5 Hated Groups That Are Going Out of Their Way to Be Awesome
There are some people that we expect to go out of their way to help others: nuns, firemen, anyone being played by Morgan Freeman. Other groups, though, are viewed by society as a whole as shady and possibly even dangerous. So it's refreshing to know that even groups of people with bad reputations are capable of doing awesome things. For example ...
Biker Gangs Are Protecting Abused Kids
When most people hear "biker gang," they don't think, "Hey, that is something I want my kids around." At best, bikers are associated with revving their annoyingly loud motorcycles with the mistaken assumption that everyone within a 2-mile radius enjoys the sound of Thor's farts. At worst, they're drunkenly trashing bars and stabbing people. No one watches Sons of Anarchy with happy tears in their eyes, hoping that this will be their son someday. In fact, the closest connection bikers will have with most of our children is when we pull young Billy aside, point discreetly, and say: "See, son? That's why daddy has to shave every morning."
"I need those blades for shankin'."
How They're Being Awesome
After decades of being shunned by polite society, bikers have hit back ... by protecting the hell out of some abused children.
Bikers Against Child Abuse, a volunteer group with chapters in 36 states, has been using its epic beard power for good since 1995. When the family of an abused kid requests BACA's help via a therapist or government agency, a group of bikers head over to the child's house and present themselves at his or her service. From that point on, if the kid's abuser bothers him or her in any way, a group of goddamn bikers will show up outside the house and stand guard. They'll come over even if the kid had a nightmare and is feeling scared.
Bikers can kick the crap out of the closet monster.
The idea behind child-abuse-fighting biker gangs is that children are usually incredibly intimidated by their abusers, who are of course bigger and stronger than them. But fuck that, bikers are more intimidating, and it turns out the tough guys who abuse children aren't quite so tough when their alleged victims are surrounded by huge wooly mammoths in human form.
This intimidation-for-good can also help children during the legal process. Testifying against an abuser is bad enough for adults, let alone for a frightened kid. So BACA bikers often accompany children to court or parole hearings and then sit down where they're clearly visible to the abuser. If you haven't had your daily dose of schadenfreude yet, imagine the look on some asshole's face when he's expecting a kid to show up with nothing but a scrawny lawyer, and instead sees a fucking biker gang file in.
Teenagers Keep Saving Kidnapped Children
Based on the research I did over the last couple of hours, I have determined that today's teenagers apparently spend all their time "sexting" (a form of drug use in which a teenager samples six different types of drugs at once) and "vaping" (a form of drug use in which a teenager deliberately contracts ventilator-associated pneumonia in order to trick doctors into giving them a morphine "high"). Obviously, unlike the proud youth of yesteryear, who were directly responsible for killing Hitler, today's selfie-obsessed millennials aren't much into helping people.
How They're Being Awesome
Turns out that North American teenagers regularly toss aside their drugs, pornography, and drug pornography long enough to rescue some goddamned kidnapped kids.
In 2013, a man in Pennsylvania decided to be a real winner and abducted a 5-year-old girl as she played in her front yard. Two local teenage boys heard about the disappearance and set off on a rescue mission ... on their bikes. They soon spotted the kidnapper's car and started a wacky car/bike chase that probably would have been hilarious if there wasn't a crazy pervert involved. Eventually, said kidnapper realized that he'd somehow stepped into the middle of a PG-rated '80s movie, stopped the car, and released the girl.
Later, the kidnapper's further evil plots were foiled when he drove into a giant pile of manure.
Lest you think that that was an exception, and that the rest of North America's teenagers are too busy drinking hand sanitizer and inserting vodka-soaked tampons into their orifices to do anything like it, the same thing happened again. In May 2014, a young woman dressed as a nurse abducted an hours-old baby from a hospital in Quebec. What a kidnapper would want with something that sprays liquid filth from both ends and looks like bubblegum crudely shaped into the form of a potato is anyone's guess, but mine is that it was nothing good. A group of four local teenagers must have agreed, because they, too, decided to track down the abductor's car, presumably after getting in a circle, piling their hands together, and throwing them up in the air, screaming "Oh YEAH!"
As they searched, they sang a swear-free song about how it's OK to express your feelings.
And today's teenagers must come equipped with car homing rays or something, because it took the Canadian team less than three hours to find the woman and report her to the police. The rescued potato-bubblegum lump was returned to her happy parents, the kidnapper was sent for psychiatric evaluation, and the team of teenagers went off to solve the case of the missing necklace at the school gym.
Bronies Are Big on Charity
Since they first popped up in 2010, bronies (male fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) have been the target of both media attention and ridicule. It's not easy out there for men who like cartoons and pony toys traditionally associated with young girls, and bronies have faced attacks from both genders: A lot of men think their obsession with ponies is weird, while some women have criticized bronies for "invading" a formerly female-only space and getting dick everywhere. Bronies have even become associated with the men's rights movement, even though Friendship Is Magic is about a matriarchal pony society ruled by magical princesses, which you'd think would make the average MRA's head explode right through his fedora.
How They're Being Awesome
In 2012, a group of bronies decided to raise money for a TV spot that thanked the Friendship Is Magic writers for making such an awesome show. That's a nice gesture, I guess, but isn't really helping anyone. But then things took a different turn: The bronies accidentally raised too much money, so they did what anyone would do and bought a giant pile of fedoras that they could use to fill up an entire Olympic-size swimming pool and then bathe in forever.
