The horrific terror attack that ripped through the crowds leaving Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester was intended to demoralise and intimidate her millions of young, feminine fans. It may have magnified their message and strengthened their resolve instead.
After the explosion, which killed 22 attendees and injured more than 120 others, people grieved collectively and Twitter users helped to reunite stranded concert-goers with their friends and families. The surge of support was somewhat undercut by displays of staggering self-absorption, as some individuals framed the attack as a near-miss for them. For example, cosmetics bigwig Jeffree Star and Supernatural actor Misha Collins both tweeted they were in Manchester recently. These celebrities discussed the attack as if it were an indiscriminate hazard such as a hurricane. In reality, it was carefully targeted and executed with precision. It wasn't an attack on Manchester or anyone who has once graced the city; it was an assault on Grande’s concert.
The pop star's fans, known as 'Arianators', are largely young and female-identifying. While the attacker's motives are still being determined, his targets and ultimate victims were celebrators of Grande’s liberal, playful brand of positivity. An outspoken and educated champion of equality and liberation, Grande has proudly attended the Women’s March; called out interviewers and fans for sexist remarks; partnered with make-up brand MAC to raise money for those affected by HIV/AIDS; and openly discussed her sexual appetite, pointing out that her male counterparts have done so. Her actions have attracted and inspired a generation of fans who find empowerment and encouragement in her music; the heartbreaking fact is that these people were seen as targets.
Young, feminine people are often marginalised and labelled intellectually inferior or socially superficial - especially those who identify with Grande’s classically girly image. Many are expected to be seen and not heard. Indeed, the Daily Mail repugnantly blamed Grande’s "revealing stage outfits" for the attack. In reality, the pop star's powerful voice, global influence and philosophy of love and optimism shared by her followers is what threatened this extremist - his attack represents another shot taken at progressive feminine youth and all it represents. Without knowing the finer details, it's clear he wished to undercut a worldwide movement's efforts to achieve greater equality, liberty and freedom of expression.
However, the Manchester attack might have backfired. Rather than faltering, Grande's fans have defiantly displayed compassion and camaraderie, proving they won't be silenced so easily. This tragedy won’t deter people from their ideals of liberation and their fight for change; if anything, it has validated the need for their movement. The positivity spread by Grande and others like her is powerful and pervasive, and millions of devotees will continue to channel it. This idea was recently summarised by Harry Styles, one of Grande’s fellow pop stars: “How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future.”