Novelist Samantha Hunt Contemplates Her Obsession with One Direction, and Mortality, Too

One Direction, 2013 Fiona McKinlay)

I love it here. I love girls, my three girls in particular. But I also love the hormonal girls who fill the ranks of 1D’s fans, Directioners. They are unembarrassed by their extreme passions. They are honestly mad for love or whatever chemistry the band is brewing in their bodies. The documentary film Crazy About One Direction records one fan admitting she got braces put on her teeth not because she needed them but because Niall had braces. Another girl says that if the boys asked her to chop off her arm, she would. A third confesses she’d kill a cat, no, a goat, in order to meet the boys. These girls build galaxies out of whole cloth. They’d fight any battle for their seigneurs.

Tonight the mass of girls before me in the arena, swarming like insects, raises a question of economy. How many waitressing shifts, humid summer jobs, and hours babysitting does it take to hold these five boys aloft, to lard the fiefdom? How better might these girls’ energies be spent in humanitarian projects and education? And how best to understand their mania without dismissing it as a fault of their youth or gender?

It’s this last question that interests me most, because I, too, am here, willingly, happily, and I am not a girl. I’m a trespasser disguised as a “mum.” In truth, I’ve logged hundreds of hours listening to 1D without my kids. I consume 1D in huge, voracious doses as one might a bag of Cheetos. Sometimes I feel sick afterward but most often not. Most often 1D makes me feel light and lifted and full of gladness. Even as I write this piece, it is all I can do to not watch the video for “Steal My Girl” on a loop, as, you know, research. I love One Direction.

From Samantha Hunt’s New York magazine essay about a health scare and coming to terms with motherhood, mortality, and aging, set against the vivid backdrop of her and her daughters’ shared fandom of the boy band One Direction.

Read the story