Fans of Conan O'Brien, who announced he wouldn't accept NBC's plan to move "The Tonight Show" to midnight, have flooded Twitter with the #TeamConan hashtag. In my latest Word Routes column on the Visual Thesaurus, I trace the evolution of the "Team X" meme (what Arnold Zwicky would call a snowclonelet composite) — from Team Xerox to Team Aniston to Team Edward. An excerpt:
"Team X" didn't cross over into pop-cultural usage until the summer of 2005, when Brad Pitt began appearing in public with Angelina Jolie, soon after his divorce from Jennifer Aniston. Ah, the mid-aughts, when the "Brangelina" portmanteau was inescapable. This celebrity coupling generated huge amounts of fodder for the tabloids and the budding blogosphere. On June 14, 2005, the New York Daily News reported that T-shirts reading "Team Aniston" or "Team Jolie" were all the rage in Los Angeles. There was even a three-month waiting list for the shirts (with Team Aniston "overwhelmingly" outselling Team Jolie, according to manufacturer White Trash Charms).
[Update: Please read the whole Word Routes column before commenting! My argument about the pop-cultural usage is preceded by examples from the sporting world, going back to "Team USA," "Team Canada," and the like from 1976. Starting in '05, that type of formation began to be applied by people with a rooting interest in a celebrity or fictional character.]