Photography by joeyh3
The brony fandom has been one of the first communities I ever have gotten involved in. The very fact that I respect it enough to even make a Month dedicated to my love for it should speak volumes about how much I love being part of it.
However, one of the things I have noticed on the latest days is a problem that not so many people talk about; or at the very least very few in the multitude of videos discussing the ToonKritic situation.
The brony fandom has an image problem, a rather alarming one at that as well. It’s a problem that has been enabling a lot of problematic behavior to happen. Nobody even knows how to react to this situation properly. Much like how the old adage goes:
The Road To Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
But why? Isn’t the brony fandom one of the most welcoming and understanding of them all? We have seen stories of people who have helped other bronies through tough times and other sorts of actions that have defined bronies as helpful.
Well, on the surface, that’s true. You could say that the biggest controversy in the brony fandom is that its adults watching a kids show. This really isn’t the case once we dig deeper into the fandom’s history.
Below the surface, things become murkier, with some of the fandom’s members going out of their way to omit information, silence people and even abuse their popularity. Soon, a lot of people might realize that the brony fandom is controversial but not for having adults who watch MLP.
In fact, the rabbit hole goes down so deep that there are awful things such as impersonators, scammers and other sorts of people who have done a lot of unforgivable things. With the fandom quickly attempting to sweep things under the rug.
Moral for the Sake of Looking Good is not Moral for the sake of Moral.
This is where you can begin to see the problems within the brony fandom itself. The image problem has been the very reason why these incidents have occurred and why many people who have been behind these incidents have gotten away with it.
There is a lot of “Calling out” in the brony community but not much is done to prevent similar situations from happening ever again. As soon as one incident happens, it’s swept under the rug and a lot of people wish for it to not be seen by the Mainstream Media.
It’s a (justified) paranoid behavior that has become pretty toxic to the fandom itself. Sometimes the reactions even extend from trying to downplay an incident or pretending it didn’t happen, to blatant attempts at shielding certain personalities within the community. As such, let’s take a look at the ongoing ToonKritic investigation for an example.
As of this writing, the search for the accused has been going on strong. Meanwhile, there have been a number of comments online that have attempted to defend him from his alleged, pedophiliac actions.
Two prominent figures in the fandom, Dr. Wolf, and Silver Quill, made a video that has met with a lot of backlash from multiple people with multiple perspectives. If you watch the video, it appears as if they are trying to push the fandom to forgive TK for his actions.
Even if (And that’s a big “if” in my opinion) the point of the video is another one. They did the same thing as NBC did and didn’t really get this message across in a correct manner. However, pay attention to the words in the video and you’ll see that they are trying to do the thing that will make the fandom look good.
Bronies Vs. The World
Remember when I said that this paranoid behavior from bronies is justified? Well, for the people who need a crash course the brony community has been having quite a bit of trouble with the rest of the world for some time now.
Though there’s something to be said about how people who criticize a fan base without understanding it aren’t worth paying attention to; the brony fandom has remained a popular punching bag for the mainstream media, despite brony attempts to fight back against this.
Bronies participate in a lot of charity work, prepare and host conventions, publicize the happier moments from them and it’s supposed to push the fandom beyond the widely held view that they are “Basement Dwellers,” or something of the sort.
However, there are quite a few problems with those plans. The main one is the fact that, in order to achieve the desired goal, a lot of voices within the fandom are silenced. Sometimes too, a scandal blows so out of proportion that the mainstream media gets involved and pushes the very viewpoints that the bronies are so scared of and attempting to fight against.
The second problem is, well, a lot of good the community does is negated by the fact that there are a lot of twisted things within the brony fandom. By “twisted,” I mean an abundance of things such as child pornography, rape, and gore in fanart. Strap yourselves in, because there is a lot to be argued about this point.
comic by Veggie55 on YouTube
“Let’s jump off the cliff, the furries did so!”
Some people have brought to my attention while discussing the ToonKritic incident, that these sort of things happen a lot in other communities. There is a lot of truth to this statement, but there are many reasons why this argument is irrelevant.
For one, the fact that other fandoms engage in this activity doesn’t justify bronies doing the exact same thing. In fact, they should be improving upon that and not allowing these sorts of things to happen at all.
