Saturday, September 27, 2014

I woke up this morning and went to work. Then Twitter happened.

On Fridays at my job it’s bagel day! Mmmm, bagellllls. I always look forward to Friday, not because it’s the end of the work week, but because there are fresh bagels waiting for us to slather with fresh cream cheese. It’s pure Friday morning bliss. On this fine Friday, with bagel in hand, I logged into my computer to get an early start on the workday. (No seriously, there was ZERO traffic this morning! I got to work in record time and was so early I had the first pick of the bagels.)

While checking my work email, I get a text from my friends about an article written by Billboard with their take on the Jon Stewart/One Direction drama. For those of you who aren’t up to date on such important things, here’s a quick synopsis.

On Tuesday night, The Daily Show aired the following segment:—-the-next-big-terrorist-threat

Pretty funny stuff, huh? I’m a fan of The Daily Show, I nod my head in agreement with Jon Stewart more often than not, and I really like Jessica Williams and a lot of her bits for the show. When I first saw this segment, I didn’t think much of it. My interpretation of it was that it was a cheap shot for a cheap laugh, putting together a super group with things that sounded like musical groups and including the biggest pop group around.

But other people didn’t find the joke so innocuous. There were fans of the group that were offended by the implication that since One Direction has a Muslim member (Zayn Malik), stating that one member of One Direction was joining a super terrorist group clearly meant that they were referring to Zayn, and in essence, calling him a terrorist.

Now a lot of people may think the fans are stretching to make that connection, that there is no way that Jon Stewart knew who was even in One Direction, much less that one of the members was Muslim. Also, that there is no way that any of the staff writers, interns, production crew or anyone involved with the production of this segment knew enough about One Direction to maybe casually mention this detail.

Maybe the fans are stretching, but what you probably don’t realize is that there is history here. The fans have been having to defend Zayn Malik since day one. As One Direction began to rise in popularity, Zayn was bombarded on Twitter with racist tweets. After being called a terrorist one too many times and having his family attacked online as well, Zayn ended up deleting his twitter account. There was even a song recorded by an American rapper titled “Zayn Did 9/11,” which was available for download on iTunes. Not surprisingly, upon One Direction’s first arrival to the US, Zayn was detained by authorities at LAX because of his name.

But the general public doesn't know these things, nor do they care, so for the most part, no one paid attention to the fans’ rants against The Daily Show.

Until today.

For some reason, today the media decided to pick up on this story and run with it. Maybe it’s because they know writing about One Direction gets them a lot of web hits, or maybe it was a slow news day in the music industry. For whatever reason, music site after music site started publishing an article about this drama, and I made the mistake of clicking on one.

The one that my friends had sent me was from Billboard. I clicked on it thinking, “I’m sure they have an interesting take on this. It’s Billboard after all. The well-respected music trade that just reports what’s happening in music. How bad can this be?”

Well the answer to that is — pretty bad.

The article written by Erin Strecker, started off well enough, but it then devolved into the kind of condescending tone that I would expect from an online celebrity blog, not a music trade.

This is when I became invested. Here is a sampling of headlines about this drama:

The Clueless homage courtesy of One Direction Fans Can’t Even With The Daily Show Right Now

The “we decide what’s ‘racist’ you don’t” quote-tastic title from Spin: One Direction Fans Are Boycotting ‘The Daily Show’ for ‘Racism’

The “Oh the irony” strategy of The Daily Beast: One Direction Fans Attack ‘The Daily Show’ Like Terrorists to Defend Zayn

And here we have The Washington Post not stereotyping the fan base at all: ‘The Daily Show’ made a joke about One Direction, and teenage girls are losing it

As I read more and more of these articles, what bothered me wasn’t the “controversy” (which as I stated above, I didn’t pay much attention to in the first place), but the tone of these articles against the One Direction fan base — A fan base that is primarily female, a fan base that is often looked down upon in the music industry as just a bunch of teenage girls who think their favorite band is cute, a fan base that is often told they don’t know anything about music.

How can they not think that, when they open up articles and read a sentence like this:

What are the chances the Daily Show staff—or really, anyone who isn’t a 14-year-old girl—actually knows or cares about One Direction?

That line was from Complex magazine’s otherwise on-point article about the incident. And that’s just bothersome. The rest of the article isn’t saying anything that isn’t true, so why the dig in that line?

Or how about this one from Vulture:

The problem is One Direction has a Muslim member, Zayn Malik, and One Direction fans believe in their heart of hearts that the Daily Show writer who wrote that joke knows this and is not an adult who spends all his time watching the news and not listening to teenager music.

Right. Because One Direction’s music isn’t real music. It’s just teenager music. And no one with actual musical taste listens to teenager music. (Is this the right time to talk about how Grammy Award-darling Ed Sheeran defied his record company to contribute new music to One Direction’s upcoming album, Four, because he knew they’d do the songs justice? No? I’ll save that for another time then.)

And how about the article that started it all for me from Billboard?

Hopefully Jessica Williams wasn’t planning on going through Tiger Beat for cute pictures of Harry Styles at the local middle school, because she is totally not invited now.

What was the point of this condescending joke? The rest of the article would’ve been fine if this little dig at the fan base hadn’t been present. Oh, I’m sure it made people snicker, but what exactly are they snickering at? A stereotypical representation of a young female? Yeah, young girls are so funny aren’t they? Their behavior is the perfect punchline isn’t it?

