Millie Lovelock used to be indifferent when it came to One Direction. That, however, has changed because the Otago University student is now centering her master’s degree paper on the British band. Millie is specifically studying the impact the band has on its fans across the globe.
Millie, who also plays for a post-punk band, was urged by a former bandmate to watch One Direction: This Is Us. While her bandmate told her how interesting the film was, she initially found the idea “kind of funny.” After reading several articles lauding the boys’ relationship with their fan base, she opted to satisfy her curiosity. She eventually found herself longing to find out what makes Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and former member Zayn Malik so endearing to their fans.
While the topic of her academic paper might be denigrated by some, Millie believes that it is significant. She considers the One Direction members as powerful icons in shaping the identities of their fans. For her, the artists make the girls feel less isolated because they get the opportunity to connect with each other through 1D’s songs, videos, and interviews. She told i-D that regardless of what the fans do, from merely commenting to actually producing work (e.g. fan fictions), the band provides an avenue for the fans to discover who they are.
“It’s very remote and very helpful. Because as a young woman there’s not a lot being provided to you, no one’s really talking to you about your sexuality. It makes sense to retreat into this online community where you can talk about this kind of stuff.”
She also observes how the boys connect to their fans through their songs.
“It’s so powerful. When you think these are guys and they’re singing from a male perspective. But the feelings they’re singing about are the feelings that teenage girls are having.”
Even if the boys are deemed lucky following their X Factor stint, Millie believes the band’s phenomenal success is not an accident. After analyzing how the members address Directioners, she came up with the finding that the boys make their fans feel validated. She considers this sense of acknowledgement as the reason for such a loyal fan base.
When people outside the fandom ask the boys how it feels to have “crazy girls” chasing them, Millie observes that the boys are good at saying, ‘They’re not crazy, they’re just excited, they’re passionate, they’re interested in something.”
Millie argues that the boys “consistently stick by their fans.” Whenever the boys go on stage to receive an accolade, they never fail to recognize how the efforts of their supporters brought them there.
Recently, when Liam and Louis received the Best Music Video recognition for “Drag Me Down” at the Brit Awards, Tommo claimed that the trophy’s evidence that they have the “best fans in the world.” After all, the award is given to the video with the highest number of votes from fans.
Last October, the boys also showed appreciation to their fans when the latter organized the #TilTheEndFanProject before 1D went on hiatus. A group raised enough money to place a full-page ad on Billboard thanking One Direction.
With Millie’s newfound knowledge, she hopes to share a better understanding of teenage fan culture.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia]