Pony pride brings friends to­gether

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

An an­i­mated kids’ show about ponies and friend­ship has be­come a world­wide phe­nom­e­non – so much so that adults are jump­ing on the band­wagon too.

Grafton’s Liam Shel­ley is a brony – an older fan of the show My Lit­tle Pony: Friend­ship Is Magic – and says he has met his clos­est friends through it.

The show has spawned web­sites and con­ven­tions.

There’s even a doc­u­men­tary about its adult fans, A Brony Tale, which screened at Auck­land’s Doc­u­men­tary Edge Fes­ti­val.

Liam says he used to ride horses when he was 10 but that’s not what drew him to the show.

‘‘It’s al­ways the peo­ple. It was a long time be­fore I ac­tu­ally met [other fans] be­cause I lived out in the Coro­man­del coun­try­side. Then I came to uni­ver­sity and there were so many more.’’

The show started in 2010 when Liam was 15.

‘‘At the time I was re­ally into gam­ing and stuff, then even­tu­ally it just started be­com­ing not that in­ter­est­ing for me.

‘‘I started get­ting back into eques­trian, horse rid­ing and then I saw this one web­site that just showed off a big im­age gallery of all th­ese ponies – the show had just started in Amer­ica. And then I was like ‘oh this is in­ter­est­ing, horses and stuff’ and then I found all the jokes re­ally funny.

‘‘For a long time I wouldn’t watch the show,’’ the 19-year-old Fan­doms are groups which come to­gether over a shared in­ter­est, such as My Lit­tle Pony.

Fan­doms be­come pop­u­lar through on­line fo­rums where fans chat, share sto­ries and or­gan­ise to meet up.

TV shows Glee and Su­per­nat­u­ral have large fan­doms on Twit­ter, con­tin­ues. ‘‘It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult to get into, to be­gin with. The first few episodes are pretty cringe-wor­thy.

‘‘I watched it the first time and thought ‘oh crap’ and turned it off im­me­di­ately. I tried again, got through the theme song and bam, it took off.’’

The English and com­puter sci­ence stu­dent says he talks to other bronies on­line and spots plenty of peo­ple around the city wear­ing My Lit­tle Pony T-shirts.

Bronies be­come in­stant friends, Liam says, and it has given him the con­fi­dence to put him­self out there.

But there are the an­tag­o­nis­ers, known on­line as trolls.

‘‘The peo­ple are al­ways friendly. You do get the oc­ca­sional troll but none of them are par­tic­u­larly ter­ri­ble.

‘‘Some of the trolls are bronies but some of them just like to bait and LiveJour­nal and Tum­blr. In the United States bronies gather at con­ven­tions such as Bal­ti­more’s BronyCon or the San Diego’s ComicCon.

Older, usu­ally male, fans of the TV show call them­selves bronies – a port­man­teau of ‘‘bro’’ and ‘‘ponies’’. an­noy us for the fun of it. It’s usu­ally noth­ing too ter­ri­ble.’’

He says his fam­ily and friends think bronies are cool.

‘‘They’ve all been ac­cept­ing, you see so many hor­ror sto­ries on the in­ter­net like when peo­ple just don’t un­der­stand it but that’s gen­er­ally in Amer­ica. In New Zealand ev­ery­one seems OK with it.’’

Some bronies col­lect fig­urines – Liam owns five and a cou­ple of plushies.

The show’s fourth sea­son just ended and Liam says fans are al­ready chomp­ing at the bit for new episodes.

Liam knows many will be con­fused by the phe­nom­e­non but says peo­ple should give it a go.

‘‘Don’t judge what you haven’t tried.’’

Photo: JESS ETHERIDGE

– Liam Shel­ley Brave brony: Liam Shel­ley, 19, of Grafton be­came a fan of My Lit­tle Pony when he was 15 and found friend­ship through the Brony fan­dom.

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