By now the leak of One Direction’s joint video has perhaps become passé; last week’s news and only good for wrapping up fish and chips, but the question of the fan-artist relationship will remain long after this scandal.
Members of the ‘squeaky-clean’ boy band were filmed by Louis Tomlinson in Peru smoking a joint and using offensive language. The headlines shrieked of ‘responsibility!’, ‘role models!’, ‘influencing young fans!’ and other such righteous buzz words flung around haphazardly when rapscallions in the spotlight shuffle over the line.
However, do they have a point? One Direction’s fan base primarily targets impressionable pre-teens who look as these very sanitised figures as beacons of inspiration, and objects on which to project a flowering sexuality. Is it really okay for pop-sensations to expose this demographic -and beyond- to illicit substances?
This is obviously not the first time this sort of behaviour has hit the headlines in recent years. This situation arguably draws parallels with the drug scandals surrounding the Beatles, especially as the 1D fan base, those excitable ‘Directioners’, have been compared to the Beatles’ fans thanks to the hysteria.
There is, however, one key difference. Social media has inevitably impacted upon the structure of any fan-artist relationship. Previously fans awaited the press-approved versions of stars’ lives, and this transformed them into perfect Gods. Nowadays the opposite is true. As consumers of music (and brands) we have much more access to the human side of our favourite celebs, from their Twitter feeds to their Instagrams, filled with even the most banal parts of A-list life.
There is no doubt that many of the fans are more realistic in their perception of their all-too-fallible heroes. Many are still shocked by illegal drugs but by and large the reaction by the fans has been more reasonable than that of the tabloids – they may be popstars but they’re also human. Emphasis has been placed on the few fans hysterically videoing themselves destroying tickets after viewing the 1D video, however it becomes obvious after some research that these dramatic actions have been contained within the minority.
It’s easy for the student to wave off smoking weed as commonplace when by now many have had experiences with drugs, but to find young teenagers acting more nonchalantly than the majority of the British media, too? That’s testament to the changing reality of fan life.