Yes, I see the rebirth symbolism. No, I don’t think that it means the end of 1D.
Obviously, Harry wants to grow with this project, present himself in a new light with the public. A lot of the symbolism we’ve seen so far – emerging from water, sunrise/set, “Sign of the Times”, the sheer drama of the promo – indicates a maturation, a moving on from the past. But wouldn’t that be what anyone who has been in Harry’s situation would want? For the last seven years, he’s had an image that isn’t true to who he is forced upon him. If he’s going to counter that image and show who he really is, it has to be a radical shift. Especially for people who only give him 3 seconds of thought before reaching a conclusion and moving on to the next thing to cross their timeline. But while marketing needs to be blunt, obvious, Harry himself is capable of complexity, nuance, balance. I think it does a disservice to him to reduce his complexity to a marketing message that is aimed primarily at those who don’t know him.
Growing up, maturing, coming into your own doesn’t require disposing everything from your past. It’s about holding onto the parts that work for your future and putting away childish things. And I think that while Harry considers the shallow, womanizer image to be a childish thing, I don’t think he thinks his bandmates or the collective, matured creativity they have yet to share to be a childish thing. Nothing he’s ever said has indicated that. The image he has to wrestle with comes from how he was marketed – not from his bandmates or their experiences as a unit. Harry has never said anything to indicate that 1D is something he wants to move past or set away as a childish thing. Like any curious, intelligent, creative young person, Harry – and Louis, Niall, and Liam – wants to grab hold of everything he can and figure out which parts fit his mature self. Change happens. Change is good. Change is stimulating. Change doesn’t mean forgetting the past. All of them will change and grow.
I know we haven’t heard from Harry directly on the topic, but the others have reassured us time and again that 1D has a future. I know they lie, but they lie when they can’t tell the truth and hedging/avoiding would essentially give away the truth. When asked about anyone leaving the band before Zayn’s departure, they couldn’t say anything other than a definitive “No” or it would be an effective “Yes.” Hedging wouldn’t have worked. But it would work in this situation. “We’re all just focused on our own work right now. We will have to see how we feel in the future.” “I really hope so, but we needed a break. We can’t make any decisions right now.” etc. But they didn’t do that; they clearly said that 1D would be back. And we haven’t heard much from Harry on anything, which I think is part of his effort to establish a dramatic shift in his image, so his silence on the matter doesn’t really tell us much. I can’t imagine the others would be so definitive if they knew that ¼ was intending to move on without them.
I once thought that announcing firm future plans for the band would be the best so that they can do their solo work without the doubts hanging over their heads. I think I was wrong about this being best – to announce future band plans would place a limit on the time possible to devote to their solo projects and would make it seem like those projects aren’t as important and are just gap fillers. I don’t think they want that. I think they want it all – to have full, fruitful solo careers and then take what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown into a new era as a band, as a team. They were kids when 1D started; they need/want to grow up now. Their growth was stunted in the factory-produced boyband under the old regime. I am sure that contractual issues shape the way it has to happen, but I think these solo projects are their chance to grow and discover who they are as artists and people. That doesn’t mean leaving behind the good parts from a not totally great experience. Maturity is being able to separate the childish things from those that shape who you are going forward.