It says so right on the DVD case: "Friendship Is Magic." And after 69 episodes of this incarnation of My Little Pony, you'd think we'd have caught on to this idea. Even Discord seems to have figured it out. The rest of us in the fandom? Maybe not so much:

A friend of mine was speaking with me the other day about the show. He is dissatisfied with his current state of affairs, wishing for things that he doesn't have, malcontent with life as it currently is. He also says that he doesn't care about and doesn't want friends. He still likes the show, but has little interest in the fandom surrounding it, as he isn't concerned with socialization.

Now I have quite a track record as a malcontent, as the readership will undoubtedly attest. But there's this:

I still have what I think is a surplus of minor frustrations. What I don't have is time to waste being furious about them. I don't think this is so much because I fear I'm going to worry myself into an ulcer or some sort of cardiac event, but because it just seems rather pointless.

Pointlessness aside, what's been the one time factor in my life that's changed in the last few years? Correct: the several hours per week I spend in contemplation of all that is pony. You'd be surprised how many times I've failed to fly off the handle out of fear of disrupting Harmony. Or maybe you wouldn't.

But our narrator is still telling it straight:

I can't shake the irony of anti-friend advocates watching a show about friendship, however. Sure, there's plenty more that the show has to offer, but... take out the friendship themes and you have My Little Pony: Nothing is Magic. That's a great fanfic title, but doesn't have as good a ring to it when you're thinking about shows for kids.

When you really think about it, most of the bronies come from anti-social backgrounds as well. Isn't it the biggest irony to think that so many shut-ins and nerds (both of which I am) would come to be fascinated with a show about friendship, of all things?

Maybe not so ironic. Look at the 2013 Herd Census. Ninety-five percent of the fandom has never been married; three quarters say they haven't been in a "serious relationship" lately; ten percent consider themselves asexual. (If you must: I match exactly one of those characteristics.) And there's the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which respondents to the Census were asked to provide. The least common type, INTJ, shows up ten to twenty times more often among pony fans than among the population as a whole. And which type is least likely to get by with a little help from his friends?

We're dealing here with a substantial population that believes it can, and perhaps has to, go it alone. Extrapolating from my own romantic experience, I'm thinking that their interest is mostly academic: they'd like to understand the topic, but they think it's ultimately irrelevant to their lives.

Which means, in the long run, that they'll have to be shown. And I don't really believe that a television program whose primary function is to sell toys is necessarily going to be enough to draw these guys out of their shells.

But that, now that I think about it, may be the one reason I've been as emphatic about my own presence in the fandom: if I, no more special than Eric Burdon's "overfed, long-haired leaping gnome," can see some tangible changes in my own life, surely it must be somehow possible for everypony. Or almost everypony, anyway.

The Vent

  8 December 2013

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 Copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Hill