Monday 28 January 2013

Movie Review - Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony

The Brony culture has become one of the biggest sources of controversy on the internet since its inception in 2010, when the acclaimed My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series began airing in the United States and attracted an audience beyond its targeted young girls due to the appealing art style, voice acting and substantial writing. It seems only natural for such a craze to be documented in a major fashion, and after a long history of funding and expanding, the long awaited fan film Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Fans of My Little Pony arrived last week to a pleasant success - but is it really as heartwarming as people make out?

The documentary covers the lives of multiple 'bronies' from the USA and UK and their journey to the annual BronyCon event. We get an insight to their lifestyles and how they deal with joining such a controversial fandom - intercut with this are loveable fan animations, where a university professor pony (John DeLancie) sings a lecture to his class about the nature of the fanbase and its various sub cultures, as well as interviews with the cast and crew including Lauren Faust (producer) and Tara Strong (voice of Twilight Sparkle) alongside a handful of first hand convention footage.

The documentary is wonderfully shot and fantastically animated when it comes to those segments, but it is insanely biased to the culture at hand. Nothing negative about the Brony fandom is ever mentioned, aside from a minor (and funny) reference to clopping (Google at your own peril). It feels like the documentary is treating the subject matter as a cure for cancer and enforces an idea that you should feel bad for not liking the show. I for one enjoy it, but I don't like the culture - does that make me a bad person? This film likes to think so.

I can't help but think the main people documented in the film are overreacting in levels beyond measure - most of them claim to have had nothing worth it until MLP came into their life, and this crude use of such melodrama isn't heartwarming in the slightest; more than anything it's just corny and annoying. I admire the passion of the fans and the fantastic charitable work they participate in, but you can not be a Brony and be just as loving. This film really shoves a confused message in your face that being a Brony is the 'perfect life'. I know it points out the flaws of societal acceptance, but it ignores any meaningful criticism of Bronyism and opts to point out acts of violence and hatred upon poor, innocent fans. Yeah, we're not all like that.

It's an entertaining and admirable effort, and one that I truly respect. But it doesn't document the culture of Bronies. Instead, it completely sucks up to them and refuses to tolerate those not accepting of it. This isn't an honest look into the fandom, but a criticism of those who don't like it. Really biased, and an insight into the fandom that isn't so sappy or one sided would've made for a far more enticing watch.