My Little Pony: Conventions are Magic
By: James M. Spahn
Bronies. A predominantly young adult male fanbase of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. You’ve probably heard of them. You may even know one or two. But you problably didn’t know that BronyCon, a convention dedicated to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is exploding. The first BronyCon was held in June of 2011 and had a meager attedance of about a hundred fans. Two years later, BronyCon 2013 was hosted in Baltimore, Maryland. They expected approximately 6000 convention goers. What they got was over 8500 fans from all across the globe. In addition to bronies from the United States and Canada, some came from as far away as the U.K., Scotland, Sweden and Belgium for three days to spend meeting voice actors, writers, musicians, authors, and most of all other fans.
The convention featured autographs and photo ops with veteran voice actors, comic book authors and artists, and animators and authors from the show itself. These guests also appeared in several Q&A panels. Now, to any regular con-goer, this all seems to be standard fair. This is where BronyCon truly stands out. They drew upon the fandom itself and allowed the fans of the show to lead their own panels.
For more academic fans, college professors of sociology offered a panel discussing the evolution and definition of “girl cartoons,” to a doctor of classical civilization offering insight into the depth of mythology presented in this so-called “children’s cartoon.” These were hosted by highly educated, well-spoken, adults who are self-proclaimed “bronies.”
But beyond the more erudite we find the creators of the show truly embracing the fans. Fan-hosted panels were the true heart of the convention. They lead panels discussing fan produced fiction, art, music, and crafts. And they did so with the encouragement of the show creators. These fans go together as friends and had lively discussions with known and respected creators in the community and discussed their own creations with as much respect given to such illustrious guests as show writer M.A. Larson. Respected authors such, known online by such names like Applejinx, Bookplayer and Sleepless Brony were asked sincere questions from fans and would-be creators. Artists like The Living Tombstone lead hordes of dancing bronies in a rave so energetic that it literally created an earthquake registering a 1.6 on the richter scale and shaking the foundation of the Baltimore Convention Center. The fans truly got to show and express their passion.
Then their were the costumes. The stereotype of “fans in fur suits” was shattered in creative expression of four legged ponies by two-legged human fans. Shown below are just a few of these costumes of con-goers, barely scratching the surface of what was visible at the convention.
In short, BronyCon was about more than just fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It was and will remain an expression of the show’s core beliefs. Friends who never met came together in an environment of acceptance and love. This author’s personal experience embodied that. Passionate discussions, respectful disagreements, and shared laughter were the order of the day. And if this kind of love and tolerance is what Friendship is Magic and its fans bring out of the convention and into the world, then I say the explosion of fans across the globe is much needed in a cynical society. Viva la brony!
About the Photographer Scott Embrechts:
Belgium resident Scott Embrechts flew half way around the world to attend BronyCon 2013. He is a passionate fan of all things My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and can be found over at FIMFiction.net under the user name DBZordie.