Harry Styles is big news. Let’s face it; if you were to read every article written about One Direction singer Harry, you would probably do nothing else for the rest of your life. Styles is good-looking, funny, charismatic, and he has that glint in his eye that has made him the subject of a million fantasies. Styles is the darling of the gossip columns and barely a day passes without some speculation on who Harry might be dating. For millions across the world, checking what Harry has been up to is a daily ritual, and little happens in Styles’ life without it spreading through social media like wildfire.
Of course, the fascination with all things Harry Styles does not end with social media. Harry is the subject of a virtual library of fan-fiction and published novels. It is unquestionably the case that Styles and his One Direction bandmates changed the face of pop music culture.
No one would deny that there have been numerous bands in the past that have attracted a dedicated and sometimes obsessive following. You only need to think as far back as Elvis and the Beatles to realize that forming an emotional attachment to pop stars is nothing new. That said, unlike Styles and One Direction, those artists did not live in a 24-hour digital world nor did they have to contend with social media and instant worldwide communication.
Styles and One Direction are a product of the information age; a cultural phenomenon quite unlike anything we have seen in the past. Harry and his bandmates have a combined following of over 100 million on Twitter alone. There are thousands of fan update accounts that pick up on every rumor, every story, and every sighting of Styles or any member of One Direction. Make no mistake; One Direction fans miss nothing. If Styles or a member of his family follow someone on social media, it immediately becomes big news.
The One Direction fandom are hugely loyal to Harry and the rest of the band, and as a result, many have realized the potential of a huge market ripe for exploitation. Often, fan obsession is used in a legitimate way, such as the provision of goods or services that will appeal to fans of Styles and One Direction. Sometimes, however, the exploitation of Styles and his fans is altogether more sinister.
It was reported by The Inquisitr recently that links between One Direction’s management and some sections of the media are used to keep fans hanging on every word about Harry and his pals. Like Elvis and the Beatles before them, Styles’ face appears on just about every form of merchandise that you could imagine. One Direction members have a movie, massive tours, five albums, and thousands of TV appearances under their belts. It is perhaps surprising that no one has yet taken Harry into a theater production. Until now.
According to Now Magazine, that will change on April 11, when Playwright and actress Caitlin McEwan takes her play, simply called Harry, to the stage in London.
The play tells the story of two university students who bond over their love of Harry and One Direction. Over time, their obsession begins to have damaging effects. Metro reports that McEwan is aware of the positive and negative factors within the One Direction fandom and says that she has taken care to present both sides.
Styles fans will be watching closely to ensure that is the case. There can be no doubt that Harry’s fans have been portrayed in a totally unfair light in the past. Back in 2013, One Direction fans were outraged at the way Channel 4 portrayed them in its documentary, Crazy About One Direction. Feelings ran so high after the show that Harry’s bandmate, Liam Payne, stepped into the row to defend the fans.
Of course, no one would deny that some fans of Styles and One Direction take things way too far. In a fanbase that runs to the hundreds of millions, there are bound to be bad apples. The reality is that, in 2016, most fans of Harry Styles are not 12-year-old girls who want to marry Harry. One Direction has been around for six years, both the band and their fanbase have matured, and they now have a much broader appeal.
Caitlin McEwan can be assured that if she has portrayed Harry or the One Direction fandom in an unfair way, she will quickly be reminded of the fact.
[Photo by Robert Altman/Invision/AP]