3 posts tagged one direction
Haha, kind of. I think they are adorable, and I like the very modern, laid back, self-effacing masculinity they embody. They seem like they would be fun to hang out with. Also: when I was 17, my friend Kate and I designed our perfect boyband which was pretty much One Direction manifest, so that’s pretty cool.
And it doesn’t hurt that Louis is the spitting image of the boy I had a crush on in my final year of high school, or that Mr Musings refers to Liam as “the one who looks like me” (er, him). And one of my friends made me One Direction cupcakes for my birthday party this year, after I wrote this article. So, I guess that’s a yes?
As for fangirling in general, I think at its heart it’s an expression of joy and appreciation. Of finding something you connect with and embracing it wholeheartedly. And while it may (and probably should) take a different form as an adult than it did when you were fifteen, I think it’s nice to tap into that youthful enthusiasm when it hits us.
One Direction aren’t the first boy band to be labelled “gay,” but they may be the first not to care. My latest at Daily Life.
If ever there was a pop group perfectly engineered to fuel the fantasy lives of adolescent girls (and a subset of grown woman and gay men), it’s One Direction. The Simon Cowell-managed and -manufactured fivesome are equal in looks and charm (if not necessarily in talent) and sing about parties, kissing, and girls who don’t know they’re beautiful, in songs tailor-made for the Twilight generation.
It wasn’t like this when I was growing up. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the talent was just as uneven and the songs equally corny, but even within the boy band genre, the “cute one” was a one-man role (alongside the “bad boy,” “shy one,” and the “one with the talent”), rather than a prerequisite for appearing on stage at all.
But One Direction differ from the all-male singing groups that came before them in other, less superficial, ways as well. Take the video for their latest ditty, Kiss You, in which Harry Styles, riding on a motorcycle behind Zayn Malik, reaches forward to cheekily tweak his band mate’s nipples. Or their previous hit, Live While We’re Young, in which the boys wrestle, hug, and play with giant inflatable banana. Not to mention the countless TV appearances, interviews and live concerts in which the band have groped or mock-kissed each other for the cameras.Yep, there’s a definite whiff of the homoerotic about 2013’s foremost boy band.Groups of young men who sing, dance and wear brightly coloured jeans (or back in the 1990s, plastic trousers and tight t-shirts) have long been objects of sexual mockery. ‘N Sync, the American boy band famous for launching Justin Timberlake, was the butt of homophobic jokes long before Lance Bass came out of the closet in 2006. The Backstreet Boys? “More like the Backdoor Boys,” the turn of the millennium joke tittered.
One Direction are no different. No sooner had the band’s Kiss You video hit YouTube than aparody emerged with jokes about “gay leprechauns,” “dropping the soap,” and liking men’s butts. Hilarious, no?
But what distinguishes One Direction from their predecessors is that rather than trying to fight these stereotypes by gushing about women and being careful not to stand too closely together, they play up to them.
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)