantasy, seeing as real life sucks so badly and all.
Perhaps we’re sacrificing ourselves in order to not just let die the memory, the idea that the world needn’t be such a terrible place. Perhaps we have serious discussion about something as ridiculous as ponies because it’s better than having serious discussion about any of the terrible dark clouds which hang over our world. Perhaps our eyes are on the brighter future, rather than the dark and dismal past or present. I like to think we’re not just a bunch of addicts needing a fix. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
If I am addicted to ponies and I haven’t sacrificed, then I’m addicted to the happiness I feel when I watch the show, read the words of other bronies, and see the Twilight Sparkle plushie hanging from a ceiling hook in my living room (we’re getting married). If that’s the case, I sacrifice time and words convincing others that such happiness is a thing to be cherished and pursued in our individual lives. That, to me, will always be a worthy cause.
I won’t arrogantly claim that all bronies feel happiness when watching the show; I will, however, always encourage those who haven’t watched the show to at least give it a try. Being open-minded, at least, is always a good thing.
So, are we bronies sacrificing anything? Or are we doing what we already would have done? I will say that I don’t think we’re all a bunch of addicts; I like what the brony fandom as a whole has done so far, and anticipate that we will do far more positive than negative before the fandom finally goes kaput 100 years or so from now.
The show has promoted creativity, positivity, and optimism within much of the brony community; if we exalt these traits, then we’re not feeding an addiction, but sacrificing for a cause. That is something that humanity ought to sacrifice for… and we can start with bronies.