Sunday, 17 March 2013

Ponies in the press

Dictionary, Meet Newspaper by Flizzick, August 2012. CC by 3.0
Since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has not been a mainstream hit in the UK — partly on account of its near-invisibility on TV — it's perhaps unsurprising that the show and its fandom have largely been ignored by the British press. There have been a few exceptions, though, and in this post I'll round up those which I've come across. There's only one criterion, really: the piece must have been in an established mainstream UK publication. (Games blogs and so on don't count.)

The Guardian has published two pieces on bronies, though (perhaps surprisingly) neither of them are brilliant. On 1 October 2012, we were confronted with the cumbersomely-titled Adult male My Little Pony fans? Bronies are true rebels by Rebecca Angel. It starts off badly, with the first thing we see being a photo... of a G3 pony. After that, though, it's okay. Superficial to say the least, but you could see a lot worse. On the same page, in fact: look down to the comments. "Bronies are mainly probably idiots" is nothing like the most unpleasant.

Just four days later, the same paper followed this up with Men in tiaras join UK's biggest My Little Pony fans, in which Zoe Williams reported from UK PonyCon 2012. Now, I generally like Williams, and find her an entertaining writer. This article, however, was not one of her finest. Defining a plushy [sic] as "a blanket with a pony's head" will have left most of us scratching our own, human(ish) heads. And to read this, you'd think that most of us bronies went round in tiaras the whole time. Williams has the talent to write a better piece than this if she wants to.

As it happens, though, another national newspaper was reporting on the same convention, and Tamara Hardingham-Gill is responsible for (wait for it) 'Our friends think we're crazy!' Hundreds of grown-up My Little Pony fans flock to special convention in honour of animated series. Yes, it's in that home of absurdly long headlines, the Daily Mail. Run away! Run away! ...or rather, don't. Because, quite against most bronies' expectations, this is actually quite a good read, and there's clearly been some actual (*gasp*) research done. Some of the readers' comments are predictable, but well done the Mail. And that's not something I often say!

Since October, things have gone rather quiet, and all we've seen have been occasional mentions in diary pieces. For example, this one in The Yorker (yes, as in old York!) that seems to be the product of a reader's email and, somewhat bizarrely, this one in the Daily Telegraph by thoroughly right-wing blogger Damian Thompson. I'm not quite sure whether Thompson's comment about there being a "senior Anglican bishop" in our fandom is meant as a joke; I assume so, but it's so hard to tell. Anyway, that does seem to be our lot for the moment. Whether that's good or bad I'm not really sure.

Edit: Nicky Rowe, in the comments to this post, points out that Thompson has hinted at this bishop before. That said, dressing one's toy animals in academic dress does not one a brony make. Unless there's a specific link to FiM itself, I shall remain sceptical about this.


  1. It isn't the first time that charming chap from the Telegraph has hinted at this bishop, whoever it may be. Read through this little column from last year, and there are mentions of "Derpygate" alongside a subtle hint about a bishop with MLP connections...

    1. How very strange. I don't think said bishop could be said to be "influential" in the brony community, given that nobody seems to know who it is. I also suspect that Thompson has jumped to the conclusion that "likes playing with pony toys" = "is a brony", which we know is not necessarily the case. But if the guy is out there (maybe reading this!) then perhaps he could clear up the confusion for us. :P

  2. All very true, and of course it does make for a good story - certainly better than some of the stuff you get in right wing columns!