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LOVE ME DO From Frank Sinatra to One Direction.

A look at the Boy Bands and their Super Fans.


The community that arises around a band, movie, TV show, or sports team is known as a fandom. Each fandom contains its own culture, rules, and in-jokes that facilitate community engagement involving a subject that the members of the group are passionate about. Participants in fandom seek out those with this common interest in order to discuss, critique, consume, and enjoy content as part of a community.


1844 - 2015


words by Kaya Mendelsohn, Olivia Goodhill, Leo Benedictus, Michael Serazio, Jon Savage, ElvisFansOnly, Dorian Lynskey, Antony Summers, Robyn Swann, Gary Cadwallader, Lottie Hanson-Lowe, MaryAnn Eifert, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Rob Baker, Francesca Cookney, Dominic Midgley, Joshua Fowler, Paul Sorene, Sunday People, Amanda Owen, Keris Stainton, Rosalind Brookman, Jack Kibble-White, Dyamond Howell, Richard Metzger, Francesca Cookney, Hermione Pond, Bridget Coulter, Radhika Sanghani & Mike Diver.


INDEX FOREWARD A MANIA PART I: THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS PART II: THE SCREAMERS PART III: MINE TURNED SEPTIC PART IV: THE BROSETTES PART V: THE ERA OF THE VERSUS PART VI: HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS PART VII: #GENERATIONyNOT


FOREWORD

What it Means to be a Real Fan Regardless of what content is being celebrated, each fandom has its own set of rules deining what makes a ‘true’ or ‘real’ fan. While the details might be different across groups, there is a general consensus across fandom that a real fan is one who knows every statistic on the subject, knows the details of major events, and shows active loyalty toward the subject. In a boy band fandom, a real fan does not casually consume the band’s music, but knows every lyric by heart, posts pictures on social media sites or bedroom walls, and reads faniction about the band. The stereotype of the obsessive or ‘crazy’ boy band fan is rooted in this extreme devotion to pictures, videos, and music that seem, to an outsider, to be vapid and shallow, focusing on good looks or cliché lyrics. A real fan, however, has emotional ties to this content, having formed lasting and meaningful relationships as a result of fandom subscription. In a sports fandom, a real fan is not necessarily someone who goes to every game, but who experiences the game in the presence of other sports fans . This communal experience could take place at a pub, on an online forum, with friends at a viewing party, or at the associated ield or stadium. Interaction between fans of the same team is important to build community and strengthen bonds. Knowledge of the game is necessary in order to be considered a real fan, and women are often thought of as lacking in this knowledge, causing them to be rarely considered true sports fans. Both groups prioritize loyalty and devotion and may allow these qualities to become more important than being friendly to outsiders or potential new members, sometimes creating unwelcoming barriers when it comes to new fans. While fandom might act like a home or place of comfort to those at its core, people who do not feel as strongly about the content or do not resemble the ‘typical fan’ might encounter an icy welcome and a lack of friendly counterparts. In a sports fandom, this person facing persecution might be a woman, thought to lack the necessary masculine energy and sports knowledge to truly iniltrate the fandom. In a boy band fandom, this person might be a man or gender nonconforming individual, lying outside the typical picture of what deines a fan of this kind of content. Sports and boy band fandoms can be resistant to legitimize those aforementioned groups to which the subject is not generally targeted, contributing to stigma around the ‘real fans’ in each respective fandom.


INTRO


A MANIA

An Introduction ‘The ecstatic audience, breathing deeply in its rapt enthusiasm, can no longer hold back its shouts of acclaim: they stamp unceasingly with their feet, producing a dull and persistent sound that is punctuated by isolated, involuntary screams.’ A review the of Liszt’s fans, Paris, 1844

The sufix, ‘mania’, was irst applied to a fandom in 1844 when German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine coined the word Lisztomania to describe the ‘true madness, unheard of in the annals of furore’ that broke out at concerts by the piano virtuoso Franz Liszt. The word had medical resonances and Heine considered various possible causes of the uproar, from the biological to the political, before deciding, prosaically, that it was probably just down to Liszt’s exceptional talent, charisma and showmanship. There were other celebrity ‘manias’ in subsequent decades but no musical performer inspired the same intensity and media soul-searching as Liszt until Frank Sinatra began his residency at New York’s Paramount theatre in October 1944. The so-called Columbus Day Riot, when thousands of teenage ‘bobby-soxers’ rampaged through Times Square, inspired reporter Bruce Bliven to call it ‘a phenomenon of mass hysteria that is only seen two or three times in a century. You need to go back not merely to Lindbergh and Valentino to understand it, but to the dance madness that overtook some German villages in the middle ages, or to the Children’s Crusade’. This behaviour sounds very familiar to the modern reader. One of Sinatra’s publicists described how fans ‘squealed, howled, kissed his pictures with their lipsticked lips and kept him prisoner in his dressing room. It was wild, crazy, completely out of control.’


PART 1

How the arrival of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley introduced the world to the ‘superfans’.

The B The B


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS

Bosses of Business


PART 1


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS

In the 1930s, young girls were recruited and paid $5 to scream and even faint on demand by Frank Sinatra’s press agent, George Evans. Although those irst girl may not have been ‘true fans’, Evan’s guerilla marketing techniques worked. What began next was a revolution in the way that singers interact with their fans. What was new was the power that one singer held, heralded by mass screaming, and the advent of the teenager as a social ideal. Sinatra was the irst modern pop star.


