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So last night, I was thumbing through the new releases on Netflix when I came across A Brony Tale, the documentary about the fandom starring Ashleigh Ball. Overall impressions were very positive; the production values were high and I appreciated seeing fandom figures like Saberspark and The Manliest Brony featured. Although I'm always amused by how these documentaries go out of their way to highlight only the positive aspects of the fandom; naturally, the positive stuff is going to dominate the message, but I'd kinda like something that also alludes to the mischief of the fandom and all the weird and exciting creativity that comes out of that. But I digress.
There was one moment in the film that irked me, and it was where someone explained (without the claim being rebuked) that "brony" wasn't actually a combination of "bro" + "pony," but that it came from the /b/ message board on 4chan. I'm sure all of you who have been bronies long enough have heard this explanation before.
Now, I wasn't around for the origins of the fandom (I became a brony in the hiatus between seasons one and two), but this explanation has never made any sense to me, for one simple reason: if "brony" is a combination of "/b/" and "pony," then where the heck would the "r" in "brony" come from? If this fandom was actually named by combining "/b/" with "pony," then wouldn't we all be called "bonies"? It doesn't make sense even on the surface, yet there have been a few who have been adamant at repeating this explanation (although chances are most of them have since dropped out of the fandom).
What's more, why would we even want to claim that's what our name means? It seems especially odd for a documentary that's ostensibly about explaining the fandom to outsiders; the "bro" + "pony" explanation is simple and conveys what the fandom is, whereas the /b/ explanation requires some understanding of 4chan (which most people probably aren't savvy to) and is rather convoluted and nonsensical. On top of that, the /b/ board hasn't been relevant to this fandom since bronies started making their own websites. The /b/ board is merely a moment in the overall history of this fandom - a pivotal moment, yes, but a moment nonetheless. The /b/ board was never a part of my experience as a brony, and I doubt it played a role for the vast majority of bronies who joined this fandom after the creation of sites like EQD and Ponychan.
As an analogy, it's like if instead of using the name Americans, we called ourselves Minutemen or Boston Tea Partians. It's a moment that plays a pivotal role in our history, but the vast majority of us over our history didn't take part in that moment.
Which makes me wonder, is the /b/ explanation meant to reaffirm the importance of that moment by the people who took part in it? If so, then it becomes a (perhaps unintentional) means of claiming ownership of the fandom, a reminder that none of us would be here if it weren't for them. Which may be true, but trying to cram that reminder into our very identity just seems petty. Even if the /b/ explanation is true (which I obviously doubt), it fails to say anything about our identity in the years that have passed since that formative moment and the ranks of people who have joined since.
So now when I think of a guy giving the /b/ explanation, I think of a grumpy old man sitting on his porch going "Eh, back in my day we didn't have your fancy Equestria Dailys and your FIMFictions and your derpy boroughs! Why, back in my day, all we had was the /b/ board and our own wits! You young whippersnappers, show your respects!"
SaturdayMusings in a Post-Suffering Era12 comments · 183 views
Boy, let me tell you guys, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here... and I'm not sure I like it. I know it's a cliche to say "Golly, the holidays just seem to come earlier every year!" but holy hell, it really seems like the holidays came super early this year. Around November 10th, the Salvation Army guys were out with the buckets and bells, the local supermarket started selling Christmas trees, Starbucks was selling their holiday drinks, the town put up their snowflake-shaped lights along Main Street, and a couple of the houses in the neighborhood put up Christmas lights. Now, the first three I could just chalk up as capitalists looking to jump-start the holiday shopping season, but the last two don't have a monetary incentive behind them, so the consumerist explanation doesn't quite explain what I'm seeing here. I could swear that just last year I didn't see this kind of upstart celebrationism until Thanksgiving. The holiday season is my favorite time of the year, but I don't think I'm ready for two months of it.
Oh yeah, and then last week, right as all this holiday stuff was going up, we got hit by a snowstorm and it's been so cold since that the minuscule two inches or so of snow we got still hasn't melted. Winter was really in a hurry to arrive, I guess.
In writing news, I'm starting up a little non-pony writing endeavor that I'm excited to invite you guys to read: it's a blog called Your Future Sucks. The first post explains the idea behind the title, but basically the concept is that I'm going to talk about various visions of the future, from things like world's fairs and Tomorrowland to more contemporary notions like driverless cars or to apocalyptic visions of environmental doom, to ponder what these visions say about us as individuals and as a society. On the way, I'll poke fun at what I find to be absurd ideas about the future (the real meaning behind "your future sucks") as well as praise a few that genuinely excite me.
Right now, there's only a couple of posts up: the first introducing the premise of the blog, the second a writing piece I did in the style of a news article about a future in which Miami is rebuilding after a devastating hurricane. For upcoming posts, I'm planning to discuss various things such as the fate of Walt Disney's Tomorrowland, Silicon Valley's branding of the future, how we talk (or don't) about the future nowadays, and maybe an invention or two while I'm at it.
Anyway, please go check it out and comment if you like what you see. I'm much more likely to actively pursue a writing endeavor if I think there are people who will appreciate it.
And lastly, it's late November, and if you're in college and your college experience is anything like mine was, this means you're entering panic mode as the end of the semester and the finals it brings is now looming large in your mind. Or perhaps you're feeling gloomy from the sudden onset of winter weather, or sick from the cold/flu season that comes with said weather. Or maybe work sucks. And the holiday season isn't here yet (despite the signs claiming otherwise), so the joy of presents and cookies is still too distant to be appreciated just yet.
But take heart, for the end of the year lies on the not-so-distant horizon. So, as a public service, allow me to share the greatest pick-me-up ever created. Listen, then repeat as necessary until you are filled with the steely confidence needed to face the world.
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Guys, I gotta be honest: Suffering the Feature Box just hasn’t been much fun lately.
Mostly, it’s just me. The novelty has long since worn off, I’m in a bit of a creative funk at the moment, so the enthusiasm just isn’t there for me. I’m getting to that point where I’m doing these posts more out of a sense of obligation than because I actually want to do it, and that is not a place you should be when it comes to fan fiction.
However, the box really hasn’t been helping me out lately. Long-time readers might have noticed that there’s been a general uptick in the quality of stories in the box lately. Or at the very least, there are fewer real stinkers in there, and the notably bad stories were the basis of most of my humor. And I never really intended for this to become a serious review series, so this is a problem for me.
You might have also noticed that the recent change to the box mechanics, which allows stories to stay on the box much longer than before, has screwed with my routine a bit. But I feel like it has also made my reading selection somewhat… stale, giving me less variety to play around with. Case in point: earlier this week, the top clopfic in the box was Gleaming Shield’s Teats (which is still in the box, by the way). Now the top clopfic in the box is… its sequel. Oh thanks, box.
But honestly, that’s all incidental. The long and short of it is that I think I need to take a break, so that’s what I’m going to do. Sometime next week (contingent on when the stories currently in the box finally fall off) I’ll do a “final” review post, and then stop the series for an indefinite length of time. Maybe at some point I’ll be able to come back to it when I’m feeling fresh, or maybe I’ll start some other endeavor. Who knows? (Certainly not me!)
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