Bros Who Like Ponies: Interviews

UNPUBLISHED

Credits

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Director: Steffanie Salo

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Producer: Matt Scott

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Director of Photography: Brad Bangsboll

Sound: Michael Seguin

Key Grip: Spencer Johnston

Editor: Matt Scott

Bros who like ponies Poster

The brony fandom has now been seen as a prime example of a show with a prominent secondary fanbase. But to the uninitiated, bronies seem to be nothing more than adult men who have taken a liking to what is meant to be a show aimed at young girls. The question on the lips of many are why exactly do bronies love My Little Pony so much? Bros Who Like Ponies seeks to answer that.

I met with the crew on their last day of production, as they were shooting Fanshawe art student Charles Colling painting a pony.

Colling at Work       IMG_4774    IMG_4796

Key Terms

Cosplay: A portmanteau of ‘Costume Roleplaying’, in other words, fans of a certain medium dressing up as their favorite characters.

4chan: The most famous and controversial of the various online bulletin imageboards, with various sections dedicated to discussing various topics. By popular demand, a /mlp/ (My Little Pony) board was created in 2011.

Steffanie Salo

So, what is your documentary about, exactly?

My documentary is about the fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Its’ message encourages being yourself. The documentary aims to promote acceptance of one of the show’s fanbase, young men, since the show’s target audience is young girls.

How long do you plan on shooting it?

A 12-15 minute documentary with 3 days of actual shooting, with today (October 23rd) being the last, shot on a budget of nothing

Who are the various subjects of your documentary, and what do you specifically plan on shooting?

The subjects are ‘bronies’, bros who like ponies. The subjects vary with the amount of pride in their fandom. We’re interviewing hardcore bronies and closet bronies. Hardcore bronies openly celebrate their fandom and we’re asking them about their love for the show. Closet bronies are fans too, but choose to keep their fandom more under covers, and we’re aiming to find out why. We’re also exploring gender identities and stereotypes, with the help of a young boy.

Where and how did the brony thing start, and what was the appeal?

I have given a small explanation in the documentary itself. The show was redone by Lauren Faust in 2010. She created these very relatable, multi-dimensional characters. It became more of a family show that is really meant for anybody, that had matured humor and characterization. Online communities like 4chan played a big part in the development of the fandom. By the time the second season premiered, the show was catering to its secondary demographic.

How many bronies exist as of now, and on campus? How easy or difficult was it to track down bronies for interviews?

Total number? Reaching the thousands. As for on campus, I have no idea. It’s difficult to say, because not everyone who is a brony is always proud of admitting that. As for the ones I did find, they were mostly friends of my own. Chris Kovaliv was the first brony I ever met, and as for the others, they were mostly ‘converted’ laughs by him

What are some interesting things you can tell us about the bronies you’ve interviewed?

One of the bronies we interviewed is a cosplayer is and is actually working on an MLP costume. Another brony wrote an essay comparing MLP to the Republic of Plato. And of course we have Charles Colling painting Rarity (a character from the show).

On today’s shoot: you’re filming Charles Colling creating a MLP painting. What’s the deal with that?

The original concept was a graffiti artist painting a mural, but unfortunately we had issues with an artist and a place for the graffiti. We contacted the FSU art department and they referred us to Charles, who, as luck would have it, is also a brony.

Challenges?

My biggest challenge and goal for this film is to make it appealing to bronies and non-bronies alike, to be able to convey my message of self-esteem and pride to everyone.

Matt Scott

So you’re the producer and editor…what tasks and challenges have you got with shooting this documentary?

There haven’t been too many issues with the doc itself, all the interviews were set up by the director with her connections. My biggest contribution was setting up the artist for the documentary. I also made sure things like release forms get filled and I oversee the timing of the production so we don’t go overtime. I’ve also created stuff like call sheets and of course, slate each take for the camera. So yeah, really, I make sure everything gets done.

So do you watch MLP?
I don’t watch the show, really. I’ve seen tidbits on production. I don’t really consider myself a fan but I’ve learned to appreciate the show based on who we’ve talked to and their opinions. While it’s aimed at little girls, it’s sophisticated and I can see the appeal for adults. The animations style is nice and in my opinion, people who bash the show haven’t really seen it themselves, and need to be more open-minded on what they’re putting down, cause they don’t know what they’re missing.

What’s the filmmaking process like?

