Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Curious Case of Justin Bieber

Hello again. Thanks for coming back!

The other day I was reading a magazine and eating a piece of pork pie (without piccalilli, sadly) when my eyes fell on something I found fascinating. It was this simple sentence: "The most Googled person in the world is Justin Bieber."

I slowly put down my heavenly piece of pastry and meat, and pondered something. You see, I had absolutely no fucking idea what Justin Bieber is all about.

I'm serious. Oh, I know WHO he is. I'd recognise him if he walked past me in the street - although I wouldn't give a toss - but I had no bally clue as to what he calls his profession. Film star? Singer? Nickelodeon child sensation? Comedian? Nobel Prize winner? Usually, this wouldn't bother me. Even though I'm "only" 24, I fully understand and appreciate that modern culture is whizzing past me at a rate. I'm very comfortable not knowing what a Miley Cyrus is, or who The Wanted are, or what exactly the point of Lady GaGa is. But Bieber bothered me, because to be the most Googled person on the planet you surely have to have something about you. Right?

So, I decided to go delving, and put my findings on here to a) show everyone how in touch I am, and b) to hopefully help you out if you're stuck with a Bieber fan (called a "Belieber" I believe).

I started, like every student would, with Wikipedia. The oracle of truth told me that Justin Drew Bieber was born in Ontario, Canada in March 1994. He put up videos of himself on video website Youtube, where he was spotted by a chap called Scooter Braun who quickly became his manager. Justin Bieber is now classed as a "pop-R&B singer". So I then decided to listen to some of his songs.

I loaded up "Baby" - which Wiki tells me is his most famous song on the hit parade - on Youtube, to find it's been watched over 463 MILLION times. Just think about that for a moment. The record is featuring someone called "Ludacris", who clearly has a problem with spelling. Sadly, I have a problem with the song, as (perhaps predictably) it is dreadfully shit. I then gave "One Time" (217 million views) a whirl. It isn't much better.

Judging by those two songs, Bieber is standard "teeny bopper