Now, today I want to talk about something that has always been something that I’ve held dear to my heart, but has really been brought into stark focus recently, and since I’ve got a soapbox, I’m going to use it.
Now I don’t know how many of you have heard the news about a young kid called Michael Morones recently, who is currently fighting for his life after attempting suicide because he was bullied for liking the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Now I have to say that I am appalled by this, both as a Brony (and willing to admit it out loud, in front of a load of strangers that I only know through the internet) and as a human being. Michael was only 11 years old and to feel that your life is no longer worth living at such a young age is just beyond words. I don’t know what kind of bullying he went through, how bad it was (though I’d have to assume it was pretty bad) or for how long it had been going on for, all I know is Michael’s age, that he had ADHD and that he like the show because he identified with one of the main characters due to her ADHD like behavior. But still, the fact that he felt forced into such drastic action just because he was different is tragic. And that brings me onto the point of today’s missive.
Difference is not something that should be shut out, forced into a corner or laughed at. Difference is something that should be embraced, celebrated. We are all different in our own way and the more we recognize that, the more we grow as people. Hell, I’m a guy who loves children’s cartoons, still collects toy cars, watches sci-fi, reads comics, but I often feel I was born the wrong gender and I’ve always and will always support anyone who feels shut out because they are different and I have been bullied because of it. There were times when I seriously considered suicide, but I didn’t because I knew that it didn’t matter what the bullies and the judgmental thought, it’s what you think that really matters. If YOUR differences make YOU happy, then why should you bend over backwards to please the world, because trust me, you cannot please everyone. And that’s why this story gets to me so much.
We in this community are made up of self-professed geeks, nerds and weirdoes, who have been drawn to this site to unleash our creativity into a variety of geeky worlds, be it superhero, sci-fi or fantasy, all genres which have had their fair share of ridicule from “normal” people (and I say normal in the loosest possible way, because, as stated before, we are all different so there is no such thing as normal). Hell, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has gone through bullying for being different, but we’re all still here and that is what matters.
So please, if you do nothing else today, give a thought for Michael Morones and don’t looks down on anyone because they are different, embrace that difference, because remember, you’re different too.
Get well soon Michael.
Man, that’s really sad. I’m a Brony, too. I’ve watched it with my oldest daughter, and it’s pretty entertaining. I was bullied and now she’s experiencing it in our neighborhood. Fortunately, she’s made of much tougher stuff than I was as a kid. Michael will definitely be in my prayers.
Making the right friends matters too…i’ve only been bullied once and honestly it never affected me…in fact i would play along with them and ruin their “fun”. But yeah…making the right friends helps…i’m not a Brony but i am pretty geeky…still watch cartoons and you have no idea how much i love video games. And the friends i have are the same as me…and of course i couldn’t forget about the friendly people on here.
That was beautiful and apt. Thank you.
Because of my size I have not been physically bullied much but I have had my share of verbal bulling. Today we are bullied in so many ways, we are told that we have to change our beliefs because someone else does not agree with them, we are told that something we have done for years is wrong because other people don’t like it. What I am trying to say is anytime we force our beliefs on someone else that is bulling. Cartoons I love the old ones, but I can’t stand the art of the newer ones, so am I wrong for this? Some people would say yes. I’ve been told just to try and watch them, that I would like them if I was to watch them, because they are far better then the old ones. To me this is bulling. I just can not like the newer art no matter what, so I am told that I am in the wrong. But think about it, this can be about more then just cartoons. Anytime something is forced upon you, it is bulling. One big example is the (so called) church that protest at the funeral of a falling soldier, this is a major form of bulling. No one should be protesting this and trying to force their beliefs in this manner. If I don’t like something I stay away from it, what you do in your own back yard is your choice, and the same goes for me. We should all get along together. Stop the BS wars, stop the racial hate, stop the sexual hate, stop the religion hate. If you want to wear your hat side ways, do so, don’t start a fight because someone else wears their hat straight on their head, it is the way they like it and should not be told that they are wrong for doing so. [Saying this I do believe in dress codes for school, because it stops a lot of bulling. This also goes for the hair, not because of the way it looks but because in close in areas like schools things(bugs) can get passed from one person to another.] Here I go standing on the soap box too. Prayer do go out for this young boy. My prayers also go out in hopes that someday we can all understand each other and remove hate from the world. Remember this the next time you what to tell someone that they are wrong for their beliefs, it is a lot easier to show love then it is to force hate. Set down and talk it out and try to get along. Stop the pressures of life. Enjoy life. Show love. Share love. Get rid of hate in this world.
