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The Once-ler is a fictional character played by Ed Helms from the 2012 movie “The Lorax”. Who, in the original Dr Seuss story, was depicted as a faceless green suit with long green gloves that in his greed and blindness destroys an entire ecosystem just in order to create a product called a “Thneed”.
But after the 2012 release, in which the Once-ler character was suddenly personified and obtained a face and a back-story, something a bit out of the norm happened: A large a sporadic fan-base grew up overnight from Tumblr and invaded both DeviantArt and YouTube with thousands of articles, blogs, cosplay, gifs, fan-fic and fan videos related to the character. Currently 5,500 posts under Once-ler and 8,500 under Lorax exist on DeviantArt. 1,990,000 results came up when searching “The Once-ler” on Google.
The National Anthem of the fandom is without a doubt “How bad can I be” which was featured in the movie.
The fanbase is largely female and in their late teens and mid-twenties, in general, way out of the target audience for the movie. But the fandom seems to largely aware of this fact and typically describe their experience of joining the fandom as “weird” “uncontrollable” and "a result of “temporary insanity” after watching the Lorax movie.
Therefore a considerable amount of “spoof-art” is made within the fandom – poking fun at themselves – which has made the community light-hearted and open-minded, often praised by outside fandoms as being blissfully joyful and “fun to watch” – Easily comparable to the early “My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic” crowd.
Another part of the fandom consists of Ask-blogs in which blog hosts roleplay as one of many Once-ler-personas or share embarrassing anon submissions to great delight among both fans and curious by-standers who wants to have a good laugh or just be weirded out.
A darker side to the fandom exists, just as with many other fandoms, which focus strongly on sexual imagery, fan-fics and role-play and slashing characters from the movie. The main attraction in this category is a theme called “Oncest” in which the “nice” Once-ler is paired up with an evil version of himself. Several blogs are dedicated solely to Once-ler smut and sexual imagery – often taken to ridicules levels, including pancake batter, marshmallows and thneed-bondage.
Ed Helm’s Reaction
On April 25th a live broadcast on “Laugh or Die” featured actor Ed Helms for a QnA twitter session. But it didn’t take long before tweets asking loaded questions about the sexually themed Oncest part of the fandom showed up. To which Ed Helms was apparently aware but said things like:
“I heard there are people who have a sexual predilection for my character in the Lorax named the Once-ler, and that having sex with the Once-ler is referred to as Oncest? And someone just tweeted that. And that is very odd, because he’s not a real person. I do agree, however, that he’s extremely sexy. But I don’t condone sexual fantasy about the Once-ler. I don’t condone it.”
“This is getting very creepy! If you are having sexual fantasies about my character, in The Lorax, a cartoon character, named the Once-ler, then you need to talk to a professional psychiatrist and relationship counselor”
“I am getting really freaked out about this”
“GO GET PSYCHIATRIC Evaluation RIGHT Now!”
“This has become a community crisis, America is in crisis. There is an Once-ler Fetish that has gone out of control.”
Needless to say the live QnA caused a panical uproar among the fans on Tumblr – But most were, as it was put mildly: “Laughing their heads off”.