Some members of the overwhelmingly adult male “My Little Pony” fan community have decided nazi cartoon horses are no longer cool.
“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” became a viral hit soon after it rebooted the Hasbro franchise in 2010. But amid the legions of children — for whom the show was intended — the animated equine phenomenon also attracted an older, far less innocent crowd.
“Bronies” flooded the Internet with pornographic depictions of the cartoon children’s characters, making the simple act of Googling the show a minefield of bestiality and gore. Communities dedicated to original stories based in the world similarly devolved, becoming almost immediately unsafe for the show’s primary audience.
Now, years after the bulk of its pop culture hype has faded, the national conversation surrounding racism and police brutality has brought a certain sect of that community into the light. A story published by The Atlantic on Tuesday highlighted belated attempts to erase actual white supremacist content from fan sites like “Derpibooru.”
“What happened to George Floyd has been so utterly disruptive and so impossible to ignore,” 26-year-old My Little Pony fan “Acesential” told Atlantic reporter Kaitlyn Tiffany. “It’s not something you can politely tuck away anymore.” Acesential is part of a growing faction calling out the extremist content, pushing for traditionally unmoderated space to reject its most violent fringes.
In a statement e-mailed to Tiffany, Derpibooru called its openly nazi content “unfortunate,” admitting they “have not always been as strict as we would have liked to be.” They even tweeted a statement of Black Lives Matter support on June 4 — exactly two tweets before a retweet of “fetish art” (but no foalcon!) by adult fanart account “Horses of Death.”
Of course, many bronies have reacted poorly, worrying that it would create “a purity spiral” toward “censorship” — rather than the excision of actual nazis from a children’s television show. “The fandom has to recognize that it doesn’t exist purely within the vacuum of an online fantasy,” Acesential said. “It exists in a world where these problems are still here.”
It remains to be seen whether a community of adults who routinely sexualize juvenile animals through self-authored pornographic stories and cartoons via 4chan can prune some of its more problematic aspects.