When I was 17, my friend Kate and I decided that someday, when we were really old - like, 30 or something - we would start our own boyband.
Boybands, we reasoned, weren’t put together based on their talent (sorry, JT), but on their sexual/romantic appeal to teenage girls. So why, then, did each boyband only have one or two attractive members? Why couldn’t there be a boyband in which every member was a teenage girl’s fantasy come true? We would call them the HotBoys.
I can’t help thinking that One Direction is the real life manifestation that boyband. And the adolescent female response to them? Has been pretty much exactly as you’d imagine. As my friend and colleague Clementine Ford wrote earlier this week: “[W]hile the official story is that One Direction hail from England, it seems equally plausible at this point that they were willed into the universe by the collective longing of a million young teenage girls.”
Much has been said about how phenomena like Justin Bieber, One Direction and Edward Cullen (and Leonardo DiCaprio, *NSync and the Beatles) provide a safe, unthreatening outlet for female desire. Lust all you want, young ladies, because you’re probably not going to lose your virginity to any of these guys or their freshly razored chests.
But I think there’s an equally interesting story to be told about the way in which groups like One Direction bond girls. Last year, a very clever friend (that’d be Nina Funnell) sent me an email bouncing around some ideas she’d be working on about the way movies from The Virgin Suicides to Knocked Up show heterosexual men bonding over shared desire for women. Where were the images of women bonding over their desire for men, she wondered?
“Teen pop stars!” I replied. Kate and I didn’t just fantasise about starting our own boyband. We delighted over meeting someone who
lusted after was IN LOVE WITH the same pop star we were, who felt the same passion and excitement we did, and with whom - as Kate wittily put it a year or two later - we could laugh about “all those stupid teenyboppers who thought they were in love with Taylor, when we really were.”
That neither of us had a shot in hell meant there was no competition. And if it turned out we did have a shot? Well, hey - we would share him.
So, while I’m somewhat baffled by the degree of “excitement” a second-runner up on UK X Factor (cute though they may be) seems to be eliciting around the globe, I can’t hate on their fans.
And if you want to “get” what the fuss is all about, this was - in my opinion - their best performance on the show. Two of them can even sing.
Related: Edward Cullen: typical teenage Tiger Beat dreamboat
When will I, will I be famous?
Elsewhere: One Direction and teen sexuality (Daily Life)