I always try not to get too involved in the things I am a fan of. I like CSI, but I stay away from the CSI forums like the plague. I love Mass Effect but you won’t see me wasting time in the Bioware servers voting for Tali’Zorah to be a romance option in the next game. I really like Rifftrax but my account on that place exists only to download the files, not to spam Mike Nelson’s inbox with personal requests for a riffing on “The Hurt Locker”. I always tend to keep an outsider perspective of the things I am a fan of so anytime somebody says something negative or snarky about it or when the newest rule 34 picture hits the interwebs I can respectively ignore it and appreciate it. With all this I’m trying to say that in the case of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” my involvement with it is so deep I should be riding a bathysphere in the Marianna’s trench with an endless supply of salty crackers. Just so you get an idea of how involved I am with the whole thing, the last time I got so involved into something I became a furry, and that changed my life from one day to the next. So if I take this phenomena as a life changing event I think giving it a proper analysis is beyond compulsory.
I mean come on! We’ve had college teachers giving full blown lectures on how Super Smash Bros Melee works, so making an analysis of “MLP:FiM” doesn’t seem so far fetched, though it won’t be of the series alone. As you could appreciate from the title this is going to be a deconstruction of the fandom, from the fanfics, the fanart and the rule 34 to all the websites and image board sites, pretty much every aspect that surrounds a show that is released in this day and age, and I am doing this before it gets bigger. Trying to do this with a franchise like, say, Harry Potter will take several books, three movies and probably three thousand human lives.
But before I start talking about this I want you guys to know where I am coming with this. I am, as many of you know, a furry artist and as such I’ve got my fair share of rule 34 pictures. I alone might be responsible for so many childhood virginities than you can even imagine. I’ve rule 34’d characters from Final Fantasy, Pokémon, Digimon, Super Mario, Zelda, and even Red Dead Redemption (all those pretty horses of the Apocalypse). I’ve written fanfics of Mass Effect that even when I was proof-reading them I was blushing. What I am trying to say is that I am not a prude when it comes to all the fanfics, fanart, rule 34 and so and so forth regarding “My Little Pony”, and I happily lose hours of my time collecting it from every website that has it available. But despite my background and the subject matter I made a solemn promise of not making any rule 34 of “My Little Pony”. You won’t see a single rule 34 picture from this show coming from my hands (no dirty fanfics either). I am doing it because I can’t see myself drawing these adorable characters fucking each other, but mostly because I know Lauren Faust is watching (like Pinkie Pie) from behind every mirror in my house, and if I do just a single scratch of MLP:FiM rule 34 she will know before I even scan it.
Of course, this is just me. I know my motivations; I know I will never draw My Little Pony smut. What shocks and surprises me is how many people, hordes of them if you like, have rampaged the internet leaving a trace of traumatizing fanfics about mutilation and madness, rule 34 that must be seen to be believed, and an array of memes that not even 4chan could actually contain (shall I refer you to the infamous Pony Wars?). But with all that, I really enjoy checking out every piece of fanart and fanfic out there, and I bet Lauren Faust has a giggle or two at these people tearing apart her creation. Now don’t get me wrong. Despite the fact that I am probably going to leave quite many people butt-hurt, I don’t do it to mock you guys. Fans are one of the best things that come out of a cultural phenomenon. Whatever you do to express your appreciation or love to what you like keep doing it. If you want to write a fanfic about disemboweling and cannibalism, do it! If you want to draw Fluttershy about to get into a 69 with an imposing Rainbow Dash, then do it! If you want to depict Applejack getting it on with Rarity, may nobody stop your boner train! Like that internet celebrity once said “It doesn’t matter how fucked is what makes you happy, as long as you are not hurting anybody while doing it is not fucked up to search that happiness”. If I am doing this overlong article is because I am amazed and surprised in such a positive way that I think this fandom deserves a good analysis, so I will try to be as fair as I can. You can judge me later on in the comments section.
- LESBIAN PONIES AND RULE 34.
So I guess it’s understandable to begin with I can understand the best. I am not going to talk just about the rule 34 here, I am going to cover pretty much all that is artistic and graphic related here so I think I should make a clarification right now. Rule 34 is also fanart. Yes, it’s adult, it’s porn, but it’s made by fans for the fans. Fanart ranges from clean to adult (both gore and sexual), so I think it’s fair to cover all of it in one single entry. I know the title doesn’t match at first but trust me; it will match once I am done explaining so here we go.
