Say what you want about mainstream Western culture, it isn't everyone's cup of tea. Some people appreciate things that skew differently than the cultural norm. Other people, like younger generations, can't seem to find a role in the culture of past generations, and so set out to create their own. Still others latch on to a new development and try to build it into something big, something that may one day reshape the norm. This is how a subculture is created.
On the other hand, some people want to be normal and won't understand why others would pursue something else. They argue the problem can't be that it just doesn't work for those people; no, there must be something weird, laughable, or even dangerous about those people. This meme then gets reused by the media, in the form of investigative reports and special episodes.
As John Rogers paraphrases: "Anyone who decides to poke their head out of the cultural world of the CBS prime-time line-up is a sad, basement dwelling loner screaming into his Hello Kitty pillow as crackling dubs of the original Spider-Man cartoon flicker on his television." This may be corrected or subverted on occasion, but it's safe to say that any hobby or subgroup that is not understood by the mainstream media will be butchered, one way or another. Just look at the number of news stories which cover comic book conventions, that include at least one photo of a fat man in an ill-fitting spandex costume.
Just look at how many times school shootings are linked to violent video games or music, instead of the fact that the shooters were likely victims of bullying or plain ol' assholes who already had violent tendencies. The historical acceptance of war efforts and rejection of peace movements makes this even more ridiculous.
This page serves to both provide accurate info on subcultures while demonstrating the ways in which subcultures are portrayed in the media, both accurately and otherwise. Some subcultures have their own Useful Notes topics to elaborate upon their histories, many aspects, and other things that are usually missed out on by the media. We won't list them all, because human cultures nest fractally.
Perhaps the biggest irony of the above phenomena is that due to Two Decades Behind being the norm for many media, the "normal people" complaining about subcultures are themselves no longer in the mainstream, and thus can also be seen as subcultures.
Some specific subcultures & their telltale tropes:
Subcultures in General
Beatniks, Bohemians & Hipsters
Emos & Goths
Furries & Otherkin
Geeks & Nerds
- Lolita Fashion
- Age-Inappropriate Dress
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel
- Costume Porn
- Elegant Gothic Lolita
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Impractically Fancy Outfit
- Nice Hat
- Of Corsets Sexy
- Pimped-Out Dress
- Bald of Awesome
- Bald of Evil
- Important Haircut
- Those Wacky Nazis (Neo-Nazi/racist skinheads)
Use of subcultures as a theme in works:
- SLC Punk!: Punks as its main protagonists, but also has mods, rednecks, neo-Nazi skinheads, metalheads, and new-wavers depicted or mentioned.
- Many Doctors in Doctor Who are based on some subculture in terms of costume design and interests, with the Classic ones being The Theme Park Version of historical subcultures and the revival ones being 20th/21st Century ones:
- First Doctor: Edwardian university academic.
- Second: Depression-era "Cosmic Hobo", with a hefty scoop of 60s counterculture.
- Third: Dandy.
- Fourth: After some Early Installment Weirdness in his first season which pitched him as a 70s university student, he suddenly becomes a Victorian bohemian.
- Fifth: Edwardian public schoolboy.
- Sixth: You might argue the look was inspired by the Glam Rock scene of the 70s but it would be more accurate to say it was never fashionable to any subculture at any point in history ever.
- "The Ultimate Adventure" Doctor: the Green movement of the 80s.
- "Shalka" Doctor: a Goth.
- Ninth: 00s skinhead.
- Tenth: 90s "indie-kid".
- Eleventh: 10s Hipster.
- Twelfth: 60s skinhead, blending into "punk rocker" in later seasons.
- The Young Ones: Its main four characters are comprised of a metalhead punk (Vyvyan), a hippie (Niel), a leftist/anarchist poseur (Rick), and Mike, a well-dressed, entrepreneurial, schemer. Vyvyan and Neil are both shown as having friends from their subcultures outside the house.
- Urbzville in The Urbz: Sims in the City are divided into 9 districts, each depicting stereotypes of various subcultures of the world.
- Central Station: Punk/Goth
- Cozmo Street: Retro
- Gasoline Row: Bikers
- Kicktail Park: Skaters
- Neon East: Anime
- The Foundry: Emo
- Skyline Beach: Hip-hop/Ghetto fabulous
- South Side Bridge: Mafia
- Diamond Heights: Hollywood/Celebrity