There’s three phases: There’s pre-production, production and post-production. Pre-production’s all about the development of the idea, planning days and making sure the equipment’s booked. When it comes to production, its about getting interview, capturing b-roll, really about the shooting process. So really, going to locations, getting forms done, that sort of stuff. It really takes time to finish this phase because you can never get enough b-roll. Once we feel like we’ve finished and are ready for editing, we move on to postproduction. We use Avid, since the Final Cut X update. It’s the first time it’s been used in Fanshawe, so adapting to it has been kinda difficult, but at the same time it’s a good learning experience since Avid is industry-standard. We have multiple rough cuts and a fine cut. After the fine cut has been finished and presented, with a few tweaks, we have a picture lock, where we don’t touch the cut. After smoothing over everything with audio post and video post, it’s exported, and handed in. We also plan to submit it to the Fanshawe AFM (advanced film making) festival, probably in spring. There will be more information on it soon.

Faultline 49 presents a post-9/11 world not quite as we remember it

Published: Monday, October 22nd, 2012

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Faultline 49

David Danson/Ian Caird

Guy Faux Books

I’m ready to admit it; I’m a huge fan of alternate history, no matter how insane the setting may be. Unfortunately, a lot of them seem to fall into the trappings of the old ‘What if Hitler won?’ premise. While alternate history fiction is by no means dead, they do often tend to pose the same questions.

Faultine 49 successfully avoids the trappings of cliches that come with alternate history with its unusual, yet well-presented, premise. The book follows its author David Danson’s (really, the pen name of real author Ian Caird), career as a journalist in a post-9/11 world. Only that in the world of Faultline 49, the September 11 attacks don’t take place at the World Trade Center in New York City, but rather, at the World Trade Center in Edmonton, Alberta. Following the

Faultline 49

Faultline 49

attacks, various controversies arise, regarding the true identity of the bomber and his national origin, as well as the CIA’s involvement in suppressing said information, which eventually leads to the occupation of Canada by the United States over outbreaks of civilian violence. This hostile environment creates a breeding ground for civilian-formed guerrilla factions who seek to drive out the American invaders.

Now, dismissing this book as nothing more than Red Dawn with Canadians and Americans would be simplifying the premise to a fault (no pun intended, seriously), and a grave injustice. Rather than cheaply showing an ongoing battle between militant Canadian underdogs and imperialistic US troops, the book instead presents post-9/11 politics as they really happened in our world, with a setting closer to home.

Faultline 49 is essentially split into a historical and autobiographical narrative, giving Danson the chance to mold the book’s universe and create a story within it. The historical sections seek to give a detailed account of the WTCE bombings and the aftermath. These sections are where the book truly shines. Danson shows proficiency at creating an interesting alternate universe while appropriately utilizing well-known real-life figureheads and political pundits (interestingly enough, featuring Ann Coulter being a loudmouthed buffoon, as per usual), creating a believable world. The book appeals to the political scientist’s desire for accuracy, with the incredibly detailed fictional history of the post-WTCE world, and to the casual reader’s desire for a good yarn with its Neutral-Journalist-in-Peril story.

The autobiographical narrative of the book begins in media res, following Danson around gonzo-style in his quest as a journalist alongside various rebel groups that sprung from the ashes of the civil wars, documenting their causes and actions. In the vein of Black Hawk Down, Danson involves himself within the ongoing story rather than stay a fly-on-the-wall participant. Not necessarily weaker than the historical sections, I nevertheless am partial to them only out of personal preference. I will however objectively state that the storyline is entertaining and uses its constructed universe quite well.

The book has already stirred some minor controversy with some seeking to boycott the book for supposed anti-American themes, but the truth is, Faultline 49 is hardly anti-American. Rather, it tells a story that we are all-too-familiar with, from the perspective of an alternate universe. It tells a story of politics, bureaucracy, human jealousy, xenophobia and greed destroying rationality, creating nations of fear and loathing comprised of otherwise sane people.

And it tells that story ever so well.

In the end, Faultline 49 is a book that’s hard not to recommend, whether you’re looking for a serious political thriller, or a well-constructed alternate modern world.

Rating:

Knocking Down Pseudoscience

Published: Monday, October 22nd, 2012
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Bad Science

Ben Goldacre

Turn on your TV to any sort of infomercial channel, and you’ll see ‘health’ products being peddled to you left, right and center. Whether its magnets being used to enhance your height, or foot-baths ‘drawing out toxins’, this sort of parlour quackery suckers in millions of customers constantly.

Bad Science demolishes such pseudoscience with a deft hand, containing that dry British wit that has become so famous among the UK’s various scientists and skeptics. Author Ben Goldacre is himself a bit of a household name in Britain, with his newspaper column (also titled Bad Science) in The Guardian. Bad Science

Bad Science

Bad Science

is an offshoot of that, serving as a sort of expansion of the topics covered in that column, be it all sorts of ridiculous, unscientific (and often times, expensive) hocus pocus treatments, and the irresponsible media that promotes it.

Bad Science doesn’t just about dissecting why those exercises you were told to do before doing a task that requires thought are bunk, but also goes into the history of various pseudosciences that still exist to this day. There’s even a chapter dedicated to the history and analysis of homoeopathy that’s worth the price of admission alone. This book isn’t a “point and laugh at the fools for being suckered”, but rather an explanation on why perfectly rational people are fooled into buying into something that is so seeming obvious in its falseness (There’s even a chapter entitled, “Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things.”.

But Bad Science isn’t an entire book just dedicated to just showing you why putting candles in your ear to draw out toxins is a ludicrous idea, oh no. Pick up one of the later editions of the book which include the previously omitted chapter, The Doctor Will Now Sue You (excluded, interestingly enough, due to a libel lawsuit Goldacre was facing at the hands of a vitamin pill entrepreneur during the time of the book’s publishing), a rather shocking and disgusting expose on the corruption within the pharmacology industry. It should provide more than enough vitrolic material for those in the mood for getting mad, and of course, some ammunition for tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists.

While Bad Science does tend to get slightly technical every now and then, don’t be put off by the occasional graph present. Bad Science is through-and-through a book by a scientist targeted at a science-loving general public. By reading this book, you’ll not only feel smarter for not having bought those Feng-Shuei crystal balls for your living room,but will finally understand what placebo means, and how powerful it can really be.

How do our politicians use social media?

Date Originally Published: Monday, October 22nd, 2012

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The use of social media has undeniably become an important facet of any public figure’s open life, whether used as a platform for announcements and campaigns, or merely as a public wall of personal thoughts. Most of us are aware and even follow many celebrity twitters, maybe even like their Facebook pages.

But what about our very own London city council members?

Citizen Engagement in London Ontario (CELO) is a study that aims to find out exactly that. Conducted by  “a handful of ordinary citizens”, the CELO is an annual survey taken of the various London city council members. The 25-question survey covers a litany of topics not entirely limited to, but very inclusive, of social and generally electronically media, asking the members whether they maintain a mailing list or newsletter among other queries.

But the survy seeks to do more than just find out if, say, council member Matt Brown uses Twitter (by the way, he does, daily). As interesting as it would be to find out how our mayor uses his Facebook page, the true nature of CELO, according to its’ webpage, is to understand how engaged are politicians with citizens through more modern methods, With more conventional methods, such as radio, print, or television no longer reaching an audience as broad as the internet.

“At CELO, we believe that having an informed electorate directly relates to voter turnout and a healthy democracy. In the past, all levels of government could rely on citizens receiving healthy doses of political news through their local papers and radio stations. However, with newspaper readership on the decline and audiences tuning into other forms of media, it’s imperative that we find new ways to inform the electorate and keep them engaged in the middle of an election cycle.”, says the CELO website.

The CELO website, at http://ldnccreportcard.wordpress.com/, is fascinating and interesting to explore. On the front page, you’ll find what you probably came to the site for, the individual questionnare as filled out by each council member. You can also view statistics of the yes-and-no questions as well as a summary on the Results of Survey page. Whether you’re simply an avid politico or a political student wanting to gain a better understanding of campaign management, CELO nevertheless offers plenty of insight on our local politicians and their ways of conducting all things political.

Don’t turn a blind eye to this page-turner

Published: Monday, October 15th, 2012

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Blindness

Jose Saramago

1995

Books that play on incredibly common fears can be hit or miss,

Blindness

Blindness

the ‘miss’ resulting in cliches being doled out constantly in a poor attempt of coming off as being genuinely disturbing. Fortunately, Jose Saramago, one of Portugal’s most-revered writers, is more than skilled enough to dodge such pitfalls, in Blindness, one of his most internationally well-known, Nobel Prize-winning works. Blindness focuses on a set of characters; a doctor, his wife, and various characters they encounter in an entire country struck by an epidemic of “white blindness”, which is exactly as it sounds. The doctor’s wife is the only person unaffected by the white blindness, thus putting to test that old proverb, “In the land of the blind…”.

The book has a lot to offer to those looking for a plain psychological thriller, as well as those interested in an examination of the human condition. The present theme of humans, rather than the pandemic, being their own worst enemy will certainly draw parallels to various zombie fictions, such as Romero’s Dead films. In the vein of Romero, Saramago’s book contains more than its fair share of critique on human nature. The entire book is rich with such post-apocalyptic imagery, be it the slow but sure unknown origins of the pandemic, to the characters struggling more against other humans than the challenges of the disease. To put it succinctly, it’s zombie fiction without the zombie.

The book has an interesting style of writing, as though all the events within the book are paraphrased. There are no ‘quotes’, no dialogue, no inverted commas present throughout. The characters of the book lack names (for stylistic purposes, they are given monikers based on who they are, or what their physical appearance is), but not motivation or personality. The Doctor’s Wife is particularly interesting, being the only person to have not gone blind in the epidemic. The pressure and obligation to solve everyone’s problems due to her advantage can easily make one think of a hero’s obligation to society, raising the question, how important is your own happiness over that of others? The book examines this easy to describe yet undeniably complex issue with great detail.

Blindness is as far as a book can get from being light. The book is full of murder, chaos and destruction, as should a about the breakdown of society. Regardless of how squeamish you may get while reading, it is important that you keep on going. Good fiction will always provoke your emotions, and this book does more than its fair share. You will not only feel sadness, anger and disgust, but also a feeling of inner-conflict, the inability to decide whether various actions committed by the characters are justifiable. Blindness is morally grey. Blindness is frightening. Blindness is important and well worth the look.

Book or movie? Do Androids Dream vs. Blade Runner

Published: Monday, October 8th, 2012

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Review

Philip K. Dick

Doubleday, 1968

A lot of us are familiar with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, one of the most acclaimed yet polarized sci-fi movies ever to come out. Some praised it for its exploration of some interesting philosophical talking points…what truly defines human? Are we truly who we think we are? Others criticized the movie for its slow pace and heavy-handed romance. Nevertheless, the film has made an impact on popular culture, with its amazing set and prop design, continuing to give

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (later republished as Blade Runner)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (later republished as Blade Runner)

inspiration to designers.

Naturally, most are aware that the film is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which, interestingly enough, had a movie tie-in edition sold as Blade Runner in some markets), and are quick to discount reading it in fear of it being too similar to the movie. After all, watching Blade Runner is around 2-3 hours (depending on which edition of the film you decide to watch) of your time, but the but book is much bigger investment.

Truth be told, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve seen Blade Runner, because DADoES is really its own thing. While the book and the film possess some fairly superficial similarities, character names, locations, the two couldn’t be any more different. Infact, the basic premise of Rick Deckard, a LAPD bounty hunter assigned to hunt down escaped androids (or ‘andies’) is really the only similarity that exists.

While Blade Runner’s characters are given more room for exploration than its universe, DADoES dedicates enough time for both, and as a result, explores some more of Philip K. Dick’s philosophical chestnuts besides the ones seen in Blade Runner; the true existence of self, the deceptions brought on by the hands of established authority, and, not to mention, a dissection of the reason for said deceptions being needed. To explain what content of the book discusses the above would be giving away too much, to say the least.

It honestly would be difficult to write this article without comparing the book to its movie cousin, but selling the differences between them is unfortunately what will get most to read this book. While the 1968 publication date might have some people finding some of events in the book quaint or dated, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is nevertheless a truly unique novel that cannot be properly experienced in any other adaptation. Any avid reader should have this book on their to-do list. I trust the avid sci-fi readers have already finished it.

Book explores the problem with African aid

Published: Monday, October 1st, 2012

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Dead Aid
Dambisa Moyo

D&M Publishers Inc., 2009

So, how do you solve the dire financial situations of Africa? If ‘aid’ was ready to leap off your tongue, then this is definitely the book for you. Or even if it wasn’t aid, you should still read it. Actually, it doesn’t matter what you think, read this book anyway.

So what exactly IS Dead Aid about? Well, to put it simply, it refutes what has been hammered into our minds by countless charity events and World Vision commercials, that aid is the end-all solution to resolve Africa’s worsening political and economic climate. Author Dambisa Moyo refuses to soften the blow

Dead Aid

Dead Aid

when she says that African Aid simply doesn’t work. Those who accusingly jump at aid detractors as heartless simply do not understand the way aid is handled in Africa. Moyo reveals how African nations that receive an unending supply of annual aid actually experience negative economic growth, and how a lot of aid money is often funneled into the pockets of various despots with Swiss bank accounts, and how countries like Botswana, which received minimal aid, is the leading African nation in terms of economic and societal growth.

So, aid doesn’t work, right? Then what CAN be done? Not to spoil anything, but one of the first things suggested is investment, rather than donation. Moyo creates a rather tragicomic story that nevertheless parallels with real-life incidence wherein a well-meaning Hollywood celebrity donates thousands of mosquito nets to an African country, running a local mosquito-net maker out of business. Through this simple story, an example of why investment supersedes mere charity.

Moyo’s style of writing is interesting. While without bias, citing her claims (very well, I might add, the bibliography is a whole other world of extra reading) properly, there is nevertheless a hint of frustration present in the writing, as though the author, looking at the examples she was citing, was growing irritated with the realization that despite all these counterpoints against the way aid is handled, it still continues.

This book is an excellent read for supporters and detractors of aid. It not only gives a fresh perspective from the views of an educated (Moyo has a Ph.D in economics from Oxford University), native African, but also provides ammunition for those wishing to debate against how the current state of African aid. Even if you aren’t the one to pick debates, the book is an interesting (and relatively light, at around 154 pages, excluding the bibliography.) read that should be checked out.