Friday, June 15, 2012

‘Brony’ takes the reins with advice website

Mack Grove, a recent Green Mountain High School graduate, is unabashedly a brony.

Bronies are young adult males who are fans of the TV show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” The number of bronies around the world is expanding rapidly.

The show is a remake of the original series and first aired in 2010. Lauren Faust, who was executive producer at the time, said her plan was to give the characters more depth and strengthen the writing, which would make it appeal to a wider audience.

Although My Little Ponies, a line of popular Hasbro toys, have typically been marketed toward girls, the new show was a hit with young men.

Grove created a website in January called, as a place for teens and young adults to post comments and questions about their problems or anything else on their minds. Although Grove said he identifies as a brony, the site is for anyone, not just My Little Pony lovers.

“His website just blew up overnight,” said Kim Grove, Mack’s mother. “It was amazing.”

Mack Grove came across the television show while surfing channels one day. He happened to catch the first episode, and he found the plot interesting and much deeper than typical children’s shows. He said he thought it was strange at the time because it was clear the show was for a younger audience.

Then a few weeks later while attending computer programming classes at Warren Tech, a friend asked him if he was a brony. Grove was shocked to learn that other young men had seen the show and liked it as he did.

In January, Grove was at a friend’s house and looking for something to entertain himself. He decided to create a website, and within five hours, was up and running. He received his first comment almost instantly, and within a few hours a Hasbro employee contacted him asking to help work on the site.

Now Grove has a team of advisers, who have all given themselves pony identities. Eternal Rose, the Hasbro employee, gives relationship advice on the site. The team of ponies fields questions on a variety of topics, including bullying, gaming and school.

The site is popular internationally, and Grove thinks that the ponies are partially responsible for that.

“It’s much easier to approach a website that has advice from ponies rather than from a random person,” he said.

The only thing Grove will not give advice on is health issues. He said the site has also received a fair number of comments and questions about depression and suicidal thoughts, so he has added a “Resources” tab with phone numbers to hotlines in the U.S.

He said he has had to deal with his fair share of anti-bronies, people who do not understand why young men would like My Little Ponies. He addresses the issue freely on his site, opening the comments to other members for discussion.

He plans to continue the site and giving advice. Recently he was asked by NASA’s Hunt Project to work onits website. However, Grove said, he does not plan to have a career in computer programming. He sees it more as a hobby. He said he plans to join the Air Force.

Grove said he donates so much of his free time to the site simply because he enjoys helping people.

“Something that really makes me feel good is when I can help someone out of a tough spot,” he said.

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