I always knew that nostalgia for the 80s would come around sooner or later. I wasn’t expecting My Little Ponies to be relaunched, though, much less to become the basis of a an animated TV show that’s the darling of geeky young men. That part was a surprise.

 “First we can’t believe this show is so good, then we can’t believe we’ve become fans for life, then we can’t believe we’re walking down the pink aisle at Toys R Us or asking for the girl’s toy in our Happy Meal,” Allen said in an e-mail to Wired.com. “Then we can’t believe our friends haven’t seen it yet, then we can’t believe they’re becoming bronies too.”  (Article at wired.com)

I view it as a pure and bright arrow of feminism launched swift and true into the festering sore of sexism, particularly geek sexism.

“This might be a little short-sighted on my part, but I just assumed that any adult man who didn’t have a little girl wouldn’t even give it a try,” [show creator Lauren] Faust said in a phone interview. “The fact that they did and that they were open-minded and cool enough and secure in their masculinity enough to embrace it and love it and go online and talk about how much they love it — I’m kind of proud.”  (Ibid.)

Perhaps I overstate things a tad. But MLP:FIM is, at the very least, upending decades of Hollywood conventional wisdom about who is allowed to watch which television shows. It’s remarkable that a show as female-coded as MLP:FIM is attracting an audience of adult guy geeks–an audience not particularly well-disposed to works for children or for women, let alone for young girls. It’s even more remarkable that the bronies (what male fans of the show call themselves) are so on-board that they’re evangelizing it: because when they do, they tend to run smack into the wall of assumptions that surround “TV for girls.”  And then we see something beautiful: they defend it

 “We were going to make fun of it, but instead everybody got hooked.” (Article at Jezebel.com)

If mainstream culture as a whole has a problem with androcentrism, geek culture has an especially bad case. Entire theses could be written on anxious masculinity in guy geeks, but the broad outlines are familiar to (I dare say) most girl geeks: you’re allowed to like what the guys like, but stuff girls like is accorded a distinctly lower status, if it’s allowed in the geek canon at all. (Case in point: Twilight.) 

“It’s OK, lads. You’re allowed to like the cute ponies.” (Caption on the TVTropes.org MLP:FIM page)

Men defending a show for little girls as an acceptable target of geekery? Pardon me while I swoon. Lauren Faust, the show’s creator, deserves some kind of award.

 

For further evidence of the blurring of lines between “boy” and “girl” interests, check out this Star Wars Disney Princess cake.

 

(I feel like I should mention that I watched an episode or two of MLP:FIM, and found it not to my personal taste. But I urge you all to check it out regardless, just because of its barrier-smashing appeal.)