May 062012
 
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

A Krypton Radio Special Review by Producer, PK

Krypton Radio looks at new music additions and finds a surprise in the Brony fandom

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

We’ve heard about the Brony culture before, but for the first time Krypton Radio takes an in-depth look at what we never knew about the show, the music, and the fans.

We’re always looking for new and interesting music that fits in the genres we cater to, primarily Superhero, Comic Book, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Fantasy, and Gaming. But lately we’ve been getting suggestions for music based on a different fandom that was a little surprising. Some of the KR staffers had been bringing up songs from an animated children’s show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which debuted in 2010, and admittedly an initial reaction to what looks like a little girls cartoon was that of skepticism. Although we’re hard pressed to turn down a good song, so when checking out some of the fan made music, it peaked our interest enough to look at the actual show music as well.

I agree, when someone comes to you and says I got some great music from a show featuring brightly colored talking ponies named Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie; it’s a little hard to take seriously at first. But we gave it a chance, and yes not all of the music seems appropriate for the bulk of our audience (although we’re digging the Discord EuroChoas Mix like crazy). Though during our searches on YouTube and related fan sites, we’ve come to develop an appreciation for a fanbase that has many parallels to that of mainstream Science Fiction and Fantasy. Whose fanbase’s have also suffered from ridicule and misunderstandings among some media and the public. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FiM) while primarily aimed at young girls in the 7-10 year-old range, has drawn some attention and criticism for attracting many male adult fans, commonly known as Bronies.

Despite its origins and current target audience, the show has displayed that time and time again that it has interesting and engaging characters,  humor that even adults can enjoy, and stories that help teach people of all ages important life lessons. From a musical standpoint, which is what attracted us initially, the show’s music is expertly crafted by composers Daniel Ingram and William Anderson. Rivaling and even surpassing some big-budget movie music productions for similar children’s content, with Broadway inspired musical segments of such joyful quality you can’t help but smile. The fan created music has truly blown us away on professionalism, with animated shorts, music videos, and original compositions that look as though they were from a major Hollywood studio.

During our search we came across a documentary on MLP:FiM by a YouTube user called Saberspark,which he created for a school project on the subject of deviant cultures. Saberspark does an excellent job of exploring aspects of the show’s history, characters, and fan culture. Although despite a slightly sarcasm laden fanboy defending his turf approach, the video covers important details to bring non-fans up to speed on why the show has become wildly popular and how it’s impacted pop-culture and people’s lives.

The video was published in December of 2011 and has been updated as of March 2012.

Watch the documentary after the break:

This documentary is a third-party fan production, as such some views expressed in the video are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the staff of Krypton Radio. Video is over one-hour long and contains some brief mild adult language with cartoonish violence from film clips used from works of parody – Parental Guidance is suggested for those under 10 years of age.

Changes since the video was published:

The character of Ditzy Doo/Derpy Hooves was the focus of a small group of people, some being parents of underage fans, who blasted the character as being discriminatory towards the handicap. The normally background character which featured misaligned eyes, eventually had a momentary speaking part in an episode of season-two of the show, and was shown talking in a slow-witted fashion along with being extremely clumsy in a comical way in relation to being called Derpy.

As it was stated in the documentary, the character was named Derpy in season-two as a nod to the fans who spotted the character during the first season and pointed out an animation mistake with the eyes, nicknaming her Derpy Hooves. The character was renamed despite being originally referenced in the first season as Ditzy Doo. The term Derpy traditionally refers to someone who is acting in an asinine or stupid manner, or being generally silly in a dimwitted way.

However some parents and others took the name to be derogatory in nature combined with the character’s antics, and accused the show of depicting mentally handicap people in a negative light. The show’s creators stated this was never the intention and the character was not considered to be handicapped, just silly and slow-witted. A response from the episode’s writer was posted on Equestria Daily, a fan site operated by a member of the show’s production team. Amy Keating Rogers, who wrote the episode, indicated that she received overwhelmingly positive reviews of the way Derpy was depicted, but ultimately it was not her call to make on what was done with her.

Hasbro, the owners of the My Little Pony franchise along with The Hub, the television network the show is carried on, took the unusual approach of pulling the episode from the lineup and re-casting Derpy’s voice. The brief line in the episode where the character’s name is mentioned was edited out for rebroadcast, this lead to many outraged fans calling for the restoration of the character’s season-two name and voice actor. Through various blog posts and other commentary, many fans stated that it was hypocritical to sensor a character that was perceived as handicap, since the premise of the show is friendship and being understanding of others differences.

As a side note, KR staff writers reviewed the entire episode in question, (the unedited version) and we as educated adults who are open minded did not feel offended by the name and the character’s actions. Some pointed out that popular cartoon characters such as Spongebob Squarepants, are much more graphic and potentially offensive than Ditzy/Derpy. It was also pointed out that as a way to restore continuity, the character could be called Ditzy Derpy Doo, since the wording of the name by general acceptance is not offensive and it would allow for the use of both names. Interestingly enough, the character has developed such a fan following, that she has her own music, fan-art, and fiction where she’s many times depicted as being a loving mother to a female foal character created by fans named Dinky.

Saberspark‘s documentary additionally mentioned that Hasbro was not taking action against videos of episodes posted online of the show, however this was proven to be incorrect as Hasbro has been in the process of filing copyright claims against some users on YouTube, to have MLP:FiM videos taken offline. In December of 2011, the same month as the documentary was published, Hasbro initiated a copyright take down of a Sweden based website called PonyArchive, which hosted fully downloadable copies of the MLP:FiM episodes. Many episodes of the show are still available on YouTube, with the recent season-two finale being posted online within hours of its broadcast.

