One Direction is probably coming to Phoenix at some point in 2014. I've been following an account called @1DNeedstheheat for the better part of the year, which is how I know, but Live Nation has officially begun teasing the boy band event of 2014, and pretty soon you're going to hear about it whether you like it or not.
You will have no choice, because everyone you know will be talking about it.
Because something about One Direction compels people who could not be further outside their target demographic--such as your correspondent--to talk about them. It's not just music-blog thinkpiece writers, either. You'll hear about One Direction from local talk radio personalities, and your dentist, and older relatives you haven't really talked to in a few years.
It could just be that we, as Americans, are still a little surprised that boy bands are back, and inspiring the same intense and confusing devotion they did before everybody seemed to realize they were a bad idea in 2004. It's the reaction people would have if hair metal had reemerged, basically unchanged, five years after Kurt Cobain died.
But I don't think that's the only thing--I think it's more that none of us non-directioners really have any idea what's going on. As much as we hear about them, and talk about them, most of us have never actually seen them on TV, and a lot of us have never even heard one of their songs.
That's 2013 for you, compared to 2000--advertisers have more ways to avoid you, since you're outside their demo, and you have more ways to avoid them, and sometimes you wake up to realize all of a sudden that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were in a movie together, and it already bombed while you were watching Bob's Burgers on Hulu Plus and being served ads about car insurance.
But the weird thing isn't that you haven't sought One Direction out. The weird thing is that the actual target demographic--your little sisters--probably will not talk to you about it at all.
— Live Nation-Phoenix (@LiveNationPHX) November 25, 2013
Your little sisters are happy to keep it a secret, or at least confined to people who follow them on Instagram. That might be why One Direction isn't as big as *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys got--the Backstreet Boys were an obsession you played out in public, on TRL and in front of Circuit Cities, but One Direction fandom is wrapped up in Tumblrs and Twitter accounts that you'll never find by accident.
It has more in common with surreptitious Harry Potter fanfiction authors--such as your correspondent--than it does the New Kids on the Block, whose snake-charming routine played out in front of your parents and the boys you liked and everybody.
And while every weird pseudo-news-item and rumor and rivalry about them or even the Backstreet Boys would have to piggyback off a mainstream-culture TV channel, or at least one of those grocery-store fan magazines, all of the crazy off-shoots of One Direction fandom--the media criticism, the boy band rivalries, the talk about girlfriends, the conviction that two or more of them are actually in love with each other--can bloom on the internet, in huge, intentional, secret communities.
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Everybody's going to be taking to you about One Direction in a few weeks. But if you want to find the people who are actually excited about it, look for the girls who are telling you nothing at all.