The awkward conversation that's happening in millions of homes tonight.

So, are your kids still allowed to go to the One Direction concert?


Today, I am imagining the conversation in my good friend Ana’s house. She has a seven-year-old girl who is completely obsessed with One Direction.

You might have heard of them? They’re a boy band out of the UK who have taken over the world – and many tweenagers’ minds – and today, two of them were busted smoking drugs in a South American people-mover .

If there are any small people in your life – especially, but not only, of the female variety – you will be familiar with some 1D tunes. My four-year-old knows all the words to You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful and, be assured, it has NEVER been played in our home (we’re more a Happy kind of house).

One Direction's Zayn Malik lights up "a joint" in the video that's surfaced online.Pic: Mail Online.

So this morning, when my friend Ana's daughter would have caught sight of one of her idols on the TV, or on the computer her mum was using to have a sneaky look at Facebook, she would have been all, "Oooh, there's Zayn! Why's Zayn on the TV, mum?"


Ana has to decide, like parents around the world this morning, whether she's going to say, "Zayn's been videoed smoking drugs in the back of a car in Peru, sweetheart. It's a very bad thing to do, and that's why it's on the TV."

And then wait for The Questions.

Or whether she's going to say, "I don't know darling. Quick, look over there, isn't that Frozen?!" and speedily punch the remote.

And wait for The Questions.

This is not a post about whether or not it's okay for popstars to smoke pot. I have absolutely no opinion about whether or not it's okay for Zayn Malik, who is 21, and his little mate Louis Tomlinson, 22, to be smoking drugs. Nor am I surprised that young, rich men with glamorous lives and pretty much anything and everything at their disposal are experimenting with, shall we say, substances.

But this irrefutable evidence that 1D's carefully-cultivated good-boy image is nonsense raises the very familiar questions about kids and their idols and their responsibilities to each other.

It's tough being a real-live person in a boy band.

Kids love pop music. It's never been more aggressively marketed directly at them, and the target market has never been younger. The average One Direction fan is nine years old.

They are obsessed with every aspect of their pin-ups' lives. They know their favourite colour, their favourite food, they know their life stories. Thanks to the movie This Is Us, they have met their mothers, their girlfriends and their teachers.


There is nothing new about this. In a confession that will give you a frightening insight into my real age, I used to feel exactly the same about Duran Duran. I queued up for hours for their concert tickets (you had to queue in those days, no online purchase), I wallpapered my bedroom in pictures of them. I knew their middle names, I knew their birthdays and birthplaces. I used to write stories about them that starred all my friends and read them out before class as an unfolding soap opera. Yes, I was a fan girl.

By their own account, Duran Duran's 80s rock-star reality was a whirlwind of cocaine and supermodels. But at the time, as an 11-year-old, I had no idea about that side of their lives, and I wouldn't have understood it anyway.

But for the modern pop idol, there is nowhere to hide. Either a fan, a groupie, or in this case, your bandmate, will catch whatever you're doing on a camera-phone and it's out there. It's downright amazing that as much remains hidden as it does.

And so we have Justin Bieber and his strip-club binges. Britney Spears and her prescription-pill breakdown. We have Miley Cyrus and well, I'm not even sure what that is...

Even Katy Perry and her girl-power pop comes served with a large slice of whipped-cream-shooting bosums and five-minute marriages.

There is no longer a popstar with whom it is safe to leave our children, and so instead, I propose we stop expecting popstars to be role models and use them, instead, as cues to talk about to life's tricky lessons.

And so. Today's Zayn video, no doubt spotted by a billion tiny eyes, becomes the moment to have The Talk about drugs.

Glimpsing Miley Cyrus cavorting with a teddy bear becomes the moment that we discuss why it's nice to wear pants.

Justin Bieber's crazy eyes signal the time to talk about the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will say "no" to you occasionally.

And Rihanna's overtly sexual videos? A sign that it's time to turn off Channel V and read a book.


So are there any celebrities who do fit the 'positive' role model brief? CLICK THROUGH to see who we came up with, and tell us who you would add.

Want more? Try this:

So you want your child to be a model?

12 reasons parenting today is easier than it was 30 years ago.