PART 1

‘Then the great moment arrived. Sinatra appeared on stage ... hysterical shouts of ‘Frankie ... Frankie’; you’ve heard the squeals on the radio when he sings. Multiply that by about a thousand times and you get an idea of the deafening noise.’ Weegee On 12 October 1944, Frank Sinatra opened his third season at New York’s Paramount theatre. It was Columbus Day, a public holiday, and the bobby-soxers turned out in force. The famed New York photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was there with his camera and notebook, capturing the scene in hyperventilated prose. ‘Oh! Oh! Frankie,’ he began, mimicking the girls’ ululations. ‘The line in front of the Paramount theatre on Broadway starts forming at midnight. By four in the morning, there are over 500 girls … they wear bobby sox (of course), bow ties (the same as Frankie wears) and have photos of Sinatra pinned to their dresses…


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS


PART 1


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS

For Weegee, this was another example of the human extremities that he documented with his instinct for the climatic moments in New York life: what he didn’t mention was the fact that, after each performance, the Paramount was drenched in urine. Like Rudolph Valentino’s funeral in 1926, or The Wizard of Oz opening in 1939, the Columbus Day riot was a generation-deining media event acted out on Manhattan’s streets: during the day some 30,000 frenzied bobby-soxers swarmed over Times Square in an exhilarated display of girl power. Sinatra’s fame had been steadily building. His breakthrough came in his irst Paramount season in December 1942, when the theatre erupted with ‘ive thousand kids stamping, yelling, screaming, applauding’. These scenes only intensiied during his return in May 1943. The mania overtook the hype: his press agents remembered hiring ‘girls to scream when he sexily rolled a note. But we needn’t have. The dozen girls we hired to scream and swoon did exactly as we told them. But hundreds more we didn’t hire screamed even louder. It was wild, crazy, completely out of control.’ Although nearly 29 by October 1944, Sinatra was slightly built, nervous and youthful: ‘It was the war years,’ he later said, ‘there was a great loneliness. I was the boy in every corner drugstore, the boy who had gone to war.’ In concert, he seduced his young audience. His bright blue eyes raked the crowd, singling out individuals so that he appeared to be singing for them alone, just one in a crowd of thousands. Matched to the ethereal kitsch of slow ballads such as Embraceable You, ‘The Voice’ – as Sinatra was known – cast a spell that suspended time.

Sinatra’s rise was unstoppable, for he illed a deep need. Bliven thought that the bobby-soxers at the Paramount ‘found in him, for all his youthfulness, something of a father image. And beyond that, he represents a dream of what they themselves might conceivably do or become.’


PART 1

In the mid-40s, Sinatra became a national igure of controversy and criticism. He was blamed for making young people lose ‘control of their emotions’, and was attacked for being out of uniform: because of an injury, he had been ruled unit for duty in 1943. Yet his status was conirmed in September 1944 when he went to the White House and met the president. Franklin Roosevelt had already made public statements linking American politics with its popular music, but this meeting was a shrewdly taken opportunity to reafirm that adolescents were a vital part of American society. The Columbus Day riots coincided with the invention of the teenage market. In September 1944, the magazine Seventeen was launched, which declared to its primarily female readers: ‘you are the bosses of the business’. It was an immediate success, selling half a million copies. Seventeen offered a non-patronising approach that struck a chord, and it focused Americans on the barely recognised purchasing power of adolescents: estimated at $750m (£465m).

The hysteria that surrounded Sinatra in October 1944 came at a crux time in the history of America and its youth. It reafirmed the collective power of young women, and how they have always been central to pop.


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS


PART 1


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS

‘53

Back in 1953, Elvis Presley was a shy, 18 year old boy entering a recording studio to cut two songs on an acetate disk at a cost of four dollars. By April 1955, Elvis had gained all star success. Just as Sinatra, Elvis attracted record numbers of young women to his shows. On the 13th April, the papers report that many of the young women ‘swooned with his every appearance on stage’. It is also noted that more than one man is overheard saying: ‘I’d like to meet him out behind the bar’, or ‘I’d better not see any girlfriend of mine going up after an autograph from that singer’. In May, hysteria breaks out backstage after a concert in Jacksonville. Elvis announces to a good portion of the audience of 14,000: ‘Girls, I’ll see you backstage’. The response is a full-scale riot, with fans pursuing Elvis into the dressing room and tearing off his clothes and shoes. The rise of Elvis saw the irst use of the term, ‘superfan’ – a base of extremely dedicated fans that devoted their lives to the worshipping of their chosen King.


PART 1


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS


PART 1

Sandra Friery, 14, a latecoming fan club member, ran through the group and the singer awarded her a kiss. ‘Don’t sue me, honey,’ he pleaded.


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS

Joan Mehen was one of several Presley fans who fainted as they waited for hours in a crushing crowd for the Coliseum doors to open Saturday afternoon. The policemen helping her are B.E. Gerhart and H.A. Tucker.


PART 1

This unidentiied teenager found Elvis Presley ‘too much’ when he appeared at the Arena in Philadelphia, April 6, 1957. The girl matched gyrations in her seat with the gyrations of Presley on the stage.


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS


PART 1


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS

Sunny Judith K. Palmer is a lesh-andblood monument to the durability of Elvis Aron Presley. ‘Fan’ doesn’t quite say it; ‘devotee’ comes closer. ‘Everything I found out about Elvis is just what I believed he was,’ she says. On an average Sunday, Miss Palmer writes 30 letters to Elvis. She says she has been a superfan since 1960 when she was just 12 years old. Wayne Calson, 1973


PART 1

From 1969 through 1975, Elvis Presley was the undisputed king of the Las Vegas Strip—14 engagements, record-breaking crowds, triumphant reviews. Presley was in his 30s then, and his lashy show was a perfect match with the showroom clientele of that era. In a Las Vegas Sun column, Bud Lilly, publicity director for the New Frontier Hotel, tried his best to prepare Vegas patrons for Presley’s act. ‘Here is a nonchalant phenomenon whom, as yet, no one has accurately described,’ Lilly asserted. ‘Here is a young man who has an inherent ability to arouse mass hysteria (or should I say, ecstasy?) wherever he goes, yet is unassuming and completely untouched by the fabulous success he has achieved almost overnight.’ Even after Elvis’ death in 1977, the superfans live on. People dedicate their lives to become ‘Elvis Impersonators’; and his former residence, ‘Graceland’, has since been transformed into monumental shine to the late performer, with thousands visiting every year. It was those irst performances, however, that signalled the introduction of the next wave of superfans, The Screamers.


