EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION- THE DECLINE OF FANDOM ACTIVITY By HoofHearted? by

EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION- THE DECLINE OF FANDOM ACTIVITY

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It’s only mostly dead.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and what doesn’t make us stronger is probably killing us.
It’s hard to argue that, of all the fandoms of cartoons out there, there are few that had the strength, unity, and curiously enough, the productivity of the Bronies. Hell, the meetup groups for most other fandoms are paltry compared to the sheer numbers and activity the Bronies can boast for the past couple years. With all of this in mind, the natural question comes up:
What the hell happened?



The phenomenon of just how ludicrously huge Bronies got is a complicated one, with a lot of different factors going into it. For starters, recent cultural changes have made gender roles less crucial, allowing us to prance down the pink aisle as we please. On top of that, the economic climate the 20-somethings had to endure made the (mostly) idyllic world of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic a perfect escape-- after all, everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and society facilitates their ability to do it (I can’t claim credit for this insight- FiMFlamFilosophy did it first in his treatises on Pony Analysis and criticism). That clip in Ant-Man where he says “I have a degree in electrical engineering, I’m bound to get a job somewhere” and mere seconds later says “Welcome to Baskin Robbins, would you like to try a Mango Fruit Blast” encapsulates some of the problems our generation faces beautifully. You should really see Ant-Man.
But perhaps one of the least mentioned, yet most powerful factors that played into the rise of the horse fuckers bronies was, curiously enough, the fact that this fandom experienced powerfully fierce opposition. That’s right, I believe that one of the contributing factors to the size and power of this fandom is the fact that Brony Hate was such a big thing for a while. Now that it’s merely a shadow of what it once was, so is the fandom.
Way back in the Season 2-3 days of yore, almost everyone had an opinion on Bronies-- you either were one of them, respected them, didn’t get them, or hated the shit out of them. They were the talk of the interwebs, though it wasn’t merely the concept of men liking a little girls’ show that drew the ire of others (such laurels already belonged to Powerpuff Girls and Kim Possible). Rather, it was the prolific nature of Brony-made content, be it on art sites, fanfics, or even a plethora of YouTube videos that would always pop up in the sidebar no matter where you went, a source of enormous irritation for detractors.
Those on the hate side had led a charge against the fandom, which led eventually to this collective victim complex that many bronies are familiar with, if they’re not the people who are part of it themselves. You know the one- they anticipate being bullied or oppressed for what they like, or act like they already were. There was a time where this sort of concern was very, very real. The horror stories were everywhere, from guys getting beat up because they had a cartoon horse on their car to kids getting bullied into suicide. Liking the colorful cartoon horse show suddenly became a “dangerous” calling (at least as far as fandoms go), and it had already claimed its fair share of martyrs. Openly declaring your Brony status effectively said “Come at me brah.” It was, in the minds of many a brony, a badge of strength and willpower, and a healthy dose of reckless stupidity.
With people challenging them damn near constantly, Bronies had to validate their opinions and their beliefs, often by attempting to create something worthwhile based around ponies. Be it art, music, videos, or even video games, bronies produced a staggering amount of quality (and not so quality) content during the first two years of the fandom - we’ll call this period “The Brony Boom.” Podcasts, websites, and conventions also arose from the darkness of the internet to accommodate the massive surplus of content. Bronies now had plenty of help sharing their love of small horses to the max. Many even performed acts of charity in the fandom’s name, all to justify the existence of bronies, and to attribute some value to them that goes beyond being losers who liked a show about pastel-colored horses. Bronies often banded together and would ignore differences in opinion just to prove a simple point: bronies CAN be responsible for legitimately good things, and no matter the amount of hate and vitriol slung at us, we’re not going anywhere.
So what’s different today? Bronies still have their fair share of enemies, still make a decent amount of content, and not a whole lot about their environment has changed all that much. Nothing should be all that different, considering that these were the things responsible for driving the initial Brony Boom.
We’ve noticed that two factors have changed- the kind of opposition they face, and the sense of unity that came with the more serious threats.
Among the current enemies of Bronies are, to the surprise of no one, Social Justice Warriors. If you’re a regular reader on this site, you’re already aware of some of their more infamous exploits that involved targeting bronies (Ted Andersen/Dragondicks, the Beach City Bugle incident, Dinonoms). Their beef, however, has very little to do with Bronies specifically, though they certainly are among their targets. Then again, anyone who doesn’t fit the SJW Speshul Snoflaek mold is a target, so what else is new? These are people that seem to look for reasons to be offended by anything. Do you like the genitalia you were born with? TRIGGERED.
Another foe comes in the form of these weird-ass, cringey Anti-Brony movements. They’re hardly anything new, but they’re starting to pick up a little bit of steam. However, if you’ve seen that article that was already on this website, you’d know that they’re such laughably pathetic adversaries that even Jessie and James of Team Rocket would be embarrassed for these guys. They, too, are largely insignificant.
The biggest threat to the Brony fandom at this point is Bronies. There’s a deterioration of the fandom that’s come in the form of a strange combination of a growing difference of opinion concerning the series and the old victim complex of a good chunk of the fandom rearing its ugly head- like the way the human body deals with food, the mechanism that once saved us from extinction now threatens to obliterate us-- or at least, make us look fat and stupid.
The fandom at large has no idea how to deal with disagreement, taking it as a personal attack and trying to squelch dissenting opinions. Don’t like a fan animation? HOW DARE YOU - he worked for months to make this shitty fan animation about Dinky! Clearly the fact some form of effort was put forth makes this animation good! You don’t like an episode? You’re clearly just a hater who’s taking the show too seriously. How DARE we treat this as more than just a common kid’s show - I mean, who would ever DO such a thi- … Oh.
The fact that a couple members of the show staff help perpetuate the “it’s just a kids show - stop actually thinking about it” mentality has only made discussing the show even harder. Both those who perpetuate this idea and a large number of bronies want the fandom to be one big circle jerk, free of criticism and dissenting opinion and full of only happy, pony-pleasant thoughts. Ironic, considering we had an episode a few months back where societies lacking individuality and free thinking were depicted as horrible, dreary places. As people with brains in this fandom know (yes, we exist), a perfect circle jerk is impossible - not everyone wants to fap to the same things. By far, this is the biggest threat to the fandom, and even then, this is something bronies don’t seem to be all that willing to fight (barring some exceptions, yours truly included).
Will it kill the fandom, though? Hard to say. Fandoms don’t ever really disappear completely, though like matter and energy, it will certainly take on a different form. Will there still be grown-ass adults that happen to like this cartoon horse show? Definitely. Will said cartoon horse show fandom ever accomplish anything like it did before, or ever have the same strength of purpose again? Unlikely. After all, it’s hard for something to get moving without something else to push it.

Comments (58)

  1. Nigga I ain't reading that shit.

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    1. Too fucking bad. Read it, you lazy ass. It's important.

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  2. Less dying, more like normalizing.

    People freak the fuck out about this kinda thing like very few weeks.

    Must be a slow night at horse news for them to be the ones doing it.

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    1. Only bronies have a never ending fear of their fandom dying out, seriously this shit has been a worry since day one, while it is ever growing.

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    2. So basically the fandom's chilling the fuck out after Twilicorn, DWM, Lauren's depature, and of course the pilot episodes.

      We're all cool with this. Isn't this what we wanted? For the fandom to calm down and not be so spergy?

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    3. >Isn't this what we wanted? For the fandom to calm down and not be so spergy?
      yeah, but a lot of people didn't expect the stream of fan content and general positive excitement to die as well

      guess that goes hand in hand at times

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    4. To add to that a bit, every group that has growth will eventually splinter anyway. In the beginning, with relatively few numbers, you are forced to find camaraderie with those that share the interest even if you don't particularly care for their other politics or personality traits. As the population grows, and you find more closely kindred spirits, you start forming sub communities within the main community, which might create the illusion of a smaller overall group due to your specific splinter being smaller than the main one before. There are more conventions and websites than ever for instance, which actively splinters even the subgroups at this point, making it seem like it's shrinking. As old cells die, constantly replaced by new ones, those people that cannot handle change and refuse to try new things (talking about fandom content creators leaving and joining), they will see only the shedding and none of the replenishing.

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  3. What the hell happened? We got big too fast and too quickly. But we are by no means a unified fandom. I don't really find myself to be too deep in fandoms so I don't know if the fragmentation of bronies is similar or worse than other fandoms. Or maybe my bias in that the unification is really more big mess. That's up to one's interpretation. Also let me jokingly point out pink was a boy's color many, many decades ago.



