The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - In Defense Of Justin Bieber
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In Defense Of Justin Bieber|
Every teen idol becomes the Antichrist for lazy comedians. This bothers me, because I'm not in with your joke, man.
Currently it's Justin Bieber. This joke's the one that pushed me over the top - it shows Arnie the Terminator shooting Justin Bieber's Mom, presumably because travelling back in time to prevent Justin Bieber's conception is worse than, you know, NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON. But you see gags like that all the time, all focusing in on how Justin Bieber is the worst thing in the world, which all sober people agree upon, and we'd have peace and harmony if he was removed. All of which assume that I agree today's flavor-of-the-month pop star is the harbinger of the end of Western Civilization.
The funny thing is, the people doing this? Are usually the same nerds who spent their childhood getting picked on for liking the uncool shit. So what do they do when they're grown up? They start picking on the so-called “uncool” likes of other teenagers. Sure, it’s mainstream, but the point is the same no matter which way you aim it: If you like D&D/Justin Bieber/books/teen pop, there must be something wrong with you, man.
Fuck that. It’s a big world. There’s always going to be some smooth-skinned, androgynous, non-threatening teenager who thirteen-year-old girls are going to fall in love with, and his lyrics are going to be insipid, and his songs are going to be simultaneously forgettable and earworms. That’s the way it works, and has always worked, since long before the days of Leif Garrett and Bobby Sherman and New Kids on the Block.
And thirteen-year-old girls, who are searching for someone young who speaks to them and maybe they could even kiss but isn’t so threatening that they have to think about OMG SEX because they’re not ready for that, not yet. They want to have some music that’s their own that nobody outside the fold really appreciates, the kind of thing where they can see someone else wearing purple and know that this is their culture, the zone that Mom and Dad and their older punk-ass brother won’t enter, and that somehow makes it more special because this experience is theirs and they don’t have to share it.
They’re going to fall in love. Maybe with the wrong guy, but we all have our grand milestone firsts as a kid - our first kiss, our first crush, our first boyfriend/girlfriend - and they’re unleashing and glorious and usually embarrassing in hindsight, but the first time always cuts deep. You go a little nuts, because you’ve never had this kind of experience before. And now you have your boy you can put posters of up on the wall, and hum his tunes, and yes you’re kind of in love with him but you’re also in love with the idea of owning this little piece of culture that nobody older shares and nobody else older wants to share. The scorn of these twenty-somethings just proves that it’s Meant To Be.
It may fade. In fact, it probably will. Most of the girls who love Justin now are gonna be embarrassed when they’re eighteen, that “OH MY GOD I DID NOT” refusal that only comes when you want to tell the world that you’ve never been thirteen ever, you’re eighteen, what’s wrong with you? And then, when they’re a little older, when they’ve been out for one too many drinks at the bar and the whole “partners fumbling at the bra strap” has become a mundane event, they might hear that long-forgotten tune on an oldies station and smile, because you know, it’s pretty terrible, but once that was mine.
I'm not gonna tell you how Justin Bieber is a great performer - he's a naive elf of a kid with a marginally acceptable voice and the kind of whiny pop songs that only someone with the heart of a thirteen-year-old girl can love. Just like every other stupid teenaged pop star, ever. And though this music is distinctly not up my alley, I’m not willing to agree that it’s so bad that anyone who enjoys it should be marginalized, or to joke that he’s the worst threat facing this world even in jest.
Sure, he’s mainstream. Mainstream culture can often be bad, but success does not automatically equal evil. Don’t be a snob, man. And you know, yes, those teenaged girls squealing look pretty dippy, and Justin himself is this enpurpled man-child with a bad haircut... But I remember a time in my youth when what I loved was big frickin’ dragons and white-bearded wizards and guys in day-glo Star Fleet uniforms that were just a little too tight for their guts, and people told me how what I loved was a universal sign of being too stupid to live - and it didn’t kill me, but it made me feel small. I didn’t like it.
