And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for: Part 3. (Read Part 2 and Part 1 for the full fangirl trifecta experience!)
So, the “This Is Us” movie. Sure, some scenes are cringe-inducingly forced. (Really, Morgan Spurlock, you send the boys camping in the forest in Sweden, tell them to pitch tents and build a fire, then arrange them in a beautifully-lit semi-circle and have them discuss their pasts and futures together? Really?) And when one of the moms gets a life-sized cut-out of her son for her home, that’s just weird.
Then Zayn buys his mom a house, and she cries as they talk on the phone, and you can tell he’d rather the camera weren’t there for that particular conversation. (#TeamZayn, and this is why.)
Then Harry tells us about his first kiss up against a tree in a field near his home (“Steamy,” he says with a lascivious wink, playing the camera for all it’s worth), and an old lady at the bakery he used to work at pinches his bum. “I’ve still got it,” says an apron-clad Harry as he sells a pastry to a customer, and his kindly former coworkers indulge him with laughs.
Then the boys practice songs together before a show and they’re actually serious about it, you can tell, they care. For a second it feels like a real documentary. These cute, talented kids didn’t finish high school and this is their only shot at improving their middle-class lives and they’re going to do it as well as they can, damn it, for as long as they can, and if that means being the crushes of a global tweenage generation, they’ll do it, and if it means being physically attacked by rabid fans, they’ll deal with it, and they’ll have fun with it. It could be much worse. They could have ended up not being friends, as Niall mentions. (But now they’re “basically brothers.” *cue exasperated eyeroll*… but then again they are basically brothers, so the cliché is forgiven.)
Then they’re onstage performing, doing that joke-y choreographed dancing they do so well (but “we don’t dance!” they insist), crooning sweetly into the mics, my 3D glasses making Harry’s lips look utterly kissable to lonely old me.
(And after the show, when the cameramen are off-duty, I in my infinite 22-year-old wisdom know just what’s going down that we don’t see onscreen: Harry’s getting trashed in a skeezy club with models, and Zayn’s sleeping with his fiancée, and Niall’s making out in a dark corner with some anonymous hot blonde. Louis and Liam I imagine as casual stoners who throw parties in their lavish London flats while hanging with their pretty girlfriends. The rest of the time they play a lot of video games.) Somehow the fact that the boys live in this weirdly liminal fantasy space, appealing both to the young and the not-still-young, staying clean and freshly-shaven for the studio execs while throwing a cheeky sidelong wink at the hot secretary, makes them all the more lovable. I do like a good bad boy.
And yes, I went home and bought their album on iTunes. I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since. (Especially this song.)
Critics can go ahead and call One Direction (and its movie, and its music, and its brand) a capitalist invention, a trite teen sensation, a talentless product of reality TV all they want. In the end, the accusations are mostly true. That’s what what makes the 1D boys so fascinating, so irresistible. They’re a fairytale come true, 21st-century-style. (And let’s remember that the most important qualities of the princesses were always their looks. Don’t try to tell me that Cinderella impressed Prince Charming with her witty banter while twirling across the ballroom, or that Sleeping Beauty’s light snores were indicative of her compassionate character.)
Is it selling out if both sides are in on the dirty little secret?
As long as Zayn keeps staring into the camera like he’s staring into my soul, I don’t even care.