Article Image
Photo Credit

While browsing YouTube clips from Quentin Tarantino's classic film, Pulp Fiction, I found a tantalizing video called "My Little Pulp Fiction." It was the diner scene from Tarantino's masterpiece, except a bright purple cartoon pony and similarly adorable dragon had replaced Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta. I was watching clips from the children's show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, set against the backdrop of one of the most adult movies ever made. Apparently, during my bored YouTube surfing, I had uncovered a phenomenon. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a reboot of the beloved '80s cartoon (and the latest project of Powerpuff Girls creator Lauren Faust), premiered in late 2010 as a show for audiences attracted to colorful cartoon ponies with names like Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash—namely, toddlers and young children. But in an age where the Internet rules all—and, thanks to a surprising level of interest on websites like 4chan—the show's actual main demographic is startlingly different from what Faust intended: young adults (mostly male) between the ages of 14 and 35. Nicknamed "Bronies," these gents have helped transform a television show about a Hasbro toy into a viral sensation. To say that Ponies have taken over the Internet is no stretch. Sites like and receive about half a million visits a day and feature pages of professional-quality, fan-created art and fiction. Of course, there's the question of what's behind this intense interest: that perhaps there's a strange type of Pony-philia afoot. In an unexpected move, however, Faust and the show's development team have offered the Bronies some acknowledgment, turning a group with a potentially cultlike image into an accepted fan base. In order to appeal to these older viewers, the creators have peppered the show with clever references to The Big Lebowski and Doctor Who and crafted ads inspired by Poltergeist and Bridesmaids. For the first time in recent memory, the creators of a children's television show have used an unanticipated shift in their viewers' demographic as an opportunity to build a community of fans: similar to the way in which Nickelodeon has welcomed college-age SpongeBob SquarePants fans, but with a greater degree of dialogue and interactivity. This trend speaks to the increasing intersection between Web culture and mainstream media. Besides, it's a chance for a kids' show to grow up alongside its fans—and, for all the skepticism the Bronies face, that's pretty cool.