There's power in numbers, and if Hollywood has learned anything in the past few decades, it's that teenage girls pack a lot of power. From their spending habits to their use of social media, teen girls and young adult women bring in the dollars, particularly when their favorite celebs are attached to products. In mediums like music and movies, fandoms have their benefits, which is why Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk will likely rely on teen girls for some of its success. As Harry Styles makes his acting debut in the film, young One Direction fans will head to movie theaters in droves to see Styles as a World War II soldier struggling to survive. And while some people might mock these fans for flocking to a film just to see their favorite star, there's zero harm in them doing so — especially if the end result is that 1D fans are exposed to quality filmmaking.
Dunkirk tells the gripping true story of the massive 1940 evacuation of British troops from French soil as the German army advanced, trapping hundreds of thousands on a single beach. Shot in 70mm IMAX, the film is stunningly beautiful; its triptych setup of telling the story from land, sea, and air making it a tense, non-stop drama. Styles is in the part of the story set on land at "The Mole," the beach port where 400,000 soldiers sat and waited for rescue, exposed to the enemy. He plays a British army private named Alex, and his performance is being praised for how it seamlessly blends into the ensemble.
As Styles' co-star Mark Rylance told The Hollywood Reporter the celeb's inclusion in the film is a plus, and not just for the quality of his performance. He noted that if Styles' appearance gets young people out to see a film about a piece of history, that's a good thing: "It’s good for young people to see a truthful war film like this."
Many One Direction fans aren't ashamed of the fact that they're heading out to see Dunkirk because of their favorite singer, and why should they be? Critics of 1D fans may mock them for seeing a film for a supposedly superficial reason, but liking a celebrity, thinking that they're talented, and supporting their new endeavors isn't superficial at all, especially when the product is something as high-quality as Dunkirk.
I'm only seeing Dunkirk for harry styles and I'm not ashamed— Rose 🐻 (@rauzlyn) July 20, 2017
are y'all mad harry styles fans are seeing dunkirk for harry styles??? how dare Harry Styles Fans support a film starring Harry Styles— sami (@ezekielfiguero) July 20, 2017
Just because some fans are seeing Dunkirk for Harry doesn't mean they don't know anything about history lol I hate these degrading comments— Back To You (@louisdangcaster) July 8, 2017
And it's not like this phenomenon hasn't happened before. 20 years ago, how much of Titanic's massive success, box office take, and repeated viewings most likely came from teen girls who were obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio? Titanic is a film to be admired, and it's nothing but a good thing that some young viewers were exposed to it simply through their love for DiCaprio.
As for the people who disagree with this notion, there's often an element of sexism involved. As the tweet below notes, men frequently have a lot to say about women who either like things that are supposedly meant for men, like Dunkirk might seem, or for showing interest in films or TV shows that typically have male audiences. As an additional step to that sexism, once women do show interest in those types of media, they're often criticized as phony or fake fans. It's a lose-lose label — except for the filmmakers and studios, who are happy to take the dollars belonging to those young women.
interesting that men are shaming teen girls for seeing DUNKIRK solely because of harry styles yet these same girls will make them millions— Taylor Trudon (@taylortrudon) July 19, 2017
Like Titanic, Dunkirk tells an extraordinary story accompanied by incredible visual elements, and it will no doubt be a film on the radar come awards season. So if the end result of One Directioners heading to the theaters only for Styles is that they're exposed to a piece of quality filmmaking, that can only be a good thing. Like Rylance suggested, learning more about a subject never hurt anyone, and experiencing more types of art is a good thing. Cinephiles come in all genders, shapes, and personalities, and everyone chooses a film for differing reasons.
So, One Direction fans, enjoy the movie, and enjoy Styles' performance, because really, that's all that matters.