A Plea for Hobby Tolerance

At Dragon*Con last weekend, I attended the My Little Pony 101 session. I went

First, because of the overplay of the little girls & horsies mythos, which is a whole separate rant.

Second, because we often refer to Rodney as MLP, in part ironically due to his size, but also because, in his heart, he wants to be Someone’s Little Pony.

Finally, in a gesture of Brony solidarity. (Bro+Pony)

I’m a fan of the show, but not a Fan. I’ve seen the first season and intend to watch the rest, probably more than once. Upper-case Fans get involved in fan art, videos & conventions. However, I do build with LEGO bricks. I get involved in LEGO fan builds, videos, & conventions. Therefore, I have a fellow feeling for getting funny looks for playing with a kid’s toy. I understand being told that your hobby belongs to users of the opposite restroom. Fortunately, Brick Chicks escape the accusation of having designs on little boys. [article on Brony Fandom in Wired.]

MLP has been around since the 80s. The current version, Friendship is Magic, is the 4th generation. When this generation was completely reimagined by Lauren Faust, she deliberately added elements to entertain the parents when they watched with their kids. Why are we surprised that adults appreciate the result?

Okay, it’s an obsession. How is it different from tail-gating every football game of a given team, from building exquisitely detailed model train layouts, or even from spending all one’s time and money fussing with a form of archaic transportation? As long as everyone stays on the correct side of the legal/moral line, what does it matter to me where another person draws the taste/sense line? As long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses, who is hurt?

While one hour-long panel is hardly in-depth research on the Brony phenomenon, from the Dragon*Con venue, I’m going to assume that the audience represents the serious Fan. If I had to rate the tone of the room, I would place it closer to intelligent sweetness than to world-weary sarcasm. Is that so bad? Does the world need more cynicism?

Adult MLP Fans know the reception they receive from the outside world, even at Dragon*Con where I would have expected more acceptance. The halls of the Hyatt & Marriott & Sheraton & Hilton & Westin hotels were stuffed with folks whom the rest of Atlanta would judge as having an odd kick to their gallop, yet I still got the fisheye when I told folks I had been to a MLP panel.

However, inside the room, there was no bunkered us-vs-them mentality among the SRO crowd of men and women. If there was any recognition of the outside world, it was a glance of mild pity, along the lines of, ‘Gee they don’t know how much fun this is.’ At least, that’s how I saw it. This undoubtedly says as much about me as it does about Bronies & Pegasisters.

Still freaked-out? Please try watching one. I’m not asking you to put on a Rainbow Dash wig and attend BronyCon. Just watch one, behind closed doors where no one has to know. I think you will be at least mildly amused.

Bro Hoof!

4 thoughts on “A Plea for Hobby Tolerance

  1. Good points. As long as no-one gets hurt -‘pick up that lego before i step on it again!” – why does it mater what one’s hobby is, or what gender the participant in that hobby is?

    1. Thursday to Monday, the full tour. I thought about announcing it here, day by day, as I did for BrickFair but I had just read What Not To Post On Your Blog. Telling the world you would be out of town & therefore your house would be empty was one suggestion. That seemed sufficiently paranoid to be worth adopting.

  2. Cynicism is like garlic. You can never have too much. Perhaps that’s why the Brony thing is a bit of a head-scratcher for me ….

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