Well said, JR, thank you.
I’m glad to see this soapbox filling up. I’m not clear on how current policies against bullying are going to properly arm our kids for when it does happen to them out in the world at large, but I’m glad at least some of what happened to me growing up is less likely to happen to my own children.
–As for MLP, I’m pretty far from being a Brony, but I’ve got to give props to the creators. Everyone who has made fun of people for liking the show should have pointed out to them a few things: I have written for money and have earned a degree in English Lit, so this IS written from every meaningful perspective. First of all, the talent is there–the main story might be for kids, but the shows are jam-packed with homages and obvious references to popular culture. I think I saw Dr. Who, Clint Eastwood, The A-Team, Zorro, Superman, The Rocketeer, (and the obvious infamous guest star) all in two episodes. The plots are essentially friendship fables, lessons that bullies don’t have the maturity to recognize. Some characters seem completely goofy at FIRST, but the writing is better than I’ve seen in most sitcoms in far too long. I AM a fan of Fringe, but I can’t be giving my kids nightmares, expect them to keep up with the tangled plotlines, or teach them decoding glyphs at their ages. MLP has my parental approval seal, and, if it makes me groan a little, at least some of it is worth a laugh and written more intelligently than political commentary. What did they do, take all the good writers, animators, etc. that were almost given a job somewhere else and cram them together?
I am 40 years old and went to school in the 80’s and 90’s and as a “Fat kid” was on the receiving end of being bullied all the way up to high school. Though the bullying was rarely physical in nature, because much like Hammerknight I had size on my side. My freshman year of High school saw me standing at the height of 6′ 2″ tall ( 6’4″ now a days ) throw in the fact that I was a “Metalhead” with hair down to my butt dressed in Jeans and leather also help discourage the physical bullying. Normally anyone who would start trying to get physical with me would only require a certain look thrown their way to get them to back off, though they still ran there mouths.
I was a real loner back in school and to some extent I am still a loner today. I had very few friends and tended to keep to myself which I think only encouraged the verbal assaults, but I learned early on too just ignore what was being said to me, with out a reaction to the things they were saying and a fear of getting physical with me because of my size they tended to get bored and leave me alone rather quickly.
So yeah having been bullied my heart goes out to this kid who tried to end his own life, it is a stupid, tragic thing that should never have happened! Though I would like too take this time to tell the many younger members of our community that may be going through this themselves right now. Suicide is a Permeate solution to a very temporary problem! I know it may not feel like it now, but I promise it will get better eventually! In the meantime If any of our community is going through a bully problem and needs an ear to listen to them or a shoulder to lean on I am here willing to talk, my contact information is easy to find here on the site, and I am sure many others in the community would be willing to offer the same!
I’d be a better world if we’d all be a little more like Vash the Stampede.
@Calvary Red- Funny you should post that, because that’s almost the Brony motto “Love & Tolerate”. I wish more people would follow this simple life advice.
Very well put, JR, thank you for saying this. I’ve had my fair share of mockery for being a bit awkward socially, reading comics, liking ‘nerdy’ things and all that. And more importantly to me, as a queer person I spend more time than I should worrying about getting mocked -or worse- for being trans (or overhearing people debating my gender two rows in front of me on the bus- not fun), or someone I know saying something offensive about trans or queer people.
Honestly, at no age should anyone face mockery, bullying or harassment for what they enjoy, who they are, how they dress etc. Nothing wrong with getting on your soapbox for something as important as this.
Well said, JR, and everyone.
Not the time to comment much, but… It seems that, whatever the reason, people will bully, because it gives them something to unite against, to be not the outsider, but “one of us”. Even if it means they must forget what they themselves endured in the past.
