Monday, April 2, 2012

Interview with a Brony: Why Friendship is Magic

Welcome to the first (and possibly last) interview of my blog!

Today we are interviewing Cousin Tim. No, he is not my Cousin Tim, but that’s how we referred to him before he moved to Michigan from New York and what I’ve continued to call him since. Cousin Tim is a former co-worker of mine…. and a Brony.

What is a Brony?? In the world of little girl’s cartoons capturing the attention of adults, a brony is a “bro” who loves “ponies.” Bronies. Typically ages 18-40, these males have a fondness of My Little Pony (MLP)- the cartoon, the toys, the friendship and magic. I have been assured that the majority of said Bronies are not pedofiles (you know you were wondering).

At work the pony epidemic has begun. What was once one man with a secret love of ponies has since turned into an office of pony-pride. Cubicles are proudly displayed with MLP ponies and emails are sent with various pony-related themes and memes.

Life will never be the same.

And so to understand more of the Brony Pride, I have interviewed Cousin Tim to get his take on these cheerful equines and to help us understand why friendship truly is magic.

Janessa:      Why do you love MLP?
Cousin Tim: I guess the main draw for me is that, at its core, MLP is an incredibly well-designed show. Ever catch what passes for a modern cartoon these days and think, “This is junk?! What happened to the stuff we used to have, like Animaniacs, Dexter’s Lab or The Powerpuff Girls?” [Janessa’ edit: no, no I have not as I’ve never seen Dexter’s Lab or Powerpuff Girls, but continue ;)] These shows were made for children, yes, but also contained a number of elements that adults could enjoy as well, or at least not want gouge their eyes out with a cereal spoon every Saturday morning when their kids started watching them. I’m just as surprised as anyone else that a show about pastel-colored ponies actually hits these nostalgic chords, but they do. And it’s all around a show that has beautiful animation, wonderful music and (often) very fun writing with in-jokes for older viewers. Add in the Internet’s creative love for the series and it can be quite fascinating.

J:      When did you first get in to MLP and how?
CT: Going back to the Internet, I began to see ponies popping up in memes and images. Eventually, I looked into it a bit more and discovered the show. I watched the first couple episodes and realized it wasn’t bad, and would occasionally watch another when I had some extra time.

Forward in time a little bit to when I’m told I’m never going to get hired out of the temp position for my job—the one I moved from New York to Michigan for the sole purpose of taking. I was depressed, I needed some distractions, so I started watching even more of the show. It helped, and that’s when I’d say I officially became hooked.

J:      Is friendship really magic?
CT: Depends on how often you’re asked for money.

J:      Which is the best pony?
CT: Pinkie Pie is my favorite. She’s often the comic relief on the show, and the writers have made good use of that by giving her more “old-timey” cartoon styles and characteristics. She’s particularly known by fans for breaking the “fourth wall.” [Janessa edit: don’t know what that means? Neither do I.]

J:      What is your favorite MLP episode and why?
CT: “Party of One” is a favorite of mine and stars (surprise!) Pinkie Pie. In it, Pinkie comes to believe that her friends are avoiding her parties and no longer like her anymore. This results in what can only be described as a mental breakdown, where she starts talking to “new friends” that consist of stuff like a bucket of turnips and a flour bag. The way they play this scene out is so ridiculous yet, well, borderline psychotic with hints of “Ren & Stimpy” thrown in. It’s when I realized they’re willing to try a lot more with the show than I first thought. 

J:      What would you say to those who are leery of bronies?
CT: Honestly? Give people a chance, but I don’t fully blame anyone who may find the group off-putting. As the popularity of the show has become more widespread, so has the fan base. Among it, there are some people who just get much too invested in things, and factions that like to create stuff that may be largely considered nasty. So yes, some caution in approaching “bronies” as a whole is deserved, but come on. If you know someone and they turn to you one day and say they’re a “brony,” that doesn’t instantly make them some sort of freak.

That said, there is a group of bronies in Western Michigan, many of whom I’ve met. There are odd ones, loud ones and hyper ones, yes, but they’re all good people, many of whom really appreciate having a group to be a part of. It’s been a great way to make some friends while being new to the area.

J:      What would you say to those males who are scared of sharing their love of ponies?
CT: If you really do love the show, and you know your reasons, why feel ashamed of it? I mean, be aware of your environment and whether those around you actually want to hear about this stuff, but I’ll put it this way: originally, I only shared ponies with a couple people at work, sending funny pics and memes and knowing they were cool with it. Now there are pony toys standing along cubicle walls in almost every work row. Of course this stuff is silly, but there’s something fun and liberating about just letting it stand out there for the world. It has a way of spreading like that.

