| The Emerald City Comic Con had a lot of presentations scheduled for its run back in March. Comics, web comics and graphic novels were the main topics, with actors, voice actors and gaming also represented.
Like all conventions, there were more activities and panels going on during its three days than you can attend, especially when you factor in trying to actually get from one to the other, so you have to choose carefully what you want to see and leave plenty of time in between events.
One of the panels that caught my eye was called "Aren't You a Little Old For This?" That should sound familiar to fans of "Phineas and Ferb", but it also applies to another show.
In a past newsletter, I had written about how we could be proud that we had chosen to watch Phineas and Ferb because we wanted to, instead of watching it because a network spent a lot of money telling us we had to like it. I wanted to attend this panel to see how people handle the opposite viewpoint: being told they're not supposed to like a show.
The show is My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and it has a lot in common with Phineas and Ferb. Both have bright colors, are predominantly happy or cheerful, are well-animated, cute, and they're supposed to be just for kids: "MLP is for girls" and "P&F is for boys".
Those last points are what network executives would tell you. But anyone who's watched either show knows that the people who make them put more in than just what would attract a target demographic, and they are rewarded by fans who are from all ages.
Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh made sure girls, men and women aren't left out of this "boys only" show. Phineas even addresses this head-on each time he's asked "aren't you doing something outside the norm?" His answer: "Yes. Yes, I am." You can hear him saying, "I am. So what? Next question." As a result, we have situations like the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines holding an annual "Isabella Award" for their members who display the best characteristics of their group.
Likewise, MLP has fans who are boys, men and women because the cast and crew know they're not making just a "girls only" show. But the fans who are outside of the target audience have a tougher time being fans, especially if they're adult men.
One of the people on the ECCC panel often goes into stores to buy MLP toys. On one trip, he heard a mother tell her son that he couldn't get one of the ponies because it was for a "girls show". He also said that he began wearing his military uniform because he got tired of the clerks asking him if the toys were for his niece. Somehow that uniform makes asking that question unnecessary.
I have run into the same thing when I go to stores. I have had employees check to see what I'm doing because I'm wandering around the store, looking in pretty much every section to see what's new. The employees have to do this to help protect their customers from people that don't have good motives for being in a store when kids are nearby. I'm not in that category, but they need to make sure, even if I've been in that store a few times.
|| It's kind of sad that I have to take this into account when I'm shopping, but because I'm aware of it, I'm ready and happy to explain what I'm doing there. I'm interested in P&F, The Simpsons, Despicable Me, Disney Infinity, all of the DreamWorks animated movies, and other series. I look around because I've found items in the food, games, books, party supplies and electronics sections. It's a scavenger hunt. If I went straight to the toys, I'd miss all a lot of things.
When they ask who I'm buying them for, my answer is, "Myself. Someday, I may give these away, but for now, they're for me." Sometimes I add in that I help run a wiki on that series and that I review the items I buy. I'm pleased to say that there have been more than a few times when the clerks have appreciated my attitude. After all, what's the point of growing up if you can't still be a kid at heart and buy yourself some toys?
I'm also pleased to say that things are getting a little easier when you're a fan of a show and you're not "supposed to" be a fan. The same members of the ECCC panel told about how attending get-togethers to discuss MLP episodes helped them see that it is okay to like the show. They also it helped encourage them to be more active socially and take pride in being called a "Brony".
Last month when McDonald's had MLP and Skylanders toys in their Happy Meals, there was one McDonald's that directed their employees to ask which toy the customer wanted, and not whether the toy was for a boy or a girl.
But perhaps the greatest vindication of liking a show when you're not "supposed to" just might be the fact that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Slash asked Dan and Swampy if he could help contribute to Across the 2nd Dimension, co-wrote a song with them and appeared in the music video for the song.
At ECCC, I saw people dressed up as Kronk and Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove, Lister and Rimmer from Red Dwarf and even a husband and wife who were over 60 dressed as Popeye and Olive Oyl. Though I also saw cosplayers as Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon, Anna and Elsa from Frozen and Carl from Up, I have to commend the first three pairs for picking something other than the newest TV series or movie to celebrate.
As of today, I have only seen one episode of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. But it's a series that I will probably catch up on in the near future, for two reasons. The first is two of the characters: Dr. Hooves and Cheese Sandwich, which are based on the Tenth Doctor and "Weird Al" Yankovic. The second is that it was developed by Lauren Faust, who had many roles while working on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and is the co-producer and story editor for Wander Over Yonder. I really liked Foster's, so I'd like to see what she's done on these other two series.
If you've had an experience about how you weren't "supposed to" like P&F, MLP or any other TV show, let us know in the comments if you're willing to share that with us. If it wasn't a good experience, maybe we can help figure out a way to make it better. Because whether we're Phinatics or Bronies, we can help each other.