I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (Jessica Leski, 2018), Australia | USA

Reviewed by Luis Oviedo, viewed at the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

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This documentary follows four women in all stages of life and analyses the impact and consequences of being a boyband fanatic. The documentary touches on fans who are going through the peak of their “fandom” to fans who have been fans through ages, and have retired their old hardcore fan ways.

The story reflects on a One Direction fan, a Backstreet Boys fan, a Take That fan, and a Beatles fan. Their stories are all unique and charming, and in one way or another. By the end of the film the audience ends up relating to one of them if not all of them by the end. Throughout the documentary each of our boyband fans have a moment in which they all listen to their boyband of choice and explain the effects of the music in them. This is very telling to the audience, this allows us as an audience to see the real passion that these ladies have for these boybands.

They all talk about the conflicts of being a fan, from the judgement of family and friends, to the inner reasonings in their minds. This documentary touches on the feelings of alienation these ladies felt, one of them went as far as feeling like it would forever affect her dating lives due to unrealistic expectations of what a partner should be, but another one told us the story of how she bonded with her partner through their mutual love for Robbie Williams and Take That. Not everything was sad about that world of fangirls they also talk about the virtues that also come with it, for example the meaning of the songs that have carried them through hard times, to even some of the community building that they have experienced. They talked about the key moments in which their fandom helped them discover their talents, and aspects of their identities and personalities.

The film is captivating story that show the extents of idolization in today’s society, talks about the good and the bad, and it allows the audience to be open of what could be guilty musical pleasures.

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