Jeff Pearlman

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One Direction and an inevitable one direction

I’ve been in a dark, dark mood these past few days. Which was a bad marriage for One Direction’s appearance on the Today Show yesterday morning.

I’m pretty sure when most folks see One Direction, they either see an adorable group of British pop singers or five mediocre hacks who hit the magic jackpot.

I see neither.

When I see One Direction, I see five guys doomed to awful, awful, awful falls. This is their moment, and it’s surely a wonderful one. They’re on top, singing to millions of screaming teenage girls, making big money, traveling via private jet all over the world. Handlers pick out their clothes, fetch them Dr. Peppers, agree the music (all the music!) is “wonderful!” and “amazing!” and “the best … ever!” They are superstars, with the magazine covers and iTunes sales to prove it. I can’t imagine there’s anything better, right now, than being a member of One Direction.

And yet …

It will end—badly. Girls love teenage boys. They even love men in their early 20s. But then—pfft—it ends. Just fucking ends. Nobody gives a shit. In the way nobody gives a shit about the non-Timberlake members of *Nsync; in the way nobody can name more than two members of the Backstreet Boys; in the way I recently saw the remaining members of New Edition, sans Bobby Brown, howling awfully from a stage for a bunch of old people. If being an in-his-prime pop star is heaven, being a past-his-prime pop star is to reside here, in a special wing of hell.

It’s to become the subject of a million “Whatever happened to …” TV episodes; to hear people whisper, “He used to be cute”; to forever talk about that comeback album that never happens and nobody wants. It’s to marry the first big-breasted, fake-blonde cocktail waitress you can find, then watch—eight months later—as she appears on Inside Edition to tell the world about your small penis and pet emu. It’s to write your autobiography, then sit at a table inside the local Barnes & Noble as curious onlookers shuffle by, close enough to witness your decay, far enough not to fork over $22.95. One or two people may well purchase the damn thing, but purely out of sympathy. Or because it’ll make a helluva story to tell the blokes at the pub.

I only know One Direction’s music because I have a daughter, and I’m pretty sure one of the guys is named Harry. But, even with my limited scope, I feel for them.

Because life is fucking harsh.

  • Chris Caylor

    Can’t wait until my daughters realize this in 15-20 years and we have a good laugh about how awful One Direction is.

  • Jeff

    Yikes, what a buzzkill. On the plus side, they’ve completely exceeded the highs of their contemporaries unloading trucks in the back of a Big 5 at 6am or struggling to make rent in a dumpy apartment. Also, this same thing will soon happen to a different group of androgynous hacks, so their fame doesn’t die, it just moves on to other guys.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life