Being a teen fan is something very serious | Culture



Elif contorts, whines, and tears run down his cheeks, just before releasing a huge howl, more like a caged animal than a 16-year-old teenager. "I used to be normal," she admits, still sobbing as her other friends laugh at her reaction. Elif was normal, now he reacts like this in front of the videos of One direction.

The documentary I Used To Be Normal, by Jessica Leski, which premiered last night at the Festival In Edit in Barcelona and can be seen again on Sunday, follows Elif, a One Direction fan, for two years; Dara, 33, a follower of Take That; Sadia, 25, a lover of Bakstreet Boys, and Susan, 64, a fan of The Beatles. The focus, contrary to the usual, is not on the star, but on the fan of the groups of children, the boybands, that from the sixties until now they have persecuted their objects of desire.I Used to Be Normal also proposes a theory of boyband: a musical commercial adventure that lasts five years on average: boys from 17 to 21 years old sing love and not sex, although this is implicit; they always have distinguishable personalities for the fans - the mysterious, the handsome, the sensitive older brother, the sexi and the one nobody remembers - and evident musical ability.

In addition, they have to have a stylistic and chromatic cohesion, laugh at themselves and, most importantly: they can not have beards - yes some facial hair - and by no means a known girlfriend. And who is your audience? The teenagers, who go through their most emotionally vulnerable moment. They offer you the promise and the fantasy of being loved.

Sublimated desire

The film develops this theory through the eyes of women who, since their sexual awakening, sublimate their desires as fans. They cut out photos to make altars in their rooms, they follow their idols as far as their economy allows them, and, above all, they dream and reflect on the love of adolescence, always unconditional.

The documentary has a novel element: it does not laugh at the feminine fan phenomenon, nor does it understand it as an eccentricity, something very common in the analysis of the culture that adolescents consume. As Maura Johnston explained in The New York Times, the treatment of the music press with respect to boybands and to his followers is always biased: "He is often awarded adjectives such as sugar, chewing gum or false music. And they are laughable. "

The critic Gayle Wald, in I Want It That Way, his study on boybands, He notes that this group receives even more fierce criticism for what he calls "masculinity for girls". This has as a consequence "the popularity among preadolescent girls and the derision between men in general and musical critics in particular". In summary: there is nothing worse than liking teens.

By understanding female adolescence as a subculture, a space of self-representation that resists through its own rituals, I Used to Be Normal, He ends by relating how it affects women that their musical subculture is not recognized or appreciated. Both Dara and Sadia, once abandoned adolescence, are forced to justify their musical tastes before the disbelief of the world around them. "I want to break the idea that because they are manufactured groups that makes us stupid or too sensitive people," says Dara.

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