In regards to the fan content, there is a dedicated section to child pornography in sites like Derpibooru and FiMFiction. This category is known as “Foalcon” and it’s been quite the topic of discussion among fan creators. I strongly recommend you do not look up what Foalcon is, but it’s enough to say it involves a sexual fetish for horses with pre-teen traits.
As disturbing as that may sound, it’s not unique to this fandom; anime, for example, has Lolicon, which is a fetish for pre-teen anime girls. So in other words, if somebody is going to go after bronies, they should also go after Otakus, any children’s cartoon show fans, and even, oddly enough sports fans. All of them have their own form of this sexual kink.
Here’s the deal, as long as the person reading, watching, or creating said content is mentally stable enough to be doing so, there’s no evidence to suggest this material is harmful to those brave enough to watch it.
The problem is that some people just aren’t mentally sound enough to handle it. In the case of ToonKritic, for example, he became disconnected with the real world and allegedly started to solicit sexual images and role-playing from people, due to this.
And yes, this sort of disconnection happens quite a lot, especially considering how easy it is to forget that it’s another person involved in your conversation. With no personal contact, the other person can easily turn into words on a screen.
image by mayamermaid
The First Steps Forward are The Hardest to Take
In light of all of this. What is the best solution towards this whole issue? What could bronies do to prevent incidents like this from ever happening again? Does the fandom need to reject its “Open and Welcoming Community” image in order to grow?
In order to understand this, we should first come to terms with a very blunt concept. Being an open community that’s accepting of everyone is undeniably impossible.
For those who need evidence of this, we can turn our sights to Briar Nexus. A case study about how this concept is practically a fool’s errand. There will always be a conflict of interest between certain demographics and creating a safe space for everyone is practically impossible.
If the brony fandom is supposed to be known for being this sort of welcoming place. The people within the fandom shouldn’t be surprised when they get labeled as something bad.
Allowing everyone in means allowing all sorts of twisted people to join in the fun. We’ve seen a lot of toxicity within the brony fandom and not much done about it. As such, it’s impossible to keep a good image without silencing the voices that wish for help and justice to be done.
The Final Decision Belongs to the Fandom.
Over the 15 days of research I have done in order to write this article, the only solutions I’ve seen regarding this situation require a lot of self-analyzing and initiative. These concepts can be very difficult to embrace but are necessary to consider in moving forward.
There are a lot of people who distance themselves from so-called “drama” in the community. Honestly, they are not to blame really, as they don’t want to be involved in interpersonal conflicts for various reasons.
However, if the brony fandom is supposed to be promoted as a welcoming community; the brony fandom needs to accept that this will, in turn, cause them to be labeled in all kinds of ways. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence, after all.
The way I see it, we should all be held accountable for our actions and be given the freedom to do as we please. One of the solutions could easily be having the brony fandom policing the content much more. This solution could be troublesome in the long run.
Outcries of “censoring” or something of the sort would erupt, and the idea of where to draw the line between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” would be constantly argued. It could, however, find the fandom arriving at a better place morally.
The fandom could just continue with the same steps it’s doing right now, but if this is the way the fandom will go then the last of their concerns will be, “How well does this look to the mainstream media,” because it obviously won’t look good at all.
Conclusion: Why am I still a brony?
Sometimes, I question the reasons why I became a brony in the first place. I have seen a lot of bad things happening within the fandom and then wonder why I love it so much. Ultimately I come to realize, that the reason why I love it is that a lot of good also happens within the fandom.
Whether it’s a charity or other acts of kindness, the brony fandom can be associated with a lot of wonderful efforts and great times. It’s one of the reasons why I love it more than the My Little Pony show nowadays.
The very reason why this article exists is so bronies can learn that if we’re going to step forward, something needs to be done in order to prevent history from repeating. The fact that VidaPony made a petition for Zero Tolerance within the fandom means there’s Tolerance of questionable things, to begin with.
It’s not going to make the fandom look pretty, but is the fact that people within the fandom silence others for the sake of maintaining an image also going to make bronies look good? Obviously not.
This all could fall on deaf ears and be seen as yet another hit piece on bronies, however, I have faith that a lot of bronies will take these criticisms to heart, and work to make things better within the fandom to make it healthier.
I guess all I can do at the moment is wait and see how the fandom will act after this incident blows over. So I’ll do just that with the faith that the fandom will step in the right direction this time.