First thing first is I am really happy to see how many people have kept the original design of the ponies. Lauren Faust’s take on the new ponies is simplistic and functional, but also leaves it open for everybody else to try and make their own ponies. It’s a really sweet mechanic I never saw used in official artwork for TV shows, not even for kid’s ones. You can easily pick a pony design and deconstruct it with just a pencil and a ruler. This simplistic design engulfs a lot of depth in all the possibilities it brings you, which means that an overwhelming majority of the fanart we’ve been witness of is incredibly good and surprisingly high quality. Just so you get a quick idea, it’s the kind of fanart you would like to use as a wallpaper, or hang it on your bedroom’s wall. There is of course a considerable amount of low quality fanart (and let’s not forget the hate art) but that’s so rare and it’s really so hard to judge that is not even worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning though is how quickly the fanbase grew tired of the official design of the Ponies and threw a curve ball in the faces of fans and creators themselves.
I really don’t know which artist started it, but it surely wasn’t there when I first arrived to the bandwagon of Bronies that follow the show. I am referring of course to the humanized versions of the Ponies. I’ve seen quite a few versions of them but the one that seems to stick the most is that made by artist Megasweet, and I must say his/her/its depiction of the ponies as humans is pretty good. I can totally see which character is which without recurring to color palettes, which goes for show how good the original character design is: It’s so good it works when you apply it to different styles. So far I’ve only found a few depictions of the six main ponies, with Big Mac, Luna, Celestia, Gilda and Applebloom showing up now and then, but this seems to have caught on so expect more of this coming in bigger amounts. But as big as the amount will be it’ll still be nothing compared to the swarm of rule 34 that swept the internet.
Yes, now the title makes sense to you, doesn’t it? You know a fandom is not complete without its fair share of rule 34, and My Little Pony has quite a lot I must say. I literally spent one week doing nothing but searching high and low, and you will call foul and lie on what I am going to say, but it was purely for curiosity’s sake. I am serious, and this explained with the fact that even in the rule 34 department this fandom still carries a lot of the spirit from the show. With this I mean that the rule 34 of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is closer to the terrains of the cute than to the terrains of the sexy. Your mileage may vary, but in my case I don’t find the rule 34 of this show adult appealing or sexually arousing, I find it cute, adorable and really sweet! You know why? Lesbians. That’s right, lesbians. I know it sounds weird (and unfair) but goddamnit, I love lesbians! Lesbians (and gays too, don’t get me wrong here) are awesome and from my perspective they will improve whatever they are in by four. I don’t say this just because, almost every single rule 34 picture I came across features two female ponies kissing, hugging or embracing each other. That’s the sweetest, most adorable and warmest thing ever! It goes beyond what rule 34 should consider, most of the times there’s no even any sex, just the two female ponies hugging and kissing, and that’s really sweet. See? That’s what I meant when I was talking about special. The rule 34 of this show gets me all warm and fuzzy, not horny and stiffy.
You see the hug, you see the sweat, you see the post-orgasm expression on their faces, but not a single X-rated bit. Tasteful.
I have obviously found some rather crappy renditions of characters in rule 34 and it’s a disgrace to have those, but they are so few and so forgettable they don’t damage that warm feeling. The gore stuff however, is different. I don’t know how to measure that kind of artwork, but if I have to give it props I must say all I saw, so far, is very well drawn. It’s not what I would call palatable but you really can’t do much else when it comes from a psychotic fanfic (we will get to that one soon).
So if I had to say something final on the artwork, fanart and rule 34 of My Little Pony that would be: Do go on, please! I am always checking the boards for new stuff and I bet it will keep surprising me, for the best or for the worst, it will keep surprising me.
BUT I WOULD WALK FIVE HUNDRED CHANS,
AND I WOULD WALK FIVE HUNDRED MORE.
