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People Need to Give Zayn a Break for His AMA Speech

By Sydney Wess

When Zayn Malik took the stage to receive his AMA award for the best new artist of the year Sunday night, his acceptance speech got One Direction fans across the world talking. Not in a good way. 

The first words Zayn spoke after receiving the award were, “Wow. This just has my name on it, right?” Of course, Zayn was joking about his split from One Direction. Clearly out of tune with the rest of the world and thinking the comment was humorous, I let out a quiet chuckle from the comfort of my dorm room when he made the joke.

Apparently no one else saw the light-hearted humor in his jab. Zayn has already received a lot of criticism from the media about his comments. My friends who are self-proclaimed “Directioners” have been calling Zayn petty and inconsiderate for making fun of something “amazing that he killed” when he was supposed to be in a humble position of thanks. Even the audience at the AMAs did not laugh with him, but instead fell silent after his comment, either not catching the joke or thinking he was a total jerk for saying what he did.

I may be a part of the minority, but I don’t think Zayn deserves any of this criticism for his comments. His solo work is completely separate from his work with 1D and represents a new season in his life and in the lives of One Direction’s other members. His comment emphasized how differentiating himself from the boy band was a challenge, as one would assume, considering he broke off from one of the biggest, most successful groups of all time. Zayn presented his thoughts in a quick and light-hearted way. He didn’t spend unnecessary time dwelling on his struggle to be a solo artist. He mentioned it quickly, and gracefully moved on. Though he did come off a little petty in making it the first thing he said in his acceptance speech, I don’t think that his comment was entirely inappropriate.

Much of the criticism towards Zayn is rooted in anger from those who believe that he is the reason One Direction went on hiatus and will most likely split up for good. This anger doesn’t seem fair to me. As an artist, he should have direct reign over his life and how he chooses to create music. Even after just a few months on hiatus, 1D’s other members have already started exploring their potential solo careers. For starters, Harry Styles committed to acting in an action movie, Liam Payne is working on solo music, Louis Tomlinson is raising his baby son and Niall just released a single.

It’s understandable that a die-hard 1D fan would look at this situation and blame Zayn for starting what looks like a breakup. It makes even more sense that fans would lash out at Zayn when he makes light of doing so. However, I don’t think Zayn had bad intensions when making the comments; he was just proud of being able to succeed for himself, something we can all empathize with. His feelings just ended up manifesting into what he thought would be a light joke about his past.

Instead of perpetuating disgust due to his misunderstood comments, we should be congratulating Zayn on succeeding on his own and growing as an artist. And, if the other members of 1D want to go solo as well, we should accept that and understand the importance of an artist’s growth and the artist’s power to make his own decisions about how to grow.

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