THE BOSSES OF THE BUSINESS


PART 2

The music industry had found its new power group The Screamers.

When British boy band, The Beatles landed in America in 1964, nothing could have prepared them for the 4000 screaming girls who would have to be restrained by police behind metal barrages. This level of hysteria amongst fans had never been seen before. Although pop fandom has since become more complex and more self-documenting (few Beatles fans had cameras), the tropes of Beatlemania have recurred in fan crazes from the Bay City Rollers to One Direction: the screaming, the queuing, the waiting, the longing, the trophy-collecting, the craving for even the briefest contact.

Andi Lothian, Scottish Promoter booked The Beatles in October 1963 ~

‘It was absolute pandemonium. Girls fainting, screaming, wet seats. The whole hall went into some kind of state, almost like collective hypnotism. I’d never seen anything like it.’


The Screamers

THE SCREAMERS


PART 2 1


THE SCREAMERS

To abandon control - to scream, to faint, dash about in mobs was, in form, if not in conscious intent, to protest sexual repressiveness, the rigid double standard of female teen cults. It was the irst most dramatic uprising of women’s sexual revolution.


PART 2

The 1960s was a decade marked not only by The Beatles’ global conquest but also by the stirrings and eventual advent of radical feminism. Particularly in the United States, women began searching for liberation in various areas of life, such as freedom from traditional domestic roles imposed by the historical patriarchy of society. According to Marcy Lanza, an early American fan of the Beatles, the women’s movement, ‘didn’t just happen. It was an awareness that came over you – that you could be your own person. For many of us, that began with The Beatles. They told us we could do anything.’ The Beatles provided the opportunity for women to break free from expected gender norms through a movement that the press called ‘Beatlemania,’ a new kind of fanaticism that seized the 1960s with unprecedented ferocity. Beatlemania was the irst widespread outburst during the sixties to feature women – in this case, teenage girls – in a radical context.


THE SCREAMERS


PART 2

All the girls talked about marrying their favourite Beatle and I think that terriied our parents. Linda Ihle

‘63


THE SCREAMERS


PART 2


THE SCREAMERS


PART 2

The most primal instinct of the fan is to talk to other fans and I think there’s something in that idea of community and collectivity. It’s important. Susan Clerc Teenage girl fans are still patronised by the press today. As Grant says, ‘Teenage girls are perceived as a mindless horde: one huge, undifferentiated emerging hormone.’ In an inluential 1992 essay, Fandom as Pathology, US academic Joli Jensen observed: ‘Fandom is seen as a psychological symptom of a presumed social dysfunction… Once fans are characterised as a deviant, they can be treated as disreputable, even dangerous ‘others’.’ ‘Lots of different fans are seen as strange,’ says Dr Ruth Deller, principal lecturer in media and communications at Shefield Hallam University, who writes extensively about fan behaviour. ‘Some of that has to do with class: different pursuits are seen as more culturally valuable than others. Some of it has to do with gender. There’s a whole range of cultural prejudices. One thing our society seems to value is moderation. Fandom represents excess and is therefore seen as negative.’

It makes you feel like part of something larger. You’re not by yourself. Individually, teenagers are isolated and worried and scared all the time of whether or not they’re doing the right things and wearing all the right clothes, but everybody liked The Beatles so everybody was equal, we were all in it together.


THE SCREAMERS


PART 3

e n i M ed n r u T c i t p e S


MINE TURNED SEPTIC

EVERYONE remembers Beatlemania. The Fab Four created a fan frenzy wherever they appeared. Yet a decade after their 1960s’ peak, an equally hysterical teenage phenomenon gripped Britain. It was called Rollermania. The members of the group concerned were so adored that they were forced to turn up at concerts in an armoured car. They sold an estimated 120 million records and generated revenues in excess of £5 billion in today’s money. In Edinburgh 1966, a bassist Alan Longmuir, his younger brother, drummer Derek Longmuir, and their school-friend, lead singer Gordon ‘Nobby’ Clark formed The Saxons. Two years later they changed their name to The Bay City Rollers by throwing a dart at a map of the United States and it landed near Bay City in Michigan. To the surprise of most people, and almost certainly the band, the popularity of The Bay City Rollers exploded and a string of UK hits followed.


PART 3


MINE TURNED SEPTIC

The obsessive nature of the obsessive fans became known as ‘Rollermania’ and it even had its own song. Over and over and over again the fans would chant (to the tune of This Old Man): B-A-Y, B-A-Y, B-A-Y, C-I-T-Y, With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S, Bay City Rollers are the best! Eric, Derek, Woody too, Alan, Leslie, we love you, With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S, Bay City Rollers are the best!


PART 3


MINE TURNED SEPTIC

Recollecting this time three decades later, Alan Longmuir said: ‘You couldn’t walk the street. There were 100 girls outside my house every day. You never had your own time. In 1974 I had one day off and that was to go to a wedding.’

‘73


PART 3


MINE TURNED SEPTIC

‘ Mine turned septic and me mum was right mad.’

