The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture

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.
The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture

The biggest successes in entertainment are born from a solid understanding of the target audience. Michael Bay knows that teenage boys will always love fire and every part of a woman between the neck and the knees; Stephenie Meyer knows that every girl likes a boy who can climb trees really fast; and The Black Eyed Peas are keenly aware that every Jewish kid has to have a Bar Mitzvah at some point. But sometimes during the steaming orgy of fan adulation for these artists, a demographic no one anticipated will stay hidden in the periphery, peaking through the closet slats and masturbating quietly.

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture
"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 ...

My Little Pony and Adolescent Men

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture

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.

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture
"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.

Morrissey and Latino Teens

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture

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.

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture
"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.

Lionel Richie and the Arab World


Never has the waxing and waning of a celebrity's career been so closely tied to a hair style than with Lionel Richie. It's almost as if he flew too close to the sun during the height of his popularity, melting the Jheri curl treatment into his own eyes before falling into obscurity. But abroad, Lionel Richie never went out of style. Even today the Arab world can't get enough of him. According to
GQ magazine in an article entitled "Lionel of Arabia," the only unifying element between Israeli and Lebanese governments, between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is that they all love the shit out of Lionel Richie. Just as Morrissey found fanatics among the Latino population of the Southwest, Lionel Richie has a massive following in the Middle East. Brides walk down the aisle to "Truly," citizens of Bagdad cranked "All Night Long" while their city was being shelled in 2003, people who don't know a single word of English can sing his entire catalogue perfectly. He is adored and worshiped everywhere he goes and no one,
not even Lionel Richie himself, can say exactly why.

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture
"Who cares, I'm famous again!"

While this one remains a complete mystery, it's oddly comforting to know that on the other side of the Earth right now there is a man setting up for Salah in the Syrian Desert with "Say You, Say Me" stuck in his head.

Homoerotic Novels and Middle-Aged Women

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture

You may not know it but there is a huge market out there for writers interested in penning stories about sexual awakenings between teen boys. If you can write a compelling story about ranch hands wrestling in haylofts or cabin boys sunning themselves on poop decks, then there is a built-in audience waiting to read your stories of unbridled yearning and sexual exploration. The audience, however, isn't comprised of the gay and lesbian literature lovers you might have expected, it's almost exclusively
heterosexual women. Incidentally, most of the authors of these stories are heterosexual women as well working under male pen names to lend the stories authenticity. Ultimately though, it's just a bunch of married, middle-aged women selling gay romance novels to other married, middle-aged women. Still, make no mistake: The fiction is serving the same purpose as any form of pornography. The female fan base isn't reading these gay romances in an effort to bone-up on gay culture; they are reading them for the sex.

The 4 Most Unexpected Fan Bases in Pop Culture
Arousal just looks different between men and women.

Why they prefer male-on-male sex varies. The most fun answer is that women secretly like reading about two guys pushing each other over car hoods and jury boxes as much as men like seeing two women do the same thing. But the more boring hypothesis is that women like a story in which the two lovers can come together on the same level instead of falling victim to the hierarchy of gender. I assume that means socially as well as physically since men are generally closer in height too, it allows them to both stand comfortably while rubbing their genitals together like two twigs making a flame in dark andHOLY SHIT I SHOULD BE WRITING THIS STUFF!

Soren has no target demographic. You are all free to follow him on Twitter or Tumblr.

Check out more from Soren in 4 Fan Fiction Excerpts from Celebrities and Understanding People Who See Jesus In Burnt Toast.

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