All we can do is try and educate ourselves (for we may sometimes hurt people without realizing it), each other, and our children.
@Trekkie: Good luck, with all my heart. I talked with a trans over the internet a few days ago, and was very saddened by what he said me. I’m not used at all to seeing trans in my (quite conservative) town, so I fear I may react dumbly should this occur to me, but I hope to keep him in my heart and that it’ll help me to be not too much of a jerk if, one day, I come face-to-face with trans people. Take care of yourself.
It breaks my heart to read about what happened to young Michael. Sadly, I understand it, having been a target for bullies for some of my childhood. I always found the hardest part wasn’t actually the abuse (I faced far more verbal than physical abuse), it was the isolationism. It’s hard to feel like you’re all alone, and that you’re so different that you can’t relate to anyone, and no one can relate to you.
The fact that MLP (which I also love) was the reason why Michael was targeted makes me angry. I pray that he recovers, and should he do so, that he will still choose to enjoy My Little Pony, because it embraces the diversity that makes up the world. Yes, it’s just a cartoon, but I’d like to think if the Mane 6 can have an OCD nerdy bookworm hang out with a brash, ultraconfident uber-jock, a fashionista drama queen befriend a stubborn, honest-to-the-point-of-bluntness farm girl, or a goofy, hyperactive party pony who lives to make others smile and laugh congregate with a shy borderline pantophobe who takes joy in caring for animals, well then there should be hope for the rest of us to get along if we put in the effort. Because there’s just too much hate in this world. And conformity is boring.
God, I promised myself I wasn’t going get back on my soapbox again on this thread, but I’ve been reading through the comments and I still have more to say.
Firstly, I’m trying to keep as up to date as I can with Michael’s situation, if there are any developments I will let people know, if not on here on my thread in the forums. I know a bit more about what has happened now and Michael’s current condition, but I won’t go into it any more here, because it just makes me really angry and I don’t want to go there at the moment. I can’t speak for his family but I’m sure they would be grateful for the support that is being shown and for your prayers for his well-being.
Anyway a few things I’d like to get out of the way before the soapbox comes out again.
@HK- I know what you mean man. There are somethings in life that are not acceptable and forcing your opinions on someone else and trying to demean them for having different opinions is one of them. I personally haven’t seen any of the older cartoons, but if you like them good for you. As for that “church”, no I’m not going there, I don’t want to get angry here and this post would just be one long censor bar if I started talking about them. They have their beliefs and they’re entitled to them, but their actions are disgusting and I shall leave it at that.
@Kaldath- I am also available to talk to if anyone feels like just talking to someone about anything. Just either PM me on the forums or email me (my email shouldn’t be too hard to find, if you click on my name on the forum it should be on my profile).
Now soapbox out again (I have one and I’m damn well using it).
@Myro- This has been one of the most confusing things for me ever since I joined this fandom. Just the sheer, I can’t even think of the right word, almost distain that some people treat Bronies with. Yes, it’s a kids cartoon show that was originally intended for girls (even though the original developer of this generation of cartoons said that she intended for it to be less girly and more all encompassing than previous generations), but why is that a bad thing? Why do we all of a sudden have a massive double standard in society? It’s ok for girls to like sports, cars and comics, hell it’s even desirable, but guys can’t like things that are “meant” for girls. I’m sorry, I’m just going over to this wall to smack my head against it for a minute, because this is JUST SO STUPID! The Brony fandom has got to be the most open, friendly and creative fandom I’ve ever experienced. As I said previously, the motto of this fandom is “Love & Tolerate” and, though we might have our disagreements (over favourite characters, shipping preferences and the darker stuff that some people create) and the very occasional asshole, I hardly ever see this motto being disregarded. Not to mention the kindness that the community and show staff show. Within a day of the news of Michael’s situation a charity auction was organised by the community, including some of the most well known community artists and many of the show staff, to help pay for his medical bills. And like both Myro and Herr D have said, the show has something for everyone, the references for the older viewers (just this season we’ve had an entire episode that pays homage to the