If you had asked me a year ago which celebrities I fancied, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. A recent development means that actor Eddie Redmayne is now the sole occupant of this list.
But ‘fancy’ is still too strong a word; I have not sat up all night plotting kidnap scenarios. I have not stalked his significant other. In fact, I don’t even know if he has one. I have not, reassuringly, found out what shoe size he is for my personal interest. Even if I knew where to find it.
I am not a very good member of the youth. I don’t get my celebrity fi’ fortnightly with Grazia and I don’t peruse the Sidebar of Shame. I ‘don’t do’ celebrity culture. Call me a philistine, but it is a consistent demonstration of everything I dislike about modern life, all mangled together in a hair-gelled web of disgust. I don’t give a monkey’s right hand that Beyoncé had her hair cut, or that she stuck it back on with extensions because clearly she had nothing better to do than eating Essex out of Nandos and being late for V-Fest. But Queen B is not the problem. The fans have lost sight of the squirrel.
Seeing the terrified expression on Eleanor Calder’s face – girlfriend of One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson – at the premiere of the band’s film This Is Us reignited my faded interest in Si-Co’s freakishly popular gang of scientifically engineered lab rats.
I will admit to having a One Direction sesh now and again. My flatmate and I used to cook and sing to them – mostly to annoy upstairs who preferred earlier boyband disasters NSync*. A choice few tracks are good for the gym – they’re upbeat. And because you’ll be dying to get as far away from them as possible, they’re helpful for personal bests. There’s no sadness with One Direction. Except, I guess, if you’re a fan.
And like everything else, there’s a name for them: ‘directioners’. I am not going to dignify that without inverted commas. They’ve had some bad press lately: first, GQ’s September issue awarded a cover for each band member, lighting the match for an online bushfire that had the editorial team threatened with mutilation. And then Channel Four’s Crazy About One Direction glorified their very existence: girls as old as 19 sat cross-legged on their childhood beds spelling out their (increasingly bizarre) fantasies. Good luck to them in five years when Harry Styles has completed his Pete Doherty metamorphosis.
Modern life has dealt teenage fan bases a dodgy hand. We’ve all been there: songs on repeat, blue-tacking posters up, obligatory gig souvenir queues, and singing into a hairbrush. But in 2013, for a select breed of fans, there’s less of the stage door activity and more of a ‘stalk ‘em until they’re your manservant’ type attitude. And that seems to be A Thing. Eugh.
From what I can deduce of my mum’s still-captured (but healthy) enthusiasm for David Essex and the newsletter she used to get, there was no section that stated in any detail the measurements of his you-know-what. Pardon my surprise, for this is just one of the vital nuggets you might get from being a fan of Harry Styles. Or perhaps superfan, for the presence of their two albums on one’s iPod does not prohibit access to such information. Clearly these girls have a thing for penises.
But it comes full circle. At the end of it all, celebrities still have belly button fluff, snot and – sadly – reproductive organs. Fingers too, in my book the defining factor when deciding that someone is in fact human. If in doubt, look at the hands. If their hands look like yours – see the identical hand twin Friends episode for clarification – then they’re probably human. And if not, then we’ve got more than just celebrity culture to deal with.