Thursday, December 13, 2012

Look closer at One Direction

For a long time I've wanted to talk about this boyband that has turned into this international phenomenon and because there are so many badly-written articles out there that have missed the importance of this band I just wanted to give my two cents worth. Below is a very long and hastily written post about the social impact of One Direction.

 I have a theory that the worth of One Direction may be seen in how it mirrors the development of the 21st century while at the same time advancing ideas faster than they can emerge properly. For example the acceptance of homosexuality may be seen in the fanfiction of teenage girls. This shows acceptance of the younger generation of homosexuality at the same time the mainstream society is learning to grapple with the acceptance of it. But at the same time the culture of fanfiction has moved ahead so quickly it highlights the negative effects in the error of forcing homosexuality on a person who does not identify as gay. In its efforts to use Louis as a walking pro-gay billboard it has forgotten to consider whether or not he is actually gay and it has forgotten or rather does not care to ask if he wants to be seen as a beacon in the gay community as a symbol for gay appreciation in pop culture. It shows that in our haste to show widespread acceptance of what was previously known as 'deviant' sexualities we've forgotten you can't force it on people who are in fact heterosexual. Quite frankly, they might be better off using Adam Lambert or Clay Aiken, musicians who actually identify as gay and who have come out loud and proud about it as representatives than forcing it on a guy who is very happily in love with his girlfriend. 

Anyway, many have preached on about 1D paving the way for total acceptance for gays for the next generation as there are young fangirls sitting in their rooms at night writing about men falling in love with each other as opposed to falling in love with them. Think about how big a deal that is. They are willing to suspend their sexual fantasies with Harry so he can be with Louis instead. They are the equivalent of a million wives who support their husband’s secret gay life. Its astounding. And kind of scary yet exciting for the future. What kind of men will these women marry if they marry any at all?

Moving on. Apart from  homosexuality, 1D and Harry especially are leading the way of non-heteronormativity in pop-culture at an alarming rate. Harry regularly uses gender-neutral pronouns. Harry wears a Love Is Equal shirt. He jokes about wearing his sister’s gold tights. He has worn a pink tutu at a signing. He has never come out and said he is gay, but he has never come out and said he is not gay either. Not because he is not gay (we know he isn’t) but because he believes there is nothing wrong with being gay and to explicitly deny it is to imply there is something wrong with it. His sexual ambiguity is the level I hope mainstream society will reach in 10 yrs. The maturity of this 18 yr old kid and his understanding of the complexity and fluidity of sexuality is alarming. I’d love it if ppl just stopped saying their sexual preference because no one will think it matters.

Forget the showiness of Lady Gaga who imo is just supporting homosexuality, bisexuality, etc for shock value. Forget the forced lesbian slant of Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl. The subtlety of Harry as a one-man show of acceptance of all sexualities is the only one on the scene to be lauded tbh. Is he bi? Is he pan? Is he queer? What the heck is he? Well he is not gonna tell you and that fact finally forces you to consider that it just might not matter. 

Harry as a feminist

First off I don’t actually believe Harry is a feminist. This title came from a now defunct but extremely popular tumblr blog which was called However, Harry does exhibit some very pro-woman tendencies which I appreciate. Before I get into why some fans herald him as a feminist let me tell you why he isn’t.

On the final of X-Factor you will recall he was caught whispering into Matt Cardle’s ear “think of how much pussy you’re gonna get.” Nice one Haz. Referring to women as pussy. Reducing them to one part of their anatomy. Keep it classy.

Also there are some subtle messages in 1D music which while not as misogynistic as the Wanted lyrics are still very problematic. WMYB in my opinion is patronizing. It implies that a woman needs a man to tell her she is beautiful so she knows she is beautiful. Gee, thanks. We all know the ‘one thing’ the girl has in ‘One Thing’ is a vagina. Little Things is condescending though not as bad as this article makes it out to be. Actually I’d go as far as to say that maybe Ed Sheeran, bless him, should just stop writing for the boys. Or at least stop giving them his insecurity-laden rejects that he wrote when he was 16 and instead give them better stuff that he is writing rn as a grown ass man in his 20’s. But I digress.

Another reason Harry is not a feminist is he’s dating someone right now who is the walking advertisement of internalized misogyny. That country/pop singer who-shall-not-be-named is the anti-feminist of all anti-feminists (‘cept maybe Paglia) and anyone who consciously decided to be a feminist would think twice about dating her.

So basically I don’t think he’s a feminist, and anyway he never said he was. We fangirls just got a little carried away when we saw he gave more of a shit about women than most guys. But what Harry is is a person who at least tries not to be sexist. Still he is a young guy and will slip up time to time but he’s trying a lot more than most guys in the spotlight (read: the Wanted). He has said not once, but three times in interviews that he tries not to objectify women: He does not ‘call dibs’ in clubs or bars because that objectifies women. He does not keep a total list of women he’s fucked because that objectifies women. ( I forgot where he said it the 3rd time but I know it happened)

He is dating a woman who many guys in Hollywood would avoid because she is seen as a ‘whore’ for dating ‘half of Hollywood’ (I HATE THAT PPL THINK THIS OF HER EVER THOUGH I DON’T LIKE HER IN FACT THE ONE THING I LIKE ABOUT HER IS THAT SHE IS SEXUALLY LIBERATED) so he is obviously not into slut-shaming.

