Over the weekend, two brave Jezebel writers attended the One Direction concert movie One Direction: This Is Us. This is their story.
Madeleine: Callie, are you ready to discuss the life-changing event that is One Direction: This Is Us?
Callie: I think so. I have been preparing all weekend.
Madeleine: Now before we start discussing the movie, I think we should talk about how we feel about 1D in general. To get all of our JOURNALISTIC BIASES out there. So are you a fan?
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Callie: Yes. I am really moved by that dancing band of teenagers. Are you? What is your 1D experience?
Madeleine: I could probably only name about three of their songs, but I do genuinely find them to be incredibly charismatic and I think the marketing surrounding them is genius.
So maybe I'm not a fan, but I don't begrudge them their success. They seem like nice boys who are willing to work hard. Does that make me sound like their mom?
Callie: No, it does not make you sound like their mom, because my #1 takeaway from One Direction: This Is Us is that their moms are always about to cry and very confused.
Madeleine: To be fair, YOU CRIED during One Direction: This Is Us.
Callie: I CRIED MANY TIMES. I was thankful for the 3D glasses. They shielded my tears from you.
Madeleine: Let's get into the movie then. I saw it twice — FOR WORK AND NOT FOR PLEASURE — and my two screening experiences were very different from each other. For the first one, I went to was a special screening that was packed full of screaming girls, some uncomfortable dads and me. At the second one that I went to with you, there was hardly anyone in the theater.
Callie: I was really disappointed by the lack of tweens. That was my second takeaway (after the moms). Also the screeching at our screening seemed really performative because there were so few of them — so it wasn't really an orgiastic frenzy, as your first screening experience seemed to be.
Madeleine: Totally. Regarding that orgiastic frenzy at the first screening — and I feel bad saying this because I really hate it one people shit all over tween girls' tastes because the criticism is generally really gendered and unfair — I have to say it: Those bitches are fucking crazy.
Callie: When they showed Harry Style's first X-Factor audition I thought that one of the tweens-in-attendance had given birth because of the pained bellow she emitted.
Madeleine: Yes! They were all so horny! Every time one of the boys took their shirt off, the girls went bonkers.
Callie: Who took their shirt off the most? I think it was Harry Styles.
Madeleine: Yeah, definitely Harry. Which I guess is giving the tweens exactly what they wanted.
Callie: Do you think the screeching of hormone-addled tweens is making them more open to frank discussions of sexuality? That is the important question. I'm not sure, because all the 12-year-olds looks at me like I was Satan when I tried to get a tampon out of the tampon machine in the bathroom after the movie.
Madeleine: I don't know if tweens going crazy is anything new. They did it for NSYNC, they did it for NKOTB, they did it for the Beatles. It's interesting how that conflicts with the general assumption that girls don't get to express their sexualities as much as boys do. What is it about boy bands that allows them to be so free with their sexual feelings?
Callie: Another thing that fascinated me was how much the crowd squealed at that one homoerotic moment when Harry Styles was affectionately stroking the face of Niall and singing love songs to him backstage before one of their concerts. The crowd reached a pitch not discernible to the human ear.
Madeleine: That WAS adorable.
Callie: What do you think is the most explicit sexual act between 2 One Direction members that they would have cheered for?
I think like 30 seconds of a BJ. Then afterwards they would get antsy.
Madeleine: I bet they could kiss and girls would be into it, BUT I think they would have to do it in that silly "just some lads having a laugh" way that 1D is known for.
Callie: Wait, they wanted to have a laugh? They were lads? I must have missed that part.
Madeleine: Yeah, I don't know if you picked up on this subtlety, but One Direction really likes to have fun.
Callie: The movie should have been called "JUST SOME NORMAL LADS HAVIN' A LAUGH."
Madeleine: One thing I'll say for Morgan Spurlock (the surprising director of One Direction: This Is Us) is that he did a very good job of making me really like them. Not for their music, which is shit, by the way, but for their personalities. There were multiple times during the movie when I laughed (with them and not at them) and by the end, I found myself completely charmed. Walking out of the theater, I even thought to myself, "They really seem like they'd be fun to hang out with," WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT SIMON COWELL WANTS.
Callie: Simon Cowell appeared in the film using an iPad as a coaster for his tea mug.
Madeleine: I think the iPad was to hide the massive erection he gets whenever he knows he's making money.
Callie: The fact that they're a couple of lads from working class backgrounds made them really likable to me — like that scene where Louis is talking about how he would have been a fireman or factory worker (because his dad worked in a factory) if wasn't doing One Direction.
Madeleine: 1. That was Liam who said that. And 2. I find it rich that you would confuse them after yelling at me when I accidentally pronounced Louis's name as "Lewis" instead of "Louie."
Callie: I CAN'T BELIEVE I MESSED IT UP. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. But back to what LIAM said about becoming a factory worker — part of me wondered how genuine that was?
Madeleine: Yeah, the whole thing is painstakingly crafted, which is what I meant earlier when I said that they're marketed ingeniously. They're supposed to be a boy band of "real boys" who pick their own clothes, hate dancing and do whatever they want, but then you see backstage footage where a hairstylist is slaving over Harry Styles supposedly carefree locks and then you get a glimpse into the hours of rehearsal time that they spend with a choreographer, which brings us to...THE DANCING. You had lots of thoughts on this.
Callie: Part of me is like, "Oh, it's so cute, they're dancing like a bewildered chaperone by the fringes of junior prom," but then the other part of me is like "65,000 PEOPLE PAID MONEY TO SEE YOU MOVE YOUR LITTLE BODY, PLEASE EXPEND SOME EFFORT." And they're, like, air guitar'ing on a microphone and also pretending to row a boat using their microphones and pantsing each other.
