Ugh, I mean, I suppose. I haven’t really posted a One Direction rant in ages, mainly because I really don’t engage with the fandom because I don’t really care for any of it. I love their music and I love them most of the time but most fans make me seethe with irritation.
I think it is pretty obvious that what Liam tweeted was entirely misinterpeted; but at the same time, that is somewhat irrelevant. The issue here is that something he said, out of ignorance, could obviously be construed as offensive towards a minority group (one that already has to deal with the band’s ridiculously heteronormative and problematic fanbase). Although Tyler Oakley definitley isn’t the voice of the gay community, I feel that his sentiment and reaction to the tweet was probably shared by a majority of Queer people who saw it.
From what I know about Duck Dynasty, and that whole fiasco, one of the cast members was removed from the show peridocially for homophobic comments, and quite a few people were upset about it because it was supposedly a breach of free speech (if you think preventing hate speech is a breach of free speech you need to not). So essentially, this show is enabling and empowering people who have prejudicial views to influence others and solifidy the presence of homophobia in the media, and to therefore cast homophobia as somewhat socially acceptable. To me it’s kind of like the fact that although Russia is currently enacting disgustingly homophobic policy, the winter olympics are still being supported and broadcasted as if to say ‘yeah homophobia is bad, but our entertainment matters more’.
Although Liam might not have been aware of that discourse, and probably wasn’t addressing it, it still exists. He is a public figure who knows that he has an extremely large fan base and whose actions and words will influence countless others. If he had considered the fact that he had obviously offended quite a few people, and then offered an apology explaining that he does not in fact support homophobic views and is sorry for potentially alienating a huge section of his fans, then everything would have been fine.
However he didn’t do that; he instead introduced ‘I was bullied, therefore anything offensive I could have said can’t be criticised’ bullshit and publicly shamed Tyler Oakley for calling out ignorant behaviour. Tyler Oakley is super male and super white but as a queer identifying male he faces oppression and prejudice - if a queer person tells you that something you said could be considered offensive and was personally hurtful or alienating to them, you should probably reflect on your actions, apologise and improve in the future; whether or not you intended to offend them is entirely irrelevant. The whole point of problematic language is that is is inherently ingrained in our culture as acceptable - for instance if you say that the show you’re watching is ‘lame’, meaning no offence at all, and your friend next to you says ‘dude, please don’t say that, that’s ableist language and it could potentially offend someone with a disability’, the fact that you didn’t mean to say it doesn’t give you the right to not apologise or complain about the call out. It’s about recognising your own privilege (for once I’m not saying that ironically) and trying to act with consideration and kindness of other’s experiences.
The fact that Liam is famous, a situation which has inherent difficulties, is understandable but that doesn’t make his behaviour excusable. Rather than simply acknowledging that he mis-spoke, didn’t speak his mind clearly, and by doing so offended a large percentage of his fanbase, he made a mistake. By publicly shaming an extremely high profile fan for pointing out the fact that Liam Payne is in fact, not a demi-god, and can in fact be entirely stupid at times, he acted like a bully. Liam obviously knows that his fan base have and will send death threats etc to people who the band members openly fight with and dislike - he, by not having a conversation in private which was entirely possible, essentially invited bullying towards Tyler to become inevitable. At the same time Tyler Oakley is a massive One Direction fan, and I think its likely that his open support of the band has drawn in more fans - yet Liam was pretty darn rude towards him, despite the fact that Tyler even acknowledged that the situation was a misunderstanding. Then Liam had the audacity to say his words weren’t ‘about the fans’ as if he could never speak evil of ‘real fans’ - which in this conversation seem to be, in his eyes, fans that idolise him to the point where Liam could probably kill kittens in front of them and they would defend it to the death.
So essentially, Liam did a stupid thing, he probably didn’t mean to do the stupid thing but that’s irrelevant. He should have been more aware, and what’s more, he should have apologised when he was made aware of the fact that his comments were offensive to a group of people that are already oppressed enough. Also the One Direction fandom is once again gross - I keep seeing comments down my dashboard basically saying that everyone has the right to an opinion and that people should respect homophobic people and their opinions which is beyond ludacrious - why don’t we also support Neo-Nazism because those who endorse genocide also deserve to be respected for that view - pfft. Also the view that you should support and never question a band members actions, because you idolise them, is entirely unhealthy and sad.