If you had the stamina to watch not only this year’s 3 hour and 26 minutes Oscars but also the post-awards interviews, you may have caught Jared Leto‘s comments. After being asked how he felt about his win, the 2014 Best Supporting Actor award-winner said, “There’s a group of people out there called the echelon that are gonna be very very very proud. They’re gonna be partying tonight.”

What is this echelon? Well, have you ever heard of 30 Seconds To Mars, the LA-based pop trio that Leto heads with his brother Shannon? Well, put simply, the echelon is a cult, a very modern cult, that is full of a surprising number of uber-obessive young 30 Seconds To Mars fans. That’s echelon and they’re wild. “There’s a group of people out there called the echelon that are gonna be very very very proud. They’re gonna be partying tonight.”

Now, worshiping celebrities isn’t really all that new: how many young men bleached their hair blonde so they could be like Eminem or would/have committed murder to get their hands on Kanye‘s Yeezy 2s? But, Leto’s is the definition of a Modern Cult.

They have all the obligatory elements of a modern cult:

  • The symbols, a triangular design called the triad.
  • The tattoos, see Leto’s forearms and the pictures of little girls with triads on their necks in the gallery above.
  • The catchphrase, which is literally “This is a cult”.
  • The confessional music videos dedicated to the echelon’s obsession, see the 30 Seconds To Mars video for “Do or Die” below in which the band asked their fans to videotape themselves getting tattooed.
  • The internet hub called  a 30 Seconds To Mars forum that is full of strangely named discussion boards like “The Hive”, “Purgatory”, “The Pantheon” and more.
  • The mini cult economy in which little entrepreneurs sell each other 30 Seconds To Mars trinkets, think something between silly bands and rave kandi, again see the gallery above.

30 Seconds To Mars “Do or Die”

But By Far The Weirdest Part Of This Whole Story, Is That They Cut Off Their Ears and Send Them To Leto…

Cult of Jared Leto

Speaking to a UK radio station back in March 2013, Leto explained,

“The fans [echelon] are an incredibly committed and passionate group of people. Going to a show is kind of like visiting Japan — you expect gifts on your arrival. You get all kinds of wonderful things… Someone cut their ear off once and sent it to me. That was very strange. A whole ear. The Van Gogh move. The note just said, ‘Are you listening?’ I never knew who it was, who’s missing their ear out there.”

So, after getting this ear, what did Leto do? Apparently, he poked a hole in it and wore it as a necklace, even posted the above picture of it on his Instagram (that has since been removed). Now, it’s impossible to verify if that was a legit ear or just some prop that Leto got to troll the Internet with, but given the kind of obsessive soul that Leto apparently attracts, it’s without a doubt possible.

So, next time you hear 30 Seconds To Mars playing on the radio or see Leto in some movie somewhere — he stars in Mr. Nobody due out this fall — just know, this is what he’s up to.

For some follow up research, check out the #ECHELON hashtag on Twitter. It’s wild.

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Cult of Jared Leto