Nowadays a fandom is not a fandom if it doesn’t have at least two or three “chans” in the internet. What’s a “chan” you may ask? A chan is an image board where people all over the world can post images (any kind and type of image) for other people or themselves to comment. It looks like you can either be a member or an anonymous user to post and use these sites, so they are pretty much vulnerable to trolling, spamming, and other contents that harm the quality of your PC screen. Also I looked for the meaning of the term “chan” but I ended up with ambiguous answers. So let’s say “chan” is in the internet what a cork board was in school: A “white” canvas where every kid in the school could draw a penis and where sometimes something interesting was posted.
Like all the phenomena that grows wild and big beyond its creator’s grasp, My Little Pony started the roam through the over populated wasteland of the internet in the chan of chans http://www.4chan.org/ and most precisely on the board know as /co/ which seems to cover cartoon characters and comic books in general. I didn’t read much on how things developed and to be honest with you I don’t think it will make any difference. I know for certain that 4chan began to get populated with Pony threads upon the show’s release and that My Little Pony became so popular that basically more than half the active threads on 4chan were pony-centered. So what did the moderators of 4chan, house of Anonymous and well know for their quoting of “Our name is Legion, as we are many” do? They decided to give the posters of those threads a one day ban for each pony related post they did. This caused the entire website to go from high activity to almost stop as those who were not banned began to complain. The outrage that followed made the moderators to lift the bans before the time period ended. That happened on the 26th of February of 2011, and if you wonder how the hell I know this it’s because there’s a picture floating around there somewhere referring to this event as “The Pony Wars”.
No, seriously, “The Fucking Pony Wars”.
If things got hot enough to create something that deserves a name, a date and a silly picture remembering it, that means you have conquered one of the toughest battlefields in modern times: The Image boards. Not everybody can say they got through unscarred, and ever since that day the Pony lovers can be seen prancing around peacefully in /co/ while the rest of 4chan ignores them with envious eyes, fearing what else those cute equines might be up to. This “victory” was noticed by Lauren Faust herself, who once called the people at /co/ her /co/mrades (and I quote, not making it up). That meant something, that right there meant something so big I don’t think anybody would be prepared to face. That meant, not only that the creator was watching over her baby and how it was developing online, but that she also mingling with the fanbase, chatting with them, solving their questions and pretty much being open and honest to everybody who was polite and willing enough to talk with a mature woman who created a cartoon show that has broken molds. I don’t know if some other creators have done it before Lauren Faust, but this is the first time I am following this development step by step. Each day I read a new message from her that should be printed, framed and hung on a wall dedicated to memorable quotes.
But as for the rest that is not creator kick-assery we also have the endless, and I must make an inflexion here, E-N-D-L-E-S-S supply of memes that My Little Pony has gotten into. Of course this is nothing new, every time something gets popular is obliged to be photoshoped, turned into a demotivational posters or received the (insert-internet-term-here) face treatment. That’s nothing new. What’s new is how so many of these examples are pretty much harmless and in the end amount to a kid giving a love letter to his favorite teacher. It’s adorable.
I couldn’t find a meme offensive enough to not be completely gross so…
Besides, all these memes can get immediately invalidated by the fact that we have the show’s creator hanging around with us. Alright, it’s online and it doesn’t totally count, and I bet if she met any of us she will run away while throwing toys at us. But she is really cool, and cheerful, and seeing her replying the comments on her DA account makes her look like one of the most responsible people out there, somebody who knows what she is doing and who is she dealing with, something we certainly lack in this day and age. I really can’t think of a way to make it better.
I WANT THESE MOTHER (BLEEP) PONIES OUT OF THIS MOTHER (BLEEP) INTERNET!!!
But then, it got better! If you are a fan of My Little Pony, or if you are a hardcore enough Brony to know the entire lyrics to “Art of the Dress” (and I am), you will certainly know the story of a pony with cocked eyes who appeared in the background in episode 1. There was a massive response to just what should have been considered an animation error or a joke from one of the artists, but everybody fell in love with the cocked eyed pony to the point of giving her a name and a job. So that’s how Derpy Hooves the Mail Deliverer was born, in the gut of the internet, bred by fanboys who had enough free time to care for something so silly.