Based on commentary from different fan sites, it is unclear what decision making process Hasbro uses to determine what content they will file a copyright claim on. As some fans seemed to believe they are at times leaving YouTube episodes alone,  we have however sent a request for information to the Hasbro/MLP Team to get clarification on what they are targeting with the copyright claims. We’ll update this section as information is made available.

Controversy over the fandom

Like any fanbase, there will always be controversy over its members. This is one unique culture as its movement began primarily online, and has rapidly grown into real life conventions that show creators and stars have attended. It’s also interesting to see how fast the creators and executives of the show embraced feedback from fans, which is not particularly unheard of, but what made this unusual was the fanbase being comprised of a large number of adults. The show makers have even gone so far as to include fan interests in the show from time to time. Some may disagree, but looking at the fandom as a whole, it’s hard to say that the Bronies are any different than a bunch of geeks dressed up as Klingons or a group of fantasy lovers obsessing over elves and warlocks. It comes down to a group of people embracing their love of certain characters or particular storyline, and our being obsessed comic loving geeks ourselves we can’t find fault with that.

So why have Bronies drawn so much criticism from some groups when others go largely untouched? The fandom is looked at from many different points of view, some remember the early days of the fans online movement starting in 4Chan and the site’s dubious reputation. And while I didn’t pay much attention originally, I was introduced to the culture via popular media and those who openly bashed and parodied it. The most vocal detractors of the fandom have associated it with homosexuality, gender identity issues and similar fandoms such as furries, who are fans of anthropomorphic animals and are incorrectly associated with a minority group of people interested in having sexual relations with animals. These stereotypes have been perpetuated by those who haven’t taken the time to sit down and actually explore the back-story to the fandom, and resort to publicly denouncing what they don’t understand.

It’s true that adding an adult element to any kids cartoon risks the wrath of the more prudish, although I see this as being common in any fan-culture. Furries which are arguably related to Bronies in ways, for example are looked down upon by many due to a large segment of their culture embracing a sexualized version of the fandom. It’s just an evolution of natural human desires and well, rule #34 of the internet. The same can be said with some of the, well, overly adult artwork I’ve come across when looking for information on MLP:FiM. A segment of the fanbase does embrace an adult version of the content, but there’s also a significant number of fans who enjoy the show as is and keep their fan contributions family friendly. Those who oppose the fandom are quick to latch on to the adult element and use that as part of the hate speech against adult fans, claiming it shows proof of deviance and a desire to corrupt our youth in some cases. I feel my response to those who bash any fandom without doing some unbiased research first is: As far as I’m concerned, abnormality is the normality around this locality.

 

What’s the appeal?

Lauren Faust who was the driving force behind the modern adaptation of the show, brought together a talented team which has worked tirelessly to create stories, characters, music, and animation that anyone of any age or gender can appreciate and connect with. And while she may have initially helped create a show that was aimed at the young, regardless of gender, MLP:FiM with its rich storyline and colorful characters (slight pun intended), is followed by a devoted fanbase that embraces the ideals of the show. The ideals of friendship, understanding, and mutual respect.

For me in particular, my first exposure was getting sent some links to the show’s music. I was deeply intrigued by the melodic sounds of the singing, and what appeared to be a distinct Broadway feel to it. I haven’t seen a musical performance in a cartoon like that in a long time, so I decided to check out the show even further. I watched episodes and looked up more music from the show, and was amazed by the quality of it. But then I started to really pay attention to the messages of the episodes, and it made me sit back and think about old friends and how situations could have been handled differently. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has turned out to be much more than what they intended it to be, it’s a show that can truly speak to people of all ages and demographics. And sometimes in a messed up world like we live in, it’s nice to turn on a show about characters trying to find common ground and solve problems without bloodshed, excessive violence (cartoon or  otherwise), or having to swear every other word.

And thanks to the brilliant writers and voice actors used in the show’s production, they’re able convey serious issues with a sometimes twisted but somehow truly innocent sense of humor. I know what some men will think – but liking the show doesn’t mean one is gay or feminine, it means you’re enjoying a quality show and you don’t care what others think of you. Although the show is no longer the single point of inspiration anymore, it’s also the incredible fanbase that has sprung up around it. People from all walks of life coming together not just to share their admiration for a wonderful piece of animation, but also coming together as artists themselves. The show inspires me on many levels, but the fans and their work are what pushed me to really believe in embracing it all. I came for the documentary, but stayed for the music and friends, and if liking the show makes me a Brony, then so be it.

 

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As lovers of rocking music, we’re proud to play some of the incredible fan-work that has come out of the Pony/Brony community. Stay tuned to Krypton Radio’s stream as we’ll be playing selections from the Brony music community, in addition to our regular and never ending lineup of Superhero, Comic Book, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Fantasy, and Gaming hits.

We do want to caution readers, that if you are not familiar with the Pony fandom, as with any fandom there is adult and sometimes graphic content associated with it. If you decide to explore the fandom on artistic and social sites not endorsed by the show’s creators, you may encounter content that you may find objectionable. Keep in mind that this happens with any fandom, and is not exclusive to the Pony/Brony culture.

Some of the amazing fan made music we’ve come across for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

The following videos are safe for all ages (other videos not listed on this site by these and other artists may contain objectionable content and have not been reviewed by Krypton Radio) Not all of the music listed below will be added to our station playlist, we just wanted to share some of the creative selections we found.

 

Links:

Updates

As of April 29, 2012 – Saberspark is in the process of raising funds to create an updated documentary, and if you’re willing to aide him you can get more information here, link.

PS: From a few of the KR Staffers: Long story short, show is awesome, music is unbelievably good, and we’re happy to play some of the best selections. Brohoof!
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