Sometime last week, long after the watershed, Channel 4 aired ‘Crazy about One Direction’: a heartfelt documentary following the antics of a handful of teenage girls who just happened to have gone pant-wettingly bonkers for hair-cutty boyband One Direction. Now I am not, and may never be, a One Direction fan. That is not to say that I think that investing nearly all of your time and energy in obsessively tracking each movement and utterance of five boys dancing in tight jeans is a bad thing; it is a necessity.
When I was a teenage girl there was no limit to my capacity to lust over boys: famous or otherwise, dead or alive. I stalked the fleeting objects of my desire with the kind of murderous tenacity that only a small-town adolescent girl can cultivate. Seriously, I couldn’t have put a lid on it if I tried. I once (please bear in mind this was during the pre-camera era) cut out a miniscule picture of my unrequited love, taped it to my Nokia 3310 and proceeded to weep over it at every sleepover I attended for the following months. If that’s not fodder for potentially the most melancholic haiku ever, I don’t know what is. Aside from the one time I actually was one, I can’t claim to be an expert on the behavioural patterns of teenage girls. However, the frenzied obsession that the self-proclaimed ‘Directioners’ are caught up in looks pretty much the same as those photographs of girls screaming at the Beatles. The accessories have advanced, but the expressions sure haven’t.
As I watched one particularly enamoured Harry Styles fan bend down and kiss the concrete outside the bakery he used to work in, my reaction was not one of shock, but of familiarity. Although we might look back on them fondly, the early sexual encounters we experience as adolescents are far from fulfilling. Although it is sexy in a ‘I hope my parents don’t walk in’ kind of way, having someone endlessly grope your boobs through your t-shirt whilst you nervously debate whether or not you want those same hands delving into your underwear is a recipe for an explosion of potent sexual frustration. With this in mind, it is a little easier to understand why some directioners are driven to breaking into their beloved’s hotel lobbies, or even writing homoerotic fan-fiction (HE-LLO) to fuel their collective desire.
It is basic human instinct to place those whom we love and admire on a pedestal, and this is exaggerated ten-fold when that person has already been groomed to untouchable perfection. In our celeb-centric culture and its social media breeding-ground, it has become all too easy to blur the line between the real and that which is fabricated for our entertainment. To quote a Directioner: “I just want to know that they exist.”
One Direction have been allowed (by management and fans alike) to achieve the status of unattainable demigods, and so have naturally become vessels for the otherwise blind and misguided sexual frustrations of teenage girls. Because they are so unreachable, they provide a relatively safe-place for the affections and arousal of teenagers who aren’t quite ready to dip their toes into the altogether more real world of blowjobs and hickeys.
Basically, adolescent girls have been crying themselves horny over boys who can sing since the dawn of time. The only difference is that now, the space in which their batshit-crazy fascination manifests itself is almost entirely public. We shouldn’t be concerned or horrified by the use of social media outlets to vocalize absolute teenage-mania; if you really believe that you love someone, don’t you just want to shout it from the rooftops too?
As much as they may not want to believe it, and have the tattoos to try and disprove it, the Directioners’ affections for those puppy-faced puppets are going to fade away as they make way for some actual hard-crushing on somebody who occupies the real world. But for the time being, why not let them enjoy the rollercoaster ride of longing to be boned by a pop star. After all, cry-masturbating over my Kurt Cobain poster never did me any real harm.