Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Going Too Far

To start this off, I will admit that I don't watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I don't really have any interest in watching it either, it just doesn't appeal to me. That being said, I don't deny that it probably is a good quality show. Obviously it is to a lot of people, it's getting great reception from animation fandoms and critics alike. It's said to be one of the better kid-family cartoons in the last 5 years or so, and also, it's a passion project by none other than Lauren Faust. It's got to be good, right? Or at least decent?

My theory is that many male millennials around my age (21) see something in the show that really appeals to them. It hits the right beats, it strikes a chord with them. That's totally okay, it can come from any form of entertainment be it a reboot of an 80s kids cartoon that was seen as "girly" to a blow-em-up action film that has little to no substance. I can relate to it: I will flat out admit that 21-year-old me still gets a kick out of classic Thomas the Tank Engine episodes from the first two seasons from the 1980s, it must be because of the auto/train nut in me (I love trains like Walt Disney did), maybe a dash of nostalgia, the way the early seasons were done. Ringo Starr's narration, also. I'm an animation fanatic through-and-through, and how they filmed this show is quite unique. And also, it's probably the show's accuracy of British railways during the 40s and 50s and British railway history in general... It was adapted from books by a railway enthusiast after all that were inspired by real-life British railway events, but at the end of the day, it was a show aimed at children and railway enthusiasts. It's probably not for young adults, but I still like it for all those reasons, I am not afraid to admit that.

This, for me, explains the Brony phenomenon. A quest for an answer to why it entertains these people is not rocket science to me, something in the show clicks with these viewers. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic speaks to these people in a way, and that's totally okay. It's not like it's something harmful to anyone's mind, it's a cute, colorful show about ponies. What's wrong with liking that?

On a side note, I praise the elementary school-aged kid who proudly admitted to liking MLP. The idiotic school administration told him that wearing an MLP backpack made him a target of bullying, because a lot of schools sadly can't be bothered with the task of combating bullying. I know this because I went through it myself...

Anyways, a group of individuals created an MLP mural that was later vandalized. I don't know where exactly, but I'm assuming it was in a big city. The person who vandalized it spray painted "Highest form of autism" over the artwork, signing it with an anonymous signature.

Sickening... Really sickening...

First of all, "autism" is now used as an insult. It's the new "retard", unfortunately. This has been going on for years, actually. "Retarded" was the insult that was "in" when I was in middle school and high school, and it's always used to describe something absurd, silly or stupid. A lot use the word not knowing what it really means or don't mean it against people with disabilities, but it's still a word that needs to be retired. Why was the word "retard" - which really means to pull back something or delay it - ever even used to describe people with disabilities to begin with? What mind thought of using that word to describe a group of people?

It's just really sad how "autism" is now being used like this. This is not a word that meant something else, this a word for a particular disability. It's even more insulting when people go as far as using that to degrade someone or a group of people who happen to have an interest in something that they don't get. Let's say you're a 15-20 year old who looks at something like MLP and sees "girly show for 4-year-olds". Years ago, the worst thing you could probably say to someone who likes the show is "You like a girly show! You're weird!" or "You're gay!" or "You're a manchild! Grow up!"

But now, in the year 2014, people say things like, "People who like that show must be autistic or something."

Just look at this... It was taken from 4chan. The image of the vandalized mural was posted there, and this individual wrote this:

"... bronies are seriously pushing the envelope in the being pathetic department. Even the smelliest, greasiest, most socially-impaired D&D, Magic, video game etc. nerd does something that’s male-oriented, skill-based and competitive to some degree. Bronies just took everything that’s the worst about geeky interests and synthesized it into 100% pure autism. Imagine a more embarrassing fandom."

Seriously? First of all, male-oriented? Why does something have to be male-oriented or female-oriented to begin with? Can't someone like anything? Sexist much? You're obviously a macho man who thinks men shouldn't like things that are considered "girly".

Thinking the Brony fandom is not nerdy enough or inferior or whatever is one thing (i.e. saying something like "that's not a true fandom"), but when you say something like "synthesized it into 100% pure autism", you are the one with the problem. Not the people in the fandom that you dislike, or people with disabilities.

Yes, it's from 4chan, I get it. But if this is what people are saying about fandoms or whatever, it should be known. Yes, this kind of ignorance actually exists. It's not a "they're retarded" when they really mean "stupid", no, it's this... Not even on Internet message boards anymore, but in public. On a mural people can see!

So, let's do a comparison.

Person A likes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. He's a good, well-meaning person who is nice to others, does something he enjoys and that's that. He sounds like a person that's okay, right?

Person B doesn't understand why My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is popular with young adult males. Said person doesn't even think for a second about looking that up for a simple answer, no his reaction is simply "What a pathetic weirdo" or "That guy needs help."

Who is the one with the problem, now? It's really that simple...

If anything, the writer of that post on 4chan is "pushing the envelope in the being pathetic department". First of all, he's writing his schlock on the Internet and is not saying it to someone in person. He probably is too much of a coward to do so. Second, he sounds absolutely miserable. This person clearly has a hatred for bronies, he's going as far as saying that they are an insult to various geekdoms that he considers "true geekdoms" and goes as far as saying the "smelliest, greasiest, most socially-impaired" geeks who like things like D&D (again, "true geekdoms") are doing something that requires skill or is male-oriented or competitive.

Whoa hold up there... That's kind of contradictory.

So I'm guessing that if you don't play video games, Magic the Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons, you are not doing something competitive? What if I'm a huge fan of something like a TV show or movie series? Am I not doing something skill-based? Obviously not, I'm not playing a game - I'm loving a TV show that I watch. What's wrong with that? The post doesn't make sense now, thanks to the poster's angry disposition getting in the way of decent writing skills. If you're going to insult another fandom, at least do it right with a statement that's at least easy to read and is not contradictory.

But then, this poster goes as far as saying that the brony fandom takes the worst aspects of these geekdoms and processes it all into "100% pure autism"... On top of not making sense, it's an absolute insult to a completely different group of people who suffer.

The post is written by someone who is truly pathetic. If he's wasting all that energy into immensely disliking a group of people that he doesn't understand, then he's the one who needs help, not the bronies he likes to bully. I'm not saying this to insult the person, I actually feel bad for this person. No one should ever have to have such mean and ignorant feelings like that towards someone else in the brains. That, to me, is true suffering.

Being ignorant is much worse than having a disability or having an interest in something harmless.

Did a brony beat him up in an alleyway? Did a brony cause harm to him once? If one did, that's still no excuse to write something like that about bronies. A violent brony who beats others up is just one brony.

There will always be bullies, but insults like this are just... It's tragic, really. Words can really hurt, they really really can. The fact that people even go this far to rip apart a fandom they don't understand, or a group of people they don't want to get to know just goes to show that the Internet has unintentionally amplified different kinds of bullying. The Internet, as people have said many times before, has really opened up areas for people like this to say things they otherwise would not have outright said in a world without the Internet.

I wanted to share this because I want you to know that this kind of bullying is out there, and it's showing how people with autism and Asperger's and any disability are now a target of this kind of verbal cruelty more so than ever before, and it seems like it'll just get worse.

I shouldn't have to feel bad for having a disability or an interest in something that's not hurting anyone, neither should anyone else with a disability and/or a love for something that isn't badly affecting anybody else's life. Gone are the days of insults like "you're weird for liking that", it's now even more personal and hurtful. Destructive, even.

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