I'm guessing most folks have or will be hearing about the Bravo Network's The People's Couch segment that took aim at the Brony Documentary. Lord knows our fandom- ANY fandom is ripe for all manner of comedy, critique and parody. Pony fans are at the same time remarkably creative, kind and fun individuals as well as sometimes awkward, tempestuous, and prone awesome and terrible levels of drama- Just like fans of everything else under the sun (and on Tumblr)
I'm not going to link to the video here because, frankly it's gross and I don't want to touch it with a 10 foot network cable. But its out there, you can find it on YouTube easily. The format seems to be a group vapid "Average Joes" sitting in front of a television and offering running commentary on whatever they're watching. In other words, it's what millions of 10 year-olds already do on YouTube, except with less professionalism and humor.
During the 3 minute segment, several of the commentators make fun of BronyCon founder Purple Tinker's appearance and question her gender. It would be bad enough as a one-off remark, but it becomes a significant point of mockery between several of the people on The People's Couch.
How was this determined to be okay? You want to make fun of Bronies? Sure, the fandom is more than ripe for ribbing and parody. Sure, Bronies can look weird, they can act weird. I admit, it's a completely bonkers concept when you try to explain it to someone. Run with that, dish it out. The fandom has taken its share of lumps from everyone from Howard Stern to Fox News.
But using your national platform to mock, deride, question and generally insult a stranger’s gender presentation? What would happen if you insert any other minority, disability or oppressed group into this scenario? Is it still funny? Is it still a joke? Or are there different guidelines for dealing with transsexuals in the official standards and practices of The Bravo Network and its parent company NBC?
I understand that shows like this get their mileage from comedic shock and awe. When you focus on a celebrity or someone in the public eye, their ego and persona is big enough to take the hit. Not to mention they’re making their living as an object of interest and discussion.
But Tinker is a private individual who took part in a documentary. Airing national footage of these unfunny pricks mocking her is absolutely reprehensible. There is no ambiguity- this was mean-spirited in the extreme and meant solely to wring out an “OH NO YOU DIDN’T” moment at Tinker’s expense.
I know, the canned response to anything like this is always that those involved are exercising their right to free speech- and that is true. The Brony doc is a matter of public record and Bravo is within their rights to discuss it in whatever manner they wish. But the point is not whether they should be censored, it’s whether they should have known better and perhaps chosen not to air personally directed insults to begin with. It’s not a matter of legality, it’s a matter of simple decency or at least a modicum of empathy. Faculties Bravo and the individuals behind The People’s Couch seem to be utterly bereft of.