Happy New Year!

My dear bronies, pegasisters, fellow fans, followers, and everybody else here not sitting on a cushion,

I can’t with any honesty say that 2011 was one of my better years. I’ll not delve into the various reasons why, but suffice it to say, it presented me with what in hindsight seems more than a fair share of challenges. I dealt with each as best I could, as best as circumstances and my own capacities allowed. Sometimes this was enough; sometimes it was not; either way, I’m quite glad to put all of it behind me.

I’m hopeful that in years to come I’ll be able to look back on 2011 and say with conviction that, to steal a line from a favorite song, in the end, the journey brought joys that outweighed the pain. Only time and further reflection will tell for sure – but I would be both a fool and a liar to deny that the year had its bright spots, its moments of happiness and periods of joy. And while some were more pronounced than others, and some more powerful, certainly none were more unexpected or more welcome than becoming a part of our wonderful little community.

To say that it took me by surprise is an understatement. I didn’t originally come willingly to this fandom. It took the dear friend who recommended the show to me many months of gentle cajoling for my resolve to finally crack. When she first mentioned it, I gave her my word I would watch it, but while this was a promise I fully intended to keep, it was one I planned on keeping later rather than sooner. Eventually, though, I relented, and watched the two-part pilot. Then I watched a few episodes. Then a few more. Then, rather inevitably and before I quite knew what was happening, I was hooked.

Equally inevitably – as I’ve never been much good at keeping quiet my passion for my interests – my newfound enthusiasm sought an outlet, and Twitter provided it. Just as I’d not known what to expect from the show, I didn’t know what to expect from this new account, but in very short order, @foalpapers did indeed become my primary channel for my enthusiasm, and so much more besides.

For what I found on Twitter was more than just a number of fellow fans; instead, the people I discovered have proven to be some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, honest, supportive, and genuinely decent individuals I’ve ever come across, online or off. Every single person with whom I’ve had the pleasure of interacting has made an impact on me, and left a lasting impression. As I know it has to so many others, the sense of camaraderie and fellowship in our corner of the fandom has come to mean a great deal to me, and I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of it.

Though 2011 was not one of my better years, I know full well that it could have been worse. I’m luckier than most: through what highs and lows I’ve had, I’ve always been buoyed by the love and support of my family and friends. But even if I lacked that – even if 2011 had no other redeeming individuals or joys – still it would be redeemed by having come to know all of you.

I don’t know where 2012 will take me, but I look forward to sharing the journey with you, and I’ll try, as ever, to be as excellent to you all as you all so richly deserve.

Happy New Year, and may it bring you joy.

– F.P.

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Foal Papers

I'm a twenty-something aspiring scholar and fan of many things.

11 thoughts on “Happy New Year!”

  1. So long as you don’t waste time believing the world will end in 2012, the year will be more enjoyable.

    I certainly hope I will eventually be able to meet with you IRL. You are one of the smartest bronies I have ever known.

    To me I couldn’t have enjoyed 2011 anymore if it weren’t for My
    Iittle Pony: Friendship is Magic. I would have never known about the nicest community if it weren’t for ponies.

    I wish youna happy 2012 and hope that it will be one of the best years for you.

    I offer my brohoof to you, fellow brony!

