ASHLEIGH BALL—a Canadian actress who voices two of the main characters in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic TV show—is kind of a snob. She's the star of the new documentary A Brony Tale, a film that not only chronicles Ashleigh's nervous preparations for 2012's BronyCon ("the world's largest convention for and by fans of the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic"), but also introduces us to many of the show's dedicated fans.
Ashleigh's happy for her regular gig voicing dayglo ponies on a cartoon for little girls; she's trying to make it as a singer and she needs to pay the bills. But she doesn't totally get the massive subculture of fans—most of them white, male, and twentysomething—who are devoted to the show. And as she gets ready for BronyCon, she's more than a little weirded out.
I get Ashleigh. Bronies are weird. It's weird for a group of men to appropriate something made for little girls. Sure, most of the bronies we meet in the film are sincere nerds who love being a part of something that promotes kindness and friendship, and part of me feels like a little bit of an asshole (and maybe Ashleigh is one, too) for having dismissed bronydom the second I heard of it.
HOWEVER—big however—if the purpose of A Brony Tale is to show us that bronies are somehow not weird, it doesn't work. The inherent ick factor is unavoidable, even though A Brony Tale touches on it only briefly—as one guy recounts how judged he feels by mothers of daughters when he hangs out in the little-girl aisle of the toy store. Like it's the mom's problem that he looks out of place. Dude. No. Get that you are a visitor in a space that is not meant for you, and don't be surprised if a mom doesn't want to let you talk to her daughter about tiny sparkled horses.