Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why I Can't Stand Justin Bieber

My FB status from earlier today:

"I think I need to write a blog post entitled: "Why I Can't Stand Justin Bieber". Yes, I think such a post is in order."

So, as I mentally prepare for a herd of indignant, defensive tweenage girls to descend on my blog like a flock of half-starved vultures on a fresh roadkill deer, allow me to clarify.

It isn't really Justin Bieber himself, that I can't stand. Having said that, let me say this as well: I've never met him, don't really know much about him or his background, and for all I know he's a wonderfully polite, well-mannered, well-behaved kid. He is from Stratford which is right up the road from me, and in my very limited 12 year experience of living in the area, I find that most Canadian kids (that I've run across) seem to be rather layed back and fairly good kids. On the other hand, for all I know he's a mouthy, inconsiderate, ungrateful, disrespectful punk. In which case it would be most accurate to say I can't stand him. I'd like to just pretend for now that he's of the former camp and not the latter, because quite frankly we have too many teenage kids in our North American culture already, in the latter camp.

Justin Bieber and Donny OsmondI don't study (or pretend to study) pop culture, but the first time I saw him (about a year ago I guess) I thought "he's the Donny Osmond of this era". Sure enough, if you go to google there are oodles of comparison pics just like this one. Lots and lots of people seem to think that Bieber bears a striking resemblance to another little boy pop star from another era.

I was a little too young to be mortally afflicted with Osmond Fever in the Osmond Brother's hey day in the early 70s, but my older sister was in fact stricken with it and since we shared a room and the radio and stereo were hers, I heard Donny and his brothers all the time. I do mean, ALL the time. Donny this, Donny that, I love Donny, I'm going to marry Donny, Donny's favorite color is purple, Donny's birthday is December 9th, Donny, Donny, Donny... sigh... Donny. In exactly the same way tween (and older) girls today have Bieber Fever (why does typing that make me want to go wash my hands?) girls of the same age back in the early 70s had Donny Fever.

The one big difference that stands out to me between Justin and Donny is the level of exposure. While there certainly was a fairly large selection of Osmond (and Donny, by himself) memorabilia such as lunch boxes, posters, etc., it wasn't even close to the level of what it seems to be with Justin Bieber. I say seems to be, only because it seems like there is almost nowhere you can go in our culture without seeing or hearing some kind of Bieber-esque related media. It would seem that the advertising and marketing people associated with making loads of cash off the Bieber Fever phenom are working over time to literally shove this kid in our faces.

This, is what I can't stand. To the sick freaks making a killing off his success (and in some cases actually generating that success), he's just a product. He's no different than a pair of Levi's, a Dodge truck or a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. The more his "people" get him out there on posters, school supplies, cds, youtube vids, talk shows, and even prime time crime dramas, the more exposure he has, the more money they make, and everyone goes off giggling to the bank.

The problem with that is, he's not a Dodge truck. He's a kid. More frightening than that, he's a teenaged kid. He's 16 years old and I guarantee you even having never met him, he has NO idea what he really wants to do in life, where he sees himself in 10 years, what his worldview is, what matters the most to him, or any of that sort of thing. None of us really had those things down firm at 16 but odds are, most of us didn't have a crew of people shoving us into the limelight at that age either. No doubt he's enjoying the fame and fortune (as any of us likely would at 16) but at what cost does this fame come? All anyone has to do is read the "entertainment" headlines to see article after article of former child star who eventually had a monumental meltdown when thier cutesie-poo childhood looks were gone, or those who were diggin' the high life so much at such a young age they ventured off into drugs or alcohol abuse and now at 22 look twice their age and can't keep it together with duct tape and super-glue. Granted, not all former child stars end up like this but far too many of them do. And every one of them that did, were pushed and pulled and exposed to the public over and over and over again and expected to play the role that had been cleverly marketed for them. That's a huge amount of pressure on a 16 year old kid. Eventually, a lot of them finally just crack (no pun intended), and while it's always sad to see it happen, I think most of us can understand why.

That's the main reason I can't stand Justin Bieber, or rather, the Justin Bieber that his "people" shove in the faces of the public. The other reason I can't stand him, really isn't his fault at all but again the fault of his people. Not only is he shoved in the faces of all of us, all the time, but he's specifically being marketed to girls between the ages of roughly 9-14. Girls who have been told over and over again how cute and wonderful and awesome and cute (did I say cute? because I've only heard it at least a thousand times in the last week) he is, and how they MUST have his cds, mp3s, posters, binders, shoelaces, earrings, attend his concerts, become a fan on his FB page and watch anything and everything that he's going to be in, on tv.

Now I ask you, how many 11 year old girls do you know, that have a steady source of disposable income that can afford to purchase all this Bieber-related stuff? None? Me too! So, who's buying it all for them? BINGO, Mommy and Daddy are! It's the classic ad campaign that has driven us parents nuts for years and yet still works because there are parents out there that give in to it ALL the time. Market your MUST HAVE product at the teen level, and it's almost a guarantee that it will be a success. Right now (and this will change in a year or two, it always does) Bieber is a MUST HAVE product and he's selling well. Not to teenage girls that don't even have their own money, but to their parents who cave in and buy this stuff for them.

Now this is not to say that I'm down on parents ever buying anything cool, fun, trendy or entertaining for their kids because we all do it on some level. It is to say however, that the ones being hooked by the Bieber ad campaigning are making a lot of people very, very wealthy and at the same time, contributing to the totally abnormal and unrealistic lifestyle of this 16 yr old kid - just to make their own kid, happy.

Kind of creepy when you think about it that way, isn't it?

So there you have it. That is why I can't stand Justin Bieber. Your mileage may vary.

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