When Equestria Daily announced “Double Rainboom,” the much-anticipated fan-made episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in March 2012, the Bronies rejoiced. Directed, produced and written by Zachary Rich and the collective efforts of the Brony fandom, this episode is in no way affiliated with Hasbro, even though Rich received written permission from the creators of the series for the use of their characters.
To provide some context, the Bronies are, according to gawker.com, the “strangest, most volatile fanbase” of mostly male adults who are obsessed, in an un-ironic way, with the rebooted Hasbro series. Aside from the fact that this fanbase was never intended to have the influence and viewership that it boasts today, this phenomenon has proven that the public can and will re-appropriate and re-define cultural gender norms when it suits them.
One of the most surprising examples of the Bronies’ influence and power over Hasbro as a company is the “Derpy” scandal, concerning a character that the Bronies practically claimed as their own. This was originally an unnamed pony with large, skewed eyes, and the Bronies immediately seized upon her and named her “Derpy.” Whether or not the term “derp” explicitly mocks individuals with mental disabilities, Bronies repeatedly requested that “Derpy” receive more screen time. Hasbro finally obliged, and in an episode titled “The Last Roundup,” Derpy was given her first line of dialogue as a kind of acknowledgement to the Bronies for their undeniable role in the show’s success and popularity.
After the original airing of the episode, Hasbro decided to re-dub Derpy’s voice to make her sound “less mentally challenged,” which offended Bronies to no end. In an attempt to convince Hasbro to take back the change, Bronies created a “Save Derpy” campaign, as they felt that the show’s messages about inclusion and diversity were being compromised. There has been no word on whether the campaign was successful, but after over 40,000 signatures, it’s obvious that the Bronies are a force to be reckoned with.
Chen, Adrian. ‘Bronies Furious After Minor My Little Pony Character is Changed to Seem Less Mentally Disabled.” Fight for Your Right to Derp. Gawker. 2012. Web.
FlamingoRich. “Double Rainboom.” My Little Pony. 2012. Web
Holt, Andrew. “Hasbro: Return Derpy’s Scene in The Last Roundup to Normal.” Change.org. 2012. Web.
Sethitsta. “Anamatic: Double Rainboom.” Equestria Daily. 2012. Web.
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