By now the distinctive clothing worn by the fans of the band was seen all over the country and not just in Scotland. The uniform usually featured calflength trousers with tartan trimmings and small tartan scarves tied around the wrists. In 1975, Michael Parkin of The Guardian unkindly wrote of ‘A monstrous regiment of girls’ and described that some of them had: ‘faint scars on their forearms where they have drawn blood while scratching ‘Eric’ or ‘Les’ with a pin – the stigmata of pop. ‘Mine turned Septic’ said one girl, ‘and me mum was right mad’.


PART 3

One Woman & Rollermania:

Pushing and shoving, bragging, showing off, posing. This was what being a fan was? Wow, I was naive. Why this band had such an effect on me is beyond me... But it happened. Within a week of owning their self-titled LP I was searching for their 3 imports, I had a huge crush on the bass player, Alan Longmuir, because I thought he was the most distinguished and handsome of the lot. I even regressed back to my pre-teen self and bought a 16 magazine special that was on the band. It was crazy. I was crazy. But lucky for me I had a friend who liked the lead singer, Les McKeown (he was my 2nd favourite), so I wasn’t on my own on this wild rollercoaster ride. I had it bad and it only got worse. In April, 1976, KHJ radio in LA, announced they would be doing a few Wherehouse instores in the area and went as far as telling the light times of their arrival on California soil. I was now focused on only one thing. Seeing and meeting them. Of all the bands I had liked in the past, I never felt that inclination. I was satisied with the music. With the Rollers I wasn’t satisied. Was this what it was like for teenage girls in the sixties when the Beatles arrived in the US? I read about the mania in Britain and it seemed similar. Girls throwing themselves onto the band at concerts, screaming hysterically. Surely at my age, I would never behave in such a manner. But this was the irst time I felt I had a chance of getting close to my idols. The articles and media made it sound possible. So I set my sights on doing just that as I made my way to the LA airport to meet TWA light 761 arriving from London at 4:10 on Saturday April 17th.


MINE TURNED SEPTIC

When I arrived at the airport there were a number of fans there. Some decked out in Roller gear: short trousers, high top sneakers, stripey socks and tartan scarves, others just hoping to be the one that they would single out. They tried to outdo one another with their trivia. I didn’t think I would scream but it was catchy. You get caught up in the moment. There was no security around them and they had to push through all of us to get to their limousine. We were being pushed from all sides, so there was no way to back off whatsoever. And by now the fans had doubled. They were everywhere. Girls were all over the car and the band couldn’t get in. I had never witnessed anything like this. Grabbing hands came out of nowhere. I inally got out of the crowd and headed towards the front of the car where it was calm. I could see them through the windows. And then it was over. The limo pulled away and I just stood there in a dither, wondering what had just taken place. It was hard to process. I was excited. I had seen them, well 3 of them anyhow but it was also so quick. And scary. All those girls pushing. At the moment, it was all about the newness, the innocence, the bond we all felt towards these Scottish lads. It concerned me when I was sitting in one of my college classes or talking to my family but as soon as I arrived in that parking lot and began mingling with the 13 year olds in line (6 years my junior), I didn’t care about what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I immersed myself in the joy and excitement that this band was bringing to me. I should have been worried, I should have been responsible and take control of my life…but I couldn’t. I was too far gone. I was thoroughly immersed in Rollermania and there was no going back. It was crazy, but it felt great and I wasn’t going to question what was happening to me. I was going to let it happen.


PART 3

Young fans cool off outside the New Victoria Theatre in London, where teenagers went wild during a concert by the Bay City Rollers. At least 210 hysterical fans were treated for minor cuts and bruises, after lattening the irst three rows of seats.


MINE TURNED SEPTIC

A policeman carries a young female fan outside the New Victoria Theatre in London.


The Brosettes

PART 4

There were certain fashion statements that didn’t cost much: many a happy hour was spent riling through a skip at the back of the Fountain pub looking for Grolsch beer bottle tops to attach to our lace-up shoes. Amanda Owen


THE BROSETTES

They’re the no-drink, no-sex army of girls with a uniform and a mission - to the follow BROS. With scenes drawing parallel to the hysteria that met the Beatles every time they stepped outside, Bros enjoyed a crazy and chaotic three years at the top of the music charts with screaming fans – the selfstyled Brosettes – sobbing with excitement everywhere they went. Then, as quick as it had started, it stopped.

A fashion conscious fandom-

THE BROS AND BROSETTES

As with Rollermania, Brosette’s were distinguished by their distinct fashion Bros formed in 1986 and were sense. Ripped made up of heartthrob identical jeans, leather twins Matt and Luke Goss, and ‘the jackets and the other one’, Craig Logan. They were presence of a at school together in Camberley, Surrey and met when Matt and Golsch bottle Luke approached Logan after cap thread onto leaving Blue, the band they were the laces of their in at the time. With Matt as the DMs were all vocalist, Luke on drums and Craig on bass, Bros was born. part of the look.


PART 4


THE BROSETTES


PART 4

‘89 Lips Like Clouds: Confessions of a Brosette Keris Stainton

‘It was always known as ‘following’ Bros, but I’ve no idea why. Some fans ‘followed’ – the fans that had cars; for us pedestrian fans a more accurate description would have been ‘loitering’ or ‘impeding the public highway’ which is what the police often threatened to charge us with. The die was cast the very irst time I went to Matt’s Maida Vale mansion block, Clive Court, and joined about thirty other ‘Brosettes’ in the road at the back of the lat (he very rarely came out of the front). I’d only been there about half an hour when a frisson ran through the throng and everyone began a slow and mock-casual advance toward the back door. I managed to squeeze myself into a prime position and looked up to see the man I had been dreaming about for just over a year sauntering down the path. He progressed about thirty feet, I took about ifteen photographs (if I had the urge I could easily make a ‘The First Time I Met Matt Goss’ lick-book) and then he was standing right in front of me. I murmured, ‘Can I have a kiss, please?’ and he kissed me. On the lips. And they were right. His lips were like clouds. He got into his car and was away. He hadn’t said a word, nor had he smiled, but I was hooked.’


