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Photos: "Brony" Culture Is Not What You Think It Is

A journey to the heart of BronyCon reveals a few actual bros, but mostly a bunch of stoked kids.
All photos via the author.

On the 99th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising, animator Lauren Faust's reboot of the My Little Pony franchise premiered on the Hub network, enthralling critics, kids, and adults alike. Faust, with a lovingly-curated staff of veterans from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Dexter's Laboratory, and other bright Millenial faves, directed My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic at young girls, but enchanted parents and beyond. But the most visible of the new fandom? Bronies.

For the uninitiated, Bronies is a waning internet fascination defined by BronyCon organizers as "the unexpected adult and teenage, often male, [fan] of MLP: FiM." The eponymns and several thousand others swarmed the Baltimore Convention Center this past weekend to celebrate their beloved little pony program at BronyCon 2013, the fifth and largest iteration of the yearly MLP: FiM lovefests.

Program writers and voice talent engaged packed houses, signing oversized plush ponies and answering the tough questions. There was gaming, cosplay, trivia, and parading sing-a-longs, but fans of MLP: FiM are also an introspective, sensitive bunch. Brightly t-shirted masses filled up lectures on modern narrative history and master-slave dialectics in attempt to truly know themselves.

Meanwhile, a parenting workshop had mothers and fathers almost in tears as they admired the emotional education at work in MLP—which emphasises cooperation, experimentation, creativity, and, natch, friendship—while raging against traditional masculine identities. Hugging reigned. Deadpool showed up. Teens declared that, "subverting gender norms is awesome!" A forthcoming study from Sam Miller, University of North Dakota, might give us the socioeconomic dissection any online phenomena craves—but for now we're just all, "that'll do, pony."

Looking for some music to go along with your Brony love? Our colleagues at THUMP made the perfect Brony playlist.