Journey to Equestria: A Retrospective
For some years now, I’ve heard whisperings of the “My Little Pony” craze on the internet. I’ve always smirked a little bit and was vaguely curious, but never curious enough to actually do anything.
I’m sure I’ve been running into the My Little Pony cast for years now without realizing it. It’s called surfing the web. Many people interacted with it first either through 4Chan or other forum-based websites, but I have never been part of those communities. And I haven’t been into cartoons since Duck Tales, Tailspin and Darkwing Duck.
Fallout: Pony Vegas
My first exposure to the new My Little Pony franchise was from one of my favorite webcomics “El Goonish Shive.” (http://www.egscomics.com). I’ve always enjoyed Dan Shive’s work. If you haven’t read his comic, you really should. It’s so fun-crazy I can’t really describe it other than a must-read.
But back to My Little Pony.
I do not remember how I came across this in the first place, though I suspect it was just on the EGS website way back when.
For some reason, this picture entertained me immensely. In fact, it’s in my folder for background/screen saver images to this day. I just thought the idea of a Pony starring in Fallout: New Vegas was just bizarre and hysterical. (Little did I know that the My Little Pony/Fallout crossover was an enormous thing which has spawned countless animations, songs, art pieces and fan fictions. It’s so large, it has it’s own subculture within the Brony fandom)
I was so entertained by it that I actually used it for a work project of mine. I was creating a certification course for an Apple Store and I decided to use my own particular brand of humor to break up the monotony of the material. So between sections, I would add a random picture with the caption “This picture has nothing to do with anything.” This was one of those pictures.
In fact, when I ended up presenting the Keynote to one of my managers before the certification class went live, he actually busted up laughing upon seeing the picture.
This particular event happened in March of 2011. I didn’t even realize at the time the pony in the picture (Applejack) was a member of the main cast. I just thought it was funny.
But a connection to a post-apocalyptic wild west shooter wasn’t the only thing Ponies managed to invade…
Pony Effect 2
Looking back at this now, I’m surprised this wasn’t enough to get me to check out the series. I wish it had. Instead, I ended up waiting almost two years after this incident.
In March 2011, over a year after Mass Effect 2 came out, a mashup of My Little Pony and the Mass Effect 2 trailer came out. I should mention that in the weeks leading up to the Mass Effect 2 launch in January 2010, I was utterly obsessed with the original trailer, to the point of watching it numerous times a day on my lunches.
And before any comments get made, no matter your opinion on Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect 2 was gold.
Anyway, I knew the trailer well. And when I found this hysterical and surprisingly well done trailer, well I enjoyed it almost as much.
I was surprised by the mashup actually. The way they managed to fit pieces of the MLP:FiM show into the known trailer. From the Shepard/Miranda scene at the end (replaced by Spike/Rarity in “Diamond Dogs.”) to the Normandy crash landing (replaced with Applejack saving Twilight Sparkle from an avalanche in “Dragonshy”), it was cute and fun.
Then again, it might just be because Two Steps from Hell’s music is epic no matter what. And you’ve probably heard them before. Check out their movie credits. (http://www.twostepsfromhell.com/page4/index.html). In case you’re curious, the theme used for the Mass Effect 2: Suicide Mission Launch Trailer was “Heart of Courage.”
The best part about this? When I did my first watch through of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I was so excited every time I recognized a scene from the Pony Effect 2 trailer in the actual series.
The only other encounter with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was actually a prank. At one point, I had left my user account open in the tech room at my Apple Store. We’re given limited customization abilities there, such as screensavers, backgrounds and the like. Well, I remember coming back at one point and laughing to see a My Little Pony background on my screen instead of whatever I had there in the past. The room had a good laugh about it. One of our internal IT guys had done it to me. I grinned…but something made me keep it there. I actually liked it. I don’t remember the specifics and sadly it was erased when we moved servers several months later, but it was something that stayed there for quite some time.
Despite these two things, I didn’t have the courage to actually look up the My Little Pony franchise for myself for two more years. You see, while I occasionally get hooked into online communities, I tend to burn out quickly and move on to other projects. I’m not really great at social interaction, online or off.
While that probably kept me from the Pony crazy for a while…that protection would only last so long.
4/11/13 – The True Beginning
The middle of April was not a good time for us. The day before, we had to get my daughter Caitlyn to submit to an EEG after yet another of her seizures. And since it’s very difficult to get 2 year olds to fall asleep on command…well, it wasn’t fun.
The first day of it started out poorly. It was my day off and after helping me feeling Caitlyn, my wife left for work, which ended with huge fits. We watched a couple of Star Trek: Voyagers to help pass the time and when it was time to put the little girl down for a bath, another giant fight progressed. However, she settled down during the blow dry of her hair. She loves that thing.
I don’t remember why we ended up watching My Little Pony. I think it’s because we were done with Phines and Ferb. I had been mildly amused by that show, but wanted something different. And I needed something short too, a half hour show that would be easy for her and I to watch before I put her to bed.
So I powered on my Xbox 360, got into Netflix and managed to find My Little Pony while skimming for things to watch.
And then, while she ate her lunch, we had our first incident.
“Finally, we got out [of the bathroom] and watched the first episode of the My Little Pony series. 🙂 Been meaning to do that for a while. It’s freaking funny. I really enjoyed it, more than Caitlyn.”
The rest of the day was Caitlyn’s first EEG. It was a nightmare. Ever try and get a 2 year old to go to sleep easily with enormous amounts of things attached to her head? Not fun. However, we did survive.
