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10 Niche Subcultures That Are More Popular Than You Might Think

by Steven Clark
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Pop culture has become so fractured over the past decade or so that the idea of a monoculture now seems to be a thing of the past. Sure, you still have massive juggernauts like the Marvel Cinematic Universe which appear to have fans everywhere. But for the most part, the internet has allowed people to find their own interests now. And that’s also had the effect of making some things that were once niche a lot more popular than you might think—interests starting with…

Related: 10 Ways Cultures Around the World Are Obsessed with Eyes

10 Undertale

What The Internet did To Undertale

Undertale started as a low-budget 2D role-playing game created by Toby Fox in 2015. Pretty quickly, though, its humor, pacifist message, and quiet levels of depth caused it to find a cult audience among gamers.

But while with most cult hits, the fandom would stop at the game itself, Undertale was only the beginning as it happened. Yes, pretty soon, things had expanded into web comics, which re-imagined certain scenes in a different light and enhanced fan-created battle animations.

But that wasn’t enough for fans, so pretty soon, entire alternative Undertale universes were created, including Underfell, Underswap, Outertale, and even the offshoot of an offshoot Fellswap, just to name a few. And as if that wasn’t wild enough, all of these have their own fully developed fan games and separate communities, with YouTube videos on them often reaching millions of views.[1]

9 VHS Collectors

VHS revival: Return of the tapes

We’re all aware that nostalgia can be a powerful thing. Hell, it’s part of the reason why vinyl records have had such a resurgence in the 21st century. And sure, while in their case, you could argue the older style of recording creates a much warmer and more inviting sound, it’s hard to make the same argument for VHS.

After all, if you’re a certain age, then you likely remember the grainy quality of the movies you often found in your local video store, a quality that just can’t compare to a crisp 4K Blu-Ray. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that you had to physically rewind a VHS anytime you wanted to return to the start.

Obviously, this doesn’t matter to some, though, because VHS collecting has reached all-new heights in the last few years. In some cases, high-quality graded copies of rare videos have fetched upward of $10,000. So if you were one of those horror movie aficionado kids in the ’80s or had a treasure trove of Disney VHSs in the ’90s, now might be the time to cash in.[2]

8 Juggalos

This is a look inside the life of the juggalos

A lot of bands have dedicated fan followings. However, the level of dedication that fans of the Insane Clown Posse have in showing their love for the group is on another level altogether. And that’s because being a Juggalo isn’t a fandom for those involved. No, it’s a lifestyle—one that involves only drinking certain drinks such as Faygo, wearing branded gear authorized by the band, and, of course, painting your face in full clown makeup.

Then, once all that’s done, you’re ready to attend one of the annual Gathering of the Juggalos events, which are music festivals put on by the ICP. They have even seen big stars such as Busta Rhymes and Ice Cube show up and show their love.

Just make sure you take care if you go, though, because if you’re not showing the right gang signs or making the correct response to a whoop whoop call, you could fall prey to one of the rare violent Juggalo gangs. Yes, from time to time, they’ve been known to get physical with their more pacifist and community outreach-based counterparts. So be wary.[3]

7 Foot Fetishists

The Psychology of Foot Fetish: A Sexologist Explains

No kink shaming here. While it may not be this writer’s thing, everyone has something they’re into, and as long as it’s legal and consensual, there’s nothing wrong with that. That said, it’s still somewhat puzzling on the surface of things as to why foot fetishism has gained such a large following around the world.

Sure, there are plenty of other fetishes out there. Still, few have a web archive fully dedicated to categorizing and ranking the feet of celebrities all over the world. And if you delve into the comments of any video where a woman’s feet are exposed, you’ll likely find someone talking about how attractive or unattractive they are.

Even some celebs themselves are seemingly foot fetishists. That’s right, names such as Idris Elba, Pharrell Williams, and Quentin Tarantino have all discussed the subject in interviews. So it’s more mainstream than you’d think.[4]

6 Flat Earthers

Why People Think the World is Flat

It’s easy to mock flat earthers for their out-there beliefs. But in the spirit of being non-judgmental, let’s try to figure out why the movement has become so popular. Could it be that these folks have become disenfranchised with the world and are looking for an answer that will help them make sense of things?

Sure, the last few years have taught us all that the conspiracy theory rabbit hole can be a dangerous one to fall down. But flat earthers in themselves aren’t doing any harm. No, on their own, they’re just a pretty quickly growing community of people who’ve come together online to share their ideas on why Copernicus and Galileo were wrong.

