A few years ago, internet fandom made its presence known to me. I was aware that fan clubs existed ever since I was a member of the Dennis the Menace Fan Club back in the early nineties (which included two badges and a list of "secret codeword" acronyms to exchange between your fellow Beano community). My sister was a massive fan of Robson Green around the same time. I remember at one point she had three identical covers of TV Times stuck on her wall advertising a new series of Soldier Soldier. It was a time where being a fan of something was relatively innocent. If you wanted, you could write a letter to Smash Hits if you wanted any sort of interaction with a Backstreet Boy.
Since the arrival of the internet, fan clubs evolved into fandoms. "Fandom" is a harsher phrase than "fan club". "Fan clubs" conjure up imagines of nine-year-olds cutting out pictures of their favourite celebrities to hang on their wall. "Fandom" implies a cult-like organisation, whose members are more likely to cut off the faces of their favourite celebrities to hang on their wall. And there is no scarier fandom than the One Direction one.
I might be completely wrong in all this and I fully expect the cry of "not all Directioners!", but I've seen too much to be convinced otherwise. Two years ago, I started a Twitter page simply titled @HarryMyCatDied. It originally started as a project to archive One Direction fans' pleas for their idols to follow them on Twitter because, as you've probably guessed, their cat died. Or any sort of pet, really.
This evolved into reporting on any sort of fandom craziness, from poems to fan fiction to spectacularly odd cases to get the boys' attention.
I ended up writing a lecture last year which I took to the Edinburgh Fringe, followed by a nationwide tour. This was a particularly odd experience, as the fandom of One Direction started coming to the show. Luckily, they took it in good humour. Except for the fan whose tweet was actually showcased in the presentation. She kind of stormed out. In my defense, all I did was point out that she clearly drowned bunny rabbits.
I implore to you all: Harry Styles must be stopped. There is some hypnotic gaze that the hairstyled individual holds over young girls in order to do his bidding. This month, I will be taking the show to London and Edinburgh. Please grab your bottle of Frizz-Ease and lucky dead cat and come join me in finding out how to stop all things One Direction based.