But anyway, lets move onto the DJ Malik who I have a special place in my heart for as we both like Boyz II Men, Bob Marley and sleeping.

I obviously cannot imagine the ontological insecurity must come along with being half Pakistani and half English and then to also grow up in Bradford which is a tough area for anyone to live in. The fact that Zayn is still sane might just be a feat in itself. But I listen to Lowkey (I am offending so many ppl right now and I apologise for my ignorance) who also has Arab and English heritage and according to him its difficult because when you are in England they don’t see you as full English but when you are among Arabs they don’t see you as full Arab either. And imagine the oscillations of identity Zayn must go through trying to fit into both while still not being accepted as either. That is some difficult and unfair bullshit. On the behalf of Zayn I am angry for human’s obsession with purity of ethnicity. A human is a human whether he is mixed race or mono racial or whatever. Anyway, Zayn must be hailed as doing a pretty good job as a product of multiculturalism and celebrating both sides of his heritage. He identifies as Muslim and celebrates Eid. Yet he celebrates Christmas. Anyway, for this Zayn is pretty disliked by a lot of ppl. Including some guy on youtube who said Zayn can’t be a Muslim (because he has tattoos and wearing a keffiyah is more cultural and it doesn’t mean you're Muslim) and then on the other end but weirdly paralleling him there is a psycho right wing blogger who claims Zayn is trying to “pimp Islam” on American girls. Trying to be in the middle of any two cultures is always gonna piss off ppl at both ends. Basically, Zayn is either too Muslim ("terrorist") or not Muslim ("fake Arab") enough . I for one am glad Zayn keeps ignoring both sides and just does his own thing. Why should anyone else get to decide whether he is or is not something? Honestly, what gives them the right? Okay I’m getting angry. Let move on to another point.

Another way Zayn does well on the point of multiculturalism is not just that he tries to be multicultural himself but the success of representation as a multicultural icon in the impact of other ppl. To explain, his trying to reconcile both sides within himself makes ppl think that maybe there can be reconciliation of both sides too. I don’t think ppl understand how big a deal the popularity Zayn has achieved is. Rednecks in America who sleep with their Bibles at their side and guns under their beds know who this guy is and might actually let him in if he came to their door in the middle of the night asking for a glass of water.  They might hesitate before they shoot him. Okay, that’s going kinda far but what I mean is that Zain Javadd Malik is the ONLY positive symbol of Pakistan widely known in America. Do you think Fox news tells them anything about Malala? Ha! Think they know something about Afridi? Ha! They probably think cricket is only an insect. Think they know who Imran Khan is? HAHA! Actually, Zayn might be the only way some people know all Muslims aren’t all terrorists. Is that sad? Yes. Does that reflect badly on the West? Yes. Basically, this 19 yr old guy who just wants to sing a couple frivolous pop songs and jam to Bob Marley in his off-time has unwittingly become a symbol of non-violent Muslims to some American girls. That’s a lot of pressure. And that’s why I get kind of annoyed when I see ppl being so hard on this guy. He might be the reason a Muslim gets a job in the West in fifteen yrs because a Zayn girl grew up to own some company or whatever and knows not all Muslims are suicide bombers. He might be the reason that America might one day elect a Muslim for President of the USA (I can hear you faux news. He’s not a Kenyan and he’s not a socialist and its about time you let that go). Idk where I’m going with this. But the point is ppl should give this kid a break cuz he’s making ppl double-think before they judge someone who looks different to them. And yes its sad that people are so prejudiced that it takes a teen to show them the right way but that’s just how it is.

So to summarise this blog post which started out as a short article but turned into an essay, this boyband people are writing off as a frivolous product that only teen girls will like are missing the greater impact these five guys have unwittingly had on young impressionable girls who will help shape our tomorrow, just by being themselves. Yes, they are not perfect, they may be perverted (Harry), they may swear a lot (Niall), they may start twitter feuds (Louis and Zayn), they may have 65+ tattoos collectively, but this may actually be the most positive boyband I’ve ever come across and they are actually doing a lot more for future generations than you might think. And I for one am proud to be a One Direction fan and to support these guy and will do so as long as Harry remains conscious of the objectification of women and strives to avoid it and as long as Zayn keeps remaining true to his self despite the hatred of those who should encourage him.

This has been a post.

p.s. plz tell me whether or not I should blog about Niall being a post-modernist figure cuz im digging that theory rn)
p.p.s I know this blog is turning into a pop culture blog instead of the fashion/lifestyle blog it used to be and idek what to say about it.

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