Clop, or mature to adult fan made content depicting characters in the show (or original characters), has been a controversial subject for quite some time and has sprouted many heated arguments among bronies. So what’s the big deal about what ponies like to do in the privacy of their own home (and post on the internet)?
Full article behind the page break. (And not so much of what you’re probably thinking. -DS)
Arguments against the creation of “clop” material stem around public image. As most of it can be viewed on one website or another without the need to create any sort of account, the media, and potential bronies, have easy access to this material that might create a bad public image or deter potential bronies from joining the “herd.” Let’s take a look at images, in regards to portrayal of a community. When a group, community, or individual is placed in the media spotlight or becomes the topic of online gossip, said entity gains a public image. Generally, the first time a person sees or reads about something, they generate an opinion or a bias. As an example, let’s take a look at the “article” about Twilight Sparkle in the episode “Ponyville Confidential.” Within the episode, in a gossip column within a local paper, Twilight Sparkle is said to be a “Canterlot Snob.” The article claims that their source of information is Twilight Sparkle’s assistant, Spike the Dragon. As we all know, this is false. However, what if we were one of the ponies in town and we had never met or even heard of Twilight Sparkle before? We would likely take that article to heart and truly believe that Twilight Sparkle is a jerk. Depending on how well done the article is, we may even have trouble changing our opinion about Twilight Sparkle even if the pony herself were to repeatedly try to change our mind through acts of kindness. Now let’s shift back over to the issue at hand. National media, more often than local media, focuses in on the worst in people and the tragedies in life, as they often lead to better ratings, and therefore more money. So what’s the big problem? In the public eye, the words “cute,” “cartoon,” and “pornography” do not bode well. Besides personal opinions on clop, this appears to be the primary argument against it.
On the flip side, what do those who produce and/or use clop think? The single best counter argument I have seen used the core values of the brony community to make its case. The argument was: “… by having such negative views against clop, they are not following the show’s and community’s primary message and value, which is ‘Love and Tolerance.’” Unfortunately I had to paraphrase that as I cannot find the exact quote in the massive archive that is the Pony Confessions Tumblr. However, the point remains. By shunning those who enjoy clop or create it, are we truly any better than those who shun us for being a part of the brony community?
Let’s take a look at this issue from a scientific standpoint. Why is sex such a big deal? Sex is one of the most important biological functions, as without it, none of us would be here. Because of this, nature has embedded many “protocols” within our brain that deal with sex outside of the act. Say you’re in a crowded room and talking with your friends. You’re paying attention to the conversation with your friends, and replying when applicable. Suddenly, someone in a different conversation mentions something about sex, or about you or your friends/family. Suddenly, you find your attention shifted to that conversation. Has this ever happened to you? This is because of an exception within auditory filtering processes, or in other words, our brain’s ability to filter our background noise and allow us to focus in on a conversation with our friends, or listening to a professor speak. Our brain, when filtering out the background noise, listens for a few things in particular: sex, and things about us and those who we consider family. Now, your opinions on sex don’t really matter, because nature has embedded the importance of the act within our minds. So whether you wish you had some brain bleach, or you wished you could have heard more about it, a conversation concerning sex will attract your attention.
So back to the issue at hoof, what other arguments are there for allowing clop within the community? Now, the media will always try to show the worst sides of human nature, but do they really need evidence to do this? The media does not need evidence to speculate that the brony community consists of pedophiles, not to say that the community does, but media will be media, and as such, they will try to make money by exploiting others. Now, many of our community websites will post an article whenever national or local media features bronies, and so far, most of the occurrences haven’t been too bad. Should we really have such an obsession with maintaining a perfect image when we’ve had such good luck so far? Some may argue that we’ve had bad luck with the media, so let’s shift focus again over to another community that some of us may know of, the furry fandom. Now, furries have had terrible luck with national media. The most infamous portrayal of the furry fandom was the episode “Fur and Loathing” of the TV show CSI. In this episode, furries were portrayed as being sex-obsessed social misfits who fornicated in mascot costumes. Those who are familiar with the furry fandom would likely attest that this is not the case. While there is much pornographic content within the fandom, most of it is in the form of artwork and stories (sound familiar?). Other similar portrayals to that of “Fur and Loathing” have been found in 1000 Ways to Die and 30 Rock (though, thankfully 30 Rock did not refer to them as furries specifically and instead called them “plushies”). Let’s take a moment to perform a simple mental exercise: I’d like you to think of some nationalities and picture the “average” person of each nationality. Now that we have those “average” people in mind, try and think of someone who you know that is of that nationality. Do they exemplify that “average person” that you thought of for their nationality? They might… they might not… just another example of stereotyping and preconception.
So we’ve taken a look at arguments from both sides, seen examples of media reactions to similar fandoms, and discussed human psychology. So where does that leave us as a community? So far we’ve shown the world that we do more than just watch the show. We’ve shown that we can take our passion for the show and create whole new realities out of it. Where the show has lacked explanations, we’ve created our own. We’ve gone so far in so little time, and there are no signs of stopping. While clop may not be our pride and joy of the community, it has made a presence. To those who are truly worried about our image, I leave you with one piece of advice: Put your best hoof forward, and love and tolerate.
And finally, to all readers, I leave these questions: Is there really anything we can do about this issue? Is it even worth stressing over? Share your thoughts!
(2012, April 18). Retrieved from Pony Confessions: http://ponyconfessions.tumblr.com
Carlson, N. R., Miller, H. L., Heth, D. S., Donahoe, J. W., & Martin, N. G. (2010). Psychology: The Science of Behavior (Seventh Edition for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ed.). Boston: Pearson.