Once-ler

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Character
Name: Once-ler
Occupation: Head of Thneed factory
Relationships: Oncest, The Lorax, Once-ler's family (Isabella (mom), Uncle Ubb, Aunt Grizelda, Bret and Chet), Ted
Fandom: The Lorax (movie)
Other: Voiced by Ed Helms Onceler1.png
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The Once-ler is a character from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and the 2012 animated movie based on the book. After the film, he because central figure in a fandom that overtook the movie's general fandom. The Once-ler fandom was infamous for Oncest, a selfcest pairing between different versions of the Once-ler - usually the original and the Greed-ler.

The Once-ler fans, primarily female, called themselves "Once-lings" or "Once-sluts."

Original Once-ler

In fandom, the Once-ler is most often based on his portrayal in the 2012 Lorax movie. He was originally a faceless and enigmatic character in the Dr. Seuss book; but with the movie's use of flashbacks, he is now more commonly known as an optimistic, hopeful, round-faced young man who went bad a la anti-hero.

While the original book and the 1972 movie had framed his character solely as the story's antagonist, the movie provides a backstory from his point of view, depicting him as a victim of hubris rather than the simple, greedy industrialist he was once known as. This may be a part of his appeal to the Once-ler fandom, in addition to his being a skinny white man. His age is unknown, though speculated to be 21 in the film's flashbacks. He also likes marshmallows.[1]

In Oncest fanwork, he is often woobified.

Fans, comprised primarily of ladies, tend to affectionately call the Once-ler "Oncie" (which his mother had called him in the film). Though he is overwhelmingly most often paired with himself, it's ambiguous if these shippers do it because they themselves want to date the Once-ler, are genuinely invested in the dynamic, or both.

Greed-ler

The Greed-ler

The Greed-ler is a fan-created term for the Once-ler's persona once he becomes overtaken by, well, greed. This transformation occurs during the musical number, How Bad Can I Be?, which is accepted as Greed-ler's theme song.

The Greed-ler is a manipulative, money-hungry version of the Once-ler, usually written by fans to be unapologetically and knowingly evil. This technically is an overexaggeration of his character transformation, although likely popular because it plays opposite to the Once-ler's original hopeful and positive demeanor. He is often written to be overtly sexual, seducing more innocent versions of the Onceler, and especially combined with BDSM and other kinks. This has caused the Greed-ler to be specifically the fan favorite, as opposed to his original counterpart.

He is made distinctive with his green pin-stripe suit and top hat.

Canonically, his personality is not much different from the original Once-ler's, just more self-righteous and willfully ignorant.

Fanworks

Fanart

Older Once-ler

The older Once-ler rarely makes an appearance in fanwork, though he is in the movie. After years have passed, to when the Once-ler tells his story to Ted, he is seen as a regretful old man who wishes to see the Lorax again, as the Lorax had disappeared with the last Truffula tree. He tells Ted to plant the last Truffula seed into the ground, sprouting one more tree, and summoning the Lorax once again. Repentant and apologetic, the Once-ler finally comes out of his shadowed house at the end of the movie to make amends with the Lorax.

Commentary and Analysis

Out of all the things that this movie did wrong, the Once-ler is what they got RIGHT. Which is why I am NOT against the Once-ler fandom. The classic Once-ler is this: A pair of green arms. Which the movie animates SO well.

If you’re GOING to tell the story of the Lorax, obviously you’d need to humanize the enigmatic pair of arms, and they did. They gave him a backstory, a bright eyed handyman who had a dream, and whose family completely naysayed his ideas. That’s good! The movie spends about a third of it’s time focused on the Once-ler, and there in lies the issue. The book IS the story of the Once-ler, and his constant biggering and biggering. The movie? Go back and watch, I want you to COUNT how many lines the Lorax has in total. It’s not a lot! The Lorax film GLAZES over the Lorax himself.

“How Bad Can I Be” is the entire Lorax book in one song. Then we have the scene where the Once-ler, now a different man (as the fans call him, the Greed-ler), argues a small case as the last tree falls, and he’s left in ruin quite quickly. However, the impact of him becomming this captain of industry, the impact of all the animals being sent away, it’s LOST because so little of the movie is devoted to the biggering, which is the ESSENCE of the book. The Once-ler in this film had the wonderlust, he BELIEVED in the idea of his Thneed, and he worked hard to impress his family, and himself, in it’s creation and selling. He befriends the animals, and the Lorax, and the Lorax even supports the Once-ler’s ambitions (as long as he didn’t cut down trees). Seeing the character fall to ruin and greed would have been INCREDIBLE, but the movie passed it, LIKE A SMALL FART.

Which is why, dear readers, I love the Once-ler fandom.

No no, let me explain.