    The way I try to look at It since I've been supposedly thinking about it is that the fandom did really well until the Season 2 finale when everyone jumped on the fandom train and the underlying framework of the fandom was about established. Back in 2011 no one knew who anyone was and nearly going on 2013 we had conventions, those that were well known and a bunch of stuff kind of set in stone. I mean, I don't know if a new artist gets enough coverage or people simply want to listen to the same song over and over again.



    Personally I've found more bullying and harassment withIN the fandom than in real life. Many of the communities run by bronies often have friendship run in such a way that it creates numbers and a bucket of politics. It's one of the reasons why I've stuck out mainly on Twitter as I generally have my own back and people can't get 'mods' to push people around as one pleases.



    Many of the games that the fandom have come out with are dead, most are failing or hitting that developmental hell because of the large scope they're trying to accomplish. The same could also be said for some conventions. Instead of starting out small and building up speed many attempt to ram it at full throttle and blow things up. I mean, I can't list any sort of game today that will succeed.



    The last point I think of is a ratio of production to consumption. We produce a lot of content but the consumption is even more insane. This is what keeps us in that sort of stagnation in which we want to listen to the same artists rather than try new things. In the convention scene my take is that an average brony's monetary production is well below a consumption for maybe one or a few conventions. I don't know as the brony fandom often tries catering cons to the whole fandom rather than a local area. We have a few cons, get as many staff as we can and burn it all out somewhat expecting bronies to not attend future years because they've spent all their money on travel.



    It might be just me though. In most of the projects I've dealt with or been in most dislike my nonsensical and non-asskissing approach. Seeing how many of those places are falling apart-ish probably doesn't help my view of things.

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    1. It really is no different, no better or worse, than any other modern fandom to date. All fandom become irreverent, be it because they are so large and have so many factions it is impossible to keep track, or is so small people don't even realize that fandom exists. Yes, I am serious in saying large fandom are irrelevant. Star Wars fans, Trekkies, furries, otaku yeah people are fully aware these fandoms exist, but who actually cares anymore? They are just there, part of the mainstream, falling under the greater umbrellas of sci-fi fantasy and the geekdom, Bronies hit that wall 2 years ago. Being accepted as part of the greater geek community was probably the fandom's ultimate doom, as kids these days do not give a shit about the core purpose of the fandom, just that they found a group that makes them feel welcome. Proof of pudding is how many "bronies" do not even watch the show.

      One could say things grew too big too fast, but that is just the nature of the modern internet and social media. Things tend to spark like wildfire these days, if it catches people's attention, hell just look at Steven Universe as an example.

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    2. True, true. I think because I attend a bunch of different kind of conventions (although furries are for the most part nonexistent here) and I've talked to a few people in person when I went camping with the local group about them not watching the show. I personally think the convention scene has a much better gauge since I'm only aware of conventions here that service more than one show or fandom.

      I somewhat use 'kids' in a mental age context as many of the people who I've volunteered my time for and observed in the fandom who are a part of larger projects seem to have a kid like mentality. There's a difference between kids getting into ponies and not giving a shit about the purpose versus people who do openly talk about their staffing of conventions and giving bronies a middle finger...

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    3. Everyone is in a fandom for different reasons and the only real contention you run into, is that some people really hate their peas mixing with their carrots. By that I mean, that for some if you are not in the fandom for the right reasons, or your behavior does not meet some odd preconception how bronies should behave, "no true Scotsman and all that" then all that love and tolerance quickly goes out the window, as you are sudden an outsider that have infiltrated the little world they created around themselves.

      When the fandom was a bit younger, I admit I got rather pissed off at some of the more selfish and unwelcoming behavior some would exhibit, as we were suppose to be better then that, taking the lessons of the show to heart. Now, I do not care as much, my ranting about people's piss-poor behavior isn't going to change anything, not going to make someone stop and reflect what a jerk they are being. The show's lessons are not a part of the fandom's identity anymore, it was simply one of many early memes that are more of an out-dated joke than what most take with any sincerity.

      Obviously I am generalizing in reflection of the fandom as a whole, I know well there are still some genuinely good people left in this fandom just trying to do the right thing, not pretending to be nice just to be in the spotlight.

