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College bros dig ponies

By Anthony Lauriello     8/20/11 7:00pm

While many pundits and columnists point to Capitol Hill and Wall Street for signs of Western civilization's end, I suggest looking no further then Ponyville, the setting for the new hit television show, "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic."

Despite what you may think, the majority of this show's devotees don't comb their hair, let alone tie it in little braids. And instead of spending their days at the playground — they surf the Internet.

In a twist of fate that can only belong to the strange and perverse age of Twitter, the boys who 10 years ago spent their days gleefully taping firecrackers onto their sisters' "My Little Pony" dolls now serve as the latest television show's largest fan base. Welcome to the strange world of "bronies."

Obviously, the word "brony" comes from the natural marriage of "pony" and "bro." According to Wikipedia, bronies first began to appear on the Internet forum 4-chan, the amoral cesspool that spawns many Internet super trends. In this meeting place of the Internet's Illuminati, an article decrying the show for portraying a seemingly homosexual character in a stereotypical light gained popularity for the ridiculous idea of a lesbian "pony" in an asexual children's cartoon.

Those who read the article watched the show to see if the article had justification and ended up falling in love with the show. Soon, "My Little Pony" references and fan videos populated the strange visages of cyberspace. Upon learning of this newest development from a roommate of mine, I had no choice but to watch it myself.

The show stars a series of colorful ponies with names strangely reminiscent of strippers and drug euphemisms. Each of these equestrian pals has a distinctive personality, such as Twilight Sparkle, the worldly main character; Applejack, the southern belle; and Pinkie Pie, the intellectually flighty.

Unsurprisingly, each episode features the ponies learning something about friendship, such as accepting help or listening to each other. The writers also manage to sneak in plenty of wry and nerdy cultural allusions, including one episode based entirely on the "Star Trek" classic, "The Trouble with Tribles."

Despite the occasional inside joke, however, the show takes itself very seriously. I understand that the flash style animation looks great, that many of the fans enjoy the show under the influence, and that the scripts are clever and well made, but I still can't wrap my head around the fact that as you read this article, a college-age male is watching Twilight Sparkle tell her patron and monarch, Princess Celestia, "Today I learned that it's hard to accept when somepony you like wants to spend time with somepony who's not so nice."

Perhaps it's an expression of our Facebook-generation's sublimated femininity, but more likely it's due to the current obsession with irony and nostalgia. Internet memes have come full circle: in the past they mocked the strangest quirks of the world but now they have become exactly what they lol-ed at.

The need to join the latest hip Internet sensation comes at the expense of spending hours on YouTube watching the exploits of giggling anthropomorphic ponies. That, or maybe the show is just really, really good.

Anthony Lauriello is a Wiess College junior and Thresher Backpage editor.

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