Being caught with a joint is really nothing new in the world of pop, especially amongst those aggressively seeking a change of image that will subsequently add a semblance of ‘edge’ to their persona. For child stars especially, in attempts to free themselves from their enforced clean-cut youth and iconic childhood roles, to indulge in the smoking of marijuana is the go-to method of both distancing oneself from the past and declaring oneself as a fully independent adult.
The group have come under fire from the tabloids for Zayn and Louis' actions.
The celebrity world abounds with examples of such exploits. Remember the media storm over Justin Bieber’s incident with a “suspicious cigarette” or Miley Cyrus’ bong exploits, which have now evolved into her free and consistent utilization of marijuana symbolism? The celebrity media loves a scandal more than a Republican loves his right to bear firearms, but whilst the current One Direction drug ‘scandal’ has rather predictably been plastered all over the tabloid’s front pages, the majority of the public greets it with a collective shrug of the shoulders. They are, after all, adolescents- the prime age for indulging in experimentation with illicit substances and activities. Most adults will have indulged in similar instances of experimentation with an array substances at a similar age to these patchy-bearded pop stars. In terms of the pop world, this particular act has been seen many times before; so many times, in fact, that the whole ‘rebellion’ phase is part and parcel of the child actor discourse. Some take it just a little too far, and the ensuing descent into drugs has unfortunately claimed the lives of many of Hollywood’s exploited youngsters.
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What’s more, such an incident has become a ubiquitous symbol of rebellion that the whole One Direction drugs scandal could easily be seen through cynical eyes as more than a little contrived. Simon Cowell’s PR will have watched with extremely beady eyes as Miley Cyrus’ career exploded, despite her very public flaunting of marijuana usage, which far from damaging the singer’s reputation has bolstered it exponentially. Such a once-shocking act has now become just a facet of her pseudo-rebellion against her childhood, a carefully crafted attempt at controversy that although tasteless and trite, has led her to becoming one of the greatest pop stars in the world.
Yet for One Direction, a profile boost is hardly needed. They are already able to sell out stadiums almost on a whim, their fan base comprising of every other girl between the ages of 10-18, plus a few mums of course. Such is the size of their gargantuan following that shedding a few fans from the flock will not harm the band in the slightest, with many more viewing the group from a different perspective now that they are supposedly dabbling in illegal practices. Even so, there has been a reported 79 per cent surge of tickets being listed on re-sale site Viagogo since the incident and many of their younger fans have clearly been perturbed by the group’s frivolities. Now slipping into their twenties, I imagine the One Direction lads will be seeking to mature their image in much the same way as almost every other youngster who has grown up under public scrutiny- from Mark Wahlberg to Macaulay Culkin.
Viagogo has reported a surge in tickets for the group's upcoming UK tour being relisted.
For the youth of today, smoking weed is just another rite of passage, following on from the first tentative steps into alcohol as well as fumbling sexual exploits. Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson’s indulgence with marijuana, which is actually legal in Peru in small quantities, should be seen as such. Smoking weed is a widely practiced past time, an act only scandalous to the most conservative of Daily Telegraph readers.
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Rappers and contemporary pop cultural icons such as Snoop Dogg, Wiz Kalifa and Lil’ Wayne have ingrained their lifestyles and image with marijuana usage, whilst t-shirts and other garments emblazoned with symbols referring to marijuana are abundant throughout high street outfitters. The reaction to the exploits of the two One Direction members, then, has also gone to show how out of step much of the UK’s press is with the rituals amongst Britain’s younger generations and the shifting attitudes towards drugs they exude. But when the first images of a One Direction member burying his face in a mountain of cocaine arrive on the internet, it will be a very different story indeed.