A Gen Z-er schools Simon Bridges on Harry Styles, stanning and social media

Auckland-based, Blenheim-raised Lucy Blakiston, 24, patiently gives Simon Bridges a 101 on Gen-Z stan culture (aka, fan culture) during the hour-long chat.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Auckland-based, Blenheim-raised Lucy Blakiston, 24, patiently gives Simon Bridges a 101 on Gen-Z stan culture (aka, fan culture) during the hour-long chat.

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What do you meme? Who’s Stan? Harry, why are you a fan? Lucy Blakiston of Shit You Should Care About attempts to help the former MP with his ‘street cred’ (his words, not hers).

“Explain the awesomeness of One Direction and Harry Styles, to a podgy 45-year-old man…”

This was the Gen X to Gen Z moment as former MP Simon Bridges asked Shit You Should Care About co-founder Lucy Blakiston – who has 3.6 million Instagram followers, including Blake Lively and Chrissy Teigen – to demystify fandom culture for him on the latest episode of Stuff’s new podcast Generally Famous.

Bridges said his career is to blame for his lack of Gen-Z knowledge: “Look, when you’re in Parliament for 13-14 years, people do stuff for you, and you just become more and more helpless, it’s like learned dependency.”

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So Auckland-based, Blenheim-raised Blakiston, 24, patiently gave Bridges a 101 on Gen-Z stan culture (aka, fan culture) during the hour-long chat, including, at his request, why One Direction is such a thing.

“One Direction was formed at a time when social media was taking off, so you had access to this celebrity boy band that you’d never had before, because they were on Twitter, they were doing live streams, you felt like you knew them. And then we all grew up and they broke up and Harry Styles became his own phenomenon.”

The Shit You Should Care About (SYSCA) account intersperses posts about heavy issues such as the climate and Roe v Wade with a lot of Harry Styles content (and we mean a lot of Harry Styles content).

So why the focus? Because, in part, fandom is where it all began: “When I was about 15 or 16 I had a One Direction Twitter account, where I was practising my comedy and practising being a fan, so I’d tweet weird One Direction things, and it got about 70,000 followers.”

Bridges said his career is to blame for his lack of Gen-Z knowledge.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Bridges said his career is to blame for his lack of Gen-Z knowledge.

And then Blakiston, who explains in the podcast why she doesn’t pose for publicity photos, decided to make Styles a pillar of SYSCA so that “anyone else that’s a fan of things just feels heard.”

“It’s as much about Styles as a person as it’s about fandom as a concept – that you’re allowed to like news and boybands and Formula 1 and Dungeons and Dragons.”

Then, in a moment in which the posing of the question probably had the opposite of the desired effect, Bridges asked Blakiston: “what can I do to increase my Gen Z street cred?”

“Get on TikTok,” she replied.

“This isn’t going to happen. I would be a danger to myself and humanity.”

“Yeah, you’d probably dance on there, and then I’d just have to cringe away.”

To listen to the full interview in which they discuss how she managed to build an audience of millions, go to stuff.co.nz/generallyfamous. Generally Famous marks a fresh chapter in Bridges’ life – each week he talks to a generally famous – but always interesting guest – about life, love and what makes them tick. You can follow the show at Apple, Spotify and all the other podcast apps. New episodes are available from 5am every Wednesday.

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