#100) What prompted you to start your Brony Advice column? Also, you seem to get a wide range of questions concerning everything from personal relationship and social group issues, to commentaries on art and music, all surrounding the MLP fandom; do you ever find yourself surprised or caught off guard by the questions you receive, and do you ever have difficulty answering them?
Answer: I started this column with a simple dream: a dream of understanding brony thought-processes. I like to do my best to observe the fandom and draw from it what I can. A good way of doing this is via samples and case studies. Some excellent case studies are in the form of these questions; as the questions are being asked by bronies, generally, they are representative of what certain parts of the fandom are thinking. Even the most ridiculous questions are worth documenting: in twenty years time I can look back on this column and see exactly the kind of things that bronies were thinking at the time.
It is, in that sense, something of a psychological study, although I'm just generally quite interested in how the brony fandom exists in its current form. Every defensive reaction to a criticism; every elated response to a positive write-up in the media; every division within the fandom over polarising issues all of it is integral to our understanding of how this fandom functions. I'm fascinated by how people behave, and by how bronies respond to other bronies: whether it's in the form of casual sex-based roleplays with strangers on pony-based social media sites, to raiding toy shops together looking for their favourite ponies, it all paints an image that goes beyond a simple overview and gets to the root of what makes bronies tick. I learn more about the bronies with each passing question, and in turn my observations and informed comments on the fandom become increasingly more credible with every question I answer.
I can criticise certain aspects of the fandom, because the issues I raise about the fandom and the opinions I've constructed are always based on the questions I receive questions inspired by genuine issues people are having. Whereas a lot of 'haters' will just arbitrarily criticise the fandom in a fairly ignorant way, through Brony Advice I gain the direct feedback from bronies that makes it possible to work out where praise should be given, and where criticism should be directed.
While I can't say I'm surprised by the questions I receive, the amount of questions about pony-based pornography always gives me reason to despair. I get a lot of questions about "Friendship is Magic" porn, and, at the time of writing, I have several more backed up to be answered at a later date. The greatest difficulty I have when answering those sorts of questions is that I inevitably have to pass judgement in a way that I would usually avoid. However, the prevalence of the porn-based questions really suggests to me that a lot of people in this fandom are into it (as does a lot of other information I've gathered), which I find to be quite concerning. That said, I never really struggle to answer any questions, and some of the more personal cases that I receive are quite moving.
From all of this, I've identified a few common traits in the brony fandom. Firstly, quite a few bronies are relatively insecure about their involvement in the fandom. This usually stems from discontented fans; some people are embarrassed out of the fandom, or to the side-lines, by other, more excessive fans. I receive a fair amount of questions from people who don't believe that they have a stable place in the fandom. Quite a few threaten to leave at regular intervals (very few of them actually going through with it) because of their dissent towards the fandom at large.
Secondly, a lot of bronies tend to be unsure about how the fandom should be construed: should it be focused on supporting a good TV show, or should it be something more? For every person who thinks the fandom is essentially part of a 'good show with benefits' transaction, there are people who believe that the show is secondary to the brony 'ideology'. Even then, there's disagreement towards what that ideology should be are bronies just regular people prone to liking unorthodox things, or are they supposed to be crusading for a new world order with a hatchet made of love and a holy book made of tolerance?
Thirdly, bronies seem to be unsure of their future: a lot are insecure about if and how the fandom will sustain itself, growing incredibly nervous whenever a season ends, perpetually fearing for the inevitable cancellation of the show. Some are content to let the show run its natural course; others are unwaveringly pious in their loyalty to the show, and it remains to be seen how they will respond when the show eventually does come to an end.
Fourthly, from what I've seen by answering questions , the two greatest issues within the fandom appear to be issues of gender and issues of adult content. The gender issue seems to be a genuine concern for many; a lot of female fans that I've come into contact with feel separated from the brony tag, especially as the media continuously refers to bronies as 'X to X year old males'. Many have even been rejected by male bronies, while others find the male side of the brony phenomenon passively creepy. On the adult content issue, I get more questions about porn (comparatively not many at all about gore) than any other topic, with people demonstrating a range of emotions: disgust towards it; guilt for being into it; passion and pride towards making it; and relative indifference. It's definitely an issue that I have a great interest in, mainly because it splits the fandom down the middle, and because it's easy to take a stance on either side.
And so, in answer to your first question: I started the column as a way of better understanding bronies. In any form of debate, it's integral that you understand the topic of debate and have information to back up your points. Reasoning and rhetoric go a long way, but citations and sources are what keep things credible. Outside of other things, I quite often enter discussions with engaging and intelligent individuals about the brony fandom, who often ask for my opinion on various issues. Rather than working on speculation, Brony Advice as well as other research conducted allows me to demonstrate particular points and issues from the perspective of people who live and breathe this fandom. Brony Advice in particular allows me to survey testimonials from individuals, many of whom are concerned by this radical fandom in one way or another.
As the 100th question answered, several things are clear to me in relation to the future of this column: the sizable back-log of questions that I have received suggests that Brony Advice is popular, and thus I am providing a service with this series. For as long as both bronies and those not within the fandom continue to ask me questions, the column will remain active - it will continue for as long as people remain in a position where they can question this fandom. Clearly, some people seem to think that what I have to say is worth reading, and I enjoy providing some sort of voice within the fandom to illustrate particular thoughts and feelings that the fandom at large might be experiencing. It's always best to listen to all sides of the argument, and I'm always happy to engage with any opinion towards "Friendship is Magic"."In Cudpug We Trust"