Unexpected Smiles

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Dear reader (or listener if you’re having this read to you, in which case I really admire the narrator’s voice),

We’re all prone (I believe), to occasionally judging books by their covers, movies by their trailers, people by their looks, and TV shows by wether they have colorful ponies in them. Now in all fairness, I’d say that if you happen upon one of those trashy romance novels (the kind with a big bosomed woman in the muscle bound arms of some guy who’s obviously compensating for something), it’s pretty safe bet you’re about to read a real piece of crap. If that’s your thing, it’s cool. The other things on the list though, you shouldn’t knock until you’ve either found out more about the movie, the person, or the pretty ponies. That being said however, I will freely admit that I totally judged My Little Pony, for being what I thought was simply the next Barbie Doll craze.

I had heard of My Little Pony from Deviantart sometime in 2011, but never gave it much thought. It continued like that for a long time, until about October or November of 2012. I became so curious about the show, and why on earth grown humans seemed to enjoy it. Surely they had all been sniffing glue or something (my deepest apologies to horse lovers everywhere). Anyway, I swallowed my pride and watched the first episode on YouTube. It wasn’t the greatest first episode ever, but the fact that I’m writing this message at the end of 2014, should give you an idea about my overall reaction.

I was amazed to find that this show - a cartoon show - a cartoon show for ten year old girls - was actually proving to be one of the best shows (cartoon or non cartoon) that I had ever watched. My favorite cartoon for nostalgic reasons, will always be ‘The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.’ While I still enjoy that show even today, in terms of sheer awesomeness, nothing beats My Little Pony. Yeah yeah, I know about the Avatar craze, and I’m not knocking it (I haven’t watched it as of this writing, but I will). What I meant to say, is that no show originally intended for a young audience (of girls no less) is more awesome than My Little Pony.

It’s been my dream, since I was about 16, to someday become a screenwriter. I have a whole shelf of books on the topic, and if I were to have a cutie mark, it would probably be a roll of film, with a pencil sticking out of it. The fact that I can write the phrase ‘cutie mark’ without cringing (seriously I’m like totally calm) is an indication of just how amazing this show really is.

Prior to becoming an avid fan of MLP, I would have been sickened by dumb expressions like that. I mean come on. Isn’t calling those fake moles women (and some gay men I suppose) used to put on their faces, beauty marks bad enough? It’s not beautiful, and it’s not cute in the slightest. Marilyn Monroe was an attractive woman I’ll give her that, but beauty marks are really dumb. Although these days I have thoughts of both women and men (probably mostly men if the statistics about Bronies are to be believed) getting tattoos that show what they believe to be their own special talent. That’s the difference between a ‘beauty mark’ and a ‘cutie mark.’ One is a shallow attempt to fit in with a cultural standard of attractiveness, the latter is a symbol of what makes an individual unique. So if it were me, I would have called it something else, but it doesn’t ruin the show for me.

More than anything however, I believe that MLP has taught me that you can find happiness in the most unexpected of places.
In late December of 2012, two months after I had started to watch the show, one of my family dogs passed away. Her name was Iris, and she was old and ready to go. The way she made that clear was very upsetting though. She and her sister had a large kennel that they slept in to stay warm during the winter months, and one day I came to give them their late afternoon walk. Iris, had other plans apparently. She had tried to chew her way through the kennel, and had gotten her head caught in the tiny opening. By the time we were able to extract her, she had basically gone into shock, so it was decided the time had come, to grant her wish, and put her down. It was honestly one of the hardest moments of my life. I felt thankful to have an emotionally supportive family, as well as thankful to have discovered ponies. In particular Pinkie Pie.

I had always known that the passing of Iris in particular, would have a strong impact on me. I can’t quite lay my finger on why, but I always seemed to have a stronger emotional connection with her. Not to say I don’t love her sister, who’s still with us as of this writing, but there was just something about this dog. I had gone through pet deaths before, and was certainly touched by all of them (some more than others), but I don’t think I ever felt so rotten about a pet, as when our sweet little Iris left the planet. Now before you start reaching for the tissues (to sob or gag into), let me tell you about what helped me through those first couple of weeks.

It was three things: My family, the knowledge that I still had her sister Lily, and that feel good smash ‘Smile, Smile, Smile’ sung by everyone’s favorite party pony. At first I was under the impression, that this show was fairly good, but its songs were not all that. When I heard ‘Winter Wrap Up’ I was pleasantly surprised. These days, the music (both that generated by fans, and the original show content by Daniel Ingram) is one of the best things about it for me.

Now for the most part, Pinkie Pie is a horrible singer (watch the episode ‘Over a Barrel’ if you need proof), but there was something amazing about her ode to joy. Shannon Chan-Kent, the woman who plays Pinkie’s singing voice seemed to be poring her very soul into this phenomenal work of art.

I can sympathize with those who might listen to it, and say ‘God that Pinkie’s voice is so annoying.’ Yes I can understand that. However, I do not have any sympathy for someone who just dismisses the song, and its message, merely because of some preconceived notion, that it was written for little girls, and therefor must be awful. I’m not denying that there’s much more crap than gold when it comes to cartoons (at least from what I’ve been able to gather), but that doesn’t mean that some good can’t come out of an otherwise awful product. For the most part, I can’t stand Family Guy. However, I will admit to having laughed at a few lines here and there. The same can be true of pony as well. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, at least try and make an honest attempt at understanding why other people like it. Don’t under any circumstances, watch a Fox News report on the subject. In fact, for the most part, stay away from any main stream media about Bronies. As George Carlin said “The reason the main stream is called a stream, is because it’s so shallow.”

However, as I said before, MLP quite frankly rocks. If I hadn’t gone through the experience of losing my beloved dog, I’m honestly not sure if I would still be watching it. Maybe I would, but it was during those first couple weeks after her death, that I became a true fan of the show.

As of this writing, I have not attended any Brony meet-ups, and I’m not sure if I ever will. However, if I do go to one, I’d like for Daniel Ingram, Andria Libman (the speaking voice for Pinkie and Fluttershy), and Shannon Chan-Kent to be there, so that I could tell them about how Pinkie Pie was able to lift my spirits, and how I would always feel a sense of gratitude towards her. I intend to keep watching this incarnation of the show as long as it’s on, and I’m honestly looking forward to the 2017 feature film (I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a G rated feature this much before). Perhaps some day after it’s finished it’s run, I’ll go on and lose my interest in it. Things like that happen. However, I do know for sure, that the one piece of friendship advice, that I will always carry with me, is to ‘Smile, Smile, Smile.’
The story of how I became a fan of My Little Pony

Here's a link to a Brony book proposal I've made:
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Since writing this, I have gone to a meetup (Everfree Northwest 2015) and might possibly be attending a second soon (Pacific Ponycon 2016).