WELL, THAT HAPPENED: The not-so-subtle insanity of fandom

By on March 31, 2015
The source of suicidal selfies: Zayn Malik. (Photo credit: J-14 Magazine)

The source of suicidal selfies: Zayn Malik. (Photo credit: J-14 Magazine)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – We’ve all been through a break-up. Whether it’s the break-up of our parents or one of our own friendships or relationships, we’ve learned by now that nothing lasts forever. Not even slightly homoerotic five-part English boy bands. No, I’m not talking about Take That, but rather One Direction. Grab your box of tissues, girls, because Zayn Malik has left One Direction to go in his own direction.

If you haven’t heard of One Direction (or “1D”), you’ve somehow been able to avoid the most popular cultural phenomenon to impact teenage girls since The Beatles. Along with Zayn, the four remaining members (Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson) auditioned in 2010 to be on Britain’s The X Factor. They auditioned as solo acts, but judge Simon Cowell decided the gang would work better as a group. Sure enough, they dominated third place and eventually released the single “That’s What Makes You Beautiful,” topping charts, dropping panties and emptying wallets all across the world. Last year alone, the group grossed $75 million in revenues from royalties, concerts and merchandising.

Since Zayn’s departure, people all around the world are reeling from the emotional devastation. Some UK citizens have actually been requesting (and are being granted) time off from work to cope with the harrowing news.

Peninsula, an employment law firm based in Manchester, told The Telegraph that roughly 480 employers had called the company helpline seeking guidance on what to do for employees requesting compassionate leave because of Zayn’s split from the group. Yep. Because of one dude’s decision to leave a pop band.

It gets much worse. A recent trending hashtag on Twitter called #Cut4Zayn has fans performing self-harm, dragging knives across their arms and legs (disturbingly enough, the hashtag has since become wrought with parody). One fan sliced out the letters Z-A-Y-N, taking a picture next to a sink of blood. There is even a hotline solely created for One Directioners to talk to someone if they’re feeling suicidal. One picture I came across showed a girl with a knife to her throat with the caption: “if Zayn doesn’t come back to 1D ill fkn do it!!!!”

Forgive my ignorance, but that is insane. I understand that fandom will always be prevalent, especially amongst teenagers, but I can’t imagine this kind of attention-seeking pre-information age. Nowadays with celebrities being just one click away, fans especially feel as if they are closer to them, as if one fan’s actions can impact a celebrity’s decisions. Thanks to modern social media, fans are able to cut themselves open, post a photo and gain international attention. The fact that I’m even writing this article is indicative of that.

The break-up of The Beatles was one of the most influential, important moments in music history. Had Twitter and Instagram been around during The Beatles’ era, I guarantee the same type of blatant attention seeking would exist (#LetsKillYoko, for example).

But no matter how many articles are written or how many girls cut their arms or throats or whatever body part, Zayn Malik is still a human being with his own free will. Unless they offer that kid millions of bribery dollars, he may never return. The remaining members of 1D have already said they will continue putting out music, just like how the Spice Girls continued without Ginger Spice. And I’m sure some day, Zayn will come back for a reunion tour and the world will be OK again. Until that inevitable time, please keep your knives in the drawer.

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