"Little girls and the things that they love"

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Audience, Identity, and the Privilege of Contemporary Fan Culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The recent generation of My Little Pony has received particular popular and academic attention due to its visible following of young male enthusiasts. This article explores the so-called "Brony" phenomenon in terms of gender and age, cult spectator practices, fandom, masculinities, and the kinds of participatory culture with which the new series is associated. Despite the apparent transgression of men enjoying a television show clearly coded as being for young girls, it is argued that Brony practices reproduce many male-centered aspects of fan media consumption in a manner that recuperates the femininity of the brand according to masculine values and cultures. The "femininity" of the thirty-year old series is placed in historical and theoretical context, illustrating parallels between current and earlier incarnations of the franchise and its continuities with other women-centered popular media. Particularly significant here is the program's emphasis on female friendship. Yet such "gynocentric" qualities and the series' affinity with young viewers might have been eroded in recent episodes. This is partly through the incorporation of more masculine genres, but also in the increasing address of the show to its online fandom, an audience employing channels of fandom from which young people are effectively excluded. It is argued that these developments function to marginalise the series' core audience - ‘little girls' - in a process of appropriation and redefinition that ultimately serves the interests of a more visible and powerful demographic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-115
Number of pages27
JournalCamera Obscura
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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fan
femininity
friendship
privilege
love
media consumption
television show
spectator
ritual
masculinity
genre
continuity
gender
Values

Bibliographical note

© 2017 by Camera Obscura

Cite this

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title = "{"}Little girls and the things that they love{"}: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Audience, Identity, and the Privilege of Contemporary Fan Culture",
abstract = "The recent generation of My Little Pony has received particular popular and academic attention due to its visible following of young male enthusiasts. This article explores the so-called {"}Brony{"} phenomenon in terms of gender and age, cult spectator practices, fandom, masculinities, and the kinds of participatory culture with which the new series is associated. Despite the apparent transgression of men enjoying a television show clearly coded as being for young girls, it is argued that Brony practices reproduce many male-centered aspects of fan media consumption in a manner that recuperates the femininity of the brand according to masculine values and cultures. The {"}femininity{"} of the thirty-year old series is placed in historical and theoretical context, illustrating parallels between current and earlier incarnations of the franchise and its continuities with other women-centered popular media. Particularly significant here is the program's emphasis on female friendship. Yet such {"}gynocentric{"} qualities and the series' affinity with young viewers might have been eroded in recent episodes. This is partly through the incorporation of more masculine genres, but also in the increasing address of the show to its online fandom, an audience employing channels of fandom from which young people are effectively excluded. It is argued that these developments function to marginalise the series' core audience - ‘little girls' - in a process of appropriation and redefinition that ultimately serves the interests of a more visible and powerful demographic.",
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"Little girls and the things that they love" : My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Audience, Identity, and the Privilege of Contemporary Fan Culture. / Kirkland, Ewan.

In: Camera Obscura, Vol. 32, No. 2, 01.09.2017, p. 89-115.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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