"Man, I'm not even in the pool yet, and look at my boner."
No, wait, they decided to donate the excess money to military charity Toys for Tots, and even decided to plug the charity during the ad. Then, realizing that they all seemed to have too much money on their hands, they organized and registered an official charity, the Brony Thank You Fund, which they used to set up a permanent scholarship at CalArts for aspiring animators. The Thank You Fund is now funneling its brony-money into a cancer charity, while another brony group, Bronies for Good, runs blood drives and donates to international aid programs.
It also turns out that the brony/MRA connection is way overblown, and there's a good feminist argument for the existence of bronies. So I'd like to personally apologize for making brony MRA jokes back in this article, and also for all the fedora jokes in this entry.
"This hat only gives me like half a boner. At most."
Juggalos Love Swearing, Environmental Beautification
Even those of us who happily put up with bikers and bronies are probably less tolerant of Juggalos. If you don't know much about Juggalos -- members of the subculture that's arisen among fans of Detroit hip-hop band Insane Clown Posse -- a description probably isn't going to do them justice. So here's a picture instead:
Yeah, that's them.
Widely mocked since they emerged in the 1990s, Juggalos have recently seen their reputation go downhill quicker than the career trajectory of someone with an ICP face tattoo. Ridicule increased after this adorably optimistic 2010 ICP video went viral, and in 2014 Juggalos were classified as a gang by the FBI. Society's animosity is not completely groundless: The yearly Juggalo music festival is a drug use free-for-all, and in 2010 fans injured a performer on stage by throwing rocks and urine-filled bottles at her. But for most people, Juggalo hate is less about righteous anger and more about making fun of adult men with bad teeth who wear clown makeup.
How They're Being Awesome
My point here isn't that Juggalos do charity: They do, but so do a lot of fans. The point is that when Juggalos do it, they do it awesomely. Take this Juggalo group in Florida, which picks up litter from local forests and highways in honor of a fellow fan named Stephanie who died from diabetes. (In true Juggalo fashion, they named themselves the Dead Stephanie Memorial Cleanup.) Or the Juggalo toy drive video, in which the band and various acolytes told us about the real meaning of Christmas:
Juggalo charities, like Juggalos, don't try to hide who they are or where they come from. The same pride and lack of self-awareness that prompts people to dress up in clown makeup in public also means that they see no need to stop swearing during promotional ads for children's charities. We need to support this movement, if only so we can see what other names Juggalos come up with for their philanthropic works. A fund to support cancer research could be named "Fucking Cancer, How Does It Work?" A charity that works to prevent childhood hunger could be called "The Kids Need Faygo and Corn Dogs and Shit." Get on this stuff, guys.
Social Media Sites Keep Helping the Hell Out of People
Social media, smartphones, and the Internet in general are erasing the longstanding bonds that connect humanity. Even when people are next to each other in today's society, we're all too consumed with our personal Facebook and Twitter feeds to take the time to discuss politics with the homeless guy next to us on the bus. Oh, for the days when people used to actually talk to each other on public transport!
It's not just the social isolation that's bad, either: The Internet also seems to bring out the worst in humanity. One of the most notorious cesspools of Internet inhumanity is Reddit, which, with its great swaths of unpoliced subreddits, is a bit like the Internet equivalent of those lawless libertarian paradises that are always popping up in cyberpunk science fiction. Except at least in cyberpunk fiction the bad guys are usually doing cool stuff with sword-guns and virtual reality and shit, whereas the dregs of Reddit tend to involve people sitting around making generally gross comments.
How It's Being Awesome
Social media was pretty good to Ibrahim, a man in Saudi Arabia who was paralyzed and hospital-bound after a car accident. Ibrahim was bedridden and unable to afford expensive surgery overseas, and his family had long since stopped visiting, perhaps because making conversation about which chips in the hospital wall paint look the most like turtles gets old after the first couple of months.
Eventually, Ibrahim sent out a tweet to his small number of Twitter followers, asking for someone to come visit him. You might expect that he'd get a few awkward "favorites" and maybe an apologetic text message. Instead, Ibrahim's plea for companionship became the most retweeted message ever in Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of people turned up at the guy's hospital room, bringing him flowers and food, and eventually donating enough money for him to get treatment in Germany.
"Sir, we need you to change into this for surgery."
Then there's the story of Hazel Hammersley, a 2-year-old girl with neuroblastoma residing in a children's hospital in Los Angeles. Bored, and presumably sick of that gross hospital Jell-O, Hazel's family stuck a sign in the window asking people to send pizza to the room. Someone posted a picture of the sign on Reddit, and users responded. In fact, they donated so much pizza that the hospital started distributing it to other kids and the staff, and eventually had to ask Redditors to stop sending pizzas before someone died in a pizza-drowning incident.
Note that this wasn't a case of Reddit users latching onto a general cause that everyone else was already supporting: The sign was up in the window of the children's hospital for days, and none of the people walking by in the outside world did anything. It took selfish Internet dwellers to respond, and it wasn't the only time. Reddit users are big on piling on people in need and showering them with metaphorical kittens. Like the terminally ill guy who they spontaneously raised $30,000 for so that he could take a trip around the world. Or when they donated $80,000 to hire security for an orphanage in Kenya that was being attacked by thieves. Shit, it's almost like there's a whole lot of good people out there. Maybe we can hold off on deliberately summoning Cthulhu for another year.