by Simon Cropp
This is terribly late, so I apologize.
Subculture in America seems to have disappeared, but a few examples still remain. Consider the Survivalist groups popping up in small areas around the United States. Marked by open carry side arms, polypropylene clothing, and mountain man beards, this group has recently opened its ranks to women eschewing the need for the beard. These guys are certain the end of the world is coming, and it is often related to The Obama Administration policies.
A lesser-known subculture, but one I remember one of my students being part of from my days of public school teaching is the Brony not to be confused with the Furry. The Brony is the extreme fan of My Little Pony, but to fit into this subculture, the fan must not be in the target demographic of “little girls,” while the Furry is the subculture with extreme enthusiasm and interest for animals. Both wears costumes and outfits associated with their respective subcultures, and both are often persecuted for their beliefs. Imagine a large farmer, hunkered down over a table, his massive hands like blocks of stone trembling in front of a room of teachers, and he says, “My son is a Furry. I take him out to shoot, to rope, to wrangle, but somehow–he’s turned into a Furry. It’s that damned internet.” And one of the teachers who knows his son, knows the situation, thinks to himself, “No sir, your son is not a Furry. Your son is a Brony.”
Other subcultures in America exist, but society’s reaction to them varies. The Survivalist is a politically active group of prominently white men who aren’t generally thought well of, but typically aren’t condemned. Sometimes they become pop culture heroes.
The marginalized subcultures, the Furries, the Bronies, those who seek to dress and express in ways not understood to greater society, tend to suffer. They are forced to hide in dark corners of the internet, to come together at conventions for each other, but we won’t see them walking our urban streets, congregating on the corners outside of apartment complexes, or creating fear through physical proximity as some of the subcultures of Hebdige’s might have done. Instead, the fear created by these marginalized groups comes from their subversive expressions of identity that sometimes infiltrate families in unfamiliar ways–such as exposure through the internet.
These subcultures seem as though they rise from nowhere, recruit from nothingness, and convert people into their brand of counterculture before the greater public realizes they exist.
Had the old farmer’s son of my story above come home a Survivalist, not a Brony, his reaction would have likely been far different. He would have understood the transition because the values of the survivalist are predicated on the values of much of rural America. The values of the other subcultures though seem to have appeared from other dimensions to the greater public.