I should preface this by saying I have never listened to a One Direction song. Maybe they’re great, maybe they suck. I have no idea! I mostly don’t care. I also don’t know how many women Harry Styles has slept with. Maybe the cover of September’s British GQ implies accurately that the number of notches in Styles’ coital belt “is definitely less than 100”! Maybe Styles is telling the truth when he’s quoted in the story saying, after being hard pressed for a specific answer, that he’s only had naked time with two people. Maybe he’s secretly some sort of depraved sexual predator like the dude from Lostprophets is accused of being! Whatever the case, it’s probably not terribly interesting for me to think about.
What does interest me are the 1D fans who, via Twitter, let GQ magazine know their intents to “personally slaughter you okay” and “kill everyone who works for GQ.” Other statements from Directioners included “GQ CAN GO FUCK THEMSELVES WITH A CHAINSAW UP THEIR ASSHOLE TILL IT MUTILATES THEIR INSIDES.” and “the interviewer from GQ who interviewed harry can go shove a butcher knife up her ass,” even though the interviewer, Jonathan Heaf, has a boy’s name. Mediaphobic has a nice round up as well.
I do not understand these people, which makes them interesting. I do know that they need to calm down. Their tweets read like the inner musings of some sick fucking puppies.
Now it’s by no means unheard of, or even unusual, for diehard fans of a band to flip out on a critic or reporter who writes something unfavorable about their sonic sweethearts. It’s easy to assume that such mass tantrums only come from stupid children who are way too emotionally invested in shitty pop music, but that’s not always the case.
Just this week, Bullett Media writer Luke O’Neil endured the wrath of numerous pissed off Marina and the Diamonds devotees whose irony and satire detectors failed to trigger when he described the blatantly fetching Marina Diamandis as “malformed.” Marina and the Diamonds may be a pop act, but unlike One Direction, they’re known for being appreciated by people who are smart enough to do things like write music blogs. The Marina fans who bitched out O’Neil might be children, and they might be too emotionally invested, but not in shitty pop music. One tweeter noted “i want to murder the writer,” but nobody we’re aware of threatened rape O’Neil with a chainsaw. I’m not sure if that makes Marina fans saner than 1D fans, or just not as creative. Someone did, however, tell O’Neil that he looks like a ferret. So there.
As I personally learned a few years ago, people prone to hyperbolic defenses of their favorite musicians don’t necessarily grow out of it, either. When I was the Boston Herald’s drunkest concert reviewer, I caught hell for a less-than glowing writeup of a New Kids on the Block Christmas concert. I thought I pulled my punches, but apparently I wasn’t gentle enough for the NKOTB faithful.
Incensed, lengthy tirades – many of which scribed by fans who weren’t at the show, or even in the same state – flooded my inbox for the better part of two days. Anyone who was age-appropriate to become a big nut for NKOTB must have been somewhere between 12 and 14 years old during the mid-’80s heyday, right? That means most of these people who called me a motherfucker online in 2009 were in their 30s. Possibly due to the temperance and wisdom of their years, none among this particular angry mob told me to look out because they were going to break my arms or whatever, although some stuff was kind of borderline violent.
Almost everyone who’s written about music for a while could probably tell a similar anecdote. My guess is that something has to unite all these individuals who apparently fantasize about bludgeoning critics and editors they find disagreeable into mincemeat. Saying that it’s because they’re all really stupid feels reductive. That’s definitely part of the explanation, but I bet the majority of stupid people have never written a rebuttal to a music story they read on the internet.
So if it’s not stupidity, an unenlightened musical palate, or youthful exuberance, then what compels people to behave this way? Furthermore, why are some people who adore sunny music so much also quick to levy death threats? Has Marina been unwittingly drawn into an opaque conspiracy to incite barbaric mobs to wage a take-no-prisoners coup on the music media establishment via cheerful pop songs?
Will the streets run red with the blood of the non-Beliebers?