THE BROSETTES


PART 5


THE ERA OF THE VERSUS

The Era of Versus: By the 1990s, standing

outside for hours and waiting in queues just for a chance of catching a glimpse of your favourite boy band was nothing new. By now, the music industry had really come to understand their audience. Bands were no longer just musicians, but icons of teenage friendship, obsession and a mediamoney-making-machine. Merchandise had reached new heights. A wall full of posters. A bookshelf full of every magazine they’ve ever been in. A calendar marked with their birthdays. Fans could have it all.

What you started to see in the 1990s was a breakdown of this concept of the ONE mega-band. Managers had become more savvy in their marketing and bands started to be paired off against eachother. From East 17 versus Take That to Backstreet Boys versus N’Sync, teenage girls across the globe could identify themselves and their friends by whose picture they were putting on their bedroom wall.

‘90s


PART 5


THE ERA OF THE VERSUS


PART 5


THE ERA OF THE VERSUS

There’s always a tendency to look backwards at what happened ten, twenty years ago with a sense of nostalgia and rose-tinted spectacles. It represents a golden time of life and a bond with other fans. Returning to that is warm, comforting and enjoyable – it’s a celebration of a part of their lives. Thomas H Green


PART 5

By the end of the 90s, the majority of these bands had disbanded. When Take That reunited in 2005, the sight of the handsome boyband brought back memories of early crushes, teenage friendship and obsessive fandom to thousands of 30-year-olds across Britain. Nostalgia helped drive sales and, as the hit singles (and inancial rewards) steadily grew, several other long-disbanded pop groups realised that a Take That-style reunion may be the way to top up their emptying pockets. Fangirls who had long since put away their posters and their dolls came out in their masses. But these women were no longer girls, they were adults. Fanmania was no longer a thing of the youth. And so was born the adult super fan. Clearly, the former fans of such ‘90s hits hear the tunes of their youth and are transported back to a time when hair straighteners were ubiquitous and swatch watches were seriously cool.

‘You can talk about the postmodernist regurgitating as something that’s an unimaginative ‘let’s bring back what we used to love’ act without any kind of change or critical thinking,’ says James Collins, Notre Dame professor who specialises in digital culture and postmodernism. ‘But as long as there’s been postmodernism, there’s been another current running alongside that – a creative re-contextualising of the past.’


THE ERA OF THE VERSUS


PART 5

Why are we so interested in 90s nostalgia? The pop bands currently enjoying resurgence in popularity were part of the most effective marketing machine in music history and two decades later, as their riches start to fade, it’s the perfect time to target those former-teenage-girls now grown up into young mothers. But surely our obsession with ’90s pop bands is down to more than an precise sales strategy? Patrick Joyce, professorial fellow in history at the University of Edinburgh, says our infatuation with the pop idols of our youth is symptomatic of cultural postmodernism, where earlier cultural innovations are simply regurgitated into slightly modiied packages. ‘Instant, commodiied nostalgia is a feature of a society where real time stops and time is corresponding squashed into ever smaller bits, so in effect we live in an eternal present, an endless now, where the 1990s and its music becomes the distant past,’ he says. But while this bleak view casts our love of ‘90s pop music into unimaginative selfindulgence, other cultural theorists argue that our music nostalgia is an interesting relection of modern culture.

Collins argues that the internet has cultivated strong music communities, and that these groups are engaging in music in an entirely new way – instead of passively listening to their favourite bands, they’re actively enjoying their own involvement. ‘The idea is that the community gives value to the music and it acquires an entertainment value that goes beyond what the band is actually playing,’ he says. ‘There’s a sense of fan communities creating their own entertainment value with that music – it’s a folk culture where you don’t have to be in the arena with the musicians and the music is an instigation for the fans’ own work.’ In other words, we don’t just listen to passively listen to Steps, but actively sing along and create our own interpretation of ‘90s culture. Newly reformed bands are stunned to see that their audiences know all the lyrics far more accurately this time around than at their original performances, twenty years earlier – the music may be the same, but our reaction is very different.


THE ERA OF THE VERSUS


PART 6

G A T H S A H N O I T C E R I D


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS

A google search of the One Direction Fandom will return you with 8,500,000 results. Four boys from small towns in the UK (and one from Ireland), who were discovered on The X Factor, manufactured by Simon Cowell, and went on to top 100 million views on YouTube, sell out two U.S. tours, and debut their irst album at number one on the Billboard chart (Up All Night was Britain’s fastest-selling album of 2011). Not even the Beatles can claim that kind of instant acclaim. No one could have predicted this kind of success. But this is the generation of the internet, and with the world of Twitter, Hashtags and Tumblr, girls could now stalk every move of their favourite member from the comfort of their own home.

There are a few pivotal dates imprinted in the minds of every One Direction superfan. There’s November 13, 2010, when the British boy band performed Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’ live on The X Factor (it would become their anthem). There’s the start of the band’s U.S. tour, in June, when Louis Tomlinson leapfrogged over frontman Harry Styles on stage, at a fan’s request. There’s the time Harry ‘saved’ a fan from being crushed while in Mexico. And when the boys performed on Saturday Night Live.

S R E N

But perhaps the most important date – July 1, 2012 – happened just last week, at a show that diehard fans simply call ‘the end.’ This is how ‘Directioners’ have deemed the inal performance of One Direction’s irst U.S. tour, which culminated on a balmy Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s not actually the end, of course; the band is simply taking a six-month hiatus before the start of their 2013 tour. Still, it was inevitably a night that would go down in Directioner history.

