I loved the idea behind this Vulture ranking of the 25 most devoted pop culture fan bases.
It’s a really good read and very informative if you have the time to go through all 25. It’s actually a really good piece of what I define as Internet entertainment journalism these days. It helps that I find myself squarely in the camps of no less than eight (Star Wars, LOTR, Arrested Development, Joss Whedon, Community, Bruce, Kevin Smith and Mad Men) and am married to someone who can add seven more (Phish, True Blood, Oprah, Lady Gaga, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight) to our household list. We share three, by the way. Everything else is a fight to the death.
But seeing as I don’t think I’ve ever fully agreed with a list-type story I’ve ever seen on the Internet, I’ve got some additions, deletions and some questions:
Vulture rank: N/A. For me, the most glaring omission.
Where he should have been ranked: #14 sounds about right.
Why?: First of all, the power of Family Guy — left for dead twice, resurrected only after ridiculous syndication and DVD viewings — is actually mentioned in the story’s description of Arrested Development fans. But that’s just Family Guy. MacFarlane’s fans are so devoted to his work that they brought back Family Guy, forced Fox into giving him a ridiculous contract that will last into what seems like the 22nd century, made him the hot comedy property in movies by pushing Ted into the biggest original R-rated comedy ever, and now made the effing Academy Awards to stand up and recognize his power because of his loyal fans that would watch him play Words with Friends on his iPhone for two hours if they could.
Vulture rank: #7
Where it should have been ranked: Around #20.
Why: I have no problem with ranking it. The fans pushed the movie to one of the biggest opening weekends ever, the books are out-of-this-stratosphere popular with the
kiddies just about everyone and it has the potential to be one of the biggest movie franchises ever. But no one expected it. And it’s just happened now. Shouldn’t there be some kind of respect given to history? Star Trek frans have been doing this kind of thing for 50 freakin’ years, and they’re ranked seven spots lower. Sure, you’re going to see about 50 trillion Katniss costumes this year for Halloween. But how many are you going to see 10 years from now? Or 20? Not as high a number as Spock uniforms, I guarantee you that. I know the criteria is supposed to be current, but there has to be some respect for history if a historical pop culture phenomenon is still current.
Vulture rank: N/A
Where the band should have been ranked: #21 — right where Phish is.
Why?: I’m not saying Phish is a straight copy off the Dead and risk my inbox getting completely flooded with hate mail. But c’mon — aren’t they just capitalizing off the niche market that the Dead cultivated for 40 years? One the remaining members of the Dead still pretty much rule anyway? You can make somewhat of the same argument for Madonna being ranked instead of Lady Gaga, but I have much less problem with that one since Madonna is a certified Dumpster fire these days. I look at it this way — every Phish fan is a Dead Head. But not every Dead Head is a Phish fan.
Vulture rank: N/A
Where he should have been ranked: SOMEWHERE
Why?: Look, I’m biased. I realize this. I worship at Quentin’s altar, I fully and unabashedly admit this. But let’s take an objective look at Quentin Tarantino’s career. He’s written and directed six movies completely by himself in his 20-year career. Five if you wanna count Kill Bill as one movie. EVERY ONE OF THEM has made a lot of money and Django Unchained will make a lot of money too. So he’s obviously an influential filmmaker who has fans who turn out for his movies no questions asked. But are they devoted? I did a quick Google search of “quentin tarantino fans” and came up with about 11,000,000 results in 0.33 seconds. Then I did a search for “neil gaiman fans” and came up with 4,780,000 million results. I guess what I’m saying is, eff Neil Gaiman (ranked #18) and his books that haven’t translated to the screen at all. Shouldn’t that be held against him in some way? He was obviously put on this list to make Vulture look cool to the book crowd, whoever they are. If they made this list on New Year’s Day after Django throws up a $50 million opening week amid definitive Oscar talk, Quentin would be a top 10 entrant and there would be glowing words about how he’s never really had a bomb, that his fans drool when they hear his name, blah, blah, blah. Lucky for you, I’m saying it now.
Vulture rank: N/A
Where he should have been ranked: Around #15
Why?: When it comes to Stern, I’m like one of the cult members that escaped Scientology. After however many years, I realized I was spending too much money, saw a product that was dwindling, and got out. Cut the cord cold turkey. Forever. Had to. But this guy’s fans have done things that no other group of pop culture fans have ever done before over what is now a 25-year period. They’ve flooded the streets of New York City on multiple occasions. They made him a New York Times bestseller twice, then made three of his cohorts NYT bestsellers, and it’s only because they sit next to him. They made his movie a success and still keep it in rotation on HBO and USA. They’ve decided they want to pay to hear him talk. They’ve completely accepted that they will be paying for this talk at a much less infrequent rate over the last couple years. In fact, they’ve paid more for less talk. And no one in the inner circle of die-hard fans ever complains, ever. It’s only people like me that have escaped the cult’s clutches that raise questions, even though I’d be more than cool getting back in the club in a heartbeat, it’s just not worth it anymore, not for me. The other couple million people that fall all over his every word and do his bidding are a different story.
Vulture rank: N/A
Where it should have been ranked: Top five.
Why?: I hate Pixar. I think it’s an evil entity that makes overrated movies and is doing what it can to take over the world. Doing it a little lazily these days, I might add. That doesn’t mean the brand’s fans aren’t devoted. It was the first company to say, “Sure, it’s OK for adults to watch kids movies!” and now those teens and young adults that watched Toy Story in 1995 now have kids and are comfortable taking them to a Pixar movie. As a company, it’s made 13 movies. The lowest domestic gross, when adjusted for inflation, is $192 million. It’s average worldwide gross for those 13 movies? $595 million. Go ahead, read that number again, I’ll wait. That’s just insane. The list isn’t all about money, I know, but if Pixar closed it’s doors tomorrow (fingers crossed!) every entertainment website would rank the best Pixar movies, every mom website would write for two days about how there is nothing left in Hollywood for parents to share with kids, and someone like Harry Knowles will write something that starts with, “It’s probably not cool to say this, but I cried when I heard Pixar was closing.” There isn’t another studio brand in history that can match that kind of success, and it’s all because it has a devoted group of fans who turn out to see anything with the Pixar label.
Vulture rank: N/A
Where it should have been ranked: #25, where Mad Men fans are ranked
Why?: It’s too hard to distinguish between any of AMC’s three biggest shows — Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Walking Dead — so why not lump them altogether to make one big conglomerate of discriminating TV fans who take to the Internet before, during and after each of these shows to say how much they heart Peggy Olson? And is there another show on TV that has prompted a postgame show like Talking Dead? No! The problem is the network has lost a little bit of its cache — it’s got cache up the ying yang! — over the last two years with some high-profile failures (The Killing, Rubicon) and a questionable foray into reality TV that has turned off some of its fans. OK, I don’t really know that. But I know it turned me off. Like, really did. Bottom line is Walking Dead’s ratings are about three or four times what Mad Men’s are and Breaking Bad has the current grip on the title of “buzziest” show since it’s in its final season. So why quibble? Just blanket the Mad Men entry with AMC and we’ll move on.
Others receiving votes (from me): The Simpsons, Bill Simmons, Adult Swim, South Park, Marvel Comics movies, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series, James Bond