LARRY IS REAL CONFIRMED???: The Dangers of Being Delusional on the Internet

March 21, 2024
3 mins read

Georgia French ’27
Staff Writer

Delena. Robsten. Jelena. Bughead. While to the untrained eye, these words may appear to be made up, to the select few, arguably chronically online groups, these names are immediately recognizable as the relationships they represent. Ship names are often catchy, cute, fan-created, and join two celebrities or characters who are not necessarily in a confirmed relationship.
Considering most of us have found ourselves unexplainably obsessed with certain couples, ship names make total sense. This increasingly common phenomenon is not necessarily problematic, but a few select ships have managed to create such fierce fandoms that justify reasonable wariness — in particular, the borderline delusional craze around … Larry Stylinson! For those of you who somehow skipped over the One Direction phase, this is the ship of Harry Styles and fellow band member Louis Tomlinson.

One Direction and fan fiction, along with the obsessive mindset the platform inspired, were both at their peak circa 2010-2016. These two pop culture movements existed at the same time, leading them to greatly influence one another. Clips of prolonged eye contact, hand signals that Larries convinced themselves held meaning, and just about any form of physical touch between Harry and Louis led to the conception of Larry. These minuscule tokens of “proof” were enough to get the fan fiction mindset reeling.

While it might seem dramatic to write a whole article about a likely fake relationship that can largely be credited to the amazingly fantasized worlds within 15-year-olds’ brains, this is seriously what Larry warrants. In order to fully encompass the phenomenon of Larry, I interviewed two of the most well-versed people I know: my best friend Trudy Cohen (she/her, age 19) and my brother Owen French (he/him, age 20). Both of them have fallen down enough Larry evidence YouTube video rabbit holes to give them a certain authority on the subject.
Immediately into our interview, Cohen prefaced, “Do I think they had intimacy at some point? Yes. Do I think it’s people’s right to make obsessive videos about it? No.” While this recognition that she believes something happened between Harry and Louis might technically classify her as a Larry, Cohen’s instinct to separate herself from the title says something about the group’s reputation. The unwavering stance that many passionate shippers take creates a culture that goes beyond just supporting a possible relationship. The bits of evidence used to rationalize large claims, the demographic of Larries being hyper-saturated in media, and the complete certainty people feel in their opinions resemble the rationale and fanatic culture behind conspiracy theories.

French held the same reluctance to claim the title, stating, “I refuse to call myself a Larry, however I do think some of the evidence is convincing.” The weight behind his use of the word “refuse” led me to question further. He explained his hesitance is due to not wanting to be “associated with those people who spend all their time arguing with people on the internet. There is also a chance it’s not true, and I don’t think Larries will ever be satisfied.”

The necessity of dissecting minimal interactions in order to find “evidence” of a romantic connection only leads to new extremes of grasping at straws. Speaking of reaching, French managed to analogize Larries to religious people. “There’s a fine line, no pun intended, between proof and evidence,” he said. “There is some evidence that feeds into the theory but neither one of them has said they were in a relationship or even kissed in public.. like when really religious people are talking to an atheist and you can’t prove that God is real. You can say there is evidence, but it’s all based on faith. The fact that there are people who deny God’s existence makes those people more passionate.”

Personally, every time I see edits of Harry and Louis with 2012 camera quality captioned with complaints of their silence on the subject, I am struck by fans’ sense of entitlement to such personal information. This anger Larries feel in never getting a confirmation is complicated by the (hypothetical) relationship being queer. People have gone as far as accusing them of queerbaiting, solely for never verifying a self-created conspiracy.

A kind of ultimatum is set for the celebrities: either say nothing and be titled as a queerbaiter, deny the claim, which will undoubtedly be seen as a lie by Larries, or confirm the relationship. Considering neither Harry nor Louis have spoken on the legitimacy of their own accord, any kind of verification due to the relentless speculation would be a forced labeling of their sexuality that they clearly prefer not to give.

I find most queerbaiting accusations ironic. The persistent shaming of the possibility of queerbaiting to the point where fans force a “coming out” statement is undeniably more harmful than two men being flirtatious while not explicitly claiming a queer identity. This situation is not stuck in the past with Larry. A more recent example, proving the relevance of the problem, was up-and-coming actor Kit Connor’s forced coming out. The backlash he faced for starring in a queer role was under the assumption that he was straight. This criticism based on ignorance pressured the young actor to share his bisexual identity with the entire world. While making up ship names seems harmless, this unsolicited commentary can lead to real problems for real people. In short, your parasocial relationships are weird. Go talk to your family! Touch grass!

Photo Courtesy of Ella Lehavi ’24

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