Directed by: Jessica Leski
Produced by: Jessica Leski, Rita Walsh
Featuring: Elif Cam, Sadia, Dara Donelly, Susan Bower
Designed as a glimpse into a teenage girl’s sparkly, heart-studded, secret diary, this engaging documentary opens with black and white footage of girls who have flocked en masse for the smallest glimpse of The Beatles during their 1964 world tour. Like some curious kind of behaviour that David Attenborough might explain in a nature program, this knot of screaming, crying, hair-tearing, swooning girls is a phenomenon that had begun to sweep the globe, leaving many a parent and those not caught up in the frenzy utterly bemused.
But. Who are these girls and what has become of them?
In this cross-continental exploration, these questions are addressed through the lives of four very different women, from Susan Bower an Australian television producer, one of the original fangirls captured in the archival footage of The Beatles tour, to Elif Cam, a schoolgirl living in Long Island, New York whose obsession with One Direction has paralleled the five years it has taken the filmmakers to produce their own labour of love.
According to Elif, when One Direction perform, ‘It’s like they’re singing to me, “You’re beautiful”.’ And, what young girl could resist a really cute boy looking deeply into her eyes and whispering to her all of her heart’s desires, even before she is really aware she has them?
While, Dara the more technically-minded Australian brand strategist couldn’t resist the allure of, ‘Five guys in the rain dancing in slow motion’.
Analysing her own longstanding and unshakeable attachment, Dara sets out a chart on an office-grade whiteboard to examine ‘Boyband Basics’. There’s: ‘The mysterious one, the cute one, the sensible dad/older brother, the sexy one—shirt off—and the forgotten one.’ And, there are definitely, ‘No girlfriends, no brothers and no beards.’
In some quarters, boybands are seen as manufactured, manipulative and relatively unskilled. Given that only one boy in the band might even be able to play the guitar, it can be social suicide for the girls to reveal their secret passion. But, that is precisely the allure. It’s about the perfect boy. And, in a boyband, there’s a boy to match the dreams of every girl.
For Elif, the girl on a video that went viral when she cried uncontrollably at the thought of seeing One Direction, ‘They’re not even like human beings. Nobody can be that perfect’. And, it seems that for all of the girls, the most perfect thing about the perfect boy is that he is unattainable.
At a time in their lives when girls are starting to feel the first flutterings of interest in boys, when their emotions are wayward with wild crushes galore, and at a time when real boys ‘are jerks’, boybands offer unconditional love. They sing of love and tantalise with hints of sex, but it is never overt. They are the boys who will never break your heart.
Each of the girls who have invited us into the ultra-private world behind their bedroom door has been deeply affected by their love of boybands, and their attachment has had a lasting effect on their future selves, including some unlikely effects on the course of their future careers.