A thousand ‘Bronies’ headed to Brooklyn for ‘My Little Pony’ convention
Hotel rooms selling out for Ponycon 2015
Brooklyn Heights is bracing for an onslaught of ponies – and “My Little Pony” fans from all over the world.
The third annual Ponycon will be taking place at St. Francis College over the three-day Valentine’s Day weekend. Between 1,000 to 1,200 fanatics, many in costume, are expected to flood the convention’s panels, attend workshops, play games, meet voice actors and catch a sneak peak at the animated “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” season five trailer.
Hotel rooms set aside for the convention at the Super 8 Hotel in Park Slope are sold out, according to the event’s website. This reporter’s attempts to find a room at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge also met with failure.
While the adorable, upbeat “My Little Pony” (MLP) animated television show is aimed at little girls, the bulk of convention attendees are expected to be grown adults seeking friendship and community with other adult pony lovers.
Older MLP admirers – and there are apparently thousands of them – are known as “Bronies.” Most are male between the ages of 16 to 30, though an increasing number of older females are joining the herd, says Ponycon organizer Bill Crumlic.
“We are expecting that about 75-80 percent of the tickets are being purchased by Bronies with the remaining amount families, which is a very nice mix. Something that we hope stands out about Ponycon is our good balance of Bronies and families. We are very inclusive,” Crumlic said.
What is it about guys who like ‘My Little Pony?’
Outside of their own websites, meetups and chat rooms, Bronies are sometimes mocked and often misunderstood. Crumlic has given a great deal of thought to the phenomenon of men who like sweet little ponies with names like Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.
“There are many opinions about why the show has gained popularity with males and especially the young male demographic,” he said. “I have heard statements that range from changing views on masculinity to the thought that the attacks of September 11, 2001 caused a widespread emotional trauma.
“The human condition wants to repair itself and this is a surge of the psyche wanting to enjoy some innocence and a positive message of working together,” he theorized. “The message of friendship and working together to solve problems is a strong message in the show.”
MLP “also breaks the stereotype that women are weak,” Crumlic added. “The show’s ‘mane 6’ characters are strong and empowered females yet have human frailties that we all experience growing up. The group overcomes adversity by working together.”
The innocence of MLP may also serve an antidote to today’s hyper-cynicism.
“It is great to see an animated show that is funny without needing to use adult humor,” Crumlic said. “Many of us also like ‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Simpsons,’ but with MLP there is no need for the humor to be on the edge. It is innocent yet still very clever with references that older people will get. They are not harmful or offensive in their humor.”
MLP also “gets” its online fan base. The show includes references to other popular culture, and the writers include elements that directly relate to feedback from watching the fans comments online, Crumlic said.
Fans embrace differences
As an example of the way fans have shaped the show, Crumlic brought up the case of “Derpy.”
Derpy, AKA Dipsy or Ditzy Doo, was christened Derpy Hooves by MPL’s online fans following a possible animation error in the first episode that gave her a cross-eyed “derpy” expression.
Fans embraced Derpy, he said, and she has become one of the most loved pony characters.
“The Bronies embraced her being different and accepted her as is, and when it appeared Hasbro was going to correct her eyes, they rebelled and campaigned against changing her.
“This is a typical feeing among Bronies that being different because of physical differences or mental limitations is nothing to be ashamed of,” Crumlic explained.
Crumlic says the show encourages its fans to be creative. “Artists, musicians, writers all are inspired by the program to create their own versions of the ponies. BroniesNYC has art meet-ups where ‘customs’ are created (taking current toys and reshaping them, repainting them and sculpting them to be customized characters) and those meet-ups always end up with a waiting list.”
He also wants people to know that the event is family-friendly, and everybody is welcome.
“We are inclusive and welcome all fans who enjoy the show and want to be around others who feel the same. We want to provide a safe and enjoyable environment to celebrate all things My Little Pony, especially the creative process that brings the show to us and the community that brings us all together.”
On online chat rooms and on fan sites, MLP lovers can’t wait to share the love.
“The community is looked at funny and called names. But we Bronies like love and tolerance and don’t care about your hateful opinions,” writes poster Halofreak101 on the Instructables website.
Halofreak provides instructions about how to become a Brony – which is mainly accomplished by watching MLP episodes. “Past episode 7, it gets addicting,” Halofreak writes. “The ponies can control your life.”
Ponycon takes place Feb. 14 to 16 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Francis College, located at 180 Remsen St. in Downtown Brooklyn.
Tickets cost $35 for one day and $75 for three days for adults, $15 for one day and $30 for three days for kids aged 6 -12. It’s free for kids under 6.
Tickets are sold online at www.ponycon2015.com/ or at the door – though fans should be aware that the event may sell out.
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