Published Jan 16, 2014It is increasingly difficult to stand out as a capital-N Nerd. In the '90s all you had to do was show an affinity for Star Trek: Deep Space 9, but shows like The Big Bang Theory have commodified nerddom and now the barbarians are at the gates. As a grown-ass man, to stand out as a nerd in 2014, you need to embrace, fetishize, and in some cases even sexualize a cartoon intended for toddlers called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Director Laurent Malaquais seems to have used every single moment he filmed. While not particularly well-made, if you're unfamiliar with the world of Bronies, this will be an eye opener. The biggest downside is that it plays like an infomercial for MLP, fawning over its creator and voice talent. Another issue is it practically paints Bronies as being on par with the civil or gay rights movements. There's talk of "expressing your enjoyment of this show in a non-judgmental environment" and a lot of Bronies who don't take kindly to denigration of their culture.
Much of the film is about the Bronies' rejection of masculine gender roles in favour of little girl-style kindness. They enjoy a show intended for infants because of its positivity, rejecting today's pervasive irony in favour of simple messages of kindness and decency. However, the film positions Bronies as searching for sincerity in an irony-poisoned hellworld, forgetting that sincerity exists in all kinds of art, and not just in a cartoon full of big-eyed, pre-pubescent ponies.
Highlights include a young man with Asperger's coming out of his shell at a Bronie convention, artists making legitimately great art inspired by MLP, and quotes like, "As soon as ponies came into my life I was like wow I just don't want the day to end."
A father who disapproves of his teenage son's pony worship is referred to as "conservative" at least five times, and though he seems more baffled than downright intolerant, he's unmistakeably vilified by film.
And yet, the film does not address the subsection of the culture that aggressively sexualizes MLP. A visit to Reddit or 4chan will reveal photos of plush ponies with makeshift orifices cut into them, subject matter which, in a more level documentary, might have gotten at least a little screen time.
(Big Focus Television)