Director: Brent Hodge
This documentary doesn’t just capture an audience’s surprise at the cult of adult My Little Pony fans – the “Bronies” of the title – it follows its unlikely star as she realises she’s an object of worship amongst these grown men. Ashleigh Ball, a mostly failed actor and singer has had huge success as a voice-artist for numerous animated shows. When she started getting contacted by Brony fans – and agreed to appear at one of their meet-up conventions she fell into a weird world of worship.
Helping her – and us – to understand this strange obsession is her friend, the filmmaker Brent Hodge. His aim? Presumably to show us that Bronies are people too – not only that they are all people, or at least from all walks of life.
What A Brony Tale lacks in analysis – a token doff of the cap in the general direction of vague psychoanalysis – it makes up for in being charming, whimsical, sweet-natured and intriguing. And it pitches itself, I reckon, to anyone who has been a part of – or on the fringes of – a sub-culture that’s ever so slightly (or totally) maligned; exiled, as it were, from the mainstream.
Though Hodge is at pains to find the one muscle-head monster-truck guy who happens to sit down and enjoy My Little Pony episodes, collecting the dolls, brushing their hair, it’s still funny/odd (maybe even poignant) to see that such a man exists.
Quite what these men get from My Little Pony worship – it’s always explained away as a happiness, a set of core values – is never really answered from the film. But then, you wouldn’t want it to be. Fandom is strange by virtue of the fact that it comes from fanaticism – you can make anything seem illogical, absurd, extreme – be it collecting Beatles music and memorabilia or following pro-wrestling – it all just depends on the level of involvement; the depth – that commitment…
In these so-easy-to-be-cynical days something like My Little Brony is somehow really quite lovely. As well as – of course – downright fucking creepy! And that’s kinda cool…