In the “well intentioned, lacking execution” division, the BronyCon staff attempted to clear out rooms between panels. The idea is fine: those who have waited the longest for a panel should get the opportunity of their choice of seats. However, for reasons including the size of the venue and the difficulty of crowd control, cheating the system became a bit too easy and a bit too rewarding. Particularly, there was no perceivable logic in how the Faust panel was seated – some people who got there early ended up with bad seats and vice versa, while it worked out more ‘properly’ for others.
Lucking into a decent seat, I had a pristine view of the main event panel. Opening on a sincere (if a bit lengthy) reading from the Dear Princess Celestia project, Faust was subsequently presented with all the letters, and the panel began.
Beginning on a back-and-forth with Final Draft before spending some time on audience questions, Faust discussed a wide range of issues:
- The generation one ponies being a storytelling device for a young Lauren, who used the toys to create her own characters and tell her own stories.
- Her underlying desire to make female children’s programming that was also intelligently written and relatable to anyone—along with indicating she wasn’t actively trying to play against stereotype, but instead to simply make characters who were real. Of particular interest, on Twilight as “breaking the nerd stereotype”, Lauren cited her own mother as being “too busy studying to make friends.”
- The extent of her show Bible; pegging the industry average around twelve, Faust discussed her labors over ensuring any potential meetings with TV executives could not potentially be misunderstood.
- Her view on canon, which essentially amounts to “if it hasn’t been dealt with directly, it’s up in the air at a later point.”
The panel ended with the delivery of a gift to Mrs. Faust, a drawing of Princess Lauren and the words “Create”, in full Obama/”Hope” style. This was a classy, well-done moment for all involved.
Also, to the gentleman next to me who chose to spend the entirety of the Faust panel playing a Kirby game on his DS: why travel all that way, presumably at least in part for this, and then do that?
At least the sound was off.
Friendship is Witchcraft
Up next was the premiere of the new Friendship is Witchcraft, which can and should be viewed here. In the past year, FiW has defined itself as one of the cleverer abridged series out there, particularly with its inclusion of longer-term storytelling rare in this kind of fan projects. To the large proportion of the Faust crowd which stuck around, the new episode was a hit. I won’t review the entirety of the episode, but recasting Derpy from The Last Roundup as nothing but the rain cloud is way too funny not to recognize.
Friendship is Witchcraft also suffered from another con flaw: audio problems. The short Q&A panel before the episode itself was impossible to hear from where I sat—the mixture of feedback and high bass from the speakers, combined with the occasional loud cheer or crowd reaction from the “Tail Hall” (which, for example, was holding a fan fiction panel while FiW was on), sometimes made the audio very hard to hear. I’m not an audio expert and don’t know how much could have been done here, and personally I was able to position myself well most of the time, but it was unfortunate that some good material went unheard because of this.
Finally, in terms of speaker panels, the night capped off with the panel on the ongoing Brony Study. Inspired by his son’s newfound love of a certain girl’s cartoon, Dr. Patrick Edwards (or Dr. Psych Ology, which he proudly proclaims as his ponysona), Ph.D. in clinical psychology, took on the effort to explain the what and whys of the brony phenomenon. Too lengthy to explain in detail here, Dr. Ology took on the responses of bronies as compared to the larger society as well as identifying different “types” of bronies, based on viewing habits and their openness about their hobby. Dr. Ology had the difficult task of having an academic, scientifically based, somewhat drier presentation for an audience which wasn’t necessarily on the same page. The inclusion of Derpy as lab assistant in the Powerpoint presentation and the inclusion of a handful of Internet memes was a nice touch in this department. A lot of people have attempted to ‘explain’ the bronies, but Dr. Ology has the distinction of having the credentials to actually be worth listening to and giving off the impression that he might actually know what he’s talking about.
Only having some familiarity with his work, I went in a tad skeptical—when he started describing the characteristics of the “Secret Brony”, I thought he might have me down. When he included that they were the most likely to lie about going to BronyCon, I remembered how I told my roommate I would be in Syracuse this weekend. Science works.
Following up with some other plans, I wouldn’t be in attendance for the Pony Auction – though the price tag of $4,050 for a poster signed by everyone (including Lauren Faust) was a sight I regretted missing. I similarly missed the large majority of Bronypalooza, though curiosity ended up getting the best of me and I ended up checking it out for about five minutes towards the end of the night. I spent some time between that last sentence and here thinking of how to describe it, and ultimately decided—just look up the videos. Mainly though, the people there seemed to be having nothing short of a blast.
One of the people who went to Bronypalooza with me commented that “Tara Strong is on the floor.” I laughed, thinking it was a good joke and a kind of funny image. It would only become evident later on that this was, in fact, the god-honest truth. Furthermore, this wasn’t a momentary meet to shake a hand or two—based on several videos, comments of people there, and Strong’s own comments at the next morning’s VA panel, it would appear she left at 1:55 AM (the event ending at 2 AM).
Man, maybe I should’ve gone to Bronypalooza after all.
Continued on Page Three…