Earlier this week the fandom of teen pop sensation One Direction reached critical mass when their new live DVD release managed to go six times platinum within 7 days. That means that just in Australia, Directioners (as their fans are affectionately called) bought in excess of 90,000 copies of the DVD.
For context, Adele’s live DVD, which has been on sale for over six months, has sold somewhere in the vicinity of 60,000, and that includes the sales from Mothers Day and Christmas.
When the boys toured our shores back in in April of this year, their fans virtually shut down whichever capital city the band were in. They upstaged every Australian celebrity at the Logie Awards and instigated a camp out in Sydney’s CBD.
The boy band, who got their start on the UK’s X-Factor talent show, seem to be overwhelming every Australian girl (and some boys) under 16 and while their influence is transcontinental, it seems that Aussie teens have been hit harder than any others.
The five-piece’s live DVD sold a mere 76,000 copies in its first week in America. Considering America has 15 times the population of Australia (which in turn means 15 times more teenagers willing to shell out cash for the DVD) it really is quite pitiful. Compare this to the 90,000 copies sold here in Australia and you have to ask, why do Australians love a teen idol?
Is it their wholesome image? Their 5-part harmonies? Their perfectly tousled hair? Australia has a history of gushing over teen idols. Renowned for having intense ‘Beatlemania’ in the 1960s, Aussies lost it when the foursome came in ‘64. Streets were shut down, fans passed out and the music was impossible to hear over the high-pitched screaming of thousands of teenage girls.
Cut to 1974 and teen sensation and pseudo bad-boy David Cassidy toured the east coast of Australia to a similar reaction with three fans fainting and having to be hospitalized at a show. It’s a trend that has continued to this day, with everyone from New Kids on the Block to Justin Timberlake causing a mania so intense it seems made up.
Perhaps our obsessive tendencies have something to do with Australia’s distance from the rest of the world. Like a sex-starved spinster craving some attention from a younger man, Australia seems to latch onto boy-band exports in a uniquely obsessive way.
Or maybe it’s our convict’s complex: maybe we all feel a bit insecure about how we stack up against Brits or Americans so we obsessive over their icons for want of acceptance. Like a whore in a nightclub latching onto a womaniser for attention, Australia’s obsession with teenage boys dancing on stage would indicate that our collective self-esteem as a country is pretty damn low.
Or maybe not, maybe it’s something else altogether.