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Tumblr trends for 2017: witchcraft, Wonder Woman, and wholesome memes

Tumblr trends for 2017: witchcraft, Wonder Woman, and wholesome memes


The teens had another good year on the internet’s only good platform

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Tumblr’s “Fandometrics,” a blog dedicated to listing and sorting all that is most beloved on the platform, has just released its annual year-end data dump. It is, as per tradition, a delightful and strange assortment.

The top meme category on the platform this year was the good old “shower thought,” a genre of shareable epiphany you can probably trace back to the advent of the shower, or at least the 2011 creation of the r/showerthoughts subreddit. Number two was “shitpost,” a term as old as forum culture itself. But two of the biggest newbies on the list were genres that originated on Tumblr pre-2017, took off virally on other platforms, then circled back to where they came from, cementing their massive popularity: the gay pride version of the 2014 horror film character The Babadook, and “wholesome memes,” which is less a specific meme, and more a style defined by impossibly sweet sincerity, a contrast to and tonic for the tone of the rest of the web.

(Also new to the list, a meme format spun off from the 2009 Owl City hit “Fireflies,” in the news again this year because singer Adam Young decided to address the song’s shaky science in a viral tweet.)

There were few surprises in the platform’s list of its top communities, with artists, study bloggers, photographers, and poets holding onto the top four spots from last year. The highest-ranked community making that list for the first time is the 11th-place “witchblr” — a growing group of people who blog mostly about witchcraft and adjacent occult fascinations. This includes Lana Del Rey fans who listened carefully to the pop queen’s advice on how to hex the president and play with magical orbs inside the Hollywood sign, as well as tarot-readers, hokey emoji spell enthusiasts, serious students, and those who just enjoy a general aesthetic of “witchiness” as it relates to lifestyle blogging, interior design, food, self-help, or internet-y expressions of modern feminism.

As the epicenter of fan fiction and its most popular subgenre, slash fic, Tumblr’s list of top ships is pretty much the definitive word on which pop culture romantic pairings (both canon and imagined) are the biggest of the year. For 2017, that includes characters from anime, network television, YouTube, and a K-pop band. The non-canon pairing of Keith and Lance, from the web series Voltron: Legendary Defender, is number one, followed by Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood of Freeform’s Shadowhunters. Victor Nikiforov and Yuri Katsuki from Yuri!!! on Ice debuted on the list at number three, with YouTubers Daniel Howell and Phil Lester at number four. Park Jimin and Jeon Jungkook — two members of BTS, the most popular K-pop band on the site — debuted at number five.

The entire top 10 is made up of same-sex pairings, though Tumblr meme librarian Amanda Brennan pointed out to The New York Times that it skews less stringently male/male than usual. Two pairings from the CW’s Supergirl also made the top ten — Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor; Maggie Sawyer and Alex Danvers — as did Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught, of the new Syfy series Wynonna Earp.

The most popular actor on the platform was Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Tom Holland, largely thanks to a viral meme positing that he is constantly hiding frogs in his mouth. The biggest movies of the year were Wonder Woman and Moana, partly because literally every frame of the former was a beautiful GIF-able painting, and likely because Tumblr is full of young women who care loudly about diverse representation.

While the most popular solo artists on Tumblr this year were unsurprising — Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and so on — the top 10 for musical groups is a healthy and odd mix of pop-punk, boy bands, pop-punk boy bands, and boy bands that no longer exist:

1. Gorillaz

2. Twenty One Pilots

3. Fifth Harmony

4. One Direction

5. 5 Seconds of Summer 

6. Fall Out Boy

7. Little Mix

8. Paramore 

9. The 1975 

10. My Chemical Romance 

All this is to say that the young people of Tumblr are unpredictable, and I love them.

Last year’s Fandometrics data haul prompted us to point out the unique usefulness of Tumblr, writing that its young audience made the most of a terrible year by “making GIFs of Daisy Ridley, indulging in the sweet life story of a caterpillar, drawing pokémon covered in flowersphotographing puppies covered in flowers, imagining that their favorite TV characters were in fact in love, looking at the Moon, and discussing a number of diverse progressive issues.”

This holds true for 2017, despite several massive shakeups in the company’s management, and a general feeling of uncertainty about the site’s future. Just add in a little more looking at the Moon and a whole lot of lady superheroes, and you’ll have an updated portrait of what is maybe the last nearly universally pleasant place on the internet. It would be cool if Verizon did not destroy it in 2018.