I’ve never seen an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I hear good things, though, and understand if people do like it [and they do] because Lauren Faust is the mind behind the show, and she was largely responsible for The Powerpuff Girls which I still think is one of the best things Cartoon Network has ever done. But again, I’ve never seen any MLP.
Anyway, bronies, right? My favourite go-to source for words you won’t find in Webster’s, Urban Dictionary defines the term as:
“A name typically given to the male viewers/fans (whether they are straight, gay, bisexual, etc.) of the My Little Pony show or franchise. They typically do not give in to the hype that males aren’t allowed to enjoy things that may be intended for females.”
Which, given that very broad description, sounds fine. A person viewing something that is ostensibly for male viewers only, something like . . . I don’t know . . . Lego Ninjago, is not something I think anyone would have a problem with. Anyway. just keep this reasonably sizable fanbase in mind as we move forward-
My Little Pony: Misandry is Magic
That’s the title of a post on tumblr a friend of mine linked me to two days ago. Two short bits of context, misandry is the flipside of misogyny, being the hatred of men instead, and this was originally posted by someone who went by nomisandryplease. I say “went by” because heading over to his site reveals what is seen below and absolutely nothing more:
To get to what exactly this guy was bullied for, and I actually don’t doubt that he was, to some extent, the main point to his post was that MLP is a show that, while enjoyable, ultimately treats males very poorly.
He has a lot of evidence to support this, but I don’t want to just copy and past his entire rant [and it is that a little bit] here. It all boils down to the fact that the show [emphasis his] “has no prominent male character.” Not only that, but the ones who do appear are either marginal or outright villains. Again, I haven’t seen the show and can’t comment to his accuracy.
Further stated is the fact that “every male cartoon or anime nowadays has a prominent female character,” which I can’t find fault in. I mean, I question his usage of “male cartoon or anime,” but it’s true that most kids’ shows have a female character who does whatever it is the guys do as well or better than them, etc. For real, though, I had to rack my brain [and the Teletoon schedule] for a show that didn’t have one, and only settled on Lego Ninjago after checking Wikipedia.
Which is all to say that this guy, nomisandryplease or whatever his real name is, appears [according to what research he’s done that I’ve read] to have a point of some validity. Now the question of whether it is “okay” for a show like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to do something like this-
Girl Power [Said With A Raised Fist]
As mentioned, this person fled tumblr, or possibly just created another account to escape harassment. The following response [which quotes the very last line of his post] sums up the sentiment of many:
“It teaches feminism, female superiority and matriarchy.”
My goodness, let’s hope so.
Which, c’mon, I can’t really get behind. I most definitely get [though perhaps not one hundred percent, as I am not one] how women have been marginalized in the vastly male-targeted media; it’s an uphill battle in almost every way. On the flipside, I’ve always been a proponent of feminism being that “men and women are equal.” I don’t think that any form of media preaching female superiority is any better than the opposite, touting that men are the better sex.
MLP is far on one side of the spectrum, basically, when it comes to representation of male and female characters, etc. In answering the question “is it okay, etc.” though, I think we need to make it more specific and ask “is it okay, etc., now?” Given the decades leading up to this point [when we have been blessed with shows like Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Total Drama All-Stars, and so on-] I think that having a show that caters almost specifically to young girls can’t be seen as a bad thing.
Years from now [and really, years] I’m sure someone will look back and find MLP and wonder why there’s such a slant present, and how different and wrong it is in the context of their perfect world of gender equality. Until then, however, maybe a show that is for little girls can feature almost one hundred percent female characters and be alright. Oh, and that leads us to our next and final point-
What Makes Complaints About Representation Valid?
Yes, this is a man, presumably full grown, who is commenting about and critiquing a show that is, as I just said, made for little girls. I think it’s fair to say that he’s not the target audience here. Which begs the question as to whether or not those not being targeted deserve the right to speak up when it comes to seeing more of themselves represented.
I used to love The Proud Family, a Disney cartoon about a Black family. I used to love it, and I still do, too. When I was a younger person, though, would it have been fair for me to ask where the Asian character was? The show was for children, but clearly aimed a fair amount at African-Americans given its country of origin. Was it their voice that mattered the most?
According to this one article I found “between 4.0% and 6.8% of the internet-using US population strongly identify as bronies, or approximately 7 to 12.4 million people.” If there are enough audience members would that then be enough to tip the scales?
I don’t have a rigid response for this question, but at the very minimum I feel like male adults shouldn’t be in the top ten voices to listen to when it comes to what should be present in a cartoon for young girls. A final thought, from a friend with whom I was discussing all of this:
“At the same time though, you have to consider the person asking for representation.If they already monopolize what’s out there, do they really need even more of the pool?”