In the Future, Even Teen Boy-Band Fans Are Cranky Hipsters

Arts, entertainment, and more.
June 19 2012 11:55 AM

Ugh, You’re Probably a Directionator

One Direction’s teen fans love the British boy band—and hate the poseurs. A lesson in pop fandom in the age of Tumblr.

120619_CB_ONEDIRECTION
One Direction perform during the group's concert at the St James Theatre in Wellington on April 22, 2012

Photograph by Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images.

You may well have never heard of the mega-popular British boy band One Direction before their appearance on Saturday Night Live a few months ago. After all, their first album, Up All Night, was released less than a month before that. (It became the first debut record by a British artist to enter the Billboard Top 200 at No. 1.) And while their first North American tour sold out so quickly that they immediately lined up another one for 2013, less than two years ago band members Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson were complete strangers to one another. Then Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger formed the boys into One Direction on Britain’s reality TV show The X-Factor.

So you could be forgiven if you’re just getting into the band, and if the only song you really know by One Direction is their ubiquitous single “What Makes You Beautiful.” But you know who wouldn’t forgive you? Directioners, that’s who.

To die-hard One Direction fans—self-professed Directioners—fans who’ve just discovered the band or only know their hit are Directionators. If you can’t name all the band members or spell their names correctly, you’re a Directionator. If you think that Louis (tip to Directionators: it’s pronounced “Louie”) really likes women who like carrots, or if you somehow think that Liam likes spoons, then you are a Directionator. And if you peruse the multitude of rants and “Shit Directionators Say” videos on YouTube, you’ll understand that you are ruining everything for the true fans that have been tirelessly laboring in the trenches of 1D fandom for nearly two dozen months. If you’re a Directionator, you are unworthy of “the boys” as well as the ticket you just bought to see them in concert next year.

Advertisement

Of course, superfans have been suffering dilettantes forever. Punks and metalheads have long been hostile to poseurs who merely listen casually to the music or adopt the fashion without living the lifestyle. Directioners grant status to early One Direction adopters; Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians would have been a “Shit Backsliders Say” video had YouTube been available. But what’s unique about the Directioner/Directionator divide is the speed with which it has taken place, and the way that social media and Internet-fueled celebrity culture has fed it.

120619_CB_ONEDIRECTIONTUMBLR3

Courtesy http://ziallersunite.tumblr.com

A generation ago, indie music fans relied on small rock clubs, fanzines, and savvy friends to catch bands before everyone else. Pop idols were often created by producers in a manner similar to the way One Direction was thrown together, but the young target demographic never heard them until their records had been distributed to radio stations and MTV for massive airplay and advertising. By contrast, One Direction fans have had the opportunity to vote the band from obscurity to a record deal themselves. And after The X-Factor (One Direction placed third), fans took their obsession online, following the band on Twitter in massive numbers (nearly 4.5 million so far), Tumbling every photograph, posting links to foreign interviews, and creating YouTube videos of their love of the boys. As a result, One Direction was already a sensation in America before they’d even arrived here. “It’s a real moment,” the director of One Direction’s British label has explained. “Social media has become the new radio, it's never broken an act globally like this before."

It’s no surprise, then, that social media is now where Directioners are trying to draw the line between themselves and the new fans they despise. Between the intense sentiment of Directioners and the velocity of social media, the result is a fan base that excoriates would-be fans for the merest of slights or for not knowing the most trivial of facts—all in a frantic attempt to keep One Direction for themselves as they become an arena-sized pop juggernaut.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.