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    4. I look at it in that I question why people are in the fandom or doing things that they don't like. Like if a person runs a websites that never had an intention of doing so why are they still doing it. Granted I don't personally care much about it these days as many of those communities are no longer accepted by the core fandom.

      I've grown into the fandom knowing that it is still firmly rooted in the internet. I forget the phrase I used but I think it went alongside that "the brony fandom is 100% internet, don't expect anything different from it." It kind of means that we're never special and we still have the same people and problems others do online with being rude and all that. One could also argue that the 'show's lessons' kind of went out the window with Season 2 or even more so with Season 3 as 'lessons' aren't really a part of the show anymore. Kind of like if a person plays an MMO how they're not familiar with how older content was originally done, etc.

      Yeah, I feel the same way. I think it's just harder and harder to find those folks. I suppose it's one of the reasons why I've distanced myself from it for years.

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  4. "pastel-colored horses" "colorful cartoon horse show"

    Can writers fuck off with using this cookie cutter diction for at least 10 minutes please? Jesus Christ....

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    1. Would you rather it be called by a more appropriate Pedophilic Ponescum?

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    2. Don't you know that that is all this fandom is good for anymore? Taking unfunny memes and clichés and running them so hard into ground that they pop out the other side of the planet?

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  5. I was a fan of the show before I even really realized there was a specific fandom growing. I was a fucking furry, so this shit is par for the course and in the furry community, even during season 1, you either rabidly loved the show, or hated with a passion, there was little in-between. My discovery of Bronies was sometimes between seasons 1 & 2 and started to slowly integrate myself as part of that community, loving the freshness of it and even its wide-eyed naivete.

    Yes, I was fully aware that the fandom was young and would see many changes as it grew and become more in the spotlight, this far from being my first fandom I was involved with. I figured I would at least enjoy things while I could and truly my best memories are the time spanning between seasons 2 and 3, with Equestria girls and the hiatus to follow marking when everything started to go to pot. Mind you, I in no way blame show and EQG for the changes that would inevitably come over time, but rather the changes in the fandom itself and how it reacted.

    First of all, fuck you you self-serving twat, having the capacity to discuss a kid's programming and point at is flaws does not make you intelligent, or at least any more than anyone else. Frankly this is the same bullshit certain members of the analysis community keep flinging, and I say some as others actually have half a brain to realize treating your audience like morons for dare having a difference of opinion is counter-productive to inducing intelligent conversation on the subject matter.

    People are very much taking the show and the fandom too damn seriously. If it is not the "horse famous" folks very un-ironically acting like they are better than the everyone else, treating people like they are fucking commoners as they hobnob with the show staff, it is the critics that think way too highly of their opinions, going on angry rants about how the show sucks now and everyone else is a mindless sheep for defending it. For gods sake, the show was NEVER all that great, it was just something surprisingly better than expected, something light-hearted and fun that wasn't completely stupid.

    Yes, there are those that will get bent out of shape out of any form of criticism, but most are simply reacting to one person giving their opinion and disagreeing. Certainly people do love to cherry-pick the more volatile comments, because drama sells, but let's not act like that majority are not benign if not civil conversations about the show, its writing and other elements. People just do not like negative critics, they come off sounding like smug assholes who, for some reason, think their opinion is more valid than anyone else. Many of the pony analysis have proven they can give honest feedback about the show, pointing out its faults, without be complete assholes. They balance the negativity with humor and are sure to always point out that no matter how bad an episode it, it will have some positive points, just as no matter how good an episode none are perfect.

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    1. Motherfucking this.

      The autistic reviewers who were expecting the show to get all serious expected way too much from it. Fags like digibrony, CR and Tommy Oliver's greasy fucking face got high off of the names working on it, hyped themselves up beyond return, and when their patience ran out they threw tantrums aimed at the people who didn't care as much as them and rage quit.

      But hey, they eventually got their semi-serious lesbian space rocks show to jerk themselves dry over, so good for them. They got a shithole fandom full of angry, smug spergs like themselves that will probably love the pedantic over-analyzation of the show's "symbolism."

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    2. SU is meant for an older audience and has some nuance to it, thought it is still not as "deep" as a lot of people read into the show. At least it has some, as oppose to MLP that has little to none, yet people look into it like they are trying to decipher scripture.

