An examination of the culture behind the MLPFiM fandom

VanDerWerff, T. (2011, April 29). My Little Pony Friendship is Magic [Review of the television series My Little Pony Friendship is Magic]. Retrieved from http://www.avclub.com/articles/my-little-pony-friendship-is-magic,55168/

Summary:

This review of MLPFiM covers the appearance of the show from Faust’s original intention: a show for kids, but a show the parents won’t mind watching either. VanDerWerff covers two major reasons for this working: the show is “relentlessly cute, relentlessly happy, and relentlessly entertaining”, and the characters are well-defined.

Analysis:

This is, frankly, the review I show people whom I’m trying to convince to watch MLPFiM; VanDerWerff does a very good job of describing the experience of watching the show without involving the fanbase at all. I’m not certain whether he’s attempting to target parents or non-parents with this review—he focuses more on the “this is awesome!” aspect than the “this is good for your children” aspect—but I believe that identifying the show as actually having depth while still being bright and colorful is useful for both groups.

Torres, D. (2011, June 29). Brushable Celestia – Tutorial [Photographs with captions]. Retrieved from http://deekary.deviantart.com/art/Brushable-Celestia-Tutorial-215685607

Summary:

Torres details the process involved in converting the Hasbro-produced Princess Celestia toy into one that matches the show’s portrayal of the princess. This is a reasonably complicated process, involving removing the old, plastic-molded hair and supports, sculpting new accessories, completely repainting the figure, and replacing the hair.

Analysis:

This article demonstrates three things about the fanbase. First, it demonstrates the lengths to which some fans are willing to go to get the toys they want. Second, it does a fair job of showing why the fanbase is dissatisfied with some of the toys: Celestia is the extreme example, to be sure, but the toys in general have little to do with the show besides names and general appearance. Third, it shows one reason Hasbro may not choose to cater to these fans: despite being linked to by a major fansite, the top image from this artist on this subject has fewer than 6,000 hits as of this writing. The numbers simply don’t appear to be there for Hasbro to justify the expense of producing specifically for these fans.

Tekaramity (Interviewer) & Ingram, D. (Interviewee). (2011, March 23). Daniel Ingram interview has arrived! [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Equestria Daily web site: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/03/daniel-ingram-interview-has-arrived.html

Summary:

Ingram, the foreground music composer for MLPFiM, discusses his history and process for composing songs for various animated shows. He covers both what happens in general from the start with a script containing the initial lyrics to finish and the song being sent off to the production company, and what has happened in specific instances, such as having to go back and re-record “Winter Wrap Up” after animation began. He also talks about the fanbase and fanworks.

Analysis:

Ingram takes his work seriously, and has the resources to do amazing things. Consider this: “My favorite song for Season 1 hasn’t aired yet, but you’ll know it when you hear it because it’s pretty epic. I recorded a 20-person choir in Bryan Adam’s studio for this particular number, and every lead pony gets a solo.” (This song turned out to be “At the Gala”, from episode 26, “Best Night Ever”.) This is a song for a half-hour children’s cartoon. Having so many performers—both the vocalists mentioned and the variety of instruments used behind them—should be complete overkill, yet, somehow, it works.

In addition, Ingram’s opinion of fanworks greatly encouraged these creators and remixers. This has provided two boosts for the community: the fan creators produce even more, and the other fans become more likely to hear about these fanworks.

Tekaramity (Interviewer) & Anderson, W. K. (Interviewee). (2011, June 29). Interview: Will Anderson (Friendship is Magic score composer) [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Equestria Daily web site: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/06/interview-will-anderson-friendship-is.html

Summary:

Anderson, the background music composer for MLPFiM, discusses his history, his process, and the orchestral elements of the show. Modern instruments are still employed, but both he and Faust have wanted to find a signature sound for each character.

Analysis:

Anderson’s work has greatly influenced the show in two ways. First, as both he and Tekaramity mention multiple times, each character does have does have a signature stylistic influence on the background music. It’s never quite a leitmotif, but the music (or, sometimes, its absence or distortion, when characters aren’t quite feeling their usual selves) does a wonderful job in setting the tone in each scene. The scene in “Suited for Success” mentioned by Tekaramity is definitely the most triumphant example of this. Second, the music is almost never simply reused (thus the lack of leitmotifs); certainly similar-sounding pieces will occur, but Anderson puts together a full score every time. This variety helps the show avoid feeling repetitive, a major downfall of many children’s shows.

Moongazer, Q. (2011, June 27). Unicorn ethics: A fragment on My Little Pony [Web log message]. Retrieved from https://quinnae.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/unicorn-ethics-a-fragment-on-my-little-pony/

Summary:

Moongazer speaks to the three reasons she finds MLPFiM to be a positive influence on society: the show’s hero is an intellectual, the main characters represent a range of archetypes without being subordinate, and there is a positive sense of community and diversity.

Analysis:

Moongazer’s views are heavily colored by feminism—but considering the show’s true target audience and Faust’s (2010) own intended messages, this is not just fine but excellent. While her appreciation of an intellectual hero is based in part on seeing herself in that character, the other points she brings up are exactly what make the show enjoyable by all ages: there’s depth everywhere. Even though it’s a children’s show, the main cast all have their own jobs, goals, and motivations, and this allows for real conflict.

Hub Television Networks. (2011). Equestria Girls . Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTPqjKk_xCo

 

Summary:

The Hub put together this video, a parody of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”, to serve as a promotional spot for MLPFiM. It is sung by Pinkie Pie’s singing voice actress, Shannon Chan Kent, and all video clips came directly from the show, much like a fan video. It makes direct references to elements of the fandom, such as the fans calling themselves “bronies” and the love for DJ-P0N3.

Analysis:

The song feels like a love letter from the network to the show’s older fans. It is, effectively, an official fan video, and one that makes jokes only these fans will understand. Admittedly, it has actually caused some fans to worry that the show will change too much in season two to cater to the older fans—as many of my other sources suggest, a large portion of the show’s success is due to the focus on being a positive influence on young girls—but hopefully these worries will prove unfounded.

Faust, L. (Producer). (2011). My Little Pony Friendship is Magic [Television series]. Vancouver: Studio B Productions.

 First episode:

Summary:

A young unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, learns about the magic of friendship through various adventures and hijinks with her friends in Ponyville over one season of twenty-six episodes. Her friends—including Applejack, a farmer; Rainbow Dash, an athlete; Rarity, a fashion designer; Pinkie Pie, a pastry chef and thrower of parties; and Fluttershy, the overly-shy local version of a veterinarian, help to bring Twilight out of her intellectual shell. The lessons she learns are generally presented as letters to her mentor, Princess Celestia, at the end of each episode.

Analysis:

As virtually every other work presented here suggests, MLPFiM is a bright, colorful show, aimed at girls around the six- to eight-year old range. However, for all the reasons presented elsewhere in this blog, it’s eminently watchable by those of all ages and genders. It is certainly not the deepest, most intellectual show out there, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most fun.