Then episode 15 was aired, and that’s when the entire fanbase exploded in a roar of…I don’t even know what the roar was of, but it certainly was a roar, because it was the first time we saw that cock eyed pony making an appearance, with her stroboscopic eyes and delivering packages. I bet that all of those who contributed to making Derpy Hooves (also know as Ditzy Doo in her official name, tough Lauren Faust said she is okay with people calling her Derpy) had their jaws hit the ground so hard it must have made a hole in the floor. It would’ve passed in adverted, if this wasn’t a cartoon show based on a toy line and with a target audience of girls under 8 years old. If a cartoon of such nature could get influenced by the internet, then the “Snakes on a plane” effect is not as rare as we initially thought.
Apparently people in chan boards are afraid of Amnesia.
I really was surprised by this, again in the positive way. I like to see a show that grows and gets better with the support of the fanbase, and even if it’s on the little things like this character here, it feels like we are in this together. I personally see it like this, whether is intentional or not, I think it’s a beautiful thing to have the fans getting some sort of influence into the creative mind behind something so big. But if you thought this entire article was going to be all sunshine, flowers, lollypops and rainbows you might be wrong. There are rainbows where we are heading now alright. They are just not the kind of rainbows you really want to…experience.
THE DARK SECTION OF THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY.
The fanfics, ladies and gentlemen, the fanfics. Now, I will be fair here as I’ve been trying to be through the entire review: There are really good fanfics out there, and there are so many I just couldn’t find the time to read them all before writing this, so my perspective will be based around five fanfics I’ve read, two of which are really good, one that is okay, and the last two that are just sick from start to finish. You do know where I come from now, so you just have to imagine how fucked up those last two fanfics must be for me to say that. But I won’t get ahead of myself so let me list here those fanfics that I read, for sake of research documentation.
- “The Antithesis series”, written by Anonymous author in 4chan.
- “My Little Pony: Friendship is Sexy”, written by Punjoke in FurAffinity.
- “Swayback Mountain”, written by Buttersc0tchSundae in DeviantArt.
- “Cupcakes”, written by Sgt. Sprinkles (also read its many spin-offs and alternative endings).
- “Rocket to Insanity”, written by Scherzo (also read the alternative ending).
So after reading those five fanfics I came across the following conclusions:
1 – Fanfic writers are not so much into sex as I would’ve imagined.
2 – The level of writing is quite good, with proper grammar for the most part.
3 – The interest of the writers in gore, blood, violence, murder and depressing storylines is sky high.
I will go in order with this section because when you are dealing with something as spiky at fanfics, things tend to get quite sticky. No pun intended (honest).
So first fanfic first, the one that fell on my digital hooves is one of unknown name and unknown author that showed up in the threads of 4chan. Nobody knows where they came from and I made enough research to try figure out who wrote them without any fructuous results, so a friend of mine and I decided to call them “The Antithesis Stories”. In these stories the character of Twilight Sparkle is a psychotic witch who starts killing all her friends to steal their elements, harness all of them inside her body and take Celestia out of her throne, and the deaths of each pony are…gruesome, to say the least, and since this is an analysis article I am going to list all of them here.
- Rainbow Dash gets one of her wings ripped off her body and is slammed against the ground like a bug.
- Applejack dies during childbirth, and then Twilight smothers the newborn to death.
- Pinkie Pie gets blown to pieces in a gas explosion that also destroys dozens of houses killing tens of ponies.
- Rarity gets burned alive and dies three days later because of the infection.
The last of the ponies’ death is kind of an spoiler, but I bet some of you don’t care anymore after you realized your favorite pony was killed a few stories ago. Personally I got angry with these fanfics right after episode 1 because I love Rainbow Dash, and killing her right away is an outrage! But anyways, in the last chapter Twilight confronts Fluttershy, they fight, and Fluttershy ends up killing Twilight with the help of a grown up Spike. Fluttershy then absorbs all of the elements of harmony and becomes as powerful as Celestia, but decides her power is too much so she exiles herself. And there it ends. I will give it credit, it’s very well written and it keeps your interest long enough for you to keep wanting to know what will happen next. But the ending is disappointing, and there’s a massive character disparity with Twilight’s personality. But as fanfics go, and especially fanfics I read of this show so far, this one is okay.