First, there was a sillystring ight on stage. Then T-shirts were torn off. There was a rendition of Carly Rae Jepson’s ‘Call Me Maybe.’ And, inally, as the ive members of the band – Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Zayn Malik – prepared to say goodbye (tweeting thankyous from their phones on stage), there were tears from the boys themselves. For the thousands of fans who saw the sold-out show in person, you can imagine the teen brain implosion. And yet, for the hundreds of thousands more who watched the whole thing from home, it was enough to make the internet explode.


PART 6

‘I cried SO much. Harry and Zayn threw their jackets in the crowd … they danced choreography from Magic Mike and ran into the crowd! I was freaking out.’ Angie Bandari, 17 years old


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS


PART 6


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS


PART 6

As the boys threw their jackets into the crowd, fans started messaging each other: ‘Guard them with your life!’ When Harry pelvic-thrusted during his Magic Mike rendition, girls gushed that their ‘ovaries were exploding.’ And then, when the concert ended, the excitement turned to panic: ‘So many emotions,’ fans cried from their Tumblr dashboards. ‘EVERYTHING’S CAPS LOCK AND EVERYTHING HURTS,’ one wrote. ‘This is what death feels like,’ another proclaimed. Over the next 24 hours, a quarter of a million One Direction-related posts looded Tumblr: animated GIFs of the boys’ performance, photos, poetry, letters, fans vowing to stay ‘up all night’ for the end of the ‘Up All Night’ tour. But make no mistake – this was not a celebration. It was more like a raucous funeral.


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS

One girl uploaded a video of herself watching clips from the concert – because she wanted to show how emotional she was. Others posted photos of their eyes puffy from weeping. One girl blogged an image of herself in the dark, eating Nutella with a spoon (Niall once held up a jar of it during a video interview). ‘This is what I’ll do now,’ she proclaimed. ‘I’ll just sit here and wait.’ For a moment, there was hope: news that the boys might be headed to New York, and a lurry of messages to other fans. Should East Coast fans get train tickets?! Who will track them down?! But then, naturally, the letdown: It wasn’t true. ‘The end,’ it seemed, truly felt like the end of the world.


PART 6


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS

One Direction owe much of their success to Cowell. And, with Cowell as Svengali, it’s no doubt these boys are meticulously produced, coiffed, melded, schooled, clean-shaven, and styled like a set of adorably British Abercrombie dolls, down to every last strand of shaggy hair. But there’s a down-to-earth quality that inspires fans, again and again, to describe the band as ‘real’ – the kind of boys they go to school with, not as untouchable as a Justin Bieber, nor as artiicial as a Lady Gaga. On stage and off, One Direction interacts with their fans. (When a girl threw her cell phone on stage at a recent show, the boys jokingly dialled the girl’s mum.) They are spontaneous and immature. (In Fort Lauderdale, a fan made a replica of a giant U-shaped magnet with cats sewn onto each end – you know, because Harry is a ‘pussy magnet’ – and Harry wore it around his neck.) They also make mistakes: They swear at fans. They were rumoured to be drunk at an awards shows. They grab each other inappropriately. And yet, for a generation of teens raised on the Disney Channel and Katy Perry, they are refreshingly normal. ‘I love how they don’t have choreographed dance moves, and they just pick on each other and have fun,’ said one teenage fan, who got to see the Florida show in person. ‘Like, Harry kept changing the words to the songs and I was dying of laughter. In ‘Gotta Be You’ he changed the words to ‘big brown poo.’ He’s so dumb, but so adorable.’ Perhaps most importantly, the boys document their private lives in the public sphere – tweeting to their fans, uploading photos, engaging in a way that, to boy bands of generations past, would have been inconceivable. A quarter million tweets go out to the band each day. ‘I would have loved to have the tools that these guys have,’ says Jeff Timmons, one of the founding members of 98 Degrees. ‘They can get up close and personal with their fans.’ ‘There is a whole culture and vernacular with this particular boy band that is unlike any in the history of the boy-band fandom,’ says Marcelle Karp, cofounder of Bust magazine and mother of 11-year-old Directioner Ruby. You see, a Directioner does not just treat this fandom like a hobby – it is a religion, complete with its own language (‘feels’ is short for intense feelings for the band; ‘Narnia’ is what fans call anything that is not Britain), responsibilities (a duty to update other fans at all times), and code of conduct that will shun the weak and reward the worthy. A real fan doesn’t like to share her fandom with the world, and so Tumblr has become a kind of naively secret journal, a place to document it all, in company with other people who understand. (Fans refer to it as ‘the fourth wall.’) The ultimate sin – and one that could get you bullied out of the fan base (or worse, labelled a ‘Directionator’) – would be to be perceived as not supporting the band.


PART 6

A Directioner can identify the place and time that any photo of the band was taken. They know which interviews an animated GIF comes from, and they analyse these interviews with the diligence of Biblical scholars (or conspiracy theorists). Directioners speak in British accents and use British slang in their blog posts (‘favorite’ becomes ‘favourite’; the ‘boys’ are ‘lads’). They create elaborate images of how they picture their backyard gardens – if they were to live with any of the boys – and detailed outits for imaginary occasions. (‘Disneyland with Harry’ calls for pale coral lipstick and skinny jeans; a ‘movie date with Niall’ requires a ishtail braid and Converse). They also ‘ship’ different combinations of band members – that is, they celebrate ictional romances between them, which many believe are real (see ‘Larry Stylinson,’ code for the perceived amour between Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles). The ships can lead to erotic fan iction, a plethora of GIFs, and video mashups of every wink, glance, or touch the boys have ever shared.

It can be hectic – I don’t even know how to say it,’ says 13-year-old Madison Delgado, from Rancho Cucamonga, California, who celebrated her one-year One Direction anniversary last month.

