culture valkyrie: one direction where?
So, it has come to this. We are sour, elderly curmudgeons, squinting at our television screens and muttering into our handkerchiefs, “Which is this ‘One Direction’ of which you speak?”
The good news is, it’s not some creepy cult the kids have all joined. (Or is it? Surely, there are subliminal forces at work here, the very phrase “one direction” being the antithesis of individuality. Echoes of “Thou shalt worship no other directions before me” are surely apparent. Weighty issues, but not worth expounding upon in this short essay.)
From so much as a casual observer might glean, One Direction is a five piece set of spiffy young lads, who have recently arrived to our shores to make false promises of domestic love to our womenfolk.
Their Top 40 hit of note, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ is one such example. You’ve probably heard the tune while shopping the aisles of Kmart, or riding shotgun in your little sister’s car. It’s pervasive, and let’s be frank, a bit of a scourge.
The line of the song which could be presumed most contentious (tip: it’s easy to spot, being repeated in the chorus ad nauseam) is, “You don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful”.
Vomit. Perhaps it’s the implication by these powder-faced, over-coiffed, hyper-self aware and entirely manufactured tween-bots that the most attractive trait in a woman is ignorance. Perhaps it’s the brazen irresponsibility of these men putting a call out to the Universe that all they want for Christmas is a girl with body dysmorphia. Perhaps it’s the dog’s-balls-apparent fact that rhyming “beautiful” with “beautiful” is lazy song-writing, and someone got paid for that.
Whatever it is that most offends; these lyrics are stupider than Kochie. If you’re beautiful, you have a right to know it, own it, and flaunt it. Come on, you’ve got a mirror and an iPhone. Even Narcissus had a pond to check himself (and wreck himself) in, and he roamed the planet before the apes did. Speaking of monkeys et al., even cats and octopi know they are beautiful, as does the entire bird kingdom. (Including pigeons, the rat of the open-air mall, and they are not beautiful at all. They are gross.)
So, what of it, you may ask. Don’t all pop songs by tween heart-throbs have lyrics that range from the shitty to the macabre? What about Justin Bieber’s ‘One Less Lonely Girl’? Particularly the chorus of: “There’s gonna be one less lonely girl, I’m coming for you”? That could have been sung by Jack the Ripper!
Let’s not get overexcited. Compared to the creepy little Canadian, One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ is just a song with a catchy beat. Sure, you may say that. (Or, if you are of the target demographic, you may simply say ughhhf!) You might point out Harry Styles. Divine. The blond one is not bad either. Yes these boys are gorgeous, a paragon of innocence and fresh-faced youth. They are in fact extremely hot.
However you and I are of an age where one stops getting wiser, and simply gets more bitter. To entertain any thoughts of whimsy toward these foetuses is officially rank.
Is it some kind of cruel poetry, that thinking about the boy band too long makes one feel utterly without direction, unanchored in a sea of crappy love ballads and too much hair putty? Though it’s difficult to make sense, a few simple facts remain. Yes, One Direction are beautiful. They are also overwhelmingly aware of it. And they are explicitly intended for a generation who are younger, better dressed, and more prone to throwing gang signs than you.
But One Direction has got nothing on Hanson. Let us not forget the words of the greats: “Mmmbop, ba duba dop”.