When Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls, I scribbled out her face on the Spice World poster with a marker and accepted it as the natural course of life. But things were a lot less entrepreneurial in 1998. We hadn’t been bought up on a diet of crowdfunding and charge.org. There was no 23 million-strong fandom on Twitter.
When the world went into meltdown on Wednesday following the news that Zayn Malik, the cool one in One Direction with the falsetto of an angel, was leaving the band to pursue “private time out of the spotlight”, millions of Directioners put their tearstained heads together to devise a plan. What method of collective action could they utilise for the public good? How could they best operate under the Marxist notion that, “It is not men’s consciousness which determines their being, but their social being which determines their consciousness”? Basically, how could they bring back Zayn?
Then yesterday, one of the fandom tweeted that if they all chipped in $3, they’d have enough money to actually buy One Direction. 16-year-old Katie from New York swiftly put this plan into action and started a crowd funding campaign on ‘GoFundMe’, which read: “We’re gonna raise all the money we can. If we get the 87.7 mil we’re gonna contact modest through their business email/ in person and use the buyout clause which is on every modest! Contract. Hopefully it works out and were able to give them what they want.”
Then the money started trickling in. “This is all the money I have left in my account. I'm going to start making weekly donations until this happens. You are incredible for starting this,” said one fan, who donated $10. “This is all the money I have left in my back account. I need this to happen,” said another. “WE CAN DO THIS WE ARE STRONG INDEPENDENT HUMANS AND THAT IS WHY WE ARE THE BEST FANS IN THE WORLD!!!” another fan commented. So far, they’ve managed to raise $1,628 of their intended goal in just one day. I rang up Katie to see where she was going with this.
Hi! So are you part of the 1D fandom?
Yeah, but I’m not a stalker or anything. I’m just a big fan, with tickets to their tour. Niall or Harry are my favourite members, but I like them all. Harry’s tall.
How did you feel when you heard the news about Zayn?
I was very upset. Honestly, I think he was fired. I’m one of those people. I think he was fired because of the drug rumours and the cheating rumours. It was a bad reputation type thing.
Tell me a bit about this crowd funding campaign. You’ve raised so much money.
I was the first person to start the campaign. It started off as a joke, but then I went to bed and when I woke up, we’d raised $500 and I thought, ‘We might actually be able to do this.’
Have any other Directioners formed similar models of collective action?
I’m actually in partnership with a group called ‘The Sixth Alliance’ and they’re doing it too. But other than that, I don’t think anyone else would do anything this crazy.
What are you hoping to achieve?
We want to buy them out of their management but we’re not trying to buy them out of anything else. We don’t want to buy them out of SyCo, or anything like that. We want them out of Modest, who are in charge of the tours and stuff. We will get a legal team and try and buy them out of that contract and find new management for them. The boys have said several times how they don’t like their management. They don’t treat them like a person should be treated. We want them to be treated like actual people who can make their own decisions.
So you don’t want to own 1D yourself? You could make them do performances in your garden.
No, we just want new management for them. If we don’t reach the goal, we are going to be donating the money. We have various charities in mind like Red Nose Day and charities for anorexia and depression because a lot of the fandom are affected by that and we want to support the fandom.
What did you think about the #cut4zayn hashtag?
I was disgusted by it. Coming from someone who’s been 10 months clean, it’s not a fun thing to have or to joke about. When I was tweeting about the campaign last night, somebody put that hashtag in the link and I was disgusted by it. It was awful.
How much longer do you think the band will stay together?
If you want me to be honest with you, I don’t think they’ll be together much longer than 2016. I’m sure they’ll always be friends but they need to grow up and have normal lives. The fandom have grown up with the boys. They’re always going to be a part of us.
Are you hoping the boys will see your campaign? What would you like to say to them?
I just want the boys to know that if they don’t want us to do this, then that’s fine. We’ll just give it to charity. But we do care for them and if they want to follow me that’s cool too. And Zayn – I’m not sure exactly what is going on, but if it was actually your decision to leave then I 100% respect it as it’s your mental health and your mental wellbeing. We love you and we will welcome you back with open arms if you decide to come back.