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    3. Personally, I don't see the problem if a bunch of nerds want to overanalyse a cartoon and take it really seriously. It's not really hurting anybody. People talk about those analysis faggots acting superior to everyone else, but I don't see how being critical or thinking that they've accomplished something means that means that they think they're better than anyone else. Why does being a critic automatically make someone a smug asshole? That's just seems like a really unfair judgement to me.

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    4. Learn to read better, dumbass, it says SOME.

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    5. I'm not accusing him of generalising. It's the reasoning I take issue with.

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    6. What reasoning do you take issue with?

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    7. More accurately, I should say the lack of reasoning. Not to say that the OP doesn't have reasons, just that they didn't explain them in their post, and I'd like to know what their reasoning is. I don't understand why the presence of criticism immediately leads to assumptions that the critic is in some way smug or egotistical. Like, why is that inferred?

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    8. No where do they say does, only that some critics are smug assholes. You definitely are falsely accusing them of generalizing, as if wanting desperately to point out correlation causation, when no one's making that argument.

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    9. >SU is meant for an older audience
      hahaha like fucking hell it is
      it's aimed at the same general audience as Adventure Time, which is kids in and around their tweens

      yeah, technically older, but still by and large a "kids show"

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    10. >People just do not like negative critics, they come off sounding like smug assholes who, for some reason, think their opinion is more valid than anyone else.

      This statement was left unsupported. I want to know WHY people "just do not like negative critics," and WHY they "come off" that way, because no reasoning was given for this statement. I am in no way accusing OP of generalising about all critics. That is completely unrelated to my point, as is anything to do with correlation and causation. Please don't assume motive without evidence, and please don't put words in my mouth.

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    11. Took you long enough to actually highlight what the fuck you wetter talking about. Why don't people like negative critics? Because they come off a smug assholes, that was the reasoning. Why do theyou come offer as smug assholes? Because they treat anyone that disagrees as intellectually inferior for not agreeing with them, as if their opinion as a "critic" carries more weight. That was also said above, more or less.

      Lear to read mother fucker.

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    12. I'd have thought someone who has so much scorn for people who act intellectually superior would refrain from belittling the intelligence of others, but whatever.

      Clarification:

      >they come off sounding like smug assholes who, for some reason, think their opinion is more valid than anyone else.

      The way this is worded, it does not state that negative critics who act superior come off as smug. That's self-evident anyway. Rather, this wording implies that negative critics come off as acting superior, and therefore also come off as smug. This, in turn, implies that a negative critic need not necessarily even act superior at all to earn this stigma, but can just look like they're acting superior by dint of being a negative critic. This is what I was questioning the reasoning of.

      I thought that was obvious enough in my first comment when I specifically mentioned the smug assholes line, but I guess not. If this was just a mistake in the OP and the actual intended message is as you say it is, then I'll forgive it, but otherwise, I'm still left wanting an explanation.

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  6. This reads like every "/[the shitty board you go to]/ used to be good" thread on 4chan.

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  7. "Will said cartoon horse show fandom ever accomplish anything like it did before, or ever have the same strength of purpose again?" Three words: MLP Feature Movie.

    As for the other comments on this article a lot of valid points. 2013 was not a good year for the fandom with multiple instances of drama fracturing it.
    Twilicorn
    Equestria Girls
    Fighting is Magic CnD
    Las Pegasus
    And to a certain degree DWM.(Although looking at it in a Macro sense it didn't really encompass that much)Yet was the culmination of the degrardation of ponies on tumblr.

    We still got ponies guys. Half of season 5 is coming up later this year and Season 6 later and then that the movie.

    Is the fandom dying? No,but is it different? Most definitely yes. It's quite unrealistic to expect our fandom to maintain the sheer amount of output we had from 2011-2012. People come and people go but one thing remains and that is the show. It is my personal opinion that there is no better time to get involved with the fandom then right now. People are looking for content creators to replace "the old guard". But I do have to implore some thing do it because you like the show,not because you want notoriety. The reason that this site,the fanart we see, and we're all here is because of that.

