If you’re a fan of One Direction – and even if you’re not (which says A LOT) you’ve heard of Larry Stylinson – the ship name given to Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles.
While Larry Stylinson started out as a name given to the pair because of the strong, immediate connection between them – after five years Larry has turned into something that has little to do with Harry and Louis at all. Larry is now used as an argumentative tool between different sides of a fandom divided.
In most fandoms, there are ‘ships’ (relationships either perceived by fans or ones that fans wish would happen) and they are harmless. Look at the Supernatural fandom, The Walking Dead fandom, even other music fandoms have it – 5SOS and Fall Out Boy for starters – it exists in more places than you realize. Before it was given a name, most of us were guilty of doing it without even acknowledging it. Ever watch One Tree Hill? Were you team Peyton or Brooke when it came to Lucas Scott? You ‘shipped’ these couples together, and it’s never affected your life outside of the television show!
There exists fanfiction, fan art, and safe places online for fans to express what they believe about their ship without disdain or mistreatment. With the One Direction fanbase, things are different. Anything someone who believes in a romance – or ‘ships’ Louis and Harry together – says or does is scrutinized, used as a weapon to fuel torment, and then turned into a game of telephone where things get exaggerated.
And it doesn’t just stop there. You may wonder how would people who don’t care much for One Direction know about Larry Stylinson? Why would the general public even have knowledge enough of Larry to recognize it in published pieces or entertainment segments on television?
The answer, ironically, lies in the hands of those who make the most outrageous and negative claims against people who believe in it – the media. It’s ironic that media sources who claim to laugh Larry off and compare “shippers” to people with cult-like mentalities are practically begging for more Larry conspiracies to arise so they can write about them.
Have you read most articles about Louis being a father? Almost all of them mention Larry! If these media outlets were as honorable as they claim to be when they send negativity to people who believe in Larry, they’d leave it out of the pieces and solely focus on Louis’ fatherhood. After 5 years, however, we all know that Larry is the part of the One Direction fandom people love to hate and have a hard time being quiet about.
Some writers post articles that berate Larry fans and put them in a position where it seems that calling them names (delusional, plagued, etc) is not only okay but celebrated behavior. It’s internet bullying and the worst part is that these sources are supposed to be credible outlets of media expression who oppose bullying and hate while putting it out at the same time.
Most recently, in a disturbing display of journalism, Larry shippers were compared to “the creepy uncle” that ‘nearly everyone can relate to’. The depth of how incorrect and harmful that statement was knows no end. Not only did it compare some fans of One Direction to sexual predators, it trivialized rape/molestation and childhood abuse at the same time.
The article is laced with lies and hypocrisy, starting from the beginning when the writer can’t even take the time to google the correct ages of Harry and Louis when One Direction was formed, straight through to the end where she talks about how it’s understandable that fake photos of Freddie would be used by sources that had none for an article.
Let it be known, that statement came directly after the writer talked about how manipulated or fake photos of Louis and Harry together are downright lies with a condescending tone. A bit pot calling the kettle.
While this article isn’t the first of it’s kind, and certainly won’t be the last – the verbiage used in the piece is some of the nastiest – it also shows the severe double standard between what is acceptable with fans of the band who believe the boys are straight and ones who believe there may be something hidden between Louis and Harry.
It doesn’t start or end with the media. The hypocrisy is woven through the fan base and while it may seem like it’s something you could easily walk away from – the words spoken, from extremists on both sides, hurt after social media is closed.
It’s been argued that fans of Larry are the reason the band will inevitably split, the reason Louis and Harry have grown up to hate one another, the reason the boys are uncomfortable nearly at all times, and that the manipulated photos, tweets about Larry, and fan art/fiction are disturbing. The problem is, it’s only argued from one perspective.
Most recently, Project Home became a fandom work to get the tune Home the recognition it deserves. There were many fans who went against the idea because they said it was a ‘Larry’ movement. The project had nothing at all to do with Louis and Harry and the relationship between them, it had to do with the song making people feel brave, loved, and accepted within themselves. It had to do with the way Home became, for some, a song about coming out and for others – a song that narrated their journey to self-love.
