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Scene takes on: One Direction

| Monday, November 9, 2015

OneDirection_WebEric Richelsen | The Observer

If you don’t live under a rock or in a deep, dark hole, you’ve heard that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. You may also have heard that Louis Tomlinson is having a baby. Or the big news that the band is going on hiatus starting in 2016 in order to pursue solo projects.

How do you know this? Especially if you’re not a hardcore One Direction fan, it’s puzzling when you stop to think about how much the band has infiltrated your life.

You see their faces everywhere. Somehow you know the words to “What Makes You Beautiful.” You weren’t surprised when half of the campus population went to see them in Chicago last year.

You’ve been bombarded with One Direction merchandise — posters, T-shirts, singing toothbrushes — all covered with the faces of five boys who happened to be smashed together into a band by Simon Cowell on “The X Factor” five years ago.

You have their fans — Directioners — to thank for the band’s incredible intrusion into your life.

Directioners are dedicated, to put it mildly. To put it not-so-mildly, they’re fanatical. And it’s not just innocent fun or questionable personal choices. Dirty fan fiction featuring the band members, giant tattoos of Harry Styles’ face and fans breaking into the boys’ hotel room to steal a pair of boxers are all normal occurrences in the Directioner group.

In the documentary “Crazy About One Direction,” a fan reveals that she got braces just because one of the band members also wore braces. There was also a Twitter incident in which a girl threatened to kill her dog if the members of One Direction didn’t follow her (although it turned out to be a hoax, and the pup was safe).

In the wake of the mania — which hasn’t slowed despite Zayn’s departure or the band’s impending hiatus — we’re left wondering: what could possibly merit this level of dedication from fans?

“I think One Direction is popular because they were the next cute boy band that came along and teenage girls couldn’t help falling for them,” junior Arianna Rominski said.

It’s true: this isn’t the first time fans have gone above and beyond for their chosen obsession. Every generation of fans has its obsession — after all, “Beatlemania” was just as crazy.

One Direction filled a niche that was left open after the departure of boy bands like NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. In a way, pop music was just waiting for the next group of good-looking guys with voices to come along.

You don’t have to be a Directioner to find the band’s music catchy, but you do have to thank a crazy, dedicated fan base for elevating the next big boy band to the point where you can jam to “Drag Me Down” with little to no embarrassment.

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