Repetitions of Desire

Queering the One Direction Fangirl

in Girlhood Studies
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  • 1 University of Melbourne hannah.mccann@unimelb.edu.au
  • 2 Aarhus University clare.southerton@anu.edu.au
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Abstract

Like other fangirls, fans of former boyband One Direction (“Directioners”) have often been represented in media discourse as obsessive and hysterical, with fan behaviour interpreted as longing for heterosexual intimacy with band members. Subverting this heteronormative framing, a group of Directioners known as “Larries” have built a sub-fandom around imagining a relationship (“ship”) between two of the band members, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Representation of the Larry fandom has gone beyond pathologizing fangirls to framing their shipping practice in terms of “fake news.” The conspiracy theory panic around Larries misses the complex ways that subtext and queer reading are mobilized within the fandom to invoke feelings of queer intimacy and belonging. Drawing on a digital ethnography conducted on Twitter with Larries, we argue that these fans engage in queer reading strategies to explicitly imagine and interrupt dominant heterosexual narratives, and thus queer the figure of the fangirl.

Contributor Notes

Hannah McCann is a Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her research explores femininity, queer femme, and beauty culture. She has published in Australian Humanities Review (2018), Women's Studies Quarterly (2016), and Australian Feminist Studies (2017). Her monograph Queering Femininity: Sexuality, Feminism and the Politics of Presentation was published in 2018. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5734-6385. Email: hannah.mccann@unimelb.edu.au

Clare Southerton is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Surveillance Studies, at Aarhus University. Her research interests focus on the way intimacy is formed with digital technologies and she has explored this in a number of empirical contexts including digital devices, surveillance, online communities, and health and sexuality. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5812-9785. Email: clare.southerton@anu.edu.au

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