Google “Harry Styles opens up” and you will be reading links for a long time. “Harry Styles Opens Up About Rediscovering Himself,” “Harry Styles Opens Up About Success, Therapy and How Billie Eilish Liberated Him Ahead of ‘Harry’s House’ Release,” “Harry Styles Opens Up About His Mental Health Journey” — you get the gist.
The latest Styles opening-up has now occurred on the pages of Rolling Stone’s first ever “global cover,” in which the singer and actor “opens up about his huge year, his two new films, his fans’ relationship with Olivia Wilde, activism, sexuality, therapy, and much more.”
Styles is often thought of as some kind of reclusive mystery because he is relatively soft-spoken and lacks poster’s disease when in actuality, Styles has been “opening up” for a long time — it’s just that he has nothing to say. Harry Styles is a guy who will just say whatever old shit, to just about anyone who asks, and it’s up to everyone else to figure out what exactly he means by whatever it is he’s gone on about.
Sometimes this results in a meandering description of a common incident or human experience, a Nicholson Baker-style anecdote about something we’re all familiar with. For instance, an entire paragraph of the Rolling Stone profile is dedicated to the fact that after a big show, Styles takes a shower:
When Styles played two sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium in June, the first thing he did after stepping offstage each night was take a shower. The post-show shower has become a ritual: a hygienic necessity, sure, but also a crucial moment of clarity and reflection. “It’s really unnatural to stand in front of that many people and have that experience,” he says. “Washing it off, you’re just a naked person, in your most vulnerable, human form. Just like a naked baby, basically.”
I also know what it’s like to shower after both a) a long day and b) a weird experience, and I think we can all collectively agree that this is normal.
When it comes to the topic of queerbaiting, a subject that Styles has fumbled the bag on for about a decade now, he’s similarly vague. He’s just saying shit. “Sometimes people say, ‘You’ve only publicly been with women,’ and I don’t think I’ve publicly been with anyone. If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re choosing to have a public relationship or something,” Styles explains. So true.
He takes it a step further (in a bad direction) when asked to speak on his forthcoming film My Policeman, which is about — literally — a gay relationship, to which Styles says: “It’s not like ‘This is a gay story about these guys being gay.’ It’s about love and about wasted time to me.” Obviously this is a completely nonsensical distinction, the latest in a series of incoherent and boring platitudes and avoidances from someone whose press strategy mostly involves constantly “correcting the record” by obscuring it even further. “So much of gay sex in film is two guys going at it, and it kind of removes the tenderness from it,” he adds confoundingly, revealing that he didn’t see Benediction this spring.
It’s easy to project a kind of faux-intellectualism onto him — what could he mean?! — maybe because he’s British and we let those fuckers get away with a lot, or perhaps because it seems like such a waste to have invested so much energy in someone who ultimately has nothing to say. But at the end of the day, he is exactly as profound as a serif font, wide-legged pant, and professionally decorated set will make him look — no more, no less.