J:      How many MLP items do you own?
CT: Oh, geez. I started collecting small figures, just for fun, then came a few of the “real” figures with the brushable tails and manes (no, I don’t brush them; I’m not that far gone). Some magnets. A shirt that’s sort of “covert,” so it looks pretty generic to a mainstream crowd but bronies would know what it is. A great deal of the stuff has been given to me. Literally, I’ve shown up at my desk and there’s a new pony! Again, silly, but cool. [Janessa Edit: I think the answer here then is: a lot. Here's a picture, but it is not Cousin Tim's collection!]

J:      Do you dream in ponies?
CT: I have never had any pony dreams that I can recall.

J:   If you were a pony, what would your name be and what would be your cutie mark?
CT: You just had to ask this one, didn’t you? A lot of people do make up their own ponies, and I’m no exception. Back in the time when I needed distractions, I actually created an original pony character based on my former job as a newspaper reporter and wrote a story around him. He’s not completely me—there are, of course, comedic licenses involved—but the one others associate with me. His name is Presspass and his mark is the classic fedora with a pass sticking out of it; the same one he has on his head. Lucky for you, there’s art of him: 

And if you’ve totally lost your mind, you can read the story, too:

And now some questions from our fans!

Fan via Janessa:   How does your family feel about you being  a brony?
Cousin Tim: I hid it at first, of course, but not anymore, largely after my cousin’s wife spoke unabashedly about ponies in front of them. I have cool parents, though, and while they think it’s weird, they play along. I received a happy phone call from my mom last week, in fact, informing me they went to McDonald’s and bought two of the current Happy Meal pony toys for me, and we had a good laugh about it. I really can’t emphasize it enough: the ridiculousness of it all is one of the strongest points, and what has brought people around me the most pleasure from it. Always take advantage of an excuse to be a benevolent dork.

FvJ:   What is your most prized pony possession?
CT: I have two, both of them featuring (surprise!) Pinkie Pie. The first is a plush of her made from scratch by my cousin’s wife for a Christmas present. The second is a mug that the first local friend I ever made through all this painted for me, also as a holiday gift. All three of us are in our 20s. I never expected I would have this stuff in my apartment at this time in my life, nor did I specifically ask for them, but I display them both because I have people who think enough of me to do this sort of stuff and that means a heck of a lot to me. [Janessa Edit: All together now… “awwwwwww!!!” J ]

FvJ:   What do you do with your ponies? (play with them, display them, etc.)
CT: Ponies are not the first things I’ve collected. I’ve also always had an interest in video games and have collected figures and stuff relating to such. A lot of the ponies I have are set on some shelves along with those. They definitely add color.

True story: A couple of the friends I’ve made through the brony group are beer connoisseurs and visit the Hop Cat (bar) regularly. They’ve come into the habit of each bringing a small pony figure with them and placing it on the bar, and the bartenders have come into the habit of picking them up as they pass by and messing with them, either moving them to a new location on top of the draughts, for example, or posing them in various Kama Sutra-like positions. Fun!

FvJ:   What is the best course of action if Pinkie Pie is standing defiantly on top of a cubicle as if scouting her uncharted land?
CT: You elevate your Twinkle Shine to a higher point of dominance over the office, with the help of a Tootsie Roll bank. When that fails, you bring in an even larger Pinkie Pie and have Twinkle Shine stand on its head. Read The Art of War and Delicious Cupcake Recipes. It’s all in there, by the book.

FvJ:   Are there any other children’s toys/series that could compare with MLP for those not into ponies?
CT: I mentioned “Animaniacs” earlier. I would consider that one of the best animated series’ of all time, and I think the two shows share a number of similar elements in terms of writing and artistic freedoms. Lauren Faust, creator of the new MLP, was also a writer and director for “Powerpuff Girls,” so there’s that connection.

But you know what I loved watching and collecting most as a kid? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What the crap happened to me?

Wow. Enlightening to say the least. Thanks to Cousin Tim for providing us with such thoughtful and detailed answers to such a silly topic. I think we should all take a tip from Cousin Tim and "Always take advantage of an excuse to be a benevolent dork."

That's it for now, folks!



  1. The fourth wall is when a character on the screen talks or looks directly at the audience. It refers to the invisible fourth wall that the camera is filming through or the audience is looking through.

    1. Smarty pants ;) Thanks, Brian! :)

  2. What Brian said. Fresh Prince was really really good at breaking the fourth wall:

    Oh, and Rarity is The Best Pony.

    1. Love Fresh Prince.

      Also, make your case for Rarity. Tim explained Pinkie Pie, I can't take it on face value. Let the debate begin!

  3. Just so you know, the Western Michigan Bronies group has been made aware of this post.

    1. Yes! I'm totally a celebrity now! Except this is all you and some cleverly placed pony pictures, which I'm sure they're quite good at ;)