Apparently there’s going to be an animated My Little Pony movie, and Amanda Marcotte, notorious feminist of Slate XX, is not keen on the idea. This being MLP, somehow the bronies-adult male fans of the show-use their bro-telepathy and swarm the comment box. Popcorn is cooked, and battle ensues.
I agree with both of them, somewhat. I think Amanda is right in that this panders to the Bronies some, as fan art of the characters being human is a pretty common choice on the internet. Of course, not every MLP fan is a perv, but hardcore fandom gets a lot of weird people. I should know, I had my own stint at this back in the 90s with the Disney Afternoon, and even non-sexual fans can get a bit obsessive about their likes. I think though the Bronies are getting a wakeup call in that what is mainly a young girls cartoon is taking a shift back to reflect the concerns young girls have, instead of older males.
MLP got the brony fandom because in a way, they didn’t particularly cater to young girls as opposed to make a show with female leads and a gentler story. For comparison, look at shows like Horseland, which as far as I know have no male fans; its simply all about girls and horses in a way that others can’t attach. By adjusting the focus to reflect the perceived likes of young girls, it makes the male fans realize that yes, you are watching a young girl’s cartoon, and I don’t think they are comfortable with that. It’s a delicate balance, and they shifted it just enough towards girls to make the bronies blink, hence the dislike of what otherwise most fandoms would kill for-official canon body transformation side stories.
By doing this, it disrupts the fans ability to make their own narrative about things. Some will absorb the change, but a lot won’t, and I wonder if we’ll start to see brony as an identity decline some as the series adjusts to target its main audience more aggressively. The bronies are really a fascinating subculture, in that men are idealizing the feminine and often getting reviled for it. I don’t know how long they can persist, though, and this may be the first step in a big change for them.
Disclosure: I am not a brony. I’ve watched the first five episodes or so, but there’s never been a shortage of kids cartoons with clever or adult writing, and I think a lot of bronyism tends to be self-reinforcing. If you don’t do all the message boards or are a part of that culture, you don’t really value it. It’s the same with Tohou, for example; the actual games are just plain fan bullet hell shooters, but the giant subculture that latched on it reinforces itself.