One Direction are currently the most popular boyband in the world, apparently.
Their job is to stroll about on a stage with shiny hair and nice, clean clothes, warbling cliched inanities while binders full of girls in their early teens scream at them. Well, it's a living.
The ritual whereby young girls scream at male stars has been a part of youth culture since the middle of the 20th century. Psychologists say girls get together and scream at boys as an expression of their fears about reaching sexual maturity. They can't imagine feeling desire for anyone, least of all the kids at school, so they fixate on unreachable, unthreatening stars – usually clean-cut, pretty lads – and practise feeling lovelorn and rejected in a group therapy context instead.
Strangely, even post-Savile, no one seems to think these displays might signify what screams usually signify – cries of panic or fear, cries for help. Our culture shrugs indulgently at little girls who greet womanhood with a fit of uncontrolled caterwauling, and at young men who have been brought up to believe such a display is some kind of serious measure of their talent or worth. Maybe it's time to ask ourselves instead what we really think is going on here.
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