Fangirls are a maligned subculture, alienating a lot of people with their shrill screams and intense, all-consuming love of something that most grown-ups just can’t understand. And yet, they’re an important group—a massive one, even—of young women who keep whole entertainment economies running.
A new documentary, I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story, seeks to address a subsection of fangirldom—boy bands—with filmmakers Rita Walsh and Jessica Leski aiming to “investigate the crucial role music plays in our lives, and explore the creativity, dedication, and influence of the boy-band fangirl.” That quote comes courtesy of the film’s Kickstarter, which is seeking money to finish the film. Currently, Walsh and Leski are trying to raise AU$50,000 to complete editing, and are offering donors perks from a streaming copy of the film to exclusive pieces of fan art created by various fangirls interviewed in the film. It’s a worthwhile project, not just because fangirls should be taken seriously, no matter how much they scream. It’s also because the film interweaves testimonies from not only those girls, but from ex-boy band members, adolescent psychologists, neurologists, educators, and music theorists in an effort to finally explain the seemingly unexplainable: just what makes these fangirls tick.