On Thursday night, Twitter was ablaze with voices screaming (or tweeting) injustice. ‘Unfair portrayal,’ some said. Others told Channel 4 to go die. Others just seemed to lose all sense of sanity and just tweet in gibberish and capital letters. But what had Channel 4 done? Just aired a documentary on the now-notorious fanbase for One Direction. (Of course they had.)
The documentary in question – Crazy About One Direction – was unnerving, fascinating and yet a totally and utterly hilarious peek into the Looking Glass into the confusing world of the Fan Girl.
We saw a girl who says she had met One Direction 64 (!) times. There was a 14 year-old who actually wouldn’t mind if Harry Styles went to jail if they ever got into a relationship (they won’t). A lovely segment where a girl who got drunk and chased after Zayn Malik in his hotel.
But the highlight of the entire documentary was a quite simply ludicrous yet brilliant girl who a) got braces not even because she needed but because Niall – who wasn’t even her ‘favourite’ member of the band – Horan had braces b) compared Twitter to a prayer space and One Direction to God (neither of them or like either) and c) was just a mish-mash of bright neon clothes, urban dialogue and a hilarious countdown where she shouted out random numbers like her life depended on it.
But, obviously, some people took offence at this documentary; the fans themselves. So angry with this ‘totally untrue’ documentary were they that on Twitter there was a frenzy of Tweets swearing (quite literally) to Channel 4 that they were just horrible, horrible human beings, soppy tweets about how nice the real fandom actually was and a fair few screenshots of strongly worded e-mails to Channel 4 telling them to go and do one, basically.
It was actually pretty damn obvious that the subjects were picked for this documentary because they were the hyperbolic definition of a fan; they were crazy, deluded and hilarious. They made good television. But no matter how many fans scream out on Twitter that not every Directioner would tweet Harry Styles with details of family deaths in order to get a tweet, you get a feeling of hypocrisy about the entire situation.
The entire premise of a fan girl and their fandom is already unnerving.
Millions of (mostly) teenage girls locked away in their rooms glued to social networks where they obsessively try to get a tweet or a recognition from their so-called ‘idols’ as if any kind of recognition would actually change their lives apart from making them feel quite nice for a few minutes.
It’s actually quite glaringly obvious that any fan who is actually devoted to One Direction (or any other artist for that matter) is, in one way or another, a reflection of the ensemble of teenage girls that were displayed on Crazy About One Direction.
While they may not all ‘ship’ (where they apparently support a ridiculous made up relationship to compensate for their lack of one in real life) the gay relationship between Harry Styles or Louis Tomlinson – one girl spewed out so much fangirl terminology in one sentence that it was almost hard to keep up – or chase One Direction up and down the country, the collected rabble of ‘Directioners’ (inventive name, eh?) does actually do all of those things, just not all at once.
The Channel 4 documentary quite cleverly displayed to us various actions or beliefs of this one fandom through several teenage girls. These girls were, in essence, avatars and scapegoats for the collective One Direction fans. And, to be brutally honest, they all seem to think that they are more important than every other member of the fandom.
‘I just want to be more than a fan,’ one girl said – wistfully looking into the distance, imagining her future and entirely imaginary wedding to a One Direction member.
Some fans raged on Twitter that this wasn’t the case at all. But, of course it is. Every single ‘Directioner’ will, at least once a day, tweet a member of One Direction. By doing this they think and hope that their idol will notice them above every single other fan tweeting them at that present moment.
While they may not even realise they are doing it, these fan girls are intentionally believing themselves to be even more important and ever more deserving of the attention of One Direction than anyone else. And that does seem quite sad really doesn’t it? While the documentary didn’t make clear the obvious friendships that have been formed through this fandom it’s also pretty damn clear these girls would break off all friendships if they even thought their friend got ‘noticed’ without ‘deserving’ it.
But let’s just go over that phrase, shall we? ‘Deserving.’ How can you ‘deserve’ to get noticed by One Direction? Perhaps if you spend all day every day shut away on a laptop, wasting hours and hours of your time and energy trying to get noticed. Do you ‘deserve’ to get noticed then just because you have, quite simply, become a hermit? No.
Or how about if you spend hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds travelling up and down the country trying to meet One Direction and buying their merchandise. Do you deserve to get noticed because you have bankrupted yourself and your family? No, you do not.
One Direction do not ask you to waste all of your money on their merchandise – they probably don’t want you to spend your money on some of the hideous merchandise. You do not ‘deserve’ to get noticed simply because you decided you were going to spend money.
Oh, and there’s just one more thing; it’s quite sad how these girls said that others were simply more deserving than others. Who the hell are they to decide this? Who elected them Queen of the Fandom (nobody, but it would be quite interesting if a Queen was voted for)? The simple fact of the matter is that the only people who decide who gets tweeted are One Direction themselves. And, to put it quite simply, they choose whoever the hell they want and they do it at random. They don’t have a chart of those most deserving, they don’t necessarily care who you are or they don’t care why you think you need a tweet more than anyone else.
It is simply, in their hands. If anything, the documentary in question simply showed what a ludicrous thing fandoms are. Not even necessarily formed by fans for fans (it’s quite interesting to think an act’s label simply want a fandom to give their artist more promotion and not to support the fans at all), fandoms are a weird craze of our time.
Some may say that when One Direction split up (expect it to happen sooner rather than later, either Zayn or Harry will jump ship first. Zayn because he’s bored, Harry for a solo career) the Directioners will no longer exist.
But that won’t happen. These girls will just continue to obsess over this band until the band itself are gone and then instead of looking forward to new events, music or tours, they will simply countdown to anniversaries of single releases or when Harry broke up with Taylor Swift. These girls will become women and these women will enter the world a shell of the human they could have been simply due to the fact they wasted their teenage years lusting after this not-even-OK-band.
And if the documentary showed us anything, it’s that the sooner these fandoms end, the better.
If not, see you in 35 years time for Crazier About Direction: OAP Edition.