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Brony study

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May. 23rd, 2012 | 09:46 pm

Another interesting bit that was supposed to be part of the next "link dump" but that's getting its own entry now: the results of a brony survey conducted by KnowYourMeme (!) were just posted. You can find them here on Scribd (and download them as a PDF if you log in).

There's sections on brony demographics; favorite/least favorite Mane Six, pets, secondary characters and episodes, and other thoughts on the show; various aspects of the fandom; and finally, attitudes to controversial topics such as grimdark content, (non-sexual) shipping, and sexual content.

The demographical results are pretty much what you'd expect: bronies are, by and large, young (late teens/early twens), male, white, US-American (or, if not, Canadian or British), and heterosexual. In other words, if you disregard sexuality, it's not unlike furry fandom, although furry fandom is a bit more international than this.

The study's also got a couple of flaws, alas. For example:

  • In the section on favorites (p.12ff), it equates "least favorite" with "dislike". I think this is fallacious; I could easily have given my least favorite Mane Six character, but it would be not just an exaggeration but an outright falsehood to say I disliked them: I like all six of them.

  • The subsection on favorite secondary characters (p.17) notes that the survey was carried out before the last episodes aired, so characters like Chrysalis, Cadance and Shining Armor do not appear, but it fails to discuss how recently the characters that do appear were introduced. I'm wondering how much recentism there is at work there: are the more recent characters more popular than older ones that have not appeared in a while? One could ask the same question again in future studies and see if there is a novelty that wears off.

  • There's a few questions I'd have found difficult to answer at best. The "what do you like about the cartoon" question (p.21), for instance, lacks an answer for "the music" — how could they forget Daniel Ingram's wonderful songs?

  • Worse, the questions concerning grimdark and shipping (p.27) force you to take a stand and either say "I do not think it's right" or "I think it's fine" if you don't enjoy it; I would've wished for a simple "I do not enjoy it, but I tolerate its existence" there.

    Similarly, the question about sexual content (p.29) only allows you to say that you enjoy it "for laughs" or "because [you] find it sexually stimulating" if you do indeed enjoy it. No middle ground? I very much like (say) this picture of Rarity in lingerie (NSFW); I don't find it arousing, but I'm not just enjoying it "for laughs", either. It's just a beautiful picture.

    And that's another issue: what IS sexual content, anyway? The question talks about "Rule 34/Pornographic Content", but I don't think you could in good conscience call the above image pornographic, even if it has bits bits showing. Or how about a picture of Twilight lying on her bed wearing a saddle? It's cute, and there is obviously a sexual dimension to it, but that's all; it's saucy, nothing more.

  • Furthermore, there is a brief discussion of the overlap of the brony community and furry fandom, and the authors conclude that since almost 87% of all respondents do not consider themselves furries, the two "do not intersect, for the most part" — it's fairly obvious that this is not a valid conclusion to draw unless you also look into how many furries consider themselves bronies.

  • And finally — this is just a cosmetic issue, but some of the pie charts are rather hard to read when they use all similar colors (e.g. brownish tones) for the various sectors.

Despite all this, though, it's an interesting study, and again, I recommend reading it. I just wish they'd included the questionnaire used in an appendix — but perhaps that was on purpose, to be able to reuse it more easily in future studies.

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