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I'm a 43 Year Old Married Mother and I Want To Be a Brony

| Categories Atlanta, atlanta jewish music festival, jewish peoplehood | | 4 Comments

Yesterday I learned about the phenomenon, Bronies: men who like My Little Pony. Discovering this community blew my mind and, on top of three experiences I've had in the past week, makes me think the universe is trying to tell me something, or at least, prodding me that I need to be asking some questions. 

EXPERIENCE ONE

Last Friday night my family and I attended a Shabbat service as part of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival. I generally hate services. Nary a one do I find meaningful with the monotone responsive readings and the Rabbi talking at us. As a rule, I don't go. Friday night was an exception made for AJMF. It was a chanting service -- a kirtan-type services -- with the musicians chanting single lines of Hebrew prayer, set to yearningly beautiful melodies, that we'd then chant back. Soon the entire sanctuary was melodically shal-OM-ing together, creating a psychological connectedness, that is a true researched and confirmed social phenomenon. It moved me. I cried. 

As I was experiencing this connectedness with the room, with people, with "the Universe," and with my dear husband, an atheist, with his arm wrapped around me, chanting along beside me, my child, my 9 year old daughter, squirmed and sighed and rolled her eyes and periodically begged us to let her out of there.

On the drive home my husband told my daughter that he'd wished she'd been more open to the experience, had given it a try. For my daughter, it was a G-d thing... (isn't that what we've taught her, that there is no Man in the Sky?) And yes, we had. But, for us, in those moments we try to look past that word and enjoy the experience, and hear the connectedness, and, we find, in that kind of situation -- with the chanting of Hebrew -- where we are all in song together, we are able to transcend that word, G-d, with all its baggage, and therefore truly, perhaps ironically, have a spiritual experience.

EXPERIENCE TWO

I run a Jewish business... this website, here. Part of the mission of this company is to create a positive Jewish experience, one that is open and warm and feels good -- to those who are not necessarily Orthodox, maybe don't know a lot or don't remember, for those that are re-experiencing Judaism, and for those that expect? crave? desire? warmth, quality products and a positive shopping experience -- good customer service -- to be treated well -- you know, what we expect from nearly every other aspect of our lives.

However, Monday I'd slipped into my task-master persona: very bluntly barking direction at my manager. I think the exact words that broke the camel's back were: "this is unacceptable," referring to an 8-10 inch pile of papers. My manager cut me off and brought me into the warehouse, shut the door and proceeded to pour out her feelings: she's never been spoken to like this, she is unhappy, if things don't change, she will leave...

I heard her and was ashamed. Truly, I see ModernTribe as my way of tikkun olam, and to be so, it should be good for all the people we touch, including, if not especially, my employees. 

EXPERIENCE THREE

Last night we watched a documentary called Jesus Camp about Evangelical kids and their passionate envelopment in their brand of Christianity. The big group of children talking in tongues, gesticulating, crying, singing about Jesus is foreign and strange to me. But it is also familiar, as I understand, it is a different way to experience the connectedness that my family just experienced at the Shabbat chanting service. 

SO THAT BRINGS US TO BRONY

Bronies are the teenage to grown men who have become attached to My Little Pony and take considerable personal risks to publicly proclaim their affinity. My Little Pony, the fourth generation Friendship is Magic TV series, seems to allow these men to show a side of themselves that has no other means of peeking through: happy, friendly, feminine, earnest. The series, of which I watched the show for the first time last night, is centered around friendship lessons and "Elements of Harmony": Honesty, Loyalty, Laughter, Generosity, and Kindness. At the Bronycons, the conventions for Bronies, everyone comes to a gathering in which the code of conduct has not only been explicitly stated but indoctrinated over the 91 episodes! Here, these men -- many of them awkward, some with Asbergers, all of them burdened with expectations of male normative behavior -- are able to, safely, express all these "elements of harmony" together. Wow. This sounds amazing to me! A group of people, men especially, who come together and are allowed to be loving, and real, and accepted.

I yearn for that. I yearn for a community in which I can be seen, accepted, expressive, open, and safe.  

Why do I feel that my community does not, typically, offer up a chance for this? It is me and it is also them. And I do not know the answer but I do, now, know I have a question.

4 Comments

Thanks for writing this article. I’m a man that’s your age with a well-paying job, a great life, also secular Jewish. Oh, and I’m also a Brony—something I made fun of until I saw the show. Among other hobbies, I’ve watched animation all of my life, so it was inevitable that I run into MLP, and because it was a great show, become a fan.

There’s nothing wrong with liking a show like MLP—the great writing and music transcends gender and age the same way good Disney movies often do. And adults become fans of it for the same reason why adults enjoy Harry Potter. I don’t know why this show is so different from those examples, or such a hard thing to understand for most people except for the visions that they have in their heads regarding the way MLP used to be in the 80’s and 90’s when we were children, rather than the show it is today.

For the readers here, if you haven’t seen it, give it a watch. It won’t hurt, we promise. The characters are universally relatable archetypal personalities with some real depth that makes them fun to explore. And that has triggered the community around it to play with these ideas with art, writing, music, and video of their own with a surprising depth of artistic talent and energy. Something easily discovered in forums like Reddit’s MLP forum (http://reddit.com/r/mylittlepony) and other related Subreddits. Or the highlighted items on Equestria Daily (http://www.equestriadaily.com/)

As you mentioned, the supportive communities around MLP makes it all the friendlier and more accessible. The stigma is just in other people’s heads. Feel free to “join the herd” as they say and enjoy it along with us.

Posted by RC on March 27, 2014

Sounds, to me, like you’re setting yourself up to be partially disappointed. I would not say that all bronies are paragons of inclusiveness, nor are they shining examples of those very same virtues you find so attractive in the elements of harmony.

But, we (and I do mean we, I have four pony plushies sitting on a shelf in my bedroom) do try our best. One of the appeals of the show is that the character’s don’t have it all figured out, but unlike in a children’s cartoon, real life rarely has us learn a lesson in twenty-two minutes. Temper your expectations. We aren’t perfect.

If you plan on heading to a meetup, be prepared for a few double takes, as the average age of the community is on the other side of thirty. Unless you stumble upon the most grognard of conclaves, showing an earnest interest in the show prove your sincerity; a lot of bronies have unfortunately been the targets of ridicule and might expect the same from you.

One if the friendlier communities out there is the group over at www.reddit.com/r/mylittlepony. It’s where I found this blogpost, so feel free to stop by.

Welcome to the herd!

Posted by Forderz on March 27, 2014

If watch the show and like it or enjoy the community, then you’re a brony. Smilpe as that.

Posted by TheKinginYellow on March 27, 2014

Seriously? Kids love Jesus more then you love your child.

Posted by This Guy on March 27, 2014

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