5. Remixes Make the Fandom Stronger.
In grad school, I would stay up all night reading while watching anime. Then I would get on the computer click back and forth between my thesis and the anime music videos that sucked me into YouTube. I got obsessed with AMVs, so much so that one of my first convention stories was about them. Those remixes introduced me to a lot of anime that I hadn't seen. I would catch a video and then go out and marathon another series.
There's a remix angle to the Brony fandom as well. In A Brony Tale, a DJ named Silva Hound talks about sampling pieces of the show. There are fan-made, mash-up videos online and other projects that will help draw people into the Ponyverse and keep them active once they're there.
6. The Cons Can Get Rave-y.
The rave-iness with My Little Pony goes beyond my favorite pony, the vinyl-spinning DJ Pon-3. There's a scene in A Brony Tale, which is set at BronyCon in 2012, where a bunch of fans are gathered in a dark room, pumping fists with glow-sticks attached. It looked a lot like a dance at an anime convention.
When I first started going to Anime Expo, I thought the dances would be like prom, but with everyone in costume instead of formalwear. Instead, there were tons of people waving glow-sticks and jumping up and down to really fast dance music. Last weekend, I stopped by a dance at Anime Expo and it's still pretty PLUR. The props had that psychedelic Alice in Wonderland look, like something you would see on a party flyer. Most of the crowd was packed into the center of the room, still dancing with glow-sticks as a DJ played tunes that sounded closer to what you might hear at HARD Summer or some other electronic dance music event. I would have started dancing myself, but I was probably the oldest person there and that would just be awkward.
7. They're Girl-Friendly Scenes.
The attention surrounding Bronies is unusual. The show and toys are marketed towards little girls. Older guys got into it and then there was a slew of stories about Bronies, almost all with the same angle - "Look! Men like My Little Pony!" I wouldn't fault anyone for thinking that the adult MLP fanbase is entirely male; that's how it's presented. However, there are girls in the fan community. I've seen them at various Brony events, including a convention in Anaheim, CA and a major MLP art show in Los Angeles. I've seen them hanging around the Hasbro booth at San Diego Comic-Con and dressed as human versions of their favorite ponies at all sorts of conventions. Grown women are as much of a part of the MLP community as grown men are.
Before I went to an anime convention, I didn't know any other women who were into anime or manga. After that, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the fan community was heavily female. In the beginning, there was a difference in the crowds I saw at anime and regular comic book conventions, where there were still significantly fewer women in attendance. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. When you see women heavily participating in the fan community, when it's more than just "Women in _____" panels, it will encourage more female fans to get involved in the community.
8. They're Niches Inside a Niche.
To the outside world, we're all nerds. We're a bunch of weirdos who somehow got a modest amount of cool cred once superhero movies started making bank and cosplayers turned up on TV screens. Inside the realm, though, there's a hierarchy amongst our kind. From what I've seen, the attitude seems to be that anime fans are nerds amongst the nerds. Getting into anime means staying on top of a string of shows as they hit the web. If you're hardcore, it may mean studying Japanese, making a pilgrimage to Akihabara and drinking a lot of Ramune.
In the documentaries, Bronies appear as a completely separate community. In real life, we see Bronies at anime and comic book conventions with some frequency. I've heard people in the nerd world make passing comments about Bronies, like appreciating My Little Pony was some line that they couldn't cross, and a lot of times, that sounds like it's tied into the gender-based misconceptions about MLP fans. People just need to get over it. Guys can like My Little Pony. Girls can like Transformers. Nerds are nerds. Just be cool with each other. Princess Celestia would want that.
Previously by Liz Ohanesian