Then we have “My Little Pony: Friendship is Sexy”, which is the most (if not the only) sexually oriented fanfic I read so far. It’s basically a re-telling of the first part of the two-parter pilot episode but instead of cute and character development you have a lot of sex and Big Macintosh pushing Twilight against a tree. You can take it or leave no matter how much you are into the sexual subject, but for what is worth it’s probably the funniest fanfic of all the ones I read. Sometimes it even has a sense of auto-parody, and if this was done intentionally it would be glorious. I mean, what other fanfic has dialogues like these?
- Twilight: Spike! What are you doing with Applebloom!? She’s too young to have sex!
- Spike: So am I!
That right there is hilarious, as wrong and as disgusting some people might find it, it’s genuinely funny.
But then it happened. I came across the fanfic that changed my perspective on the MLP fanfics. You may call this unfair, and yeah it is quite unfair on my part, but this is my first experience with the fanfics of this show. I always said how important first impressions are, and with this the impression couldn’t be more…bizarre? One thing for sure, I am not going to trust my friends again. Confound these furries! They drive me to gore and disemboweling!
The fanfic I am talking about of course is “Cupcakes”, written by author Sgt. Sprinkles. Now, you expect a fanfic all about cutesy and adorable characters with such a name. I mean come on, Sgt. Sprinkles? That’s like the name of one of Bonnie’s toys in Toy Story 3! But no, it’s all a façade, it’s all a trap! Trust me when I tell you that it might be one of the bloodiest things I’ve ever read. It wouldn’t be this bad if it wasn’t based on such a cute cartoon and if the main characters were not Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and a tray of surgical instruments. Just so you get the basics, Pinkie Pie has ran out of pony meat to make cupcakes so she picks Rainbow Dash, ties her to a table and proceeds to chop her to pieces while she is still conscious. Anytime she faints, adrenaline needle to the heart! Wings, cutie mark, organs, skin, all of that is removed and replaced while Dash just screams in agony. I don’t usually get sick, and I’ve read more graphic depictions of torture, but being Dash the one suffering it made it hit too close to home. I bet you guys will read it and shrug it off, but in my case…*shivers*
But, guess what? It got worse! How worse you may ask? I am glad you asked. Somebody by the name of Scherzo decided to make an alternative ending where the story of “Cupcakes” was just a nightmare Rainbow Dash has every night and that has brought her mind to a state close to insanity. In the story “Rocket to Insanity” the author explains how Rainbow Dash sleeps during day time because at night she is haunted with images of Pinkie Pie torturing her. One day she finally slips her mind during one of Pinkie Pie’s visits, grabs a knife and butchers her pink body all over Sugarcube corner. After such event her travel into insanity gets completed, she collapses on the ground and begins singing “Giggle at the ghostly” while covered in Pinkie’s blood. I am not going to say this is a bad fic, in fact this is very well written with less focus on the graphic detail of the violence and more on the psychological side, depicting in quite scary detail the different mental states Dash goes through until her mind finally snaps. The author wrote an alternate ending, but it doesn’t make things better (even if it’s “happy”). But as I said I consider this better than “Cupcakes”. Not just because here Dash doesn’t die (although she drops into the pits of insanity) but because it’s less graphical and more mental; damnit, it even explains what goes through Pinkie’s head seconds before dying, that’s pretty hard! All and all this goes to proof that this fanfic is 100% evil and it solidifies my believe that all the fanfics people talk about the most are the bloodiest, most violent, goriest ones, which is something that baffles me. Do we really want to step so far away from the original source material that we find joy on reading tales of blood, torture and desecration? Compared to these fanfics the “Saw” movies feel like a Disney franchise…oh wait…
But thankfully not all is blood and guts. Deviant Art author Buttersc0tchSundae wrote a fanfic called “Swayback Mountain”, that tells how the love blossoms between Rarity and Applejack. Now I will try leaving my feelings aside, but if there’s a female romance going on in the show at this point and we haven’t had that yet is between Rarity and Applejack. I can totally see those two as a couple, maybe in the same way yaoi fangirls could see Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as a couple on “Sherlock Holmes”. But this story is a lot more about emotions and feelings, and it’s told from the depth of the heart instead of the surface of a genital. There’s basically no sex at all in the entire story. How many times have you seen a love fanfic without any sex in it? I certainly have not, but of course I’ve never spent so much time reading fanfics of a particular series. It’s tasteful, it’s well written, it has a satisfying conclusion and it’s full of emotion.