‘Every day last summer, I’d stay in my room, and just go on Tumblr Tumblr Tumblr, all day. Every day, I was up till 5am. Sometimes it’s kind of like homework.’


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS

And what if teen fans were unable to access their social media channels for a day? ‘Suicide,’ says Jenna, from a fan chatroom on Tinychat. ‘I’D DIE,’ proclaims her friend, Katie ‘I’D ROLL UP INTO A BALL, CRY MY EYES OUT AND DIE,’ says Kaitlin.


PART 6


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS


PART 6

‘This Fandom Can Survive Anything’ If that’s the reaction spawned from a day without Tumblr, you can imagine how the end of the band’s irst tour (even for just a six-month break) could strike fans with the fear of God. In a matter of moments, the nonstop excitement, the daily ‘Where are the boys today?!’ frenzy, the concert tweets, the videos – ‘everything that made Directioners’ days run,’ as one fan aptly put it – were suddenly over. And it couldn’t have come at a worse time, since school was out for the summer. ‘Tonight I will go over all of their auditions, video diaries, interviews, and watch A Year in the Making [a documentary about the band],’ one fan wrote, the night after the inal show. ‘I will reblog every photo of them. I will just sit here and let the precious memories low through my Directioner head.’ And then, the dreaded question: ‘What are we supposed to do after that?’ ‘I have to admit I cried a little,’ says Madison. ‘It’s been six months, almost a year, of them touring. There’s just so many things … the release of the DVD, them coming here, two tours, the release of the CD, and millions and millions of pictures. We’d gotten pretty used to it.’ Fans took to Tinychat to discuss their post-partum/post-concert depression, and how to make it to the other side. ‘I just bought Dare to Dream, so I have that, and my friend has the tour DVD so we always have that to watch,’ says Angie, 17. ‘And we’re constantly rearranging our posters, so for us, it won’t really feel like a long six months.’ In the end, perhaps it would give fans a moment to relax – no longer forced to obsess over every post, or stay up all night because they think one of the boys might do a Twitvid. Maybe a few would even venture (gasp!) into the out-of-doors. ‘In a way, it’s sort of a relief,’ says Joy Lapitan, 21, from Windomar, California. ‘I’m not too worried that something is going on that I’m missing out on, or wishing I was at a certain concert. It’s good to have a little break.’ And just in case you were wondering: Nobody has any doubts that the fandom will stick around.

‘This fandom can survive anything, and I mean it,’ says Emma Zaninovic, 17. ‘This is the craziest fandom I’ve ever been in. We’re going to suffer, but we’ll survive.’


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS


PART 6


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS


PART 6

No one fully understood the force of the directioners until British magazine GQ unveiled the ive covers for their September issue in 2013, featuring each member of 1D along with very sexually provocative titles: “He’s up all night to get lucky,” read Harry’s cover, along with this gem hinting at the number of women he’s bedded: “It’s deinitely less than 100.” A barrage of fan backlash online followed, aiming at GQ’s editorial staff for their inaccurate portrayal of the band, especially Styles: ‘Harry is a cupcake, not a whore,’ one fan wrote to Twitter.

“13

This was the irst indication of how big the fandom was, and how important social media was to their identity.

In GQ’s own words: This One Direction interview got us death threats. Jonathon Heath

“Here at GQ, we like to think we listen to our readers. However when we unveiled One Direction as the cover stars of our September issue last night, we weren’t quite prepared for how many tweets we would receive in such a short space of time. (In fact, the response was so large that GQ.co.uk briely crashed under the strain). While most were positive, and some less so, a few frankly had us fearing for our lives. Although the issue doesn’t even go on sale until Thursday, a lot of the band’s fan base took issue with certain cover lines, in particular one on Harry Styles’ cover, ‘He’s Up All Night To Get Lucky.’ It just goes to show: hell hath no fury like a Directioner scorned.”

But with GQ calling these teenage girls “eunuchs”, it seemed that no one was in the right. The controversy opened up a dialogue within the media about how we treat teenage girls caught up in fandoms.


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS


PART 7


WHY HYSTERICAL GIRLS AREN’T AS MAD AS YOU THINK


PART 6

Boy Bands and Sexism: Can We Stop Hating Teenage Girls? GQ magazine were accused of being grosely misogynistic, objectifying One Direction fans and reducing them to their perceived sexual interest in the band. Excerpt: ‘By now we all know the immense transformative power of a boy band to turn a butter-wouldn’t-melt teenage girl into a rabid, knicker-wetting banshee who will tear off her own ears in hysterical fervour when presented with the objects of her fascinations. Hasn’t this spectacle of the natural world - like the aurora borealis or the migration of wild bison across America’s Great Plains - been acknowledged?’ In two sentences, the author refers to girls as banshees, calls them hysterical, and talks about them as if they were animals instead of people. Anyone who’s spent two minutes on Tumblr quickly realizes this is a core part of current fandom culture, as pivotal to fangirl modes of expression as a cowboy hat is to a member of the NRA. Directioners regularly react to each other the same way they reacted to GQ. It’s not always pretty, but it’s deinitely not something that a group of 30-year-old Conde Nast editors could reasonably feel threatened by.

What is threatening, however, is the way that the GQ article treats female sexuality: as something animalistic, primal, out of control, a giant quivering peach, ripe for eating by GQ’s hetero male readership. And this is what no one is saying about fangirls’ response to GQ: Sending profanitylaced messages that assert strength and power against the writers who treated them like oozing sexual garbage is an absolutely valid response. Longtime fan Cherrybina fumed on Tumblr, ‘I want girls to be furious at the rampant misogyny and absolute contempt for teenage girls in this article.’ She notes that ‘the phrase ‘teenage girl’ was an insult long before 1D came along.’ But the mockery isn’t just denigrating—it’s dangerous. As the Metro fears for the editors’ safety and the Telegraph laments the evolution of the fangirl, GQ and the rest of the media have decided that women reacting in anger to a male journal that’s aggressively, uncomfortably sexualizing them and their idol is more pernicious than the original article itself.