While there ARE aspects of the Once-ler fandom that ARE just…I mean…do I have to say it? The porn, the self-cest porn, the Lorax x Once-ler porn, the PORN, OKAY? I’M TRYING TO MAKE THE POINT THAT THE PORN IS KIND OF WEIRD AND GIVES THE FANDOM ITS REPUTATION.

The BEAUTIFUL part of this fandom, however, is the depth to which they’ve attempted to expand the movie’s lore. These people add to the film, add to the story of the Once-ler and the Lorax, and they build up a story that WOULD BE BETTER than the film. They help to recreate the morals of the book, they take aspects of the written Once-ler and apply it to the animated Once-ler.

The 1972 Once-ler followed much closer to the book than this film. He was the arms, legs, and cigar of the original character, and he made SENSE. He was fueled by greed, although he felt remorse. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and at times he hesitated, but ultimately he continued BECAUSE he was progressing. He even posed the question of what would happen to the people, the employed families, if he were to shut down the factory. And the Lorax UNDERSTOOD his side of the argument, but could give no answer. That is PERFECT, and the fans understand that. (Also, I should note that the 1972 Lorax is tossed around FAR more often, and takes an active role in attempting to look out for the animals. He’s MUCH MORE an active guardian than the sassy Lorax of this movie).

The fandom has mixed the Once-ler of both worlds, 1972 and today. Adding that sense of greed with the backstory of the current Once-ler, it makes the character FAR more tragic than the animated version did by itself. Yes, his mother accepted him for only his money and success, and he lost his friends, the animals, as a result, but to know how innocent the character started out as, to see the GRADUAL decline of the forest instead of a happy song with him thrusting constantly, the impact is far greater.

As well, the theoretical stories and plot lines that the fandom has created, such as Granny Norma being the Once-ler’s past lover, are interesting as well. Why DOES she know about the Once-ler, while everyone else in the Thneedville, O’ Hare included, seem to be oblivious to his existence outside of town. I don’t mind those additions, because again, it adds incredible depth to the character, and the story as well.

The reason I enjoy most of the Once-ler fandom is because they improve upon the movie, and they keep my interest in the story. The book is perfect, and the fans truly do a lot of the book justice with some of the things they create. And the ART, oh don’t get me started. Some of you Oncesluts out there are INCREDIBLE artists and I am freaking BLOWN AWAY. I truly appreciate a majority of what you all create.

So I say, with the proudest of smiles, I am a FAN of the Once-ler, a fan of the fandom, and I do not in the least mind seeing a wave of Oncey on my dashboard. Because, when considering how the movie fell flat on its face, I guess that in terms of the Lorax as a movie, the saying holds true.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot

Nothing is going to get better, it’s not!”[2]

Others, such as ok once and for all, what is the onceler fandom ?, are less supportive.

From Is The Grinch the new Once-ler, Tumblr’s autosexual Lorax idol?, a November 2018 retrospective of the fandom:

While in the original animated Lorax special, released in 1972, the Once-ler was just depicted with a set of green sleeves poking out of a window, the directors of the 2012 version decided to put a charming face and actor Ed Helms’ voice to the character driving most of the movie’s plot.
(embed of video: Dr. Seuss' the Lorax (2012) - How Bad Can I Be Scene (7/10))

There was something about Once-ler’s lanky design, his mop of dark hair, and his arc from wide-eyed optimist to edgy bad boy that really spoke to a section of people on Tumblr. He quickly became a fan favorite, spawning massive amounts of fan art and devoted blogs. Essentially, when it comes to popular internet fandoms, it’s not just about having a hot character to fawn over but having a hot character to put into romantic (and yes, usually sexual) relationships with other hot characters. Because the Once-ler was one of the only grown male character in the whole movie, people were at a loss. There was no one to ship with the Once-ler.

So they started shipping him with himself.

It started off with fans pairing the pre-successful, naive Once-ler with his older, more corrupt self (usually referred to as Greed-ler). It was dubbed “Oncest.”

But that wasn’t enough. It’s popular Tumblr practice to create “askblogs,” where users will lightly roleplay as their favorite characters as others send in messages with prompts and what not. But everyone wanted to be the Onceler, so everyone started clamoring to create a different version of the Once-ler. There was Swag Once-ler,Greed Pimp Once-ler, Gentleman Once-ler ... basically any-adjective-you-could-think-of Once-ler.

There was a Once-ler based on the 1972 version of the movie. There were gender-swapped Once-lers. There were Once-lers with two heads. There was every possible variation of Once-ler imaginable and more.

Meta

Fannish Resources

Sources

  1. ^ The Once-ler on the Dr. Seuss wiki
  2. ^ “The Lorax” and the Once-ler Fandom by cailencrow on Tumblr