So I ain’t doing that to anyone. Justin’s a mook. I don’t like him, and I think his music’s pretty dumb. But I’m not going to claim that he’s the end of civilization. He’s another singer, and he makes some people feel good, and that’s okay even if it’s not for me.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/90329.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)|| |
Thank you, yes, this. You know what's mainstream and lame? Doing something as terribly predictable as hating on the latest pop craze.
I'm currently trying to figure out what's up with the hate for Ke$ha among the college kids I see on FB. Is it the pop style, or the glitter, or the fact that OMG SHE'S IN IT FOR THE MONEY MAAAAN? (Which: yes. Welcome to the world. You too will be In It For the Money in three years, boopie.)
And then I get all grumbly like "Dude, at least your generation has pop singers who *own* their sexuality. When I was your age, we had...Britney. And allosaurs.
Speaking of "The TErminator", did you hear about the Governator
"The Governator is going to be a great superhero, but he'll also be Arnold Schwarzenegger," Lee says of the semi-fictional character. "We're using all the personal elements of Arnold's life. We're using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We're using his kids. We're using the fact that he used to be governor. Only after he leaves the governor's office, Arnold decides to become a crime fighter and builds a secret high-tech crime-fighting center under his house in Brentwood."
There will be an Arnold Cave, a closet full of Super Suits that allow him to fly and perofrm other stunts and a team of colorful sidekicks....
I think I checked the date on that article four or five times. Am I sure they don't think it's April Fools Day?
They made me happy as a tween and as a teen, and once I got over the inevitable embarassment, I came to realize something: they make me happy now. And since I'm 2 weeks away from 40, I no longer give a flying fuck at a rolling donut whether anyone else thinks I'm ridiculous for it. You never quite get over your first musical love. :)
I know a few 40 year olds who like duran duran. I doubt beibers music is gonna last 25 years, but who knows?
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)|| |
I've never understood why people feel the need to have an undying hatred for anything that might exist that doesn't interest them.
I, for the record, was 13 years old in 1988 - perfectly suited to go absolutely insane for New Kids for about two years. I got over it.
And now 23 years later I'm going to go see them in concert this summer because it's nostalgic and I think I'll get a kick out of it.
I know someone doing just that with Take That over here in the UK.
Because it's what most people do.
Hell, forget denying I was thirteen. I deny I was ever under the age of twenty.
(And I thought the Backstreet Boys were insipid even as I danced to their music, when I was thirteen. Fun does not always equal deep, and that's OK by me.)
Im with you on this. It amazes me how many adults are fascinated with/hate him.
Hes meant for teenage girls-if youre an adult youre not SUPPOSED to like him. Or pay any attention to him at all.
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)|| |
I'd be willing to bet that if any of these Bieber-bashing comedians are my age, they at one point owned a copy of "To The Extreme" by Vanilla Ice. Or at the very least, the cassette single for "Ice Ice Baby".
(That's the one I don't admit to readily. I'm fucking PROUD to have been a Rick Astley fan from the get-go.)
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)|| |
I'm fucking PROUD to have been a Rick Astley fan from the get-go
The first time I heard the song on the radio, I thought he was singing:
Then I'm gonna give you up
Then I'm gonna let you down
Then I'm gonna run around and hurt you
And I thought...damn, this guy is harsh!!
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)|| |
Actually, when he went on the Daily Show, that was pretty cool. The kid's got a sense of humour.
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)|| |
I really like that he's not afraid to play into the whole mess and just have fun with it.
Justin can be Justin all day long. I wouldn't even have an opinion on Justin if the local radio stations weren't playing him every hour. Same with Lady Gaga. I don't have anything directly against insipid pop music, it's the constant oversaturation with it, and all the news stories every time one of these fads stubs their toes. That's why I get hateful about them. If they didn't have exposure ten times in excess of people who write better music got, I'd be fine.