HASHTAG DIRECTIONERS

That irony—that the media can describe fans wholly in terms of their vaginas, reduce the fan’s interest in their idol to being purely sexual, and then berate them for their anger in response—speaks to a core part of rape culture. It’s the part that Newman is aware of when she lets her daughter engage in rudeness. It’s the part that tells women that they must at all times be polite and wellbehaved. As the blogger Fugitivus points out, the continual cultural reinforcement that women are to be passive, never to ight back, argue, yell, or stand up for themselves is part of the reason that women don’t ight back, argue, yell, or stand up for themselves when they become victims of actual sexual violence. The real ‘threat’ of the One Direction fandom’s response to GQ is not that one day soon one of its legions of ‘rabid, knicker-wetting banshees’ will hunt down the author and exact revenge. The real threat is that, for all GQ’s attempts to paint the fandom as a teeming orgy of idolatry and obsession, the women of the fandom are unexpectedly not a rabid, seething mass of pulsating hormones. That’s what they’re saying beneath the profanity: We’re not your squealing borg of sexual energy waiting to give ourselves to you the moment we’re legally available. We don’t have to be nice to men like you.


PART 7


#GENERATIONyNOT

WHY HYSTERICAL GIRLS AREN’T AS MAD AS YOU THINK ‘The methods have changed, but the madness is still there.’ Radhika Sanghani

It is something we see regularly with Twitter and social media, as girls hashtag #1D all over our newsfeeds, but even though it feels very modern, fan culture isn’t new. Ever since The Beatles burst onto television sets in the 60s, teenage girls have been screaming themselves hoarse over boy bands. Once they were buying the vinyl records, and now they’re downloading them on iTunes and streaming them via Spotify; previously they wrote fan letters, now they ‘Facebook’ their crushes. The methods have changed, but the madness is still there.

Jude Rogers, a music journalist, wanted to explore teenage fan culture ever since she went to a New Kids on the Block reunion concert four years ago. They were her favourite band during her teenage years, and when she went back aged 31, she realized how much her teen obsessions had changed her life – for the better. ‘The gig took me back to the days of being a fan for the irst time,’ she says. ‘I looked around the room and saw women all the same age as me. We’d all grown up together and that gig took us back to this moment when we were irst making our own identities that are distinct from our parents’.’ For Jude, being an obsessed teen fan was a way of exploring herself and creating her own identity. She says: ‘It allows you to explore your own imagination, and your sexual feelings about boys in a safe way. When you’re 11 or 12 you don’t know what those feelings are.’


PART 7

‘It’s good to have a focus to escape from real life and girls like the opportunity to do that. It does take you away from your boring normal world of going to school and dinner with your parents.’ But, if being a teen female fan is so harmless, then why do they have such bad reputations? No one looks kindly on the Beliebers getting Justin’s face tattooed onto their limbs, or the Directioners who stormed a Westield shopping centre when the boy band played there. If anything, girls are viewed as unintelligent and dismissed for being so obsessed with mere pop singers, but Jude is quick to defend them. ‘So many of the most intelligent women would have been a boy band fan when younger,’ she says irmly. ‘It’s not about being stupid or thick. It’s lovely that women with PhDs, laywers...have gone through this stage. Pop is harmless safe music.’ It is only the female fans who get this negative portrayal. ‘Boys aren’t talked about in the same way at all,’ says Jude. ‘If a boy gets really into football and goes to a 90-minute game, screaming and shouting, it’s not seen as weird but if a girl does it. It’s crazy. ‘People think boys do shout and scream and that’s ine, and girls should be demure. Obviously not everyone thinks that but with boy bands, people do think that girls shouldn’t scream and express themselves.’ Like all big issues, it also comes down to sex. ‘It’s that fear of an emerging sexuality in young girls and what that means,’ says Jude. From speaking to a number of people, she found people were frightened of girls as young as 11 and 12 having such intense crushes. The fear has been around ever since the 60s, when critics were terriied of young girls pushing policeman to get up close to The Beatles. But actually, teenage girls don’t always view their male crushes in a sexual way. ‘Girls also have these curiously non-sexual ways of looking at the objects of their affection like older brothers, or mentors,’ says Jude. The biggest example of this is that girls don’t just go crazy over 1D, they love Taylor Swift too. Female pop stars can evoke similar semi-hysterical reactions, and that’s because they represent identities that teenage girls can latch on to.


#GENERATIONyNOT

It’s not just about an obviously sexual attraction; it’s about somebody who represents your life and what you want for the future. Who’s the kind of boy I want to be with, and what’s the kind of girl I’ll be? It’s the fantasy thing. Jude Rogers It is encouraging that young girls can have the chance to igure out their identities and look at role models.

Lillian, who was one of the teen Beatles fans who fought policemen in Liverpool in 1964 says, ‘when you’re in a gang of girls, you feel like you have this power. You do feel this kind of strength in numbers and when you’re 11 and 12 that’s even more important.’ Lillian would have been tweeting to #TheBeatles if social media had been around in her day, and Jude doesn’t think this is a bad thing. ‘In the 90s girls would write love letters to people but these days that’s all in the public with social media,’ she says. ‘It makes it look worse than it is.’ But actually, these girls are just doing what their grandmothers and mothers did before them. #generationYnot?


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Love Me Do  

A look at the boy bands and their super fans.

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