Do you know what Bronies are? Bronies, as self defined, are adult, usually male, fans of the kids show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”.
Do you know what My Little Pony is? Well, unless you’ve been living in the closet for the last 40 years, then you know that My Little Pony is a line of toys and cartoons aimed at 4-10 year old girls. And the latest incarnation is no exception. If you are a Netflix subscriber (at least in the US) you can catch the first 3 seasons there. For cable and satellite users, look up the Hub network (formerly Discovery Kids), I am pretty sure it’s still running there.
The show is really cute. It really is. My daughters love it. But so do my boys. Even my eldest son. He’s 21.
What is it about a cute girls’ show that has attracted so many adult male fans? I can’t honestly say that I understand it. When I first heard of Bronies, I thought there was something weird about it. I thought there was some kind of… I don’t know, deviancy? Like these guys were “into” little girls’ shows.
But it’s not like that at all. It’s become a whole subculture. They even have conventions. In a lot of ways it’s like the following behind Star Trek. Fans write their own fiction, they dress in costume, they make music, they watch and re-watch the episodes, discuss the characters, and on and on. (Just google ‘Bronies’. You’ll find tons and tons and tons of stuff.)
Weird? Yes. But not in a deviant kind of way. The show expresses themes of honesty, kindness, generosity, loyalty, and laughter. Oh, and magic. (If you’ve seen the show, you’ll recognize those as the “elements of harmony”.) These are the tenets, if you will, of Bronie culture.
(If you are interested in learning more about Bronies, what they do, and why high-school and college age boys like a show for little girls, there is a pretty good documentary simply called “Bronies”. I highly recommend it. )
So what can The Church, Christian culture, learn from Bronie culture?
Plenty. But in the interest of brevity, here are, what I think, are the top seven:
Don’t care about what anyone else thinks.
Like what you like and don’t apologize for it. Do you like Christian music? More power to you. Do you enjoy religious themed movies? Good. Do you wear your Jesus Freak t-shirts
to the mall? Rock on. It’s OK to be weird. Fitting in with people around you isn’t as much fun as you think it is. Be yourself. Who cares what you dress like? Revel in your weirdness. And don’t take it too seriously. Laugh at yourself. It’s ok to acknowledge that you seem ridiculous to others It’s ok to get wild and crazy and sing and dance and have a good time.
Make things. Express yourself. Show what you like by making music and videos and art and clothing and games and everything else that comes to mind. Don’t worry if people don’t like it, just do it. Show what you love by doing something. But do it with quality. Don’t just do it to do it, do something GOOD. The music, movies, videos, etc. don’t have to suck. (Make everything 20% cooler.)
Everyone has a talent and it’s ok if yours is different, in fact it should be.No matter what your talent, there is a place for it and you. Are you good at music? Do that. Are you good at video? Do that. Are you good with computers? Make fan pages and websites. There is a place for everyone in the community. Find yours. But remember, messages of integrity and harmony don’t have to suck. Make them awesome.
Everyone can belong.
In the community there is room for everyone. It doesn’t matter if the things they like about the community are different from the things you like. It doesn’t matter if they don’t quite “get it” yet. There is room. Men, women, children, gay, straight, transgender, people that don’t eat pork, everyone. There is room. There is only one rule: Get along. You can discuss, debate, share, but don’t divide over stupid stuff. Find your place in the community and enjoy it, but don’t criticize others if their place is different. Everyone can belong.
It’s OK to be obsessed, but don’t expect everyone else to be obsessed too.
We get it. You love this. You love everything about it. It’s what your whole life is about. But that guy over there isn’t as obsessed. He’s part of the community, but he doesn’t like everything that you do. Guess what? That’s OK. Not everyone has to like what you like and do what you do. They still belong to the community. Really, they do. Maybe someday they will be as obsessed as you are, maybe not, that’s not your problem. You do your thing, let them do theirs.
Support each other and others outside your community.
Everyone that is in your community needs support. Love and tolerate everyone. Help a brother up when he falls down.Be a good friend to everyone, even if they might not look like they want you to. And more than that, you can use your community to help others outside of it. Get people together, go out and do stuff to help the world. Pick up trash. Take donations to help the sick. Do stuff to make the world better even if the world rejects you. The world needs people to care.
Adults sometimes need to relearn the lessons we taught to children.
When we were kids we learned important lessons. Be nice, eat right, play fair, don’t lie. But as adults we seem to think that maybe we don’t need to do those things anymore. Adults sometimes need to be taught the same lessons again. Yes, there are rules to being a grown up, but don’t get so hung up on the rules that you miss out on the living, giving, and sharing. And it’s OK for men to be people, it’s ok for men to be sensitive and gentle and caring. And the number one lesson, be open to new experiences. You never know what you will learn.