GQ Magazine's social media editor was in the middle of eating his chicken salad when he noticed the publication was getting more death threats than usual.
The subject of the rage: One Direction.
Fans of the English-Irish boy band, which graces the cover of the British edition of the magazine this month, are known as #Directioners -- and they're famously over the top when it comes to the shaggy-haired singers with accents that would make any tween swoon. They’ll camp out for days, skip class and take three different modes of transportation just to be in the same vicinity.
Now they have taken their fandom to a new, darker level by launching an Internet war against the fashion magazine's September issue, enraged by portrayals of band members Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson that are deemed unsatisfactory.
Trouble is, the war the #Directioners launched was aimed at the wrong Twitter handle. Instead of sending thousands of #hatetweets to British GQ (@BritishGQ), they sent them to American GQ (@GQMagazine), which had nothing to do with the British cover.
Tweets from the #Directioners indicate they are upset with the way the magazine portrays Styles’ womanizing tendencies in the cover’s tease quotes with “he’s up all night to get lucky” framing Harry’s name on the cover. The other band member’s tease quotes hint at some pretentiousness from Zayn and Niall.
Nate Erickson, who mans the social media for the U.S. magazine, said #Directioners started relentlessly attacking the magazine Monday, but it didn't stop him from finishing his chicken salad.
Erickson put a positive spin on all the hate, which he told NBC included a lot of talk about pointy implements, by welcoming all the magazine’s new fans and promising that GQ had hired two of the best detectives, with a photo attached of Mary Kate and Ashley Olson.
At the height of the "war", Erickson said there were thousands of tweets coming their way and it hasn't slowed down since. Surprisingly, the controversy hasn't brought in a lot of followers to the magazine.
"It seems Directioners just wanted us to step on Legos and put cacti up our 'bum-holes' rather than stick around for longreads about Swedish serial killers or Bryan Cranston," who Erickson said is the magazine's real cover star this month.
American GQ also published a Storify that highlighted some of its favorite tweets from #Directioners.
But it's not all death threats for GQ. The unprecedented number of tweets and media coverage of the #Directioners hate campaign has generally been good for the magazine, and Erickson said the band seemed to be pleased with how the magazine covers turned out.
"We hope their fans can find something to like about it, too," he said. "Or at least get out for some fresh air. It's summer!"