LAS VEGAS, NM – A New Mexico Highlands professor will give a talk Nov. 14 on his research and book surrounding the Brony community.
Bronies are a mostly online community, mostly about 75 to 80 percent male, who have a passion for the television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Many of them attend gatherings, or BronyCons, across the country.
“First impressions people have of Bronies tend to involve things like a higher rates of homosexuality or feminine behaviors because the fans like this show designed for girls,” said Daniel Chadborn an Assistant Professor of Psychology who has studied the Brony subculture for the last eight years since joining with colleagues on the project. “Outsiders also tend to ask ‘Why are boys and men into this show?’ A lot of these perceptions are tied around norms of masculinity: how men and boys are supposed to act. They’re not supposed to like colorful ponies.”
Chadborn said when many people interviewed or studied watched My Little Pony, their conceptions about the show and Bronies changed, possibly through an understanding that the motivations for enjoying the show were similar to why people like music, sport, or other television shows.
The My Little Pony television series began in the early 1980s, originating from a line of toys by the same name. The show takes place in Ponyland, a fictional place home to magical characters. The ponies find themselves fighting for survival from malevolent characters like goblins, witches and trolls. The show’s themes revolve around friendship, integrity, and charity. The fourth generation of the show, Friendship is Magic, created by Lauren Faust, takes place in the land of Equestria. And while many of the basic themes and challenges are similar, it boasts more modern tales and scenarios the characters find themselves in, significantly updated music and animation, and guest voice acting by John de Lancie, Patton Oswald, and Wierd Al Yankovich to name a few.
Bronycons have grown in popularity since their beginning, with one of the conventions seeing more than 10,000 attendees.
“When it comes to psychological factors, Bronies tend to be more agreeable,” Chadborn said. “They also tend to be much more open to new experiences since they’re already breaking social norms.” Chadborn said as he tracked new members to the subculture, there was also a trend of the fans adopting the show’s values.
“They’re more likely to be charitable–that’s one of the themes of the show–and be more open and helpful.” Various Brony groups have raised thousands of dollars for causes as diverse and bullying, medical research, and scholarships.
Chadborn said the television series has just finished its ninth and last season and is still interested in studying how the subculture evolves going forward.
Chadborn’s talk will be Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. in Highlands Donnelly Library at 802 National Ave. The event is free and open to the public. His research is online at https://sites.google.com/view/bronystudyresearch/