I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story is a feature documentary that follows four boyband fans aged between sixteen to sixty-four from New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne. Their ages and hometowns may vary, but each of their lives has been profoundly shaped by their love of a boyband – whether it be One Direction, Take That, Backstreet Boys or The Beatles. The film presents the often surprising and intimate coming-of-age story of four diverse, funny, honest and insightful girls and women who have all had their lives dramatically changed by their love of a boy band. These four women must navigate the challenges of love, sexuality, family and faith, all while coming to terms with the problems and contradictions that are part and parcel of being in love with a boyband. The film was shot over four years in Australia and the United States, and includes animation, archival footage, and home movies shot by boyband fans from around the world. From The Beatles to the Backstreet Boys, Take That and One Direction, I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story takes the viewer back to the fun, fantasy and feelings of their teenage years.
I Used to be Normal could be used in a range of learning situations in secondary schools.In addition to being very entertaining, the film explores a number of aspects of contemporary life including:
• the factors that establish and consolidate identity;
• adolescent health, sexuality and education;
• popular culture and why it matters;
• obsession, fantasy, admiration and adoration – the psychology of fandom;
• how bands and celebrities are marketed;
• how the recordings and boxes of materials and scrapbooks kept by fans constitute invaluable historical records;
• popular music genres;
• social media;
• family relationships and dynamics
For students in secondary schools these themes could be approached from the perspective of several subject areas including:
• Gender studies
• Media studies
Many students from ages twelve to eighteen will strongly identify with the intense devotion to the bands depicted in the film. Students may already have their own experiences being part of an adoring fandom or fanbase. They may also be surprised at how insightful and reflective the fans in this film are. Far from the hysterical, hormonal, foolish girls sometimes portrayed in the media, fans of boybands, both individually and collectively, are able to express a range of feelings and ideas that open up the fangirl experience to a sometimes cynical world.