A few days ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary that sent Twitter into meltdown and left many people either laughing or crying. I was one of the many who was laughing. By now stating this, I am currently at risk of being killed (online) by any “Directioner” who comes across this post. Wish me luck.
The picture above features the girls who appeared in the documentary that caused a huge controversy among One Direction fans a few days ago. Crazy about One Direction told the tale of the teenage girls whose love and eternal devotion for the band had turned into what could only be described as an unhealthy obsession.
Let’s focus on me for just a minute. A big fan of music, especially indie/alternative rock, I would say that I’m quite devoted to the bands I love listening to. I’m aware of the whole fandom idea and completely understand how people can be “mad” about a band or celebrity. I love a certain man or two too. That’s quite normal, really. We can all love (or just really, really like) people who have no idea that we exist, but in a way that is perhaps controlled without being irrational.
However, what Channel 4 did was show, in a strangely brilliant way, what teenage fandom can do to vulnerable teenage girls when it becomes slightly… well, unhealthy. The backlash the documentary suffered – both during and after it was aired – from the One Direction fans who were angered at their portrayal was only further proof of the way that teenage fandom can brainwash and corrupt the mind of teenage girls. Not to say that only teenagers were feeling angry. I’m sure a grown woman was amongst them too. Or a grown man. Maybe. Possibly. Hah.
In my opinion, Channel 4 did not set out to portray these girls as obsessive weirdoes or psychopaths with no social life, but rather, as teenage girls who couldn’t see anything but four famous, young adults as being the centre of their universe. These are girls who can only connect with the band and with anyone who loves them as much as they do. For me, this documentary is just the start of an attempt to highlight the bizarre and concerning nature of celebrity fandom.
Let’s talk about the girl who kick-started our descent into the documentary. Sitting in a room full of One Direction merchandise, Natasha talked of how she only got braces because they’re a “fashion icon” but also, because Niall from the band also had them too. Following on from this, we saw two teenage girls discussing, very calmly, killing kittens in order to see the band and spend time with them. “Oh, but they have a heart too!” cried her friend. Yet when killing a goldfish was suggested as an alternative, this same friend had a momentary lapse and forgot that goldfish also have a heart, just like a kitten does. One girl proudly stated that she was part of a fandom that could kill people if they wanted to, and what struck me was the calm way she said it. I might be over-exaggerating, but there was definitely a sneer in her voice. The strange things the girls say and do is a list I could make for a while, but I don’t think I’m going to repeat everything that was said and done, because that could take a while, and I could get too sarcastic. You should watch the documentary to receive the full impact of it all. Really.
Anyway, Crazy about One Direction left me completely stunned. To see such young girls going to such extreme lengths to see or get close to four guys who in all honestly, have better things to do is heart-breaking and saddening. The obsessive way in which they discuss their idols but also go about trying to see them reflects a youth in turmoil and in need of restraint. I don’t see anything right in girls so young chasing and tormenting a woman on her way to a press conference and lounging around outside a hotel to see Zayn Malik’s hair. One Direction and their Twitter-centred universe has left these girls living lives hooked to their mobile phones and forgetting that life outside their love for the band actually exists.
Now, I’m not forgetting that this documentary showed perhaps a minority. I’m sure there are One Direction fans who behave in what I can only deem a more controlled manner, but the fact of the matter is that more fans like the girls depicted in the documentary probably exist. I can laugh at them all I want and be bitter and sarcastic, but this documentary had the ability to make me think about the power of celebrity and the frightening traits it can instil within human beings.