But do you know what the biggest issue I had with all of this was? The majority of these articles were written by women. Let me repeat that. The majority of these articles were written by women.

Why do women in this position choose to throw passive aggressive jabs at a female fan base? Primarily one where a lot of the fan base is made up of young women at exactly the age where their confidence begins to be broken down by unattainable societal expectations? What do these female “journalists” (I’m using quotes because the tone of their articles is more in line with that of over-glorified bloggers.) get out of demeaning, not just teenagers, but any woman or man that is a fan of this group. (Because newsflash, adult women, as well as men of all ages, are also fans of One Direction.)

In short, why do we think it’s okay to belittle these fans for liking and being inspired by music that you may not like? Music is such an integral part of who we are. When we’re happy and want to dance around, we put on something fast and with a beat, when we’re sad and feeling down, we maybe opt for a more emotional song that captures our feelings and mood. Various music genres exist for various reasons, and they all serve a purpose. The song that I put on to jam to during my morning commute, is probably not the same song you jam to during your morning commute. And it shouldn’t be. Your songs are an extension of you, what you’ve been through, the memories you associate with them, the feelings they give you, who you used to be, who you are now. This is why music is so important.

And yet, here we are, with articles bashing a large group of women for their musical tastes. I think the most telling thing to me in all of this was the amount of comments I received on Twitter thanking me for saying something to a couple of these journalists. It’s sad that so many young girls feel that they don’t have a voice, and that no one is trying to see their points of view. Sadly, that’s exactly the case. To be fair, the One Direction fandom as a whole doesn’t do themselves any favors by becoming rabid whenever they feel the band is being slighted in any way, but perhaps that pack mentality is a defense mechanism against the larger issue — that no one was going to take them seriously in the first place.

I finished off my Twittering with some final thoughts for The Daily Show in hopes that they wouldn’t use this whole drama to belittle the fan base further. I tweeted:

@TheDailyShow Before you continue to miss the point, please do some research as to why this is such a hot button issue for the fanbase.

@TheDailyShow Instead of continuing the trend of condescending these fans perhaps now would be a good time to educate on why they’re upset.

And then I left them with a tidbit about Zayn to get them started.

I’m not expecting them to do anything of the sort, but I figured it was worth a shot, because ultimately, this whole issue comes down to misinterpretation and lack of respect. The fans who were upset didn’t get the joke, The Daily Show doesn’t get why the fans would be upset, the fans are being rude to The Daily Show because they feel slighted, the Daily Show is mocking the fans for it.

Personally, I think the media blew this up to what it became and turned it into a larger issue than it was. But what’s done is done. At least one journalist did manage to write a fact-based article about the incident while throwing in some jokes that weren’t condescending to the fans and then letting people decide for themselves what to make of the story. Huh, funny, that sounds like what journalism is supposed to be.

So kudos to you Meredith Blake for writing this article for the LA Times: One Direction fans outraged at ‘The Daily Show’ for terrorism joke

And on that note, I’ll wrap this up. I could obviously talk more on this subject, but I really hope I don’t have to. I’m not sure why this bothered me today. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered this in blogs and articles. Usually, I roll my eyes and click out of the site, but something about the smugness with which how all these articles were written today just rubbed me the wrong way.

Maybe it’s because as a young girl, I asked my mom to get me subscriptions to Billboard, Spin, and AP magazines, and I’d read them from front cover to back cover like they were holding all the magical secrets to my deep love of everything related to music. (I never cared for Rolling Stone because they focused too much on general pop culture and not enough on music!) Maybe it’s because the whole reason I moved to LA for college in the first place was because I wanted to work in the music industry. Maybe it’s because no matter how many times I will debate thatOK Computer is the best album of our time, and that I literally had a spiritual experience seeing Spiritualized perform live, or that yes I did fly to London for my birthday so I could see The Verve live one last time because I had a feeling they were going to break up again, no matter if I can have a legitimate conversation about music that is deemed “acceptable” by music snobs, I still have to deal with being made fun of for going to a Backstreet Boys concert and having my entire musical taste written off by others because I like them too.

And maybe I carry that frustration around, and maybe today was the day when I just got annoyed enough by it that I had to say something. The one thing I will say is that I’ve always had this idea that I needed to start a female-run music magazine. Men control the music industry, so somehow they think they have some sort of reign over it, like it’s their thing. Well, men, just remember who made The Beatles happen.

As an addendum, there is, believe it or not, a lot of great debate happening on tumblr about the issue that set this whole thing off. People have strong opinions about why they felt The Daily Show’s joke was racist, and they make some interesting points. I don’t have time to get people’s permission to post links here, but do a search. Seek and you shall find, or something…

Addendum 2: Also, I see in the comments of these articles a lot of people saying that 1D fans don’t understand satire and they didn’t comprehend the joke. This could very well be true for some of the fans, especially the younger ones, but something else to keep in mind is that 1D are a GLOBAL phenomena. Not everyone in the world knows who Jon Stewart is or what kind of show The Daily Show is, humor is different in other countries, plus there’s that whole language barrier thing….

Addendum 3: I just created this addendum to point out that apparently all my addenda need to end with ellipses…

Addendum 4: Feel free to leave comments, whether you agree or disagree. I just felt that with all these “journalists” putting their two cents in, that maybe another side needed to be written. Hopefully this all made sense…