Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Justin Bieber

I just acquainted myself with the Top 10 Most Disliked YouTube Videos (H.T.:  Ace).  Five of them belong to Canadian singer Justin Bieber.

Not being a 12-year-old girl, and not having any 12-year-old girls yet*, I hadn’t to my knowledge ever laid eyes on young Justin, although I had come across his name in many of your blogs, usually as a punch line to a joke.  As I watched his videos, especially “One Less Lonely Girl”, I struggled to articulate what it was about him that I found . . . annoying.  Fortunately, Wikipedia was there to help:

Bieber has often been criticized for looking and sounding younger than his age, his teen-pop music, image, and frequent media attention.

I would add, I think, that Bieber shows no particular talent in these videos.  His looks and his voice are unexceptional other than belonging to a boy of 17 instead of 13.  Most of the competent dancing in his videos is done by others; his own moves are pedestrian by the standards of the industry.  I doubt he composes his own music, although I couldn’t find any statement to this effect.  But his seems exactly the kind of over-produced, manufactured stardom for which The Backstreet Boys take so much grief**.

And there’s something especially galling about the way his videos show attractive women falling at his feet.  And knowing that, yup, they probably do that in real life too.  Pisses me off.

But that said, is he really worth all this?

He has been a frequent target for internet bloggers and message board posters—notably by users of internet message board 4chan, users of YouTube, and various Facebook groups. Pranks have included a successful campaign to push "Justin Bieber Syphilis" to the top of the Google Trends Hot Searches list; hacked YouTube videos that were altered so as to redirect users to adult websites or trigger pop-up messages saying that Bieber had been killed in a car accident; his Last.fm photograph being changed to pornographic images; various rumors circulated, from rumors that Bieber had died, joined a cult, or even that his mother was offered $50,000 to pose topless in Playboy magazine—none of which were true.

Good heavens, what has the kid done to motivate his haters that much?

It seems out of proportion to me.  But one clue might be this:  Bieber identifies as Christian, although of an apparently latitudinarian sort (he passed on the opportunity to speak against fornication).  He did speak negatively against abortion, although not in a political context.  And his statement on homosexuality to Rolling Stone (“It’s everyone’s own decision to do that. It doesn’t affect me and shouldn’t affect anyone else.”) prompted this remark:  "It is not clear whether he intended to label homosexuality as a lifestyle choice."  What a totalitarian ideology liberalism has become!  It’s not enough to be tolerant of homosexuality; you have to believe the correct thing about it!***

Otherwise, I don’t know why Bieber is hated so much.  Thoughts?

* My daughters have thus far shown zero interest in the kind of things that tween girls are thought to obsess over.  The eldest’s favorite TV show is How It’s Made.  I think I have a true nerd girl.

** I want to write a retrospective on the music of the 80s and 90s.  Pursuant to this, I want to ask my readers:  hypothetically, is admitting to an enjoyment of The Backstreet Boys a socially acceptable preference, or is it a surefire ticket to blogosphere-wide mockery and ridicule?

*** As it happens, I myself don’t think homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”, only because I think something is really, really wrong different at a visceral level about a man who would want to do the kind of things that homosexuals are alleged to do.

Lesbianism, though, I kind of get.


Elusive Wapiti said...

"or is it a surefire ticket to blogosphere-wide mockery and ridicule?"

Mockery and ridicule. Just avoid the noid and not out yourself.

"It’s not enough to be tolerant of homosexuality; you have to believe the correct thing about it!"

You have to condone it. To be a member of the "right" society, you have to believe in the right things...you have to be ideologically pure, aka politically correct.

Bieber's alleged fundamentalism wrt abortion was revealed, upon due investigation, to be quite lukewarm indeed.

"Otherwise, I don’t know why Bieber is hated so much. Thoughts?"

Perhaps it is because he is pushed so hard by the teeny bop manufacturers? Resistance to being assimilated into the BieberBorg increases with the force used to effect the assimilation.

Anonymous said...


I don't follow Justin Bieber, so I'm unaware of the precise amount of online hatred directed towards him. However, my initial reaction is to say that if you don't understand why such hatred exists, you may not remember your own teenage years. Boys that age love to mock their favourite insufficiently masculine pop icon. Does he get it worse because he's a Christian? Maybe, I don't know. I do know that I hated openly Christian figures when I was in high school. I grew out of it.

I also think you are understating the depth of his Christian commitment. He's a *teenager*, under an intense amount of media pressure. Considering that, I think he's borne up remarkably well. And remember that, particularly for the younger folks these days, it more acceptable to be anti-abortion than anti-homosexual.

Anonymous said...

I want to write a retrospective on the music of the 80s and 90s.

Excuse me a moment:


Phi, do you even *know* anything about 80s music? If you can prove me wrong, and demonstrate a decent grasp of 80s metal (the way Chuck Klosterman did in Fargo Rock City), I promise to eat my words and be your virtual butler for a week.

Another promise: if you ever admit to liking the Backstreet Boys, I will mock you solidly for, like, at least a few days.

Dr. Φ said...

Yeah, about that retrospective, um . . . nevermind.

I'll try to read Fargo Rock City.

When I was in high school, Menudo were our favorite under-masculinized whipping boys. Michael Jackson may have come in for some ribbing early on, but his singular talent dispelled it.

Like I said, I don't think I'm Bieber's target demo, but seeing as how his music (what I've seen of it) doesn't seem to contain anything morally objectionable, then I'll happily wish him the best of success.

Anonymous said...


Being 50 years old, I am a complete stranger to this topic. I can only comment that the hating is due to a perception that his wealth and fame are unearned. Plus, it is always good fun to make fun of boys who acts like fairies.

trumwill said...

Men are mercilessly catty when it comes to male heart throbs that are not particularly masculine. I notice this with actors a lot. Attractive men with the ability to act will be derided for years as talentless. It followed around Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt a while. Leonardo DiCaprio.

People gave Hanson a pretty hard time in the late 90's, though (a) they never got nearly as big as Bieber did, and (b) I think "boy bands" in general get it less than single boy acts.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to read Fargo Rock City.

It's really good for anyone (like me) who grew up listening to that kind of music. If you didn't, a lot of the book might go over your head.