Wrong Directioners

Harry Styles has it all. Looks, fame and a 19 million-strong army of Twitter followers who like to bombard him with messages about their recently deceased pets. Stephen Frizzle – Head of Harry Styles Research and curator of the Harry, My Cat Died Twitter feed – has been looking into the strange effect that One Direction and the internet are having on the current generation of pop fans.

Please note: Over 2,500 animals were harmed in the making of this presentation.

Technology has always had an effect on the relationship between fan and pop star. Fifty years ago, when they played the Ed Sullivan Show, television meant that Beatles fans could have their own little private gig in the comfort of their living room. In the 1980s, pop bands would appear on Saturday morning television and actually accept incoming telephone calls from fans (highlighted beautifully when Eliot Fletcher called up Going Live to tell Five Star that they were “fucking crap”). Now, in the 21st Century, we have social media.

The internet has given us immediate, 24 hour access to our favourite celebrities. It has brought us closer than ever to them – but how has this affected the lengths to which fan communities will go just to get attention from their idols? This has been the phenomenon that I’ve been researching over the last 18 months – a project known as Harry, My Cat Died.

Harry Styles, in case you weren’t aware, is a walking haircut who happens to also sing factory-made pop songs in the ominous cult known as One Direction. They shot to fame some time ago when they appeared on the X Factor, and were fused together to make an ideal pop group like some sort of modern day Frankenstein. The members of the band consist of Harry (the cute one), Louis (the cute one), Niall (the cute one), Liam (the cute one) and Zayn (the cute one).

The work we are doing at the Harry, My Cat Died Research Centre is simple. We track the behaviour of passionate fans and examine the desperate attempts they make in order to get attention from Harry Styles. A lot of these attempts involve recently deceased felines. There are five different levels of a “Harry, My Cat Died” tweet.

1. The Guilt Trip


Here, we have a simple demand. The cat is dead, the owner is crying, and will only stop crying once Harry follows her. I have known of no other type of grieving process. If a famous person appeared at my uncle’s funeral, I think I’d be more intrigued about how the famous person knew my uncle. And then a bit pissed off that my uncle never introduced us.

2. The News Update


Basically, the opposite of The Guilt Trip. Here, the fan doesn’t want to play any games. It is simply an update informing Harry of a new dead cat in the world. And now, the weather.

3. The Mixed Emotion


We all know that there are seven stages of grief. This dead cat owner is going through a handful within one tweet. A request to follow, an update on a dead cat, an emoticon and followed up by a simple double kiss. What is also intriguing about this is that this person is “crying like a baby when you steal a candy”. ‘You’, of course, meaning ‘Harry’. She is crying like that time Harry Styles stole candy from a baby. What.

4. The Persistent


Look at the avatar. It’s the same as person one. This is six months later. Still no follow from Harry. Still crying.

5. The Serious

She’d never kid about cat death. She’d only use it to manipulate a pop star to pay attention to her.

After a few months of research, we at the Harry, My Cat Died Research Centre thought we had seen everything. So many follow requests for the sole purpose that a fan’s pet had passed its use-by-date. We were unaware that we hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of how far a fan would go.

It got much worse. We discovered a girl who found out that Niall was into a certain type of girl, so made herself more appealing to him.

We were informed of a girl who needed to prove to Liam that her pet was in fact dead.

Things got especially odd when it was discovered a girl had live-tweeted the first response unit trying to resuscitate her gran.

We had reached a low point. But the important thing we have to note here is that all of these things have legitimately happened. These young people have suffered grief, whether it be animal or human. And, of course, one has been a tiny bit of a racist tinker. The reason why I need to let you know that these event are real is because things take a bit of a left turn when we look into the events that aren’t real.

Stories Of Our Life

Obsessive fans are one thing, but it is interesting to document what happens when aforementioned obsessive fans become a little creative. Some resort to poetry, whether it be to showcase their love:

 

Their bodily fluids:

Or their fear of plants:

(Poetry note: “cactus is scary” is a ridiculous attempt at a rhyme for Harry. If anything, “cactus is scar-ry” is more factual and rhymes better)

And if a romantic poem doesn’t float your boat, how about a romantic story?

There is a dark corner of the internet where One Direction fans firmly believe that Harry and Louis are in a romantic, sexual relationship with one another. The fact that there is no physical evidence won’t stop this percentage of fandom; instead, they write their own fictional encounters of times where the two Directioners hooked up.

These people are known as ‘Larry Shippers’. A ‘shipper’ is someone who writes about fictional relationships. ‘Larry’ is a portmanteau of Harry and Louis. A ‘Larry Shipper’ is someone who writes about Harry and Louis as if they are in a romantic relationship.

