The latest Internet subculture to receive media attention isn't furries or Juggalos, but a group of dudes who enjoy braiding the manes of pink, plastic horses. According to the Wall Street Journal, bronies, a portmanteau of "bros" and "ponies," are young men (mostly users of the Internet forum 4chan), who assemble at conventions to wax rhapsodic about Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, and other characters from the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
WSJ reports that after the remake of the 1980s classic premiered in 2010, it slowly amassed a devoted fan following on 4chan, where users posted clips from the show and carried Pony cutouts in their shirt pockets. The bronies, who are mostly heterosexual, tech-savvy dudes in their teens and twenties, insist that their love for the show is completely sincere. "The characters aren't one-dimensional," one user insists. "They have flaws, they have backgrounds they're ashamed of." (What, did Rainbow Shy steal a dead Korean War officer's identity or something? If so, I should probably start tuning in, because that's awesome.)
For their part, Hasbro Inc., the toy company who produces the show with Discovery Communications, seems somewhat bemused by the phenomenon, referring to the bronies as "a small group of My Little Pony'fans who don't necessarily fit what one might see as the brand's target audience." It's called "people on the Internet liking things ironically," Hasbro, and it's been making the web world go 'round since Nora the Piano-Playing Cat learned her first Bach concerto.