silver age of comics, plus Batman references, a Scooby-Doo inspired episode and ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic making a guest appearance), the songs for those of us who are musically inclined (and some of them are bloody brilliant, I had a music nerd fanspaz attack over the musical in-joke hidden in “This Day Aria” from A Canterlot Wedding), the magical stuff for the kids and the characters for everyone (if you don’t identify a bit with at least one of the mane 6, I dunno what your personality is). And don’t even get me started on the writing. Within the last 10 or so episodes we’ve had morals that tell us that even if you don’t feel like you’re worth anything, you still mean something to your friends (Power Ponies), it doesn’t matter if you can’t be like your heroes, just as long as you can be yourself (Flight To The Finish) and even if you get taken advantage of, kindness and generosity do mean something and can make a difference (Rarity Takes Manehatten). Then you’ve got secondary layer storywritting, the questions that are brought up in the process of reaching these morals, a good example would be the most recent episode, where they bring up the question of what do you do when you come up against someone who is better at something that you pride yourself on, do you give up or carry on? All this from a kids show? Yeah. All this from a kids show. These are life lessons that everyone could do with learning at some point in their lives, whether they be 6 or 60. So to condemn someone for enjoying it just makes this world a little bit worse. I can understand if you don’t want to watch it, your choice, you have your reasons and I’m not going to shove my opinions down your throat. I might suggest you try it if I think you might change your mind, but I’m not going to force you to do something you don’t want to, so stop forcing your ideas on us. The joy that we have in this world is precious and taking it away from someone else because they are different to you is wrong, and if you go out of your way to do so then it is inexcusable.
Sorry for the second rant everyone. I’ll put my soapbox away again now. I just had to get a few things off my chest. Now if you’ll excuse me, my head hurts from smacking it on a wall and I need a lie down.
Extremely EPIC hit the nail on the head, and I think it’s worth reiterating what he said. Finding good friends and keeping a good attitude is key to getting past bullying. It may not be easy, but it works. And if you see someone being bullied be that good friend.
I light this candle for Michael Morones for his physical and emotional wellness.
I was an overweight gay kid in first grade. I was called names, teased, shoved, and occasioally beat up. I remember living in fear at school. avoiding bullies. Two fo them was a black guy AND HIS SISTER. George and Claudia Wimbush.
The weird thing was, years later I saw Claudia at a store where she waited on me, and greeted me and hugged me like we were old friends and told me about the school reunion that was going to be soon.
I am much stronger and self assured than I was as a kid.
I do what makes me happy. Sometimes that means wearing a leather jacket and jeans, sometimes it means wearing a dress and wig, sometimes it means wearing sweats. But I just try to be me, for me … within reason.
I have had some great friends over the years who get me and had fun with.
There is a balance to everything.
There will always be bullies, and we all have to learn to deal with them.
But there are always friends and loved one to help you deal with them.
But you do have to tell them what’s going on. Not keep it to yourself.
Love and Blessings.
@JR, about the double standard.
As things happend, we discussed this a fews days ago on a feminist site and FB group.
Here’s, in short, my theory. Bear in mind that this does not reflect my opinion, just the way I think this double standard comes from.
For a female, identifying with traditional male models, values and activities is positive, because these are are seen as positive and empowering : Be adventurous, be active, be protective…
For a male, identifying with traditional female models, values and activities is seen as “less masculine”, which in turn is seen as “gay”, which in turn is source of discrimination and bullying. Never mind that this includes things like empathy, understanding or talking instead of fighting.
The same goes for TV shows. Male is seen as the default, so a girl can love a man’s movie. Of course she loves it, it’s great! And, say, TMNT, are a good model for girls, because it’s a male model.
But a female TV show? Whatever its qualities, if you’re a man and love it, you’re perceived as less of a male, blah blah blah, gay bashing.
I’m sorry to say it, but bronies are victims of the same stupid system (patriarchy) that oppresses anything that ain’t a caricature of heterosexual male. But I also believe that if you keep standing up, in time, you’ll contribute to changing things, which will be a boon for all of us.