    1. Three anecdotal thhugots of my own: a) I don’t think the brony fandom is entirely unique or innovative as an online place to verbalise one’s intimate thhugots and fears and even personal troubles. I’ve been on both fairly small and fairly large message boards with the occasional personal thread (the most personal one I can remember off-hand concerned my girlfriend’s family abuses her, what should I do? ). You can probably find stuff like that in any tight-knit community where people largely behave respectfully towards each other. It’s more of a general online phenomenon, thanks to the relative anonymity that the internet provides without sacrificing that very important sense of shared interests. b) Ponies have taken over my life! I became a fan of the show in April, but was busy with university until recently. Since the beginning of this month, I’ve had more free time to allocate. And curiously, a lot of that free time has been going into sating my appetite for pony. I look at fanart. I read fanfiction. I help with the wiki. I follow the news. I write comments and participate in discussions about aspects of the show, both on brony sites and elsewhere (like here). I (carefully) approach and convert skeptics in my offline life.I’ve not had this strong a positive reaction to a show and its fandom since I was a teenager. c) You may be understating the reasons the show appeals to adults, and especially young men 16-35. Based on what I have heard from others and experienced myself, many people were/are drawn in when they watch an episode in order to be able to better mock it and the weirdos who like it. That is also something the internet is very good at: exposing the weirdos one can utilise as virtual punching bags in order to vent one’s frustrations at the world. The world has made my generation cynical, and most of the entertainment that we watch is cynical and/or dark and grim and brooding. I like South Park and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but even though both shows are ostensibly comedies, they are extremely cynical about the world we live in. And while I won’t go so far as to praise the Transformers movies (which are loud, obnoxious, disorienting, and stupid, with a recent infusion of yes a touch of darkness to please the fanboys), I do watch and enjoy movies like them, which are purely escapist in nature. I tell myself and others I only enjoy them ironically (another thing that is popular on the internet). Because God forbid a young male stressing the joy part of enjoying . Men appreciate good things quietly and without much emotion, not like those screeching females obsessing over Edward’s chest or Justin Bieber’s haircut. Right?My Little Pony Friendship is Magic is a strange beast in this regard. It doesn’t have even a whiff of cynicism about it. It’s somewhat escapist in nature, being, in essence, a magical fantasy world inhabited by fantastical creatures. But it doesn’t pander to teenage boys (nor, for that matter, does it pander to 5-year-old girls). It’s not a series of 20-minute toy commercials (or if it is, it does an excellent job of hiding any commercial appeals). It’s not excessively girly once you actually sit down and watch it (there is a telling chart floating around online that I can’t find right now what you think we watch != what we actually watch ). It doesn’t have the repetitiveness of toddler television nor the blandness of so many kids’ cartoons. In fact, many of the trappings of modern cartoons are entirely absent the obnoxious, unlikeable characters, the violence, the edgy (= ugly) character design, pop culture references, absurdity for absurdity’s sake, risque9 double entendres for any adults or teenagers who may be watching. My Little Pony Friendship is Magic is completely sincere. That does not mean it isn’t fun: it relies on humour a lot, sometimes groan-worthy humour (e.g. pony puns). But the laughs evolve organically from the characters, and they mean something because the characters mean something to the audience. They aren’t stereotypes (beyond a certain point), they’re relatable and well-fleshed out, faults and all. There’s a certain heft to the characters and to the world they live in. There actually is a mythology that is dealt with fairly consistently, which, as we all know, is like catnip for geeks (cf. the reaction to Lost and Fringe).In short, MLPFIM is superficially in many ways the opposite of what people like me ought to enjoy, and it’s the complete opposite of what everybody expected it to be. Maybe that’s what is so appealing: it’s refreshingly different relative to expectations.

      1. I bring a solution!1. Restore the orinigal voice, new one’s unfitting.2. To avoid the problems of her being handicapped , only have her eyes go like that because it happens when she gets excited . All the ponies get those eyes eventually that’s just her way though often.There. Advocates happy, brony fans happy, Hasbro happy.

        1. c53RE: The Tim @ 29Don’t sweat it, dude. We bronies are all about lvniog and tolerating.In all honesty, the huge fandom stems from the fact that it geniunely IS a good show. It’s funny and cleverly self-aware, with likeable characters and interesting storylines, and has appeal to a MUCH wider demographic than previous MLP shows, which tended to be purely merchandise-based drivel. (My own personal opinion there. Sorry if that offends anyone.)Thank you for not automatically making LOL BRONIES ARE ALLPEDOPHILES HAHA GAAAAY comments like some people do. Our instinctively defensive responses are probably due to the fact that so many people hold a prejudice against FiM and it’s fanbase, who complain about or mock the show without ever seeing it and having no idea what they’re talking about.For the record, I am a girl and am neither gay nor a pedophile. Also, I don’t just spend all my time googling ponies; I stopped by the Equestria Daily blog for a moment to check for updates, and, like everyone else, just followed a link.(I’d highly recommend it, actually, if you’re someone who enjoys cartoons and can look past the show’s initial premise of adorable ponies learning about friendship. I can guarantee that a very friendly, supportive community will eagerly welcome you to the herd if you find yourself unwittingly becoming a fan.)

  2. Well, my friend, we all have our ‘bad’ years. I definitely know the feeling, and it’s all too tempting to wallow in the bigger problems and the sinking feeling that came with them. However, I commend you for taking a mature perspective (as I always see you do) and give more space to the positive and what made the year memorable. Having no idea what negatives went on, the best I can say is that I can only hope you had the support you so rightly deserved at the time.

    As for the brony fandom, my story is somewhat like yours, and I can definitely relate. They truly are a wonderful community, and knowing that you were reluctant to join it at first only makes your presence more appreciated and endearing. I get the feeling that the majority of us never expected to be where we are when it comes to MLP, but I cannot express how happy I am that we’re all here.

    I definitely agree with your statements about so many members of the fandom being wonderful people, and I would like to extend that to you as well. Your ability to say so much in so little space, on Twitter especially, is incredible. You consistently have intelligent things to say, and your opinion on matters is always an interesting and fresh perspective. You’re an integral part of the community you so respect and love, and it’s a pleasure to know you as well. I’m sure that you’ve touched just as many people as have affected you, if not more.

    So for 2012? We keep moving forward, and we keep reaching out. Now that you’re involved with the bronies, if the ghosts of the past rear their ugly heads, you’ll have as many people as are available to fall back on when you need it. May your year be better than the last, and your relationships with the community continue to flourish and evolve. Happy belated New Year to you, and may it be filled with smiles and memories that outclass 2011 by far.