The next day was a bit more telling, though it still wasn’t a great day. Caitlyn had been fussing on the way home from work after Laura and I had traded her off. (Laura comes into work at the same time I get off, so we do the BabyTrade: Caitlyn comes with Laura and leaves with me.)
I’ll admit that the introductory animation made me a little awkward. The artwork was cute…but it was too cute. A bit too girly, even for me. But then it launched into the show itself, with Twilight reading the book, staring at the sky and wondering about the Elements of Harmony.
Here’s a direct quote from my personal journal of that day:
“We watched MY LITTLE PONY, which was very amusing, really. I actively enjoyed it really. 🙂 Caitlyn seemed to as well as she had seconds of her minestrone soup.”
No, for the record, I don’t proofread my journal.
I remember being surprised about how much I enjoyed it.
The next day? I showed Laura. She seemed kinda “meh” on the show…and Caitlyn wasn’t really paying attention to it, but I was still very amused.
Even then though, I was fighting against myself. There was part of myself that told me I shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy this. This is My Little Pony for Pete’s sake! The entire thing is designed to sell toy ponies to little girls! Right?
That evening, after getting home from the park, I served up the beef stew I had made and Caitlyn and I sat down to watch another couple episodes of My Little Pony.
My journal entry for that day regarding it is rather telling:
“…We sat down and watched two very cute episodes of My Little Pony. It’s a very feel good show. And the theme is rather annoyingly cute…and gets stuck in your head. I have to force myself and tell myself it’s okay and there’s no reason to be embarrassed. Yeesh. Who cares?”
The best part about that night was that Caitlyn actually said “Applejack” very clearly. And she’s started to say “Ponies.”
And so it began. Caitlyn and I really enjoyed it, but for a while, it was just the two of us. But considering how often we were watching it, it wasn’t long until Laura started actually enjoying it.
Here’s a few random journal entries about us watching My Little Pony:
“We watched My Little Pony. Caitlyn enjoyed it. Fun episode. About this magic unicorn [Trixie] being a showoff and Twilight showing her up.”
“Caitlyn and I finished our breakfast and watched the next My Little Pony: Dragonshy. 🙂 It’s cute. I love this show. :)… She played a lot with me though too during it. Caitlyn’s not into it as much as I am. “
To Michigan and Back Again
A few days later, Laura found out that her grandmother had passed away. There was a huge amount of confusion and upheaval for a few days, but with the assistance of family and friends, we made plans to go to Michigan to see her side of the family and attend the funeral.
However, this would be the first time we would ever take Caitlyn on a plane ride. In fact, it was to be the longest plane ride I’d ever been on. So we needed an ace in the hole. And after some discussion, we ended up buying an iPad Mini.
To help us deal with Caitlyn on the plane, I purchased the first half of Season 1 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and downloaded it to the iPad.
“…She watched My Little Pony and tried some of the games on my iPad. She liked a Fisher-Price shapes game. 🙂 In the end, she ended up watching the introduction to My Little Pony over and over again so she could shout MAGIC! at the very end of the introduction sequence. 🙂 Very cute. :)…”
(In fact, Caitlyn still demands that Laura and I say MAGIC at the end of introduction theme every time)
The distraction worked perfectly and we managed the flight without any serious trouble…save for some very selfish people that forced me to sit away from my family.
Caitlyn and I ended up watching a great deal of My Little Pony during the course of this trip. And Laura ended up watching it a lot too.
And what actually got Laura to start enjoying it?
Winter Wrap Up.
Winter Wrap Up quickly became one of my favorite episodes of all time. I loved the huge musical number at the beginning of the episode, about Twilight trying to figure out what team she should join as the Ponies clean up winter. During this trip, we probably watched it 5 times or so.
In fact, at one point, I just for my own amusement, I ended up reading the My Little Pony reviews on Netflix. Everyone on there had nothing but wonderful things to say. “It’s great if you’re 8 or 80.” “The entire FAMILY watches it now.” I really liked that.
Despite Laura’s misgivings, within a week, she was watching it with me every day. It soon became almost a joke as Laura would end up having to repeat episodes with me from day to day when I came home because I wanted to watch them in order.
By the end of April…one of my journals began with this:
“Yeah, the whole damn family is fully addicted now. 🙂 But I’m happy to say that I led the way with the whole My Little Pony thing. …There’s something special about it though. It really fills me with a rather content sense of well being.”
And that was the day we watched the “Cutie Mark Chronicles” and “Party of One.”
I could go on and on about every aspect of this, but it was pretty obvious by this point that we were all hooked.
The Journey’s Not Over
Yet despite this, I still struggled with my own fears regarding my enjoyment of the show. I knew that there was a large culture around the Brony community, but when pressed by my guild mates in World of Warcraft if I was a Brony after renaming several of my Battle Pets after the Mane 6, I waffled on the title. I was nervous and afraid. I was quick to defend the series…a little too quick, because I was still embarrassed. And that bothered me.
But soon, that would fade as Caitlyn and I embarked on a new phase of our My Little Pony journey…Pony Hunting.
To be continued in “Journey to Equestria: A Retrospective, Part II.”
What’s Your Story?
If you’ve made it this far, you must at least be a little bit interested in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I’d dearly love to hear your version of the story in the comments below. What crazy happenstance started you on the road to Equestria?
Until next time, good luck and have fun!