Or perhaps you haven't lived until you've played a Mortal Kombat-esque game where the adorable cartoon ponies beat the shit out of each other. (It's called Fighting is Magic.)
I got to do both of those things this weekend. I spent three days deep within the bowels of a "Brony" convention. In case you aren't already aware, a Brony is a man, dude, or "bro" (if you will), who identifies as a fan of the latest incarnation of the show My Little Pony, dubbed "Friendship is Magic". Some lady fans have also appropriated the term as a way of saying, "Hey, this show may be for kids, but I like it and I'm okay with that."
I met all of these fine gentlemen (and the girl in the top hat) over the course of the weekend.
I attended the con as a vendor, attempting to sell the Bronies my hula hoops, taped in the colors of their favorite ponies. While I only made four sales all weekend, I found out at the end that the hoops had been a huge, unexpected hit, and attendees loved playing with them.
The Brony phenomenon fascinates me endlessly. I've watched a decent chunk of the show, and while it's cute, I frankly don't understand the MASSIVE appeal it seems to have. The shows follow a standard formula: Something happens to a pony that causes them to question their beliefs or way of life, they learn a lesson, they write a letter to the princess to tell her what they've learned about friendship. In fact, the character Twilight Sparkle's ENTIRE JOB consists of writing letters about friendship lessons. She even has a baby dragon underling to help her accomplish this grueling task.
In short, it most definitely smacks of Cartoon-Made-For-Kids.
But despite my own misgivings about the show, surrounding myself with its fans for three whole days started to change my mind.
Fandom is infectious, at least for me. There's very little I adore more than someone who loves something without restraint, who embraces the joy they get from someone else's creation and uses it to fuel their own creative experience. They get dressed up as their favorite characters. They make things related to the show. They discuss things. They sing songs. They dance. They laugh. They meet new friends.
Loving something as simple as My Little Pony causes these guys, who might otherwise feel like awkward misfits, to find a whole community of others who love what they love. For one weekend, they can immerse themselves in an environment where every person they meet wants to talk about this silly kids' show in great detail. No one will judge them or tell them they're strange, stupid or childish.
Seeing so many people passionately sharing their love for something always makes me want to get involved in that love, too. I found myself inadvertently cosplaying as the pony I found I identify the most with, Pinkie Pie. I squealed over silly pony-related jokes with fellow con-goers. I didn't cringe when the con organizers referred to the guests as "everypony" (something that bugs me more than it should about the show).
By immersing myself in the fandom, I started to get it. It really doesn't matter if the show is my cup of tea, if the writing proves witty enough for my tastes, if the animation moves me to tears, or even if I know the ending five minutes into every episode. What matters is that the show gets people excited about doing things, things they may never have tried otherwise.
If it takes a group of brightly colored cartoon ponies living in a place named after their own species to spark your passion for life...then hey, I feel that.
My first attempt this season at a non-fiction entry. Enjoy!