I am not a Brony. I have never seen an episode of My Little Pony. Before seeing this documentary I was aware of the Brony phenomenon, but was relatively removed from it. I watched 'Bronies' to try and learn a bit more about the people behind the fandom, and was hoping to find an unbiased account of Brony culture, warts and all. I think overall this documentary was successful in a few ways, but was mostly overshadowed by it's failures.
It's a very self congratulatory piece of film; plenty of discussion of the community aspect, the creativity and fun of it all, the feeling of 'fitting in,' but it's all at a very cursory glance. People say they like the morals and apply them to their lives? How about a few examples? You think the writing and animation are well done? Why not go a bit more in depth? There was very little that needed to be said by this documentary, yet we're consistently fed what feels like a party line.
If you're looking for an objective documentary, this is not it. There is superficial lip-service paid to the female fans of the series, but it comes in the form of a short musical number and one documentary subject who is never on screen without her male counterpart. For a fanbase which has taken up a decidedly masculine moniker, I'd expect some discussion of how it effects women who want to be involved. Additionally, there is no discussion of the darker sides of Brony culture, like the fan- produced My Little Pony pornography known as 'Clop.' The documentary goes so far out of its way to avoid this subject, that it actually even includes a reference to 'clop' in a musical number, but immediately changes the subject.
It feels at times like the documentary was never intended to explain Bronies to outsiders at all, but rather to be a celebratory exploration of the growth of Brony culture, to be viewed and enjoyed by Bronies themselves. This would be easily explained by the creative crew, and the Kickstarter funding. There's nothing wrong with this, but why phrase it as though it were intended for outsiders? Why even add the animated sequences with the professor teaching us about MLP history?
It's not all bad, honestly. The creator of this documentary clearly knows how to pace a film. Scenes go as long as they need to, dialogue is generally moving the film along, and overall it's quite well shot. Some of the characters are quite compelling, and the creative side of Brony culture is very well represented.
I think if there was one major takeaway from this film, it's that people who like MLP are producing a lot of content for the fan community, and that creativity is a major tenet of Brony culture. The film is very successful in conveying that there is a strong community, and a lot of creative content being produced. It's major failure though, and what causes the whole thing to fall flat is that it doesn't successfully convey why the Bronies become attached to MLP to begin with.