Harry and Louis aren’t the only merged names used to describe One Direction members being sexual with one another. There is also Narry (Niall and Harry), Lilo (Liam and Louis), Niam (Niall and Liam) and Ziam (which I believe is The Promised Land). A simple search for ‘Larry’ on the shared document website Wattpad will show you countless examples of this type of erotica. One of my personal favourites is a twenty-eight chapter epic tale called Yummy.

The first chapter consists of all the band saying each others names and laughing. By Chapter Sixteen, the steamy sessions begin. It features lines of ungrammatical dialogue such as “He turned his back to me and made a gesture to for me and Louis to follow,” “I was laying there in my boxers now I struggled to reach my hand out for his towel to somehow take it off” and “I was already done as he put my big, now naked dick into my mouth”. (That last one is quite the feat.) I shouldn’t really joke about bad grammar in erotica, because we all know that it’s very difficult to type with one hand.

That’s What Makes You Dutiful

The reason we founded the Harry, My Cat Died Research Centre was to find the answer to why this pop band was the target of such obsession. From the dead cat tweets, to the sharpie blackface. From the scary cactus to the Larry Shippers. We had attempted to look at the lyrics to their songs to find an answer, but all we found on first listen was product placements for minted candies.

(The first song we listened to was Over Again. In listening carefully to the lyrics to see what the fuss was all about we heard this: “Now she’s feeling so low, since she went solo, hole in the middle of her heart like a Polo…“)

The sounds that people are exposed to the most are the singles that One Direction release, and it was more than possible that there was some sort of hidden message lurking in these songs. We dug out vinyl copies of the singles so we could play them in reverse, but there were sadly no satanic messages telling fans to kill their cats. Then an idea struck us: How about we play them in forward mode?

The first single, What Makes You Beautiful started: “You’re insecure… don’t know what for…”

The second single, One Thing was next: “I’ve tried playing it cool. But when I’m looking at you…”

That’s when it hit us. Within the first two lyrics of any One Direction song, the boys use the pronoun “you”. Their songs are about each and every one of you. From the girl who wouldn’t stop crying unless Harry followed her, to the girl who (I’m 90% certain) killed her dog. Listening to the rest of the singles confirmed this.

Gotta Be You: “Girl, I see it in your eyes…”

Live While We’re Young: “Hey girl, I’m waiting on ya…”

Kiss You: “Oh, I just wanna take you anywhere that you like…”

Little Things: “Your…”

If you were a teenage girl who was going through the grief of a dead pet and you weren’t getting enough support from your family and friends, where would you turn? Surely you would want to confide in somebody who dedicates these lyrics to you? It’s almost as if these songs have been manufactured by businessmen in offices by studying an algorithm to make the perfect song that a teenager with self-esteem issues going through puberty would lap up in an instant.

If you’re not convinced, I have one final piece of evidence. In 2013, One Direction released a charity single for Comic Relief. It was a mash-up of covers, the first being One Way Or Another – originally by Blondie. The lyrics go:

One way or another, I’m gonna find you, I’m gonna get ya, get ya, get ya, get ya

It was as if Simon Cowell himself had asked Yahoo! Answers “Which 80s song features the pronoun ‘you’ the most?” People may argue that we can’t use this as an example because the song was written over twenty years ago. To those people, I pitch you this: the second half of this charity mash-up was Teenage Kicks, originally by The Undertones. The following are the lyrics that One Direction use:

I wanna hold you, wanna hold you tight, get teenage kicks right through the night…

Compare this to the original lyrics by The Undertones:

I wanna hold her, wanna hold her tight…

They’ve changed the pronoun from “her” to “you”! The song is now about you, the teenage fan who idolises this pop band. One Direction are so intent on you loving them, they’ve edited history. They’ve been treating classic pop history like their own personal Bebo account, and it’s time we address this before they go crazy, crazy, crazy with power and release a cover of Layla called You.

Yo-ou! You got me on my knees, Yo-ou!

Where We Are

The future may hold something different for the band. One of the band members, or possibly one of the song-writing robotrons that regurgitate out their lyrics, is becoming self aware. One of their latest singles, Best Song Ever, hardly mentions the pronoun “you” at all. In fact, it appears to be about a girl named Georgia Rose, whose father is a dentist. No longer are One Direction the vapid teenagers who write unspecific songs about vague compliments of a woman’s body; they’re finally writing songs about one girl in particular. Could this be a step forward in their songwriting? Will their fans calm down and soon stop believing that the lyrics they hear are about them? Will the attention-seeking dead animal gallery finally cease and desist?

Well, I hope not. That would mean shutting down the research centre. And I hate firing people.

@HarryMyCatDied