The recent generation of My Little Pony has received popular and academic attention due to its visible following of young male enthusiasts. This article explores this so-called Brony phenomenon in terms of gender and age, cult spectator practices, fandom, masculinities, and the kinds of participatory culture with which the new series is associated. Despite the apparent transgression of men enjoying a television show clearly coded as being for young girls, the article argues that Brony practices reproduce many male-centered aspects of fan media consumption in a manner that recuperates the femininity of the brand according to masculine values and cultures. The femininity of the thirty-year-old series is placed in historical and theoretical context, illustrating parallels between current and earlier incarnations of the franchise and its continuities with other women-centered popular media. Particularly significant here is the program's emphasis on female friendship. Yet such “gynocentric” qualities and the series' affinity with young viewers might have been eroded in recent episodes. This is partly through the incorporation of more masculine genres, but also in the increasing address of the show to its online fandom, an audience employing channels of expression from which young people are effectively excluded. These developments function to marginalize the series' core audience—“little girls”—in a process of appropriation and redefinition that ultimately serves the interests of a more visible and powerful demographic.
“Little girls and the things that they love”: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Audience, Identity, and the Privilege of Contemporary Fan Culture
Ewan Kirkland; “Little girls and the things that they love”: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Audience, Identity, and the Privilege of Contemporary Fan Culture. Camera Obscura 1 September 2017; 32 (2 (95)): 89–115. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-3924661
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