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)|| |
But you know it's going to happen with every new pop sensation. Why go to the time, trouble, and effort of hating?
Thank you for writing this. You said what I've been thinking, and you said it very well.
I hate his music, but after he worked with Funny or Die on last year's April Fools, I can't hate the kid. Besides, the first concert I went to was the Backstreet Boys, and the second was Hanson. I really can't talk shit about what 13 year old girls like, because I did the exact same thing.
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)|| |
I so agree with this piece. My only divergence on what you note is on how far back you take this; I've heard much the same hate on all those folks being applied as far back as Dion. My mother in law told me how she was just the right age to be able to look down at the younger girls in her school for being into Frank Sinatra. And if there was anybody on line old enough to confirm, there was probably some upturned noses at that punk upstart from Salzburg; I mean, what kind of name is "Wolfgang Amadeus," anyway...?
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)|| |
Sir, I raise the "like" thumb to your comment. "OMG, they show their ankles when they dance! The waltz will be the downfall of civilisation!" :)
tl;dr "God, do you have to be such hipsters about it?"
And the thing is, I don't listen to his music, but I've seen a few interviews with him... and he's a cool kid. Polite, cute, carries himself well, well-spoken, and with a sense of humor.
|Date:||March 31st, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)|| |
You see some of his recent stuff? About rape happening for a reason? I mean I like that he likes healthcare in Canada, but he's a bit harsh about rape. Ugh.
This was great. :) What really gets to me are all the people who hate Twilight just because it's trendy to hate Twilight. :P
Yeah, there's one burbling about that in my mind, too. Maybe tomorrow.
Like most pop stars, I've largely ignored Justin Bieber. However, I cannot abide the line "Shawty is a eenie meenie miney mo lova'".
In France, Oasis, Coldplay and Johny Holliday are still wildly popular.
Bieber seems much less awful in comparison. I feel like I've had to hear those same three bands in every bar, cafe and grocery store every day of my life for the past seven years or so.
I would do a happy circle dance to hear Bieber played instead.
Maybe this is why "Friday, Friday" didn't bother me so much. After hearing the roughly 19 awful Oasis hits and the myriad Coldplay songs over and over again, anything different seems "eh, not so bad."
I like Oasis, though. A fair amount. Though I don't know how I'd deal with a constant infusion.
He's the kid who was discovered from YouTube videos performing Lady Gaga songs, right?
Great essay, Ferrett. I think you totally nailed it.
I don't even know his history, man. That would involve paying attention at this stage.
Hating is for high school... and it's not good then, either.
Covers some of the same ground.
That person is way too ashamed of the good things. Billy Joel? Boston? Come on. It's like being ashamed of Led Zeppelin.
My Sunday School kids (ages 9-12) were talking about Justin Bieber the other day and the boys were complaining about how terrible he is. It was a perfect opportunity for a lesson about marketing and target demographics. And then we watched the video to "Friday" on my iphone.
(Oh yeah, sometimes I also teach them about God. When we get around to it, anyway.)
I approve of your ecclesiology.
I think all the hate comes from the same place as the whole, "Kids today are so awful". Our music was better, our clothing was cooler, we weren't nearly as dorky/illiterate/lazy/undercultured, etc as kids are today.
I came of age listening to bands like Steely Dan (I was a musically advanced kid, ok?), the Pixies and Nirvana. However, songs like The "Macarena", "Take on Me", and "I'm Too Sexy" were also at the top of the charts.
We only tend to remember the good stuff and forget that the soda poppy ever existed when, in reality, most of what is popular will be forgettable in a decade or less.
I'm pretty in touch with my 13 year old self, and I don't think I would've liked Justin Bieber. And I was IN LOVE with both The Backstreet Boys and *Nsync as a 13 year old girl.
But I get it- he's a cute boy, with a reasonable voice.
I don't have a Justin Bieber joke, but if I did, it would be:
"I feel bad for Justin Bieber. When that kid hits puberty in seven or eight years, his career will be over."