Harry Styles: Facade or not?

Harry Styles: Facade or not?

Reagan Lancaster, Staff Writer

Harry Styles, the hit British pop star has been deemed revolutionary to his fandom. However, how revolutionary is he? Does he really practice what he preaches? Or is it a facade? 

Harry Styles’ career began in 2011-2012 as the British boy band “One Direction made their debut with their hit single “What Makes You Beautiful” drawing in millions of fans all over the world who became obsessed with the five boys. Niall Horon, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Harry Styles.  From posters to dolls, the boys were sensational around the world with their fanbase constantly growing. However, the group only lasted so long after Zayn Malik left in hopes of“[Wanting] to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” Soon after Malik left, the band disbanded altogether; crushing the hearts of their fans, and inspiring solo careers for all of them. Harry Styles arguably has had the best success with his solo career beginning in 2017, with his release of “Harry Styles.” 

Harry Styles’s first album explores mostly deep or heterosexual ideas which feels ironic based on Styles’s concert agenda. Since his first album release, he has performed a total of 406 concerts progressing from his usual style to a hyper-feminine style flying pride flags over his crowd, which his fans adore. This progressive action is extremely admirable but how ‘true and pure’ are his intentions? It is almost ironic to be singing a song such as, “Watermelon Sugar” with the descript meaning behind it and flying a gay pride flag at the same time. The contradiction is almost embarrassing considering the praise he receives from doing so. 

Positive masculinity has presented itself boldly in the media with men wearing dresses, makeup, and expressing themselves through femininity and defying “bringing back manly men.” Harry Styles is considerably someone who has supported this movement by breaking social norms and dressing in tutus, feather boas, and dresses. Undeniably, his actions are truly admirable however; can his actions be the only ones credited? Dressing feminine is something men have been doing since Prince, Elton John, David Bowie, and more recently artists like Frank Ocean and Tyler The Creator. All of these artists have faced backlash from their choices for years despite their incredible style choices, Styles included. However, Styles recent decisions in fashion as well as stage presence has created suspicion for him from fans. His actions and fashion choices have led some fans to believe that perhaps Styles were gay or bisexual. The suspicion itself could be considered homophobic as people were associating his stylistic choices with being ‘gay’ when in reality, he understands the impact his choices have. 

People are not as progressive as they seem when they associate masculine femininity with being ‘gay’ or shipping their favorite artists with their ex band mates but it is also not progressive for the artist to feed into that suspicion. 

Styles has fed into these allegations by choosing not to be definitive on his sexuality. Styles even said in an interview with NBCnews “There’s always going to be a version of a narrative, and I think I just decided I wasn’t going to spend the time trying to correct it or redirect it in some way.” Now obviously, Styles does not owe anyone an explanation on his sexuality nor should he feel pressured to put a label on himself but the undeniable deflection is exactly what feeds the flame in the fire of the discourse on his sexuality.  It allows room for fans to speculate and turn him into this ‘pride icon’ when he is not, leading to the idea that Harry Styles is queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting, by definition, is “the incorporation of apparently gay characters or same-sex relationships into a film, television show, etc. as a means of appealing to gay and bisexual audiences while maintaining ambiguity about the characters’ sexuality.”  People assume Styles to be queerbaiting because of his ambiguity and refusal to answer the question, while still raising suspicion. 

However, Harry Styles is not the only one to blame, his fans contribute to this false narrative perpetually by ‘shipping’ him with ex-bandmates and creating this idea that Styles is the first male figure to test social norms and dress feminine or wear makeup. This ideology is extremely harmful and discrediting to men who have done this before him; especially men who do not fit the societal standards like Styles does. The product of Styles’ character is also extremely beneficial to his career. People in the media are constantly looking for a new ‘woke’ and progressive figure to drag into their stan culture and idolize. Style changing and fitting into this category also changes the size of his fan base, concerts, and income! 

Therefore the question presents itself. How pure are Styles’ intentions with the change in his style and the continuous deflection of truth? In no way shape or form does Styles owe anyone an expectation however his decision and deflection will continue to feed the flame and continuously wonder if there is another reason for his actions – a facade or not. Most importantly, impressionable young people have got to put an end to the idolization of people whose intentions are possibly skewed and misinterpretable. Stan culture is arguably ruining artists and allowing them to get away with whatever they so please just because they are progressive and supportive. Every scenario requires someone to blame, and despite Styles’ obvious faults, his fans feed into the same situation; so even if Styles’ possible facade is the cause of this whole debate- he is not the only one to blame.