An examination of the culture behind the MLPFiM fandom

Luna flying by the light of the moon

Yes, there's plenty of fan art, too.

Most importantly for our purposes, the community is influenced by the passion which the fans put into various fanworks related to the show. For just about any medium, some fan has tried to create a pony-related work in it.

One example is the lengths to which fans are willing to go to customize their pony figures to better fit the image they have of the characters or to have figures of characters for which Hasbro does not yet create toys. Torres (2011) has created the most triumphant example of the former: she has produced a tutorial for taking a Princess Celestia figure (which, is for some reason, pink, despite the character being much closer to white in the show) and replacing the hair, adding accessories, and completely repainting the figure. There is a great deal of effort and skill involved, but to her—and, apparently, to other fans as well—it was worth it.

Another media absolutely full of MLPFiM fanworks is video. There is a nearly endless stream of fan videos, most of which take video from the show and set it to other audio, usually either music or audio from trailers for games or movies. One of the largest single examples of this type of video is “PONIES the Anthology” (ZephyrStar, Macchinainterna, Dr. Dinosaur, SilkAMV, ReggieSmalls, MeleeChampion, . . . Inthesto, 2011). It is an episode-length set of short scenes done in the above style, and due to its quality (good synchronization, custom animation, and generally excellent humor), is likely one of the most-viewed videos within the fanbase. (Movie trailer videos generally have many more views due to non-fans.)

However, as important as these fanworks are, without Hasbro’s condoning them, the community would still collapse. While Ponies the Anthology is an excellent example of a high-quality fan video, it’s also an excellent example of a fan video to which the actual target demographic of young girls shouldn’t be exposed due to explicit lyrics. Sabrina Dent (2011) addresses this idea in her presentation given at Dot Conf; she explicitly points out “The internet hates lawyers,” then points out the major reason for Hasbro’s noninterference. Hasbro is not making money off the airing of the episodes, but rather the sale of the toys. Therefore, anything that attracts additional people to the fandom and may cause them to buy merchandise is all to the good. Unfortunately, Torres (2011) and her custom Celestia figure point out the potential problem here: adult fans are much more likely to criticize the available toys. It remains to be seen whether Hasbro’s actions will pay off in the long run. In what may be viewed as an effort to placate older fans while figuring out what to do with their toy preferences, the Hub (2011) has actually taken to producing advertisements targeting these fans, such as the “Equestria Girls” video currently airing as a promotional spot on their network. It contains references only these fans are likely to understand, despite airing on a children’s network, and at least demonstrates they are aware of their expanded fanbase.

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