Most of the time when it comes to Directioners – One Direction‘s passionate, horny, preteen fanbase — I feel like a hopelessly out-of-touch old loser. I don’t know all the intricacies of the boys’ relationships with one another and whatever lucky ladies they’re dating, nor do I have the lyrics memorized. (OK, just ”What Makes You Beautiful,” because it’s damn catchy.)
But here’s something that I can completely identify with: A lot of Directioners ‘ship Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson, in a funny little pairing they’ve nicknamed “Larry Stylinson.” In fandom, ‘shipping is to champion a certain pairing (couple) whether or not they’re together in canon. For the most part, that applies to whatever TV show/movie/book you like, i.e., a work of fiction. When you ‘ship real people, it’s often called Real Person Fiction, or RPF. It’s kinda controversial, since some fans can take it too far and obsess over the details of those actors’/writers’/boy banders’ lives and then act out when these real people have spouses or significant others getting in the way.
RPF was one of the more taboo subsets of fandom when I wrote fanfiction back in the mid-2000s, but with the rise of Tumblr fandoms around groups like 1D, it seems to have become more commonplace and even accepted. And as I’m learning, a lot of Directioners think that Harry and Louis are meant to be together. More accurately, they believe that Louis and Harry are together, but that their management company is conspiring to keep them separate in the public eye. And this is where Directioners engage in a delightful process called tinhatting.
I pride myself on being familiar with most fandom terms, but I’d never heard of tinhatting. As you might guess from the immediate visual, it describes fans who are so convinced in their ‘ship that they’ll concoct all these elaborate conspiracy theories to explain away reality and the circumstances keeping their ‘ship from being accepted by everyone. Yesterday The Daily Dot posted a fascinating feature about the lengths to which “Larry Stylinson” fans will justify the two boys being unable to express their love.
When it comes to the 1D fandom, tinhatting is based on five tenets:
- 1D’s management company is the villain here, doing everything in their power to keep the boys in the closet.
- This includes hiring beards to be their girlfriends.
- And making the boys sign a no-gay contract.
- But never fear, because soon they’ll be able to express their love! Just as soon as the tour is over. Or the guest spot on a Nickelodeon show. Or the next album release.
- At least they’re always together, and can send each other not-so-secret messages over Twitter or even in public, for fans to decode.
It’s like something out of a movie, what with the greedy execs and the closeted boys! The Daily Dot has really done their research into various Directioner Tumblrs and come up with tons of fan evidence, so be sure to read all that. They also compare Larry Stylinson to the Dominic Monaghan/Elijah Wood OTP that sprang up during the Lord of the Rings trilogy circa 2004.
Really, all the 1D boys are pretty grabby and (some could argue) homoerotic with each other, but as you see from the .gifs I’ve littered this post with, Harry and Louis pop up together quite often. I’m tempted to say that they play up the homoeroticism quite a bit, moreso than I’m used to seeing in adolescents. Maybe I’m a big ol’ softie, but I kind of don’t want to burst these kids’ bubbles. Until Louis and/or Harry takes to Twitter to express their discomfort with RPF, it seems like they have a pretty good give-and-take relationship with the 1D fandom and don’t mind giving them what they want. Whether they’re actually secretly in love remains to be seen.