    1. Nice article. It’s prtety unusual to see a net community emerge that is very determined to be nice to each other and even people who hate them. I would argue that it may be a totally new phenomenon online, at least among young male geeks. Indeed, much of my attraction to the show as a humor geek has been fueled by a sense that we may be turning a corner on the tear-down-everything style of humor that’s become pervasive the last couple decades. Perhaps the next wave of shows will feature fairly honest characters (by contrast to the saccharine shows of the 80 s) but also start to become emotionally aspirational again.What I will add, as an newly minted avowed fan of the show (I still dislike the term brony but I guess I’m stuck with it) is that while I’ll tell anyone I know that I love a geeky animated show like Futurama or a kids’ movie like Toy Story 3 I find I am being very, very careful with who I tell about MLP. If I manage to find out that they love both G-rated animation and Harry Potter, or loved shows by the same creators like Powerpuff Girls, then I’ll mention it. But if not, and they’re unlikely to really like the show or even give it a chance, then I keep quiet, because they’re going to think I’m weird as hell. Much of this has to do with gender stigma, but it’s also true that the earlier entries in the franchise were largely terrible. Because of this fact, only online could word have mouth spread like this. This would be an unremarkable kids show heading for syndication on one of the smallest channels on cable, with perhaps a handful of adult men who watched it with their daughters feelingshame over their inexplicable enjoyment. Now it’s exploded all over the place and is spreading to the tune of ~25k new viewers checking out the show on Youtube every day.I could go on about Hasbro’s fantastic decision to leave up every episode and fan video and how it’s helped shape and encourage the community (and I can give you links to some interesting talks and articles by professionals about it) but I’ll just leave it there for now.

      1. I’ve never seen ANY blind bag ponies in a store Wal*Mart, Toys R’ Us, or elhresewe. Count on an order from me, probably this month, with three pony items! ;D Ever since I first saw a post about this collection months ago, I’ve really wanted them I love most of the designs and names. Yay, Minty’s back from the past! It’s just disappointing that Fluttershy is a Rainbow Dash recolor. :/ I mean, what the hay?? Everypony else looks super cool, though. Lily Blossom is Derpy-esque I totally want Roseluck and Pepperdance and Lemon Hearts and Fizzypop and Sugar Grape and well, I can’t quite make out all the names. But I can tell it’s a pretty cool set. Whoohoo!

  3. Oh stop being so trite, the only people who are of the attutide you described are outside the community. The brony (I use the term as unisex) community was born and raised on the internet and on the internet were all the same bloody gender, human. The point being that since it is not immediately evident what is the sex of someone on the internet (since people mostly communicate using text) any community that was born there is probably not going to give a crap what sex its members are. Unless of course its some crackpot male only anti feminist society. Besides even if you do eventually meet in person with other bronies I honestly doubt any of them will care about you being female, since some of the communities founding principles are love and tolerance.P.S. The people who write public articles not know everything (and who gives a crap what they think anyway), while the actual community is split on whether bronies is unisex or not no one denies the existence of female fans. Hell Phoe is female and she helps run the biggest pony blog evah; EQD!

    1. Personally, despite being mael, the term pegitasser’ both annoys, and even disgusts me too no end, I have the same gripes that even considering a female term, much less one that stupid, is just a plan bad idea. I for one, refuse to refer to bronys as the older male’ audience, but rather anybody outside the target, I also will never use that term pegitasser’ for sure. I guess I can make an exception for the rare girl who feels uncomfortable being called brony of course, but I won’t like doing so.i simply hate our lack of gender neutral terms over here :/

      1. 880RE: That’s because brenois are all about love, tolerance, and the magic of friendship, DUH. That’s the main message in the show, after all, and completely goingagainst that would be unheard of in a true fan. Violence of any kind terrifies most of them basically the entire subculture consists of pacifists ever since the Cupcakes incident. Hence the joking about loving and tolerating the SH*T out of people instead of just plain threatening them when they act hostile or unreasonable.I know this because I have been subjected to the brony subculture unwillingly by my sister and yes, the term brony also applies to the female fans. I even found myself actually enjoying the show, too better than I thought it would be. I don’t obsess over it as much as some people do.

        1. Bronies filing for dsatbiliiy and missing work? Yeah okay, it comes from fox so it’s probably a fair representation of what we’re all like, right. inb4obamasbirthcertificategotstolenbyrainbowdashBut yeah, I’m not really going to show them any reaction. Honestly, it’s the exact same thing the radio ones were.Guy: Can you believe this? guys watch my little ponyGirl: Are you seriousGuy: Yeah, they really like this showGirl: Are you seriousGuy: Yeah, and this is somehow a bad thingGirl: Are you seriousLike really, i could have sworn the whole point of a radio/tv discussion was to get people who didnt agree so it would be a debate and not just some uneducated, unprovoked bashing. I find it really funny that people get so bothered by bronies. Of all the wierd things in the world you guys want to shun, do you really have to pick on one thats almost ENTIRELY POSITIVE IN NATURE?Yes, nothing shows “whats wrong with this country” so well as a bunch of guys who are open-minded and get inspired to be more kind and caring to others. Ah well, I can only get so offended by people blindly hurling mean spirited stereotypes at us. Haters gonna hate. Oh, got offtrack there.

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