And this has led to full-blown conventions where folks who believe in the flatness of the globe can meet up in person. It’s now reached a point where some celebrities such as basketball player Kyrie Irving and rapper B.o.B. have publically expressed their suspicions as to whether or not the accepted model of things is correct.[5]

5 Vampires

I Spent The Day With Real Vampires

Yes, the vampire as a pop culture phenomenon has been popular since the days of Bram Stoker, Dark Shadows, and Anne Rice. But the idea of people in the modern day actually being vampires is surely fiction created by movies.

Except it’s not because, over the last few decades, vampirism as a lifestyle choice has grown exponentially. Sure, it’s not like it’s gotten to the point where you’re seeing the supposed undead walking down the street on a daily basis. But around the world, millions of people self-identify under this banner.

Do they actually believe they’re blood-sucking fiends, though? Well, for the most part, no. They’re fully aware they’re alive and well. However, through the popularity of role-playing games like Vampire: The Masquerade and the success of franchises such as Blade and Twilight, many practitioners have gone all-in. So much so, in fact, that some will even sleep in coffins, feed off the psychic energy of others, or, in the case of sanguinarians, drink human blood.[6]

4 Off-Grid Living

Why I Live Off Grid: FREEDOM, No Mortgage, No Utilities

There’s been a certain subsection of people who’ve enjoyed living off the grid for years. Sometimes, these can be survivalists; sometimes, they can be those with a distrust of big corporations, and sometimes, they can simply be the homeless.

In recent years, though, off-grid living has gained a whole new level of popularity due to the focus it’s been given via apps like TikTok. Yes, it’s here where many young people have become enamored with the idea of leaving behind the high energy costs and reliance on city councils in order to fend for themselves instead.

It has become so popular that a lot of young Millennials and Zoomers have actually put their money where their mouth is and started doing just this. And that, then, has seen a huge uptake in the installation of solar roof panels, rain harvesting, and self-sufficient crop-rearing areas.[7]

3 Extreme Body Modders

Extreme Body Modifications Vol.1 | HOOKED ON THE LOOK

Body modifications have existed for as long as people have been getting tattoos or piercing their ears. That said, there is a select group who’ve taken this to new extremes over the years by making larger and more glaring alterations to their person.

In some cases, this can involve being tattooed from head to toe, such as with Eric Sprague, the famous lizard man of Austin, Texas. In other cases, it can mean getting your tongue split so it resembles that of a snake’s, having your eyeballs dyed, or even implanting metal doughnuts underneath the skin of your forehead.

Of course, the idea of doing this to your body might sound crazy to most. But two hundred years ago, the idea of putting ink in your arm permanently probably seemed wild, too. There’s also the argument to be made that this is just another step in humanity’s move toward modifying ourselves with technology as we gradually enter the post-humanist age.[8]

2 Competitive Tickling

Competitive Tickling | The Bizarre Controversy Surrounding Documentary

Tickling is something we’re all familiar with. Whether we’ve used it to make a baby laugh, tease a loved one, or get mercilessly tickled ourselves during a play fight, every one of us has no doubt experienced it at some point.

But while most people feel it to be a somewhat unpleasant experience, others enjoy it a lot. So much so that in recent years, competitive tickling has emerged as a new alternative sport. As the name suggests, this sees opponents tickle one another, with the goal being to last as long as possible before giving up.

Unfortunately, though, there’s also been a certain degree of controversy surrounding the upstart movement, as some have accused it of allowing for a lot of bullying. On top of that, others have argued it’s made it easier for people to groom young men for more pornographic content down the line. So, if you’re thinking of signing up for your local tournament, make sure to look into it first.[9]

1 Pro Wrestling

Professional Wrestling is Stupid and Beautiful and I Love it

If you grew up in the ’80s, then there’s a good chance a large part of your childhood revolved around Hulkamania! And if you came of age in the ’90s, there’s an equally good chance that much of your time was spent watching Stone Cold Steve Austin kick ass every week.

Since then, though, the popularity of pro wrestling has very much waned in the mainstream, never really finding the same levels of success among general audiences again. But that shouldn’t suggest it isn’t still a hugely popular subculture.

It is. And it’s so big of a deal that not only do the big two wrestling companies in North America, WWE and AEW, regularly fill out arenas. But as a result of increased TV rights fees, they’re also now more profitable than ever. And when it comes to the latter’s major calendar event, WrestleMania, this can regularly draw in people from all over the world, each of whom has come to see a spectacle unlike any other.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen