John Hinkley Jr. tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress Jodie Foster. Is is possible that the young man who killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis was trying to impress … a cartoon horse?
It’s a serious question. We don’t know terribly much about the FedEx shooter, or a motive for his rampage. But. thanks to the Wall Street Journal we know that an hour before he started shooting in the FedEx parking lot he posted a message on a now-deleted Facebook page devoted to the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, declaring his love for one of the show’s main characters:
I hope that I can be with Applejack in the afterlife, my life has no meaning without her. If there’s no afterlife and she isn’t real then my life never mattered anyway.
We don’t know if he was sincere, or trolling, or a mixture of the two, and we can’t ask him now because he’s dead.
Regardless, some in the My Little Pony fandom are bracing for the possibility of a backlash against the sometimes innocent, other times deeply creepy “Brony” subculture of adult male fans that has grown up around a show that was originally intended for young girls.
On Equestria Daily, a site devoted to the show, writer Sethisto broke the bad news:
We have some horrible news coming out of the Indianapolis Shooting that went down the other day. Apparently the former employee and gunman was a fan of Friendship is Magic, and more specifically Applejack, who was the focus of his final message on his pony focused Facebook page an hour before the shooting. …
Facebook and The Wallstreet Journal couldn’t find any actual motive behind the attack from either of the [shooter’s Facebook] pages; just ponies. This is still all under heavy investigation, but for now, be prepared for some potential blowback once the news starts breaking out into the wider internet.
Commenters on the site were definitely not ready for their closeup.
“It’s gonna be a shitshow for the fandom this weekend,” wrote someone called Astral. “Joy.”
While numerous commenters remembered to offer condolences for those killed in the assault, others were more worried about the fandom itself, trying their best to come up with explanations for the shooting that had nothing to do with MLP. Wrote Pony4Koma:
This guy was under a mountain of stress, I can tell that by his words. Maybe Covid (maybe something else) must have taken away everything that used to make life worth struggling for, leaving only the stress and the good memories we burn to say alive.
Others seemed to think that with the right PR this story could be turned into something that was almost good for the bronies. Wrote ColoradoBob:
This is a terrible tragedy. Let’s remember that weird news sells, and people often jump to conclusions when given a story like this. If anyone asks me, I’ll be talking about how most of the Bronies I’ve met are just regular people with a random fandom that is a bit odd. Like any fandom, you can find the fringes.
I’m going to stay focused on the positive impact the fandom has had. For example: if any of his friends had been Bronies, I bet they would have tried to reach out in friendship and love, to prevent this tragedy.
Thanks, hypothetical brony friends for hypothetically averting the massacre.
Still others, forgetting about the actual victims of the shooting rampage, warned that the tragic events could lead to evil Social Justice Warriors cancelling Applejack and making the show more “woke.”
“Well, this is it, wrote commenter Jess Rose.
Hasbro will never reference Applejack or cowboy hats ever again. They always thought that she represented the conservative South with their ranch, farms and guns and now they only got more fuel to move the show into more sjw territory than ever.
In another comment, Rose preemptively blamed the media for covering the story badly:
I bet the mainstream media will do what every responsible and wise news outlet would do and blame everything on bronies, ponies and Hasbro and not on mental issues, bad parenthood or easy access to automatic guns with little control
Meanwhile, commenter aaargh Zombies complained that
the version of Applejack in Pony Life has already had most of her country\conservative traits removed because of current day politics. Even her core values of family and tradition have been taken out.
In a followup comment, Zombies added that
The trouble with the the American entertainment industry, particularly animation, is that it’s heavily California focused, and there are … prejudices that come with this.
The writers of MLP simply didn’t know how to relate to a character like Applejack because the last ten years of American popular culture have been spent painting small town conservatives in an unflattering way.
Eight people died. But some would rather complain about excessively … Californian the writers of the show are.
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