The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Elements of Harmony: subculture finds local niche

In the popular kids’ TV show “My Little Pony,” six supernatural artifacts come from the Tree of Harmony: honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, loyalty and magic. These elements of harmony used together can combat danger and discord that threaten the kingdom of Equestria.

Applejack (front) and Rainbow Dash (back) strut atop posters and books detailing their adventures in Equestria. Their fans are called “bronies.” (Luke Londo/NW)
Applejack (front) and Rainbow Dash (back) strut atop posters and books detailing their adventures in Equestria. Their fans are called “bronies.” (Luke Londo/NW)

Those six principles are also the guiding perspective of the aptly-named campus organization “Elements of Harmony,” currently headed by junior English major Jeffrey Saum.“Whatever small disagreements you may have can be resolved because everyone is good at heart,” Saum said.

Elements of Harmony utilizes thematic elements from the TV series in weekly discussions, encouraging members to apply them to their own lives.“It helps people break out of their shells,” Saum said. “I was pretty shy before watching the show, but I think that watching it has helped me break out of that by meeting people that share those interests.”

While originally targeted toward girls ages eight and up, “My Little Pony” has fostered a subculture of “Bronies,” mostly males of college age and older, who believe that the show’s progressive mindset transcends age and gender.“I’ve always thought those age brackets and gender brackets are sort of arbitrary,” Saum said. “They’re always changing anyway. And this is a legitimately good show, so why shouldn’t we like it?”

Story continues below advertisement

What started as a TV show for young girls has resulted in a worldwide phenomenon, with Bronies contributing to the movement with their own comics, trading cards and fan fiction. Aaron Babcock, a senior international studies major and member of Elements of Harmony, was initially skeptical.

“I was aware of the fandom through 4chan and Funnyjunk, and one day I just said ‘alright, let’s see what it’s about,’” Babcock said. “I watched the episodes and could see why people like the show.“I’ve been a Brony ever since.”

Babcock added that the show’s creator, Lauren Faust, who also created the Powerpuff Girls, has inspired and encouraged the Brony movement by being responsive and receptive to the fandom’s creativity.“Now there’s more to MLP than just the show. There’s also the fan-made stuff,” Babcock said. “Bronies even have their own conventions, called TrotCon and BronyCon.”

Still, Saum and Babcock are aware that being Bronies is a little unconventional, falling outside of the original target demographic.

“Most of us are just normal guys that happen to have a hobby that others might consider a bit strange,” Saum said. “This is my first time heading any sort of student organization, so it’s a bit different. I suppose heading one that focuses on such a different demographic, some might consider it a bit odd.”

However, the show itself and the culture it has inspired should lay those criticisms to rest.

“I came for the show, because it’s legitimately good, but I stayed for the fan base because they create the most impressive stuff,” Saum said. “I’ve seen really good artwork of the show. I’ve seen people do fan animations and fan episodes. It’s more than just a time-sync; it’s an outlet for creativity.”

Babcock said the show’s focus on acceptance and friendship, with the slogan “Love and tolerate,” has helped foster the growth of the movement, including LGBT members.

“There are lots of LGBT Bronies,” Babcock said.

Elements of Harmony meets at 2 p.m. Saturdays in the University Center, where members watch the newest episode of My Little Pony, discuss it, watch Youtube videos associated with the series and occasionally read comics. If the group, currently in its second semester, succeeds, Saum hopes to take his efforts into the community.

“If we get more members, then we might try and do some community service in the Marquette area,” Saum said.

Babcock and Saum encourage students to attend their meetings, the locations of which are on the university calendar. Like many, Babcock and Saum were initially dismissive, but hope that others, like them, give the show and their organization a chance.

“My Little Pony is open-minded and accepting,” Saum said. “This show wants to make people happy and more accepting so they are willing to have more dialogue.

“What I would say to people is don’t judge something before you get to know it.”

More to Discover