The inevitable whirlpool of watching a television show grips you and gives you no chance of escaping, spinning you into catastrophic procrastination. One episode leads into two. Two episodes lead into watching an entire season in the course of a day.
This is what happened when Ian Yanai, a fifth-year in criminology and sociology, watched “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” the cartoon series based off the My Little Pony toy line from Hasbro, for the first time.
“It was all over my Facebook,” Yanai said about discovering the show. “I had guys that were like, ‘Hey, check this out,’ and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m not doing anything — I’ll watch an episode.’”
Yanai shares his love for the show much like any other person belonging to the “MLP” fandom, who call themselves “Bronies.” Yanai said he describes a Brony as any person who actively watches “MLP,” as well as creates fan-made content and collects merchandise.
“Any (person) that owns one piece of merchandise and enjoys the show thoroughly would be considered,” Yanai said. “You can’t just be a fair-weathered guy.”
The term was coined to describe males who enjoy the show, but has since been adopted to describe females, too, Yanai said.
“Some prefer the term Pegasister,” Yanai said, “but I’m not too fond of that. I think if you’re a Brony, you’re a Brony.”
Some other students didn’t understand the appeal for adult men to watch “My Little Pony.”
“That’s really weird,” Alexis Allen, a third-year in strategic communications, said after hearing what a Brony is. “There’s no way a guy could watch that show. I feel like they’d only watch it to mock it.”
Kyle Cook, a third-year in history and president of the Buckeye Brony Association at Ohio State, further described a Brony by saying it’s someone who embraces the six ideas and values of the show: honesty, loyalty, generosity, kindness, leadership and laughter.
“If you look past the pink pastels of the show,” Cook said. “If you look past it for what its face value is, it has a lot deeper significance to people of just how to be good people because there is not a lot of shows these days that promote good values.”
Brony culture doesn’t reside behind a closed stable door — many social networking sites allow fans to connect with one another.
“There’s a big Brony community on Google Plus — even though no one uses it,” Yanai said. “And Tumblr — oh my God, it’s insane. There’s ponies all over it.”
Bronies have also held “My Little Pony” conventions around the country, including the Canterlot Gardens convention in the Cleveland area, Trotcon in Columbus and BronyCon in Baltimore or New York City, depending on the year.
Yanai said he doesn’t go to Trotcon because the convention is catered more toward adult Bronies.
“I think (conventions) should be kept a family event,” Yanai said. “The one in Baltimore is inclusive. There’s tons of kids everywhere.”
Cook said the BBA attempted to hold a Midwest Brony meetup at OSU with Bronies from universities in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but found it difficult to organize it.
“Logistically, it would have been an absolute nightmare to get them here,” Cook said. “It would have been nuts to get the facilities.”
He said the club plans to possibly hold a meetup at Trotcon since it will be meeting up at a third-party environment, which will make it easier to have discussions.
With openly being a Brony, Yanai said he has received both positive and negative responses from the public, adding that he is frequently pointed out as a Brony at Home Depot, where he works.
“One time I had decorated (my work apron) with a pony on it,” Yanai said. “I’ve had a bunch of guys come up to me and go, ‘Oh hey, you watch the show?’ and I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah, hi how can I help you today?’”
Yanai said one of the negative reactions he’s received was when he went to BronyCon with his two friends, and some other people in Baltimore didn’t understand the fandom.
“You will get dirty looks,” Yanai said.
When people actually approached him and his friends in Baltimore to ask about what was on their shirts, Yanai said the peoples’ dispositions were negative.
“People would be like, ‘Hey, what is that animé s—?’” he said. “We were like, ‘Dude, it’s nothing like (anime).’”
Cook said the reason people react negatively to Brony culture is because they do not understand it.
“It’s the same with any movement or any ideological shift,” Cook said. “People are going to be afraid of it because they don’t know it.”
Despite the bucking backlash, Bronies from around the country find friendship through their mutual enjoyment of the show.
“I have five to 10 guys I talk to on a daily basis,” Yanai said. “We message each other. We text each other. We’re spread out all over the country.”
Yanai said the Brony community is “very inclusive,” especially to those who he deemed to not be normal, which he described as a white, heterosexual male versus a child.
“Every culture, every ethnicity — it’s there,” Yanai said of the Brony fandom. “(The community) has helped me get the friends I need, even if they’re scattered all over the country.”
Cook said the Brony community is one of the most accepting communities because it breaks the mold on what is considered masculine and feminine.
“It’s what’s under the initial presentation of material,” Cook said. “If you look at an episode for more than its face value, you will see it is different from what people stigmatize it as.”
Some people describe Bronies as basement dwellers and “neckbeards,” the term given to a person who has no sense of hygiene or grooming, Yanai said.
“I hold a full-time job, I’m a supervisor, I’m an Eagle Scout, I have my own car, I pay my own bills,” Yanai said, listing his achievements off on his fingers. “We aren’t who you think we are.”
Jeffrey Lin, a third-year in health information management, said he lives under the belief of “to each his own” and that everyone has something they enjoy.
“I watch dumb cartoon shows, too,” Lin said. “Who am I to judge? I wouldn’t want to be judged for that.”
Cook said he watched Saturday morning cartoons growing up, as well as programs on Cartoon Network and older cartoons such as “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” “Underdog” and shows produced by Hanna-Barbera.
“College is a big coming-of-age transition from growing up to being an adult and still wanting to be a kid,” Cook said. “(MLP) is still one of the things that lets me be a kid and have fun.”