"J.K. Rowling is an unrivaled force of literature with characters that sing on the paAAAAHHHhhhh. Ah."
When they are too loud and we discover these unexpected fan bases, the awkwardness is only outweighed by the confusion. We can't begin to understand how a niche form of entertainment could be appropriated by such an unrelated audience. Our gut reaction is almost always to say, "This is a sex thing, isn't it." But with a few exceptions, the answers are never that simple. Such is the case with ...
4My Little Pony and Adolescent Men
With all the concentration on drugs and sex in the '80s, there wasn't much room for work. No one was very good at their jobs as evidenced by shows like Knight Rider, projects like DARE and all the lumbering stabs by corporations to trick children out of money for hunks of plastic. Hasbro, for instance, didn't understand how television shows built around pre-existing toys had to be anything more than a 30-minute commercial for the product. They created the plot-less My Little Pony cartoon with the singular goal of cramming in as many different characters in an episode as a little girl could remember while walking through the toy aisle of a K-Mart.
But when the show rebooted in 2010, it made a point of being everything previous iterations of the show lacked. Friendship Is Magic concentrated on character development, humor, conflict and, above all, providing lessons for girls on the complex nature of friendship. But all those elements accidentally perked the interest of another demographic entirely: young adult males.
"You might think I'm a Rainbow Dash guy. Nope, I'm Fluttershy all the way."
Now "Brony" communities are popping up all over the Internet and their adoration for My Little Pony is completely earnest. Not only are they watching the show, but they are talking about it on forums, they are dedicating hours to My Little Pony fan art and they are generally obsessing over a show built for young girls. The audience of teenage and young adult males is so massive now that the show has responded with an enthusiastic, "Ugh, alright fine."
Hub, the network responsible for the show, released a My Little Pony music video that features the cartoon ponies actually mentioning their brony fan base by name.
"Sipping rainbow juice
Talking Elements of Harmony
Our Bronies hang out too
(Come on, Bronies!)
'Cause they know we're awesome fillies
(Come on, everypony!) "
The male audience is big enough and has been around long enough to alleviate most concerns that the infatuation is seeded in bestiality or misdirected pedophilia. They are just adolescent boys who are really enthusiastic about cartoon ponies struggling to learn the meaning of friendship. Like a disappointed but loving father, society has put the baseball glove back on the shelf and more or less resigned itself to let this shit play out for now. No one can say whether the meme will pass as these young men discover the vast superiority of human females, or if they will be overzealous fans of the show as long as it's on the air, forever adhering to the old adage, Bronies before Hoenies.
3 Morrissey and Latino Teens
Famous for his slow, melancholy songs about how intolerable life is in the English middle class, it's hard to point to music that's more white. He alternates between angst he feels toward the U.K. government and the sadness of staring out rain soaked windows mourning unrequited love. While it's not really classified as a genre, the most apt description I can think of for Morrissey's music is, "Pale."
Yet somehow in all his lamenting and dramatic gestures of emotion, he has accidentally brushed his fingers across the pulse of Hispanic youth. Latino teens in Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico have slowly become the core fan base of Morrissey over the past 10 years as everyone else stands slack-jawed and baffled.
"Where the hell do you learn this shit, Sheila?"
They're not just interested in the catchy melodies of the English pop either, it's the lyrics that turned them all into followers. In fact, it almost feels wrong to call them fans when in actuality they are more like disciples of Morrissey, even dropping flowers and presents on his doorstep in Los Angeles before running away.
There is a lot of speculation on the roots of this phenomenon, during interviews Morrissey has asked if it's really that strange that teens from all cultures share the same angst about which he sings, to which I answer, "Yes, it is strange. And I think you know that." When you consider that these kids come from predominantly catholic families and belong to a culture in which homosexuality is despised, it's absolutely strange that they would all huddle close to a stage, abandoning their machismo roots momentarily for a chance to touch his hand, his crushed velvet lapel. Clearly his lyrics speak to them, about their own frustrations of feeling detached from their roots and unwelcome in their home but it will always be shocking to see tough Hispanic kids in cuffed pants and Converses echoing choruses about Irish blood and English hearts while weeping uncontrollably.