Bronies – Fans of My Little Pony. The TV show found an unlikely audience in a large group of Internet users in late 2010 and early 2011. These older fans, typically males from 18 to 35, were drawn to the show’s characters, stories, animation style, and influence of the show’s propagation as an Internet meme. The fandom adopted the name brony (plural bronies), a portmanteau of “bro” and “pony”. Though this generally refers to male fans, the term is often applied to fans of any gender outside the target demographic. Another term, “Pegasister”, has been used to refer to older female fans of the show. Two informal surveys of 2,300 and 9,000 participants respectively revealed that the average age of adult fans is around 21, that approximately 86% were male, and that 63% were currently pursuing a college degree or higher qualification. (Source – Wikipedia)
As many people will know by now, I collect action figures, statues and comic books. It’s actually turned into somewhat of an obsession so naturally I am interested in, and curious about, other collectors and their interests. A while ago I read an online article explaining the Brony culture and I was very intrigued by this concept. Why would grown-up men and women go gaga over My Little Pony? I mean, it’s a TV show that we watched when we were little children. Is it possible that it could’ve evolved into something much bigger than what I could remember? So I set out to find out more about this culture and its fandom, and especially about its roots in South Africa.
At first, I did what every normal person would do – I googled Bronies in South Africa, not expecting to come up with much though. I was however pleasantly surprised to find that the Saffer Bronies have quite an online presence. There’s a website Bronies of South Africa but to be honest it’s not very active and alive like I would expect it to be. Next stop was Facebook, where I found a very interesting group of people who came together at Bronies of South Africa. Turns out it’s the same people from the website so I reckoned I finally found what I’m looking for.
What I was expecting was a weird group of men fan-boying over Ponies. What I found was an interesting fellowship of people who adore the Ponies and who strive to live their lives according to the values and life lessons they learnt from My Little Pony. I was intrigued by the artwork that was posted and how interactive the group was. To my surprise I later learned that a lot of the artwork posted on the group was actually done by the group members themselves.
Then it was October and time for our annual geek pilgrimage to the rAge Gaming Expo and low and behold, the Bronies started making plans to have a meet-up sometime during the week-end. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to get to know the people behind the cool artwork and posts and I put it out there – who wants to join me in an interview at rAge to discuss MLP and the Brony culture in South Africa. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. So many of the Bronies said they wanted to take part in the interview and tell the world about themselves and their passion. They showed up to rAge loud and proud with their Brony t-shirts and cosplay which I think was incredibly brave and awesome, if you take into account the bad rep rAge has been getting for not being considerate to cosplayers.
I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the South African Bronies during rAge 2014 and it forms part of my big adventure at rAge this year. This video clip shows the conversation we had with the Bronies in South Africa and how their passion affect them and their lives and how society reacts to them in general when it becomes known that they follow the Brony culture. The Brony interview starts at 2:29 minutes into the video. Enjoy: