Cuteness, friendship, and identity in the brony community
Keywords:Consumption, Contradictory consciousness, Fan fiction, Fandom, Gender, Masculinity, Material culture, My Little Pony, Nerd
I examine the practices of fan productivity and gender negotiation in brony fandom, the community of primarily college-age men who are fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (2010–). I examine the contours of brony textual and material practices, noting how productivity within the fandom plays a role in the negotiation of identity and community ethos. I also consider the implications of cuteness in the fandom and discuss how this aesthetic and its corresponding narrative have led to the development of a unique discursive mode among bronies, which I term the discourse of friendship. Drawing on Matthew Gutmann's theory of contradictory consciousness, I argue that the discourse of friendship is an innovative framework that encourages new ways of taking part in existing social institutions that destabilize hegemonic masculinity.
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