Madeleine: YES SO MUCH AIR GUITAR. Also, Niall supposedly plays guitar on stage for a lot of their songs, but I'm convinced that his guitar doesn't actually have strings on it.
Callie: His twitter bio would indicate that the guitar has approximately six strings on it at all times: "I'm Niall, i'm in One Direction. I sing and play an instrument with 6 strings on it !" (Please DM me if you see this, Niall.)
Madeleine: I don't mind the not-dancing or the pantsing, but can I be honest about something? I think I have a crush on Harry. I struggled with this a lot over the weekend.
Callie: Do you feel like he loves you back even though he doesn't know you? A lot of the fans interviewed in the documentary expressed that sentiment.
Madeleine: I'm too old and wise to think that he loves me back. I only bring it up because I think my FEELINGS are causing me to excuse a lot of their behavior.
Callie: I would like to try and find someone who isn't touched by their boyish antics.
Madeleine: Thank you for normalizing my perversion.
Callie: The excusing of their behavior is a result of their impish spell? Is there a fable about this? I think there might be.
Madeleine: It's more than likely. So one really unintentionally funny thing about the movie was how they were talking about 1D like they were seasoned musicians with decades of performing together under their belt when really all of this happened, like six months ago.
Callie: And most of their auditions for X-factor, which the documentary event revisited, were TERRIBLE. When Louis (I REALLY MEAN LOUIS THIS TIME) looked like a wet mop and moaned "Hey There Delilah." #neverforget
Madeleine: After coming home from the movie a second time, I watched all of their performances from The X Factor. Originally, producers kept trying to sell Liam as the main heartthrob — always having him on lead vocals and standing in the center — until about halfway through the competition when Harry started taking more and more solos and getting more and more screentime. It was sort of sad watching producers discover that Liam is a dud.
Callie: Poor Liam. He probably didn't even notice. As a One Direction Historian, I can remember the songs (2 years ago) in which they used to forbid Niall and Louis from singing alone, because their voices are not good. But now they let Louis caterwaul all he likes.
Madeleine: Vocally, I have to say, they have all improved dramatically. On The X Factor, all Zayn ever got to do was vocal runs and they were always awful. Speaking of Zayn, we haven't talked about him at all. Thoughts?
Callie: I thought Zayn came across as the least likable! Which is weird because he has the most soulful eyes with the longest tenderest eyelashes.
The scene where he buys his mom a house and talks to her on the phone as she (surprise!) weeps and is confused by his sudden and astronomical success, he's kinda just like, "Welp, that's a house. Gotta go, mom. Kisses!"
Madeleine: Yeah, I didn't find him unlikable, but I did find him surprisingly reserved. Which is why he's the mysterious one, I guess. There were two places where he knocked it out of the park:
1. He has the best accent
2. He wore a pair of board shorts that had Bob Marley's face on them.
Callie: I DIDN'T NOTICE THE BOB MARLEY BOARD SHORTS.
Madeleine: I pointed them out to you, but maybe we were both drunk from the whisky we smuggled into the theater by that point. (Which was a great idea by the way. The booze really made the film more enjoyable.)
Callie: Whenever I consume a bit of drink I lose all ability to discern whether board shorts are Bob Marley themed or not.
I want to talk about the experience of watching moms watch 1D. You had more moms in your theater. There was one mom behind us, though, who made noises only twice during the documentary film event. First, when Martin Scorsese came in to congratulate them backstage at their Madison Square Garden show, the mom went "Hm! Martin Scorsese!" and second, when the fun-loving lads of 1D were talking about farts she made a disgusted/condescending sound.
Madeleine: Oh my god, the Martin Scorsese thing. At my first screening, that moment was met with dead silence because practically no one in the audience was old enough to know who he was.
Callie: (What do you think the tweens thought when they saw Martin Scorsese? "Who is that weird old man in an eyebrow wig and what is he doing in my bf's dressing room pre-MSG"?)
Madeleine: I was however, seated next to a woman who I thought was, like, a cool mom trying to embrace her daughter's interests because she was humming along and laughing and giving a running commentary on how smart the boys' business decisions were. But when the lights came up after the movie was over, I saw that she was not sitting next to a young girl like I suspected, but was actually there with another adult friend. I can't imagine being a childless adult and going to that movie for any reason besides your work making you.
Callie: Was her friend reciprocating in the 1D admiration? Or was she just speaking into a void?
Madeleine: I couldn't hear! I had to keep my ears plugged for the entire movie because the girls were screaming so loud. I don't know if I have ever in my life felt how closely humans are related to other primates. Everyone was freaking out and the girl sitting directly behind me was — I kid you not — actually grabbing the back of my chair and shaking it out of excitement. It was a particular brand of screaming, too — not just "WOOOO" and "AHHHHHH" like you'd expect, but punctuated screams like something you'd hear out of a chimp.
It was ESPECIALLY loud if one of the boys were half naked. But who am I to tell them to be quiet? It was a Tweens' world, I was just living in it.
Callie: That's the kind of tween-antic I had prayed for in my heart of hearts. What was the best tween-antic you witnessed?
Madeleine: My favorite moment from either screening happened about midway through the first when one of the girls sitting directly behind me (the chair shaker) screamed at something and her friend turned to her and snapped, "Now is NOT the time."
It made me realize that there are rules and a code to this fandom that I will never be allowed to understand. How about you? Closing thoughts?
Callie: The night after I saw One Direction: This Is Us I had a dream that my boyfriend dumped me and then did a One Direction dance on a hill while I cried. It was the dance move where they step back and forth in place and move their arms rigidly.
Madeleine: Yeah, I know it!
Callie: That's the worst of their moves. There's no putting that body spasm into language.
Image via Getty.