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    1. Damn Anon, I'm saving this. :)

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    2. Oh come on my post isn't even that good given that it's so late where I live. It has some errors in it but it'll do. I've been wanting to contribute to the fandom ever since the first hiatus. Making music/remixing music from the show I want to and will do at some point. It's just a matter of getting the tools and developing some of the skills. Although I've though of contributing in another way as a commentator. Not in the sense of reviewing the show but kind of giving some social commentary on the fandom,something I think that would have helped had it been present during the explosion of our fanbase.

      But that is for another time.

      Just keep doing we've been doing for the past 4 and a half years and pony hard.

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    3. Sure we got ponies, but do we have untainted ponies. :P

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    4. Try that german 3d knock off?

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  8. Oi! No one is dying, Someone is just butthert for being called out for not liking that Dinky animation. Faggot. I liked the show before the brony fandom, I will still continue to be a horsefucker even if it stops running. Yeah, and I am not planning to die anytime soon. I am sure there are many more like me and many more are being born every day. The autism will last forever!

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  9. Season 4 is the worst season ever! We want the Golden Oak Library back! And we want that eye-sored pointed middle finger Friendship Rainbow Castle to be destroyed!

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    1. Oh, there you are, Sperglord Anon. You've been away for a while. I thought you'd finally killed yourself.

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    2. No, I was typing my comments on 4chan.

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    3. Fair enough.

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  10. unfortunately the guys here are at horse news are right when they say that the fandom is declining I mean for example before the sjws it was those damn neocons (neoconservative) who's opinion no one gave a shit about now we have sjws who I find are a lot more persistent and harder to get rid of however I do agree that the fandom also needs to stop being so hypersensitive about people expressing their opinion about an episodes or the comics or fan animations or just anything related to mlp in general

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  11. The fandom isn't even "dying." Con attendance is still higher each year than the year before. The front page of e621 still looks like a pastel stable. The rate of growth has slowed down, but we haven't even reached saturation yet.

    This article is premature doomsaying. The fandom is more mainstream, but hardly dying.

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    1. I will attest con attendance in Texas is probably due to other reasons besides the fandom but it still doesn't bode well when one thinks about it.

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    2. I said declining not dying I don't think the fandom is dead I feel PERSOMALLY that the fandom is declining in terms of quality (and frankly common sense too no offence) just clearing that up for you

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    3. The number of spergs that attend a convention is not a very good indicator for the health of a fandom. It should be measured by the number of content creators that actually make something of the fandom, and it is hard to deny that quality content is harder to come by now. And why not? Hasbro has shown that it is generally unwelcome, so why put in the effort?

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  12. >It’s only mostly dead

    That's it, man. Game over, man. Game over, what the fuck are we supposed to now, huh, what are we gonna do?

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    1. Never get offa the ride, Anon. Never get offa the ride.

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  13. Too many words everywhere.

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  14. you know you are lazy when people put more effort in an article on horse news than you in your term paper

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  15. Most of the older content creators realized the community is full of ungrateful twats that feel like they are "owed" the content these people produce. All you have left are the super big names that the community treats like fucking celebrities. Everybody else decided (smartly) to stop wasting their time.

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    1. I agree. The only time I feel bitching is justified is when people donate to artists on patreon or whatever and they drag their feet and take a year to do shit that has no reason to take that long (see: Tiarawhy).

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  16. Someone kindly explain to me how the fandom is supposed to be "dying." Like, with any damn tangible stats and/or data.

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  17. Ponies and... Bronies might be dying but the porn isn't. If anything, the show will be eclipsed by its porn.
    And I'm okay with that.

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    1. I'd say that, as an asexual brony I'm fucked if you're right, except I'm as far from it as possible? What idiot decided that coquialisms for sex should be bad things when literally 99% of humanity will like it?

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  18. Naturally, the ride is over...and the cancer in its advanced stages

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  19. Five seasons have passed, Twilight's turned into an alicorn, her house has been blown up, and now she lives in a castle. All through this, there are have sperglords and SJWs and anti-bronies and all that shit. The thing destroying the fandom literally forever for this real time is simply that everyone is moving on.

    Don't mean I'm ever gonna stop jerkin' it to these fuckable hoofed mammals, though.

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    1. Twilicorn is still racist and that eye-sore pointed middle finger castle musts be destroyed, FOREVER!

      Breaking News M.A. Larson is leaving the show in September!

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  20. Europe fandom isstill growing, especially central and east Europe - right now we're on high popularity wawe that was in the West about 2 years ago =)

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