I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story
The title of this documentary might make some eyes roll and noses turn up, but the saying “never judge a book by its cover” has never been more relevant than for this wonderful film.
The movie follows four women, old and young – two from the States and two from Australia – who are all connected by their love for their respective boy bands. Elif, a Turkish-American teenager spends her days crying and obsessing over One Direction. Susan, a filmmaker in her 60s reminisces of the crowded streets in Australia as the Beatles landed for the first time. Sadia, a writer, started her career at thirteen sending out email newsletters with the latest updates about the Backstreet Boys and Dara tells her story of her conflict between her enthusiasm for boy bands (particularly, Take That) and coming out as gay.
From the angle of these four women’s stories, this documentary delves into the excitement, obsession and pure energy that boy bands inflict on some women. It follows these women as they recall growing up in oppressive homes, being denied going to their dream college or attending university at all. Elif was inspired by One Direction to become a singer, a dream that her conservative parents constantly try to squash. This film does not take on boy bands as a phenomenon for their subject, but rather how the relationship between band and fan can affect women’s progress in the world. Being a shoulder to cry on, inspiring them to accept who they are and to follow their dreams; things that women can be hard-pressed to find in the world, whether in the 1960s or today.
Director Jessica Leski delightfully intertwines fantasy and reality, capturing the all-encompassing fever dream of what it is to be a fangirl. This doc is as much about the female experience as a whole as it is about boy bands, particularly looking at how the latter helps the former. How we as a society have stigmatised female fans of boy bands from our deep-rooted fear of female sexuality and snobbiness of pop music. How boy bands are a respite for young women, an antidote to the toxicity of oppression, bullying and unsupportive parents.
I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story is a beautiful and insightful celebration of womanhood, boy bands and everything that falls in between.
I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story is released digitally on demand on 17th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story here: