This article first appeared on VICE Canada.
China has brought the world incredible inventions—paper, gunpowder, India ink—and recently planned to introduce yet another marvel: a mass-produced scantily clad My Little Pony (MLP)–inspired doll. The posting for the product has since been taken down, but it raised so many questions that we needed to dig deeper regardless.
The doll resembles the character Rainbow Dash, and is a beautiful five feet, nine inches of curvaceous equine PVC. If your immediate reaction is outright disgust you aren't alone, but presumably no one would even think about making it if there weren't a market for it, right?
According to the Ali Baba listing, the doll can apparently be used for "advertisement, parties, clubs, parks, and outdoor entertainment." So it's kind of a cross between a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube guy and a bouncy castle that you can fuck.
The listing for the erstwhile product was incredibly sketchy and confusing, and raised a lot of questions. For example: Why did the product specifications contain the descriptor, "Ice cream cone: ice cream cone"? What were we supposed to do with the "ropes, glue, sandbags, pegs" that would have come with the repair kit? And why is there a company employee posing with the doll like he's awkwardly getting his photo taken with a celebrity on some B-list red carpet event?
In order to gain a deeper understanding of the issue, VICE talked to a brony named Evan Nip, an acquaintance whose MLP fandom has never surfaced in our interactions. Nip is a student in Ottawa and is also active on the Ottawa Bronies web forum. He owns a My Little Pony T-shirt and a plushie and is also part of a podcast called Alpaca Party.
VICE: So, as a brony, what do you think of this doll?
Evan Nip: The doll represents everything I hate about the fandom, to be honest. I've always had a big problem with the sexual fetishization of My Little Pony, and it's something that seems to only occur in the adult fandom. The show itself I believe does a good job of maintaining a non-sexualized image for the ponies, something that seems to be increasingly rare in television and toys marketed toward young girls. However, [some of] the fandom takes it and twists it all up. Let me be clear: I know some furries, and that is not what I have a problem with.
People have different fetishes, and while I'm not a furry, I don't really care that there are people out there who are. My main problem is when you associate that sexual energy with something that is supposed to be a kids' show. And it is definitely occurring. Search "clop" (MLP-themed porn) on the internet, read fanfics, or even go to conventions and you will see evidence of this everywhere. I went to Ottawa Comiccon this year, and the amount of "slutty"-styled MLP cosplays seriously disturbed me. I don't care about the provocativeness of the costume, I care about the association with a kids' show.
Maybe I can clarify with an example. I feel that probably the biggest misstep the MLP franchise has had is the Equestria Girls spinoffs. In them, the Mane 6 characters are represented as basically normal human teenagers. I felt that this essentially made it OK to sexualize these characters, and as a result, I felt the core message of the show has taken a different turn. I like MLP mostly because of the writing and the characters, but also because it presents a positive and empowering message for little girls, something which is still severely lacking in modern media. Attaching sexual fantasy to a show like this simply ends up reversing this message.
Can you tell me a bit about how you became a "brony"?
To be honest, I was actually listening to this podcast called the InternetBox, where they had a segment on Ponies every episode. The podcast was really good, but for about ten minutes each episode they would just go on about the latest episode, and it sounded funny, but I couldn't really fully comprehend what was being said. So basically I started watching it simply to try and get a full understanding of what was being said on some dumb podcast.
How does MLP meld with your identity?
People treat my fandom of MLP much differently than [other types of fandom]. Being a brony has become a defining feature of my interests to other people. If a friend of mine decides to make a jab at me, it's usually related to MLP, so whether I think it is or not, it cannot be helped that it is a major factor in how others perceive me, and therefore becomes part of my identity. Like it or not, identity is largely shaped by what others think of you, because if it was simply what you think of yourself, then we wouldn't have such problems with discrimination.
What are some of the misconceptions that people have about bronies?
I mean, the obvious one is that we are all perverted furry pedophiles. Every time someone finds out I'm a brony, the third or fourth question is some covert way of asking if I jack off to pony porn, and the only reason they wait that long to ask is out of politeness. However, I think there is a larger misconception that often goes unnoticed, and that is that we are all adult men. I know a lot of women bronies (some who hate the term "pegasister," some who don't), and for whatever reason, they consistently are marginalized in media coverage. Part of the reason, I think, that bronies have such an association with sexual fetishization is because the belief is that we are all dirty men living in our basements, when the truth is we are much more diverse than that. There are people who take the enjoyment too far in every fandom, but ours tends to cause more alarm because it's a little girls' show.
Does your current relationship have any My Little Pony aspect to it?
[Laughs] No, not really. My girlfriend thinks that me being a brony is kind of weird, but she doesn't really give a shit. I think she's weird for watching America's Next Top Model religiously, but I don't make a big deal about it, either. Honestly, we are both mature adults, and we respect each other's choices, and that's all there is to it. If someone can't accept that, then that's their problem.
Back to the doll: would you be interested in purchasing something like this for, y'know, non-sexual purposes? Or do you know someone who would?
I definitely would not be interested in purchasing the doll, except for maybe prank purposes… I do know some people who would buy it, but to be honest, the majority of the people I know don't take sexual pleasure in MLP. If anything, they would buy the doll just to dress it up and keep it with their collection of plushies and other memorabilia.