Christmas and Easter nihilists

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Daru
    August 27, 2014 @ 1:38 am

    Wow thanks very much! My mind has been opened. And I really appreciate such an erudite description of alchemy via the image of to the top-down and bottom-up of media meeting.


  2. Katherine Sas
    August 27, 2014 @ 4:51 am

    Love it.


  3. elvwood
    August 27, 2014 @ 4:56 am

    Did Derpy Hooves, like, look at an exploding Rutan spaceship with one eye, and then, later, do it again? 'Cause, that would totally fit.


  4. Daru
    August 27, 2014 @ 6:19 am

    What I'd like to know is where does Charlie the Unicorn fit into the continuity?


  5. Captain Rufus
    August 27, 2014 @ 8:40 am

    A good post considering I got a Dr. Whooves foil rare ccg card Monday. Both shows are full of fun and whimsy. The fandoms I am not so fond of.


  6. Froborr
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    Thanks for lending me your site for the day, Phil! And thanks especially for "the TARDIS Eruditorum of ponies," that's one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me.


  7. Froborr
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

    Thank you! And you have mostly Phil to thank for that (and jane, too!). I was interested in alchemy before I came here, thanks mostly to Xenosaga and FMA, but didn't realize how widely applicable it could be and how rich in metaphors for, well, almost everything it was until I came here.


  8. Froborr
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

    Aw, thank you!


  9. Froborr
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

    Makes sense to me. Though it does imply two exploding Rutan spaceships in Equestria. What're they doing there? Why did they come back after blowing up the first time?

    Or maybe the same spaceship exploded twice. Can you do that? Can you explode twice?


  10. Froborr
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

    He's Phillydelphian.

    Everything bad or weird happens offscreen in Phillydelphia, it's canon.


  11. Froborr
    August 27, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

    Yeah. I have zero involvement with the Doctor Who fandom, this is pretty much the only Who site I visit with any frequency. But the bronies… my in-person interactions have been with a generally friendly, sweet, open, slightly defensive group of people. But there is SO MUCH toxicity online, and some of it from the same people, it's kind of astounding.


  12. ferret
    August 28, 2014 @ 2:24 am

    I'm guessing I'm probably not the only person who just had to google image search for cyber-ponies. Surprisingly uncute, nasty looking things.


  13. Katherine Sas
    August 28, 2014 @ 4:12 am

    Here's a follow-up question, though, because I honestly don't know much about it — can Jed or someone talk about the phenomenon of bronies? Why did My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic break out amongst male fandom in such a striking way? I find it particularly interesting as an inversion of Doctor Who – a show that used to be dominated by primarily male fans breaking out among female fans with the revival of the show. Are the two doing similar things – blending techniques and stereotypes from both types of stories? I think we mostly agree here that this is a bit of a false dichotomy, but what are DW and MLP doing that they've got it so right?


  14. Katherine Sas
    August 28, 2014 @ 4:13 am


  15. Daru
    August 28, 2014 @ 6:59 am

    No probs. Love the article. I find it really refreshing reading about a product I have never watched (well until this essay) and have nothing to do with fandom-wise. It feels kinda nice to be on the outside of something like this and get such an interesting perspective on it.


  16. Daru
    August 28, 2014 @ 7:01 am

    Cool. I'm amazed at the existence of all of this, it's like a new world (not tho one I'm going to digest) – which is possibly the same way folk feel when they dip into Doctor Who for the first time.


  17. Froborr
    August 28, 2014 @ 7:04 am

    This is a fairly complex question that I address at some length in my book (shameless plug). The short version is a confluence of factors, of which I believe the biggest may be the Internet, which encouraged the growth of bronies in two ways. First, the current generation of young folks overwhelmingly communicates via social media, which is to say networks of connections between friends, and this is their instinctive go-to medium by which to organize for any sort of action. (This has of course always been true, but the Internet has accelerate and broadened these networks, and increased the degree to which individuals are constantly enmeshed within them.) This is a generation whose identity and politics are much more wrapped up in these networks of friends than they are in, say, physical location, industry, family, or arguably even religion. It is thus the first generation which can take a statement like "friendship is magic" seriously, because for this generation it actually is.

    The second effect of the Internet is the underlying cause behind Rule 34. No matter how unusual and idiosyncratic your interests are, someone on the Internet shares them, and probably has a web forum dedicated to them. So where in the past teen or young adult fans of a "show for girls" would be isolated and subject to peer ridicule,* now they can go online and connect with other fans, which not only reduces the likelihood of them dropping out of the fandom but also gives them a "safe haven" from which to reach out and recruit. The high creative output of the fandom helps here, too–a lot of the bronies I've interviewed for my research first got into the fandom because of fan-created works, mostly videos or songs, and only later started following the show (if at all).

    The third thing is that the bronies aren't actually all that numerous. The highest-rated episode in the show's run barely passed 750,000 viewers, and that was a season finale and major event episode. Half a million is the general baseline, at least for those episodes for which we have numbers. (They're surprisingly hard to come by, until this most recent season.) What bronies are is extremely enthusiastic, they have an unusually high creative output for the size of the fandom, and also an obnoxious proselytizing streak, all of which combine to make the number of bronies seem larger than it is.

    Your point about it being an inversion of Doctor Who fandom is interesting. I think you might be on to something that the shows are similar. They're coming at it from opposite directions, but yes, MLP does do that as well, incorporating a lot of elements from the fantasy-adventure genre into its cute-animal-slice-of-life structure. My go-to example here is the first-season episode "Stare Master," which takes a standard sit-com plot of "character with no experience volunteers to babysit, is completely out of their depth" and then takes a sudden third-act turn into fantasy-horror when they start finding the victims of a cockatrice.

    *Regardless of gender, really. There is a strong and not undeserved stigma against cartoons for girls, due to a combination of sexism and historical factors that meant they were usually of notably lower quality than "general audience" cartoons (i.e., cartoons for boys that girls are grudgingly permitted also to watch). I think there's a regrettable tendency to forget the 20 percent or so of bronies who are women (including among bronies themselves, hence the name).


  18. Katherine Sas
    August 28, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    Yeah, I guess that was a book-length question, huh? Thanks for the answer!

    That babysitting-turned-horror episode sounds awesome.


  19. ferret
    August 28, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

    Yep that's nightmare fuel


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