The Not-So-Hidden Bias Against Teenage Passions & Abilities

Jacey Brown, Writer

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“Joyous Eagles fans react at the end of Super Bowl LII,” was how the Los Angeles Times described events after Eagles fans stormed Philadelphia streets celebrating the Super Bowl win. The screaming fans were painted in a passionate, humorous light, though pictured destroying stores, cars and lampposts.

In contrast, a review of a One Direction movie in The Guardian described teenage fans innocently dancing and singing along with lyrics as “screaming, crying women,” using terms like “mass hysteria” to describe the event.

What is the issue between these two quotes?

Here we have two very passionate groups of people celebrating what they’re passionate about; the only difference is that one group is made up of mainly adult men, and the other is made up of mainly young women, who have an unfair bias stacked against them when it comes to being a fan.  

It’s time we start seeing teenage superfans as way more than crazed, hysterical girls behind phone screens.

In fact, it’s about time we start seeing them for what they really are – passionate world-changers of all ages and gender identities, learning life skills through supporting the thing or person they love most. What better example than One Direction fans?

In the year of 2015, those same so-called hysterical fans came together to create Project No Control, which aimed to take the song “No Control” from the band’s fourth studio album and turn it into the first fan-promoted single. Fans of all ages created official artwork, started streaming campaigns, called radio stations worldwide, and basically marketed the single just like a management team would, even gaining the attention from the band themselves. Life skills were learned by hundreds of young people, all from real life, though fanatic, experiences.

While speaking to Louis Tomlinson, the band member who leads the vocals on the song, Late Late Show host James Corden addressed Project No Control by saying, “[The song has] been A-listed at radio stations all over the world, because of these amazing fans.”

Though the mega million boyband has since taken a hiatus for solo projects, fan passion hasn’t ceased. The young fans have now turned to social issues, especially in the U.S., to demonstrate the power of their voices.

All throughout shows of member Harry Styles’ first solo tour, young fans wearing the star’s “Treat People With Kindness” t-shirts began fan projects to raise funds and awareness for gun violence, the Black Lives Matter movement, and LGBTQ+ rights. Flags, signs, chants, you name it – $1.2 million was raised for 62 charities worldwide. Styles may be famous for supporting these movements, but in actuality, the teenage fans no one takes seriously were the true beginnings of his praised inclusive concert environment.

Here lies the problem! The adult male artist gets the credit for what the teenage group of people work hard to produce. Though, Styles himself is not oblivious to this system, and often comes to the defense of his unique following.

“How can you say young girls don’t get it?” Styles told Rolling Stone. “They’re our future – our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going.”

True, teenagers have not always proven their maturity, making it easy for those who ridicule them. But, as the world changes, so do the young people, developing into our future with more and more big ideas and actions. It’s time people start noticing teenage superfans and treating them with the respect they’ve earned, before they change the world right under our noses.