I'm no fan of One Direction. Sure, you'll occasionally catch me humming along to 'What Makes You Beautiful', and I have been known to say I'd be willing to see them live as long as I had a bag with which to cover my head, but I'm no actually a fan. They exist, and I am more tolerant towards them than I am towards the likes of David Guetta, but I don't go out of my way to listen to them. That said, however, I do respect them a bit for becoming such a phenomenon, in an age where kids are so wrapped up in trying to be cool that they avoid becoming passionate about anything. I mean, what really separates these young 'Directioners' from my own Victims? As it happens, a lot.
I'm accustomed to almost daily One Direction Twitter trends, and usually I don't even understand them, so I pass directly over them. Much the same way as 90% of the world reacted when the Victims managed to trend 'Inclement Weather'. But hey, cool, the fandom has inside jokes. Carry on.
Anyway, yesterday a few tweets involving One Direction and The Who caught my eye. Seems The Boys used a little bit of 'Baba O'Riley' as the intro for their new song, the super-smartly named (#sarcasm) 'Best Song Ever'. I took it upon myself to have a little listen, and yes, the intro is exactly the same. And so I allowed myself to explore the tweets, and was shocked at what I found. Now, it's one thing to stand up for your favourite band, if anyone insulted The Killers within 5 miles of me, they'd get a punch to the face (I'm still holding a grudge against Zebra & Giraffe after almost 4 years, for one tiny insult). It's a whole other thing to send the opposition death threats. "I will kill you and your whole band!" read more than one tweet. Well, honey, 50% of The Who are dead already, so you'd not have a very large job on your hands. Perhaps even worse were the "Who are The Who?!" and "They're so much less famous than 1D lol no one even knows who they are." Tweets. I mean come on! If you're not British, I might let it slide, but these little UK citizens who don't know who The Who are?! But I digress...
Today's Twitter trend shocked me even more. #RIPLarryShippers was a trend from early this morning, and - under the assumption that Larry Shippers might be some famous but unfortunate soul - I clicked on it. Well. Turns out Larry Shippers is not a person at all, but rather a group of One Direction fans who 'ship' (imagine a relationship between) two of the members - Louis and Harry. The Twitter rumour goes on to say that some unknown number - ranging between 14 and 100 - of these fans killed themselves last night.
Just absorb that for a moment.
Okay, let's continue. Rumour has it that after a documentary about the 1D fandom aired, these kids got a bunch of online hate and killed themselves. Said documentary apparently portrayed the fans as crazy, obsessive kids who do nothing but stalk the boyband all day, every day.
Now firstly, no one should be bullying anyone about their taste in music AT ALL. You may ask if that's not exactly what I'm doing here, and the answer would be no. I am writing an exploratory opinion piece on fandoms. You go ship whoever the hell you want.
Secondly, I 100% believe that this is just a rumour. I mean really, if there had been some sort of mass teen suicide all citing the same cause, we'd definitely have heard about it by now, right? This leads me to my third, and most disturbing point: if these kids did kill themselves over this, it's awful, and horrible, and just not okay, but if it's just a rumour, perhaps it's just as bad. What kind of disturbed human beings would make up a rumour about such a thing? And if they did, what is the reason behind it? To get a Twitter trend?
I meant to write a post about how crazy some of the One Direction fans are, but halfway through I realised that I'd answered my own question posed at the beginning: how different are they from the Victims? Haven't I flown across the world to see my favourite band? Haven't I trawled the streets wondering which hotel they're in? Haven't I taken photos with their road crew? Haven't I stayed up to ridiculous hours of the night to watch live streams and take part in Twitter Q & As? Some might call that pretty obsessive, but to me it doesn't feel creepy. And I'm sure that to the kids in the documentary don't think they're doing anything abnormal.
So where do we draw the line? What is okay and what isn't? I have a few guidelines:
- You need other interests. If you obsess over just one band, you'll miss out on other seriously good music. Have your favourite, have that one band you'd do anything for, but love other things too.
- Don't Tweet them obsessively. You also need to have some kind of limit on what kind of online content is appropriate and what isn't.
- Respect their privacy. It's one thing to wait outside venues hoping to meet your favourites, but another to stalk their houses. (Says the girl who went to Coldplay's studio.)
- It is completely fine to say that music saved your life. Because sometimes it's true. But really, nothing is worth suicide pacts and cutting (Beliebers, I'm talking to you).
- Do it for the music. Love your favourite band members like they're your family, but remember that you're never actually going to marry them. Love them primarily for the music. (Says the girl who refers to The Killers as her children).
Actually, you know what, ignore me. I'm just as bad as the worst kids on that 1D documentary, aren't I? Screw it, go find Harry's house and tell him I say hi.