The Brony Thank You Fund spun out of a
Reddit forum Indiegogo fundraiser for fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ("bronies" and "pegasisters"). After raising money to run an ad thanking the show's creators for doing such a great job, the organizers donated the hefty excess balance to Toys for Tots. The project continued to gain momentum and it is now a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization through which fans of My Little Pony can make tax-free donations that will be funneled to worthy causes. They claim that they're the first media-related fandom to register as a charity -- I'm pretty sure that some science fiction conventions are run as 501(c)3s, though.
“We are responding to the desire by our fans to experience the brand in more ways,” said John A. Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer. “They imagined themselves as which pony they would be or which pony they identified with the most.” So Hasbro created Equestria Girls, a parallel world in which the My Little Pony characters were reconceived as teenage girls in high school.
Seriously, it's happening every day now, people coming up to us and saying "I want to experience your brand in more ways. Could you lose the hooves and snouts?"
In a Wired report on the Brony Thank You Fund -- a project of My Little Pony fans, AKA Bronies, that used a homemade commercial to raise money for toys for the children of military servicepeople -- delves into the unlikely Brony fandom. It gets interesting when Wired's Angela Watercutter talks with an expert who describes Bronies as part of a new "ultra-cult" era:
Charles Soukup, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Northern Colorado, said that in today’s cultural landscape — where heretofore “cult” topics like science fiction and comic books have become mainstream entertainment — brony-ing up might be the best option for creating a unique identity and nerding out.
“It appears we are moving toward the ultra-cult era in which media consumers discover extremely unexpected and obscure media texts to cultivate uniqueness and distinctiveness for their mediated identities,” Soukup said in an email to Wired. “Bronies are a kind of perfect storm of this new ultra-cult media consumption as they combine an intense unexpectedness (adult male fans of television programs designed for little girls) with the status afforded arbiters discovering undiscovered or under-the-radar media products.”
But My Little Pony fans likely won’t stay under the radar much longer, and twenty-something female scientists might be the beginning.