Yesterday afternoon, a Twitter user posted his guide to seeing Dunkirk if you are a Harry Styles “fangirl.” And while he went on to delete the tweet following an understandable backlash, I screen grabbed it because I keep my receipts so I can share with you here.
He wrote: “We know you’re excited, but please: no one wants to hear your excited screaming and squealing and giggling whenever Harry pops onscreen (also, remember his role in the film isn’t even all that big),” he said. “It’s a film building tension and crafting an image of the horrors of war. Remember to respect the story being portrayed on screen and the rest of the patrons of the theatre with you.”
Well excuse me, Professor IMDb.
The thing is, to assume that “fan girls” (a sexist take on the word, “fan”) can’t control themselves in public is embarrassing only for the person making the claim. As someone who has been in a theatre full of fans watching a One Direction concert movie, I can and will confirm that anyone who screamed or squealed at any point past the credits would’ve been stared down and judged for taking away from the experience. True fans would never waste their time or money spending two hours talking through a thing they are invested in seeing.
At least teen fans. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to throw shade at grown-ass men who couldn’t keep their shit together watching the Marvel franchise. But that’s none of my business.
But here’s what it is: Why is wanting to see a movie because of an actor a bad thing? I wanted to see Titanic because of Leonardo DiCaprio. I wanted to see Pearl Harbor because of Josh Hartnett. My best friend and I watched The Matrix religiously because we loved Keanu Reeves. And so what? We paid to see these movies, we shut up while watching them, and we also all know Titanic would never have been the hit it was without the financial backing of teen girls. Who gives a shit as to whether certain audience members are supporting a film only because they want to see a guy onscreen whose work they love? How joyless do you have to be to forget what it’s like to be a fan?
A real fan. Not the kind that dictates a set of rules regarding how enthusiasm should be broadcast depending on age and gender. Because, lest we forget how many adults dressed up to see The Force Awakens. And how loudly they cheered when the credits came up.
And the thing is, teens aren’t idiots. I may have loved Leo and Josh, but I still gave a shit about history. (You know, as a future history major.) I was still interested in learning about Titanic and Pearl Harbor, much like today’s young audiences who are also jacked to learn about Dunkirk and WWII. But this is how going to see movies work: some people are there to watch the actors in it, others are there for the director, some for the subject matter, and there are always a handful that just walked in and went for it.
We just seem to want to police fandoms who’ve kept industries afloat because we fear their power. Because, holy shit: if you haven’t clued in to how powerful teens are yet, you’ve got another thing coming.
So see Dunkirk for whatever reason you want. See it because Harry Styles is in it. See it if you love the shit out of history. See it if you’d like to forget that at one point, Christopher Nolan thought we wouldn’t make fun of Bane’s voice and shearling coat five years after his last Batman movie came out. See it because you know your mere presence will annoy the Very Serious Cinematic Man who will lecture you on what you don’t “get” about the significance of Cillian Murphy’s haircut, but believes the Ghostbusters reboot ruined his childhood.
Just remember, precious/beautiful teens, the music and movie industries would be DOA without you.