This is not the only project that fans have attempted to negate due to Larry. There are charity drives that some fans absolutely refuse to donate to because some of the people who work to make them possible believe that Louis and Harry have been, or are now, together. During NO part of these drives (birthday drives, charity drives for organizations that the lads work with both as One Direction and as individuals) are ever focused or built up around Larry, but because of a personal belief, some people would rather stand against helping others than set opinion aside to join in and be part of something bigger than themselves.
It seems like arguing has become more important than finding neutral ground to stand upon, like negativity has taken a lead on positivity and we keep waiting for the light to come back.
We, for one, can admit and apologize for having been guilty of making statements that weren’t always positive and shining – we’re only human, and we learn as we go. A good sign of improvement is not repeating harmful behavior – and while some parts of the One Direction fandom have come to realize that – there are still parts that don’t. Unfortunately, those parts are the ones that create the most harm.
On any given day, Larry fans are accused of traumatizing behavior in the form of their tweets, comments on other various forms of social media, manipulated photos, accounts that celebrate Larry, and fanfiction/art. They are ridiculed for commenting things like ‘Larry is real’ in response to Louis and Harry’s tweets or Instagram posts. (Some extremists do tweet sexually explicit things to friends and family members of Louis and Harry and that behavior is absolutely unwarranted and unnecessary. Lines aren’t just crossed, but annihilated completely in those situations) They are made out as ‘disturbing’ for their images of fan art or works of fan fiction. The accounts made to celebrate Larry are posted on hate accounts and then become the center of disgusting, degrading comments from other fans.
On any given day, fans who don’t believe in Larry are guilty of the same behavior. The tweets, from fans, in reply to anything Louis and Harry (Liam and Niall as well) post also contain sexually explicit comments from fans who believe they’re straight as well. There are accounts dedicated to the boys and females they’ve been linked to – some of which have even received public denials (Harry and Kendall as of late). These comments are also sent to members of the boy’s families and their friends, again crossing a line of respect when they get explicit and invasive in nature. There are fanfics that are posted where the boys are straight, and there are manips of the boys in compromising situations with women as well.
The bad behavior doesn’t just exist on one side of the fandom, it exists with anyone who has decided that ‘being right’ or ‘winning’ is more important than respecting the boys, and each other.
For fans of a band who say that they’ve finally found a home in One Direction, it’s sad to see so much hate and animosity all because of a ‘ship’. Something, that in other fandoms, ceases to cause any real issues at all, and sadly it will continue to be an issue until some responsibility is taken and motives are evaluated within the fanbase. It will also continue until the media recognizes that they aren’t hiding well when they add fuel to the fire each time they write an article, even if they pose as firemen at the scene – dying to put the flame out.
Harry and Louis, as well as Niall and Liam, have shown fans what it means to stand up against hate and to shine their light through the darkness they face. They’ve stood as living proof that people can spread rumors about you, preach fallacies against your character, and try to drag you down but they’ll never be successful if you believe in your own truth and you love in spite of the hate you’ll sometimes encounter.
Be nice to nice.
As fans, it’s exhausting to get on social media and see a war zone instead of a safe home. Harry, Louis, Niall, and Liam can’t enjoy seeing that either. Perhaps it’s time to put down the armor, agree to disagree, and decide that a fanbase with kindness and positivity is more inviting and welcoming than one constantly torn apart at the seems by opposing sides trying to be right.
In no way does it make sense for a ship – be it something you actually believe is real or something you just enjoy in fanfiction and fan art – to be turned into a tool for arguments sake. Larry is a bond, whether you see it now or not isn’t the issue – the issue lies in allowing people who do see it to do so respectfully and people who don’t see it to move on, respectfully.
You can’t fight hate with more hate and desire to come out powerful, darkness doesn’t eliminate existing darkness, it only adds to it. Love and light are necessary to bring change and understanding – don’t we owe that to our idols, and also, to ourselves?