mane in uniform: bronies in the military
Controversy is raging over whether there is room in the military for adult male fans of the kiddie cartoon show “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” after photos emerged on the Internet of service members wearing pony-themed rainbow patches on their uniforms.
While members of all military branches participate in the kooky pop culture phenomenon, which was created for children but whose messages of friendship and kindness have surprisingly resonated with an older male demographic, a National Guard soldier caused a furor after he was photographed at BronyCon, the fans’ largest gathering, in Secaucus, N.J., last month wearing a rainbow patch velcroed to his sleeve.
Read more behind the jump, or at The Daily, where this article was originally published.
All branches of the military have regulations banning unauthorized patches on their uniforms.
“I can think of at least four violations here: wearing a duty uniform while supposedly off-duty or at an unauthorized location; wearing an official Army uniform to an event that I guarantee the Army is not officially involved with; wearing a non-sanctioned patch on the uniform in place of current unit patch; and attending a My Little Pony convention,” one miffed commenter wrote on the Military Times site.
A Facebook page titled “Military Bronies” posted a statement yesterday blasting the guardsman’s choice of attire at BronyCon, which was attended by more than 4,000 “My Little Pony” enthusiasts.
“The decision of one or a few individuals does not represent the Military Bronies Community as a whole,” the statement read. “Actions taken by those wearing unauthorized patches were that of their own decision to do so. To all service members who are upset over the matter please restrain yourself from Stereo typing the Military Bronies Community as a whole.”
A 20-year-old Brony who identified himself as “Feulner” told The Daily that as a BronyCon organizer and a member of a volunteer Air Force Auxiliary Search and Rescue team, he appreciates both sides of the issue. While he likes seeing Bronys in uniform so he can “connect with them over military jargon and thank them for their service,” he also knows the rules.
“When you go to events like that and you’re wearing uniform you’re representing the U.S. military,” he said. “They don’t want you to reflect negatively on them.”
However jarring the juxtaposition between military tough guys and a children’s cartoon may seem, there are a number of Brony/military crossover Web pages filled with fan art of ponies doing pushups for screaming pony drill sergeants and rainbow-colored ponies shooting machine guns.
The founder of BronyCon, who goes by Purple Tinker, told The Daily that she wasn’t surprised by the unlikely phenomenon.
“The very nature of the Brony community is that Bronies are people who are not afraid to defy stereotypes,” she said. “These are people who put on uniforms and shoot people for our country and at the same time enjoy pastel colored ponies. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a pacifist. But anyone’s allowed to love ponies, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the military or on the moon.”
Related: Read a culture piece about the Brony phenomenon that I wrote for The Awl in January 2012.
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