Last week One Direction's Niall Horan was the recipient of an outpouring of love after making an off-the-cuff joke about how he doesn’t have a body for nude selfies. Thousands of teeny bopping gals took to Twitter to essentially drown Niall in support with the hashtag #NiallYourBodyIsWonderful, lest the heartthrob spend one more second thinking he's anything less than a dream.
Now another young, male pop star is receiving wave after wave of social love from fans, but this time the support involves his mental health.
As of this posting, #WeLoveYouMichael is one of the top trending topics on Twitter (and it’s not because hordes of women realized it’s never too late to express their love for Michael McDonald, not matter what a fool believes). See, at a concert last night, Michael Clifford, guitarist for the Australian pop punk band 5 Seconds of Summer (or 5SOS), revealed he had seen a therapist to address some mental health issues. The whole statement lasted about 10 seconds. And the crowd (on Twitter) went wild.
In a matter of hours, thousands of fans began tweeting their support for Clifford. While the hashtag is clearly being fueled by classic boy band fervor, I have to admit, it’s inspiring to see mental health getting this kind of exposure and, even better, support.
Sure, the success of the hashtag can be attributed to fandom infatuation, but at least it’s a bit more proactive than telling a good-looking pop star he’s good-looking. Clifford’s 10-second spiel about seeing a therapist has spurred thousands to help normalize mental illness. And what’s more, it’s allowed fans who are dealing with mental illness themselves to feel more accepted—they can relate. It doesn’t even matter that they have questionable taste in music.
Michael Clifford isn’t the first heartthrob to draw attention to mental health. Earlier this year, Jared Padalecki of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls fame opened up about his own experience with depression, launching a T-Shirt campaign to raise money for the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms. His fans bought tens of thousands of shirts, largely to support Padalecki, but also because they believed in the cause. His cause mattered to them.
And on the other side of the gender equation, Demi Lovato has become one of the most outspoken celebrities on mental illness. A spokeswoman for Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, she is admirably open about her bipolar disorder, inspiring her fans to be open about their own experiences and providing a platform on which to do so.
The response to Clifford mentioning his therapist may not be as sophisticated and comprehensive as the response to Be Vocal. His fans might be more passionate about him and his band than they’ll ever be about mental health. Maybe this is all just another way to try and get the attention of a pop punk rocker?
— inactive (@5SOSUnitedCrew) August 20, 2015
But it's also possible that, with a quip between songs, he helped educate some young fans about how common mental illness is.
Either way, it’s refreshing to see all these folks talking about something that deserves to be talked about. I mean, no matter what, there will pretty much always be a spot on Twitter’s trending list reserved for either One Direction or 5SOS (or both), so may as well use that spot to bring attention to a worthy cause.