Friday, 16 August 2013

(What's So Crazy 'Bout) Peace, Love And One Direction

If you've ever sat through an evening of amateur comedy, you'll be well acquainted with the Acme 'Observational Gag Format' of: "Right, so I've been thinking a lot about [subject] lately... have you ever noticed how [subject] always does [whatever it is subject does]? What's that all about!"

Some comedians have made enormously successful careers out of doing just this, however most of the time the deliverer will be a slightly haggard-looking man in a pub's part-time comedy annex, part-time storage room, nursing a beer belly that suggests he's spent a large amount of time in similar taverns watching amateur comedy before incorrectly drawing the conclusion that he could in fact do this himself. Often the subjects of his observational scything will be everyday matters that we, the audience, are all familiar with, which he'll then proceed to deconstruct before our very eyes before probably saying 'penis' and slouching off stage. One particularly unsuccessful attempt at uniting an assembled crowd with thigh-slapping hilarity and shrieks of, "YES! YES! That's EXACTLY what that's like!" that I witnessed was a stand-up start with the question, "so, who here smokes weed?", and, upon being met with blank stares - the queue to the Amsterdam McDonalds this was not - proceeded to descend in to a defensive ramble about why the stand-up smoked weed, with little comic effect.

Anyway, Channel 4's 'Crazy About One Direction' documentary is essentially this joke format, with teenage girls the subject in this instance. In a similar way to the sociological forecasting that within 60 years white Britons while cease to be the majority ethnic group in the UK, so we are faced with the very real prospect that the number of teenage One Direction fanatics outpouring their love for the former X Factor runners-up through online forums will soon pale in comparison to the amount of grown adults taking smug swipes at their obsessive behaviour from their supposedly more mature corner of the internet. Following 'Crazy About One Direction's screening, Twitter parted like the Red Sea - on one half the aforementioned fandom, perhaps understandably a bit cheesed off at how their kind had been portrayed by C4, while the other half consisted of older folk, scoffing at how idiotic these kids are. I know I've completely misused the Red Sea allegory there, so as slight recompense I should add that the group passing untouched through the nautical corridor are One Direction themselves, who, along with their marketing team, will not be losing one moment of sleep over the documentary, which the placing of adverts for the group's forthcoming film during the breaks was testament to.

A similar inter-generational spat had previously erupted after GQ revealed that the boy band were to grace the cover of their latest issue, a piece of promotional coverage - akin to C4's documentary - that 1D's fan-base seemed to take issue with. Death threats were rapidly dispatched to the GQ editorial staff - by sticking menacingly anonymous cut-out newspaper letters to a sheet of paper and being stuffed in to an untraceable letterbox? No, you big plum, by Twitter of course. GQ then collected some of the most outrageous of these reactions and rewarded their advertisers' continued loyalty by posting them in a click-bait article online, spawning a flurry of extra page hits and yet more warmongering in its comments section.

After a brief scroll through these messages, it becomes clear that the ultra-defensive fans aren't the real cretins here - it's the fully-formed, ballot-casting, rental car-hiring, income tax-paying adults that take time out from their daily lives to argue with and mock their adolescent online cohabitants for the opinions that they peddle, probably with precious little to do during school holidays with the prospect of GCSEs looming large. My computer usage during my formative years was mostly devoted to playing Football Manager and wanking (to porn, I hasten to add, not Football Manager), not checking my Nectar points online and adding high-flying strangers to my network on LinkedIn. Whilst some of my peers may have spent their time slightly more productively - if we've somehow found ourselves in an unholy world where 'winning back-to-back trebles with Atletico Madrid' is considered unproductive - this was fairly typical teenage boy behaviour, just as obsessing over boy bands is typical teenage girl behaviour. Always has been, and always will be. Why some of the older generation feel the need to take issue with this is bemusing - would the same gaggle of eager finger-waggers feel a similar obligation to sneeringly correct a six year-old's claims that if you eat enough pizza you'll turn in to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? (Less out-dated children's references are available for Premium Members only)

Admittedly, based on the documentary some of the One Direction fans' behaviour is rather bizarre, occasionally bordering on mildly terrifying, but unless puberty has changed since my day (and under this Coalition mess of a government it may well have done, amiright) these girls will reach a more rational plane of thought in a few years, probably around the time One Direction are usurped by the next gaggle of good-looking, adequately-voiced young men. I suspect anyway that part of the ire directed against 1D fans stems from a jealousy of the band themselves, and seeing as there's little your man at his keyboard can do about the group's international success and fame, they feel they can play some part in derailing their efforts by giving both barrels to those that must be braincell deficient enough to support and defend them. I for one don't enjoy One Direction's music, but nor do I let this or their stratospheric status bother me. Would I want to live like Harry Styles, travelling around the world in luxury, bedding a string of beautiful women (...and Caroline Flack) and raking in millions from record sales and merchandise? Yes, I most definitely would. Does shagging Taylor Swift win you La Liga 'Manager of the Year' three-times on the trot though, Harry? No, it doesn't Harry. It doesn't.

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Given that One Direction originally shot to fame after finishing third on the X Factor a few years back - always a slightly baffling fact considering the second and first-placed contestants have enjoyed nowhere near the same adoration from the voting public - and I think I saw an advert the other day saying it's approaching the show's tenth anniversary edition, I thought I'd do a very brief run-down of the best songs to have emerged from UK talent shows. For the sake of this not descending in to a list of my favourite Girls Aloud songs, I'm restricting the tracks to the singles that are given to the winning acts upon victory. So, in order, here are the best reality pop songs of the past decade or so:

5. Joe McElderry - The Climb [X Factor, 2009] - DISCLAIMER: this song is, of course, not good, however it turns out that barely any of the winners' singles are so this is here simply for the commendable fact that without its existence, Rage Against The Machine would never have reached Christmas #1

4. Leona Lewis - A Moment Like This [X Factor, 2006]

3. Hear'Say - Pure & Simple [Popstars, 2001]

2. Will Young - Evergreen [Pop Idol, 2002]

1. Girls Aloud - Sound of the Underground [Popstars: The Rivals, 2002]


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