All in all, the fanfics of My Little Pony are no different from the fanfics of other shows. They speak loads of whoever wrote them, but they certainly not represent the entire fanbase, just a part of it. How big or small that depends on each other’s judgment, but we can all agree they are a very unique group of individuals…A very dedicated, wonderful and faithful group of individuals that scare the crap out me.
Have some cupcakes! They taste like rainbows!
CONCLUSION WITH THE WORD OF GOD.
So after 8 pages of what happens to be a more or less organized rambling, there are two very important points I have to analyze. First, what is my final verdict on this fandom? And second, what does Lauren Faust have to say about all this? Sadly, the first point will need a very long explanation. Thankfully, the second point will speak for herself.
Like every fandom I am a part of I feel myself part of it while also being an outsider. I don’t contribute that often, but I also feel more involved than I’ve ever been before. I feel involved enough to write this article (and three more coming soon) only because four very kind people dropped me a few comments on the review I did of the show when I first got into it. I really like how quickly it built and how polite everybody seems to be. Yes, there’re trolls, there’s people who think they are Mr. Smarty Pants, and there’s those who don’t have any repairs on saying which of the ponies he or she will take in a wild night of sex. But you know what? Every fanbase has that, in a more or lesser way, every fanbase has those people and they are fans like each and every one of us.
What not all of the other fandoms have though is the support and constant watch of its creator, Lauren Faust, our Princess Celestia watching over her faithful herd of Bronies delivering pieces of advice the size of fists to plummet the impolite and rude and with silk gloves to thank and reward the kind and polite. I’ve never seen so much attention and care from a creator like I am seeing coming from Lauren Faust herself, and since she is the one we should be thankful for (you know, for developing such a wonderful cartoon show everybody is enjoying) I will dedicate the rest of this article to some of the best quotes, declarations and revelations she’s ever done (all of these come from Deviant Art and her account http://fyre-flye.deviantart.com/ so if I am missing any from other sites let me know).
(A fan is asking on Production and development)
- Username: I have a little question about background ponies, if that’s okay… Since there’s obviously a “pool” of them, and they get re-used every time you need some in the background, is this mostly because it’s cheaper and faster to re-use the same designs, or is it because each design has to go and get officially approved so you can’t just throw random-ish colors on them? (Excluding garish combinations) Or is it something else?
- fyre-flye: All of what you said. “Faster” sounds like a dirty word when people talk about quality of production (and is having more incidentals pony really that much more quality?) but you have to think of the poor animator or artist working late nights and weekends to hit deadlines. Faster is usually for their sakes.
(Lauren and her take on “Girly stuff”)
- I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Girly does not have to automatically equal stupid. Girliness doesn’t make a show bad, bad writing does. And crappy stories about fashion shows are crappy because of crappy writing and directing, not because of fashion or any inherent femaleness.
(Lauren VS a Troll)
- Troll: I tried watching 5 episodes of this crap and all I got out was explosive diarrhea, that’s how bad mlp is and I still can’t understand how anyone who isn’t a little girl or a pedophile could actually enjoy this show.
- fyre-flye: Feel better soon!
(Lauren answers a spiky question)
- Username: May I ask how it feels to know that a show you’ve created for little girls is obsessed over by sexually repressed manchildren? It’s kind of scary.
- fyre-flye: Honestly?? I feel that people who call them that are ignorant a-holes. That’s how I feel. I didn’t create this show for little girls, I created it for little girls and their parents---including male parents. It only stands to reason that adult animation fans without children may like it, too. The belief that boys shouldn’t be interested in girl things is the main reason there’s hardly anything decent for girls in animation---or almost any media, for that matter. It’s a backwards, sexist, outdated attitude.
(Her take on Rule 34)
- fyre-flye: I am a big girl. When stuff gets too icky I just find something else to do.
Finally I leave here a chart depicting the evolution of the characters from the First Generation of Ponies to what we have nowadays. I hope this article entertained you, and if you are any of the authors or artists I mentioned and you feel offended or mistreated, I am very sorry and I truly apologize. My intention wasn’t to hurt, but to analyze. Thanks to all the ones who reached this point on reading it! To all of you: Goodnight.
We’ve come a long way indeed.