Director: Brent Hodge
Writer: Brent Hodge
Cast: Ashleigh Ball, Mike Bernstein, Andrea Libman, Nicole Oliver, Andy Stein
Studio: Virgil Films

“A Brony Tale” is a documentary about fandom. Given that this is the Internet, there are going to be two sects of people that gravitate towards it. Those that are easy sells that belong to the community and those that want to bash them. The people in the middle are fickle and will ignore this documentary along the many other fandom documentaries that they ignore. This documentary doesn’t expose anything, so much as it goes out of its way to make adult fans feel better about their appreciation of the show. I get the appeal that it’s no different than Sports fandom, but these poor guys have got to smack face first into the brick wall of the cultural double standard. People will defend your right to be different, but renaming yourself Cupcake Sparkle and dressing up is still going to creep out the most tolerant people.

Ashleigh Ball gives us a proper face for the documentary. She’s the voice of two of the most popular ponies. However, elements of the Brony fandom intimidate her and keep her from attending most of the conventions. But, she discovers that she’s actually part of a much larger phenomenon. Everyone has fun and we learn that a kiddie show has grown past its normal boundaries. If this sounds fairly typical, then you’re paying attention.

There’s too much use of montage, but I guess that’s to cover the running time. If anything, this film fails to differentiate itself from “Bronies” or any other documentary about the same subject matter. While the show is profitable, there seems like there’s way too much of a push not to upset the great big IP deity with actual examination of the fanbase. You can be fair about it without alienating anyone, “Bob’s Burgers” recently did an amazing episode about just that. A documentary where everyone gets a pat on the back isn’t doing anyone any favors.

It’s just that taking any sort of look at fandom comes with its own baggage. You’re never quite sure if a film is desperately trying to alienate a fanbase or make them call their social aspects into question. From there, one has to wonder on what sort of authority can a documentary seemingly claim superiority over its subjects? You don’t see a Herzog or Morris doing that sort of thing. A documentarian must remain detached from the film’s subjects to capture their reality. Even if it’s a bunch of grown men talking about clopping.

RELEASE DATE: 07/08/2014


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