It’s okay everyone – Harry Styles has made himself a proper good, legitimate rock album and now we can all take him seriously without our taste or masculinity being called into question.
In his recent Rolling Stone interview, 1D alumnus and series regular of my dreams Harry Styles said some wonderful things about teenage girls.
“Who’s to say that young girls who like popular music – short for popular right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy?”
“That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it?
“They’re our future – our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool’. They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”
His career has been built on their admiration and he seems to respect that. More importantly, he acknowledges that being liked by young girls isn’t something embarrassing – it’s a privilege.
I was never a ‘Directioner’ as they’re called, but I’ve long taken an interest in the way pop culture simultaneously exploits and disrespects its teenage audience. The music industry makes millions from the fans of Justin Bieber, One Direction and other teenage heartthrobs, and yet anything teenage girls endorse is considered inferior. I don’t mean to say that creating wealth makes teenage girls valuable, but artists like Mr Styles are expected to ‘escape’ from their trivial teenage fan-base in order to be taken seriously. This implies a cultural irrelevance for teenagers, girls in particular.
The emotional dependence that young girls feel towards their musical idols is a shocking thing to behold, and part of why we mistake their fandom for weakness. We incorrectly associate raw emotion with weakness, and there’s nothing more raw than watching a girl scream through tears that she wants Zayn to come back. Whether we like it or not, the rollercoasters we experience when we’re teenagers form a part of who we are as adults, so it baffles me that these temperamental times aren’t respected.
Nothing quite sickens me like the disdain adult men can feel for anything teenage girls like, whether that be pretty young pop boys or the music they make. It’s hard to understand where the venom comes from – ultimately this is misogyny disguised as defending the sanctity of music. There are countless musicians with adult, male fans who make arguably terrible or boring music, yet they don’t receive a fraction of the hate directed at Justin Bieber.
Until we stop associating young girls with illegitimacy, we’re not going to give our daughters the confident start in life that makes them into Presidents, Prime Ministers, Doctors, Lawyers and Anarchists. There is no shame in pop music, no shame in fantasy, no shame in femininity and no shame in youth. There is only shame in those who take joy in telling young girls the things they love don’t matter.
Thank you, I’ve really enjoyed the excuse to look up pictures of Harry Styles on the internet for ‘research’.