Dangerous Idea #1: Cloppers are a legitimate part of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom, commonly known as bronies, and they have every right to continue to do what they do.
A couple of days ago, I watched a video on Howard Stern talking about bronies and commenting on interviews that he collected at BronyCon. To sum up the content, he basically goes on a rant about how all bronies are turned on by the ponies in the show and insults them in various ways, at one point saying "You know how Comic-Con is sort of for losers? Comic-Con people are winners, compared to BronyCon." Throughout all of this, he plays some interviews of guests at BronyCon with obviously leading questions to try to get them to admit to clopping (masturbating to pornography featuring the animated ponies from the show) or other potentially embarrassing or stereotypically "loser" situations, like living at home or not having a job.
But putting Howard Stern's intentions to exploit and demonize the brony community aside, we need more bronies like these interviewed.
All we hear are happy-go-lucky bronies who mix well with the fandom and lead rich and fulfilling, often ponified, lives. We
never hear about the cloppers, the shut-ins, the ones who are still in the closet
(or stable, to use brony vernacular), or the ones struggling with the fact that they like the show. I am
not claiming these people to be a majority of the community, but they're certainly bronies, and they
certainly deserve to be heard... just not from this guy, and not like this.
I then scrolled down to the comments section, despite my better judgments. Of course, there is a giant flame war that still continues at this very second, averaging one new comment or reply every thirty seconds, with up to 7,716 comments at the time of my writing this. Most of them are likely trolls meant to piss off bronies while others seem genuinely hateful toward bronies for liking a show "meant for little girls" and immediately condemning them all as disgusting, sometimes buying into the misconception that they all do in fact masturbate to pony porn.
My problem lies not with the haters, although they are at best annoying and at worst represent, although not as harsh or inflammatory in language, the general sentiment of the public that misunderstands bronies. No, my problem lies with the bronies, the community to which I belong and am resentful toward due to its current attitudes. Take, for instance, a sample of many comments like these, decidedly made by bronies (based on their viewing activity and video playlists) in defense of their precious community:
"clopping bronies aren't really what i want to call a true brony.
they're more over furries because they're in it for the fact of sexual
content. I'm ashamed to call myself a brony because I'm now just
identified as nothing but a perv and pedo by anyone who isn't a good
friend of mine from before. Rule 34 has f*&^ed up. this is the one
thing I was praying be sacred and stay innocent with it's jokes about
alcohol and mental breakdowns. It was meant to be clean comedy now the
internet made it dirty."
"O god This is why i hate cloppers they make the whole fandom look bad. god really why you have to be so nasty cloppers why?"
"So what if we enjoy a show marketed for little girls? SO WHAT?! Not all
of us are cloppers, some of us enjoy the show for the sake of enjoying
it. Haters shouldn't assume we're all sexual deviants because we're not.
We like the show because it's fun. Haters shouldn't judge us if they
haven't seen the show either. If they don't like the show that's fine,
whatever tickles your fancy."
"Cloppers are not true bronies."
To the last comment, I responded: "Do you think gay people are not true humans? It is somewhat ironic that a
community that suffers tremendous stigma affords the same to people
within its community with alternative sexual preferences. Then again,
it makes sense, because we're trying to seem as normal as possible,
To which he responded: "cloppers are disgusting and perverted, and discriminating against someone who is perverted is not a bad thing."
Clopping should be defended. I assure you that I am not a clopper, nor do I enjoy simulated pornography of any kind, but I do have alternative (or in more non-PC language, deviant) sexual interests and can empathize with those who do clop. With respect to that, I cannot see anything inherently or morally wrong
with masturbating to fan-drawn pictures of ponies in the privacy of
one's own home. The same goes with most Rule 34. It has the knee-jerk reaction of
being disgusting and off-color, but that is all. It harms no one.
Obviously, bronies are already having a hard time defending their love
for the show without that additional stigma, but in my opinion, we are only going making ourselves to be less tolerant and more elitist by denying that part of the fandom. To that end, I think that the community could do more in terms of accepting
the "darker" side of the fandom or at least being more open to hearing
them out rather than hearing the word "clop" and running for the hills
or completely shutting a person out as being "not one of us."
However, in the middle of the entire flame war, there is some hope within the brony community:
"The ONLY thing I like about this video is the honesty and the courage of
the Bronies answering all of these ridiculous questions. It's not a
question of Bronies being naive to interviews, I think its a statement
that through love and tolerance we're not afraid to talk to one another
about sexuality or unemployment or depression. We've built an amazing
community that accepts each of us for who we are. This is powerful, and
awesome, and this why the creators of the show support us. /)"
"They [Cloppers] are bronies, despite what you might think.
"Well it shouldn't matter what it is, as long as no one else is being
harmed, and no one is being harmed when people look at pony pictures.
Even with pedophile, as long as they aren't harming actual children I
don't see a problem in letting a pedophile think and look at whatever
he wants in his free time, assuming no one else is being affected."
I wish more people shared their sentiments. Pedophiles have an unfortunate
aspect of their sexuality to deal with, and I have the utmost sympathy
for them in terms of being misunderstood as all being child molesters
and monsters. With regard to cloppers, there is not even the potential
for harm. People just have the knee-jerk reaction of it being "wrong"
or "disgusting" with no actual reasoning to back up its supposed
immorality. In contrast, I do think that beastiality and actual "horsef***ing," which haters have lodged as insults toward us, are reaching the unethical territory simply by merit of the fact that animals cannot consent to sexual acts of any kind, at least not at the level that we can as humans.
Despite these few gems in the rough, I doubt their attitudes will carry through to the average brony looking for acceptance and normalcy in something that we all know is not normal but try to pin onto it all sorts of reasons as to why we like the show, like the excellent writing, characters, and animation. They may be legitimate reasons, but lots of shows have these same characteristics, and lots of people like these characteristics in the shows they watch. What distinguishes the average man who would choose to turn away from this show as opposed to a brony who would choose to embrace it? Stigma because it's a "girl's show?" The storylines? The color scheme? The innocent messages about friendship and love? All of the above? Even if it's mostly the first, why do we bronies choose to defy the stigma and watch and enjoy the show anyway? I will discuss my thoughts and possible theories as to why we enjoy the show in another post, but for now, I'm done ranting. On this subject, I find this post by the .MOV series creator himself to be particularly illuminating.