Belfast Telegraph

Girls are more savvy about 1D break-up than they're being given credit for

By Jane Graham

It was the most seismic entirely expected news of the pop year; One Direction are to "take a break" after their current tour. The headlines were big and fat, but not as loud as the ones which followed hours later when stories about One Direction fans being upset took on a tone so hysterical you could actually detoxify your pores in the emanating scalding steam.

Girls were reported to be wailing, gnashing teeth, going into mourning, and according to one newspaper, threatening to self harm. Online commentators were quick to decide on the character of the female 12-18 demographic; "This is another reason why there's less female politicians than male," said one. "Most girls seem only interested in make-up, handbags, shoes, marrying footballers or talentless boy bands."

"I'm so glad I have a son," sighed another. It became clear that the current generation of young women are "unhinged" and "need locking in a mental hospital", as one visionary put it.

I haven't seen much evidence of this lunatic behaviour. And I have a 12-year-old One Direction fan for a daughter. She and her friends seem relatively nonplussed by the whole thing, though they'd rather it hadn't happened. It's a shame, they said, but they've had a good run. Everyone knows boy bands don't last long. Harry's solo stuff will be out soon enough.

I began to think I was more affected than them. I have Steal my Girl on my favourite iTunes playlist and play it every time I'm bouncing along the street on a sunny day. Kids are so damn sensible these days, it's not healthy. They watch The X Factor and say it's cruel, while their parents cackle at the sight of a middle-aged man with toothpaste stains on his moustache forgetting his name.

They congregate in their millions at the shrine of YouTube stars like Zoella and Dan & Phil: Zoe is so wholesome and sweet you could ice your cake with her; Dan and Phil are erudite, smart and compassionate. They write out lyrics and quote from the gospel of Taylor Swift, who tells them about the power of being yourself, being kind to others, and not letting bullies stomp on your dreams. They got more angry when they read Zayn and Louis from One Direction had smoked cannabis ("betrayed") than they have now, on the eve of what is surely their eternal rupture.

And yet the media reported a reaction so tumultuous it was taken on as an argument against teenage suffrage. I searched Twitter for signs of this generational malaise but compared to the testosteronially charged rage which met news of Jeremy Clarkson's sacking (remember the one million-strong petition and the tank outside BBC offices?), or the Samaritans' tales of melting hotlines when Take That expired, the One Directioners appear to be a generally philosophical lot.

I checked the original sensational story about the breakdown of teenage civilisation. It said "Among thousands of posts, one heartbroken 'Directioner' wrote: 'Genuinely going to top myself if 1D split up'."

Having trawled "thousands of posts" for evidence of demonic girlhood, the knackered journalist had come up with one, rather unconvincing, knee-jerk tweet, in which a traumatised fan had used typical adolescent hyperbole to express her unhappiness. This had given rise to hundreds of comments declaring that girls these days are spoilt, selfish, stupid, vacuous and unbalanced.

If some girls shed a tear at the news, I have nothing but sympathy. Falling in love with pop stars, wanting bands to stay friends forever - it's all part of growing up and dealing with the melancholy of not being able to freeze happy times, and the inevitable ending of all things. Sympathy for embittered old gripers who jump at the chance to spit at young women however, I'm rather short of.

Finding leader is no Labour of love

Like many people, I’m watching the melodrama of the Labour leadership battle with interest and amusement.

What a nerve Yvette has, asking Andy to stand down when he’s ahead of her in the race. Who asked Gordon and Tony to stick their oars in? Hasn’t Andy Burnham got lovely eyelashes, a bit like Elizabeth Taylor’s?

I am surprised, though, that there’s any disputing the idea that a few mischief-makers have joined the party simply to pick the guy they think most likely to make Labour unelectable. If I had the chance to destroy the Tories from within for £3 I’d sign up faster that you can say Bobby Bargain.

Television experts are such poor value

The MacTaggart lecture is the peak thinking event in the annual TV industry calendar.

This week Alan Partridge/The Thick of It/Veep creator Armando Iannucci gave one of the best in years. He simply spoke the truth - that opinions on TV from "experts" are just rubbish guesses about the future that cost a lot.

That governments who seek to dictate to creative people are slowly destroying the industry they say they're encouraging (the government expert panel on the BBC has "not a single person who's made a classic and enduring television show"). And that the BBC is one of the greatest achievements of British life and must be fought for. Amen.

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