As an aside, I read a little about Friendship is Magic today, as a male gave a testimony on his love for the show on that same feminist site, and it seems quite cool 🙂
Maybe I’m stupid or brought up too liberally, but I don’t get it. Sure I, too, was verbally bullied as a fat kid, but like with Hammerknight and Kaldath nobody ever dared to touch me because of my size. Even my coming out (I’m pansexual) was pretty unspectacular since nobody ever cared what I do in my bedroom and I surely describe just as little detail as I want to hear from others.
So, the boy likes “My Little Pony”. What’s the problem? I’m almost 42 and yet I’m regulary watching TMNT, Looney Tunes, Pinky and the Brain, Kim Possible, The Fairly OddParents and all kinds of cartoons – whether girlie or not. Hell, my DVD shelf is overflowing with nearly every DC and Marvel animated series ever produced. And you know what? I still play with Lego! Oh wow, now those bullies mouths really have to be watering.
But wait a minute – what’s that got to do with the topic? You got it: Nothing! I think the real question here is, in what kind of world we live in where an 11-year-old child has to justify that it is watching a cartoon series for children?! I’ll tell you! We live in a world in which people prefer to devote their attention for endless hours to braindead wannabe celebrities in lowbrow insipid reality shows rather than to care for their own children and their welfare. I mean, come on, what kind of parents don’t realize that their child comes home from school with injuries? Because, to think of suicide, the bullying must have surely been both physically and really bad, didn’t it?
What’s that you say? We don’t know if the bullying was phyiscal or verbal? Well … sorry if that sounds heartless, but if the bullying was only verbal, I have to wonder what’s wrong with the boy himself. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still have absolutely deepest sympathy for the little guy, but to react with such drastic measures as suicide to verbal bullying? Come on! Again: please don’t get me wrong – I myself was ferociously verbally bullied my entire childhood because I was fat, but stick and stones! But then again, maybe it’s once again a matter of parents who didn’t stood enough by their son since he apparently didn’t feel like he could talk with them about his problems? Because thanks to MY parents, who always supported me and teached me to not care what other people think or say, I have a thick skin today.
I hope my view of things is not too uncomfortable for you, but that happens to be my opinion. Oh yeah, and sorry for crushing the soapbox with my embonpoint – 304 lbs must’ve been too much … 😉
@MadJack- And that is why I said that all I know is those three facts. Because, yes, there I agree that there has got to be something else there. I highly doubt the parents were neglectful, I know of the contacts they’ve had with the community and I really hope that they are sincere in what they have been saying because it would be even worse to be taking advantage of such a situation and the generosity that has been being shown.
As Myro has previously said, the worst part of bullying for many is the isolation that the victims feel, so maybe he was very good at hiding any signs of physical abuse that he had been suffering, if he had. Drawing on my own experience, I was hardly ever bullied physically, even though I’m not particularly tall or big in any way, most of the bullying I went through (and I went through a lot around the same age as Michael and even until I was 16, so only 5 years ago) was verbal and it was hell. I didn’t feel like I could turn to anyone, because the bullies just made me feel so isolated, it wasn’t just one group, it was different groups, in different classes I took and around the playground. I had few friends and I didn’t feel like I could turn to my parents because, “hey, it’s only verbal bullying, it’s not like I was getting beaten up or anything, right?” THAT IS NOT SOMETHING TO BRUSH OFF! I’m telling you, mental torture IS STILL TORTURE! You make someone feel like S*** enough, they will start believing it. Trust me, I’ve been there. So don’t downplay how bad verbal bullying can be, because if I hadn’t been so scared of taking my own life, I would have, and that was “just” verbal bullying that I went through.
There is also the possibility that poor Michael could also have been suffering from another, undiagnosed, mental illness alongside his ADHD, perhaps Manic Depression. It would not come as a surprise, and it would help explain in some part what pushed him so far, but, as I have stated, I can only report on what I’ve learnt from within the community. All that I can really say here is that, in the end it is a tragic thing to have happened, and if it helps change peoples attitudes about bullying in any form (and this does not just cover bullying for liking a certain TV show, this covers racial hatred, homophobia and any other kind of incitement of hatred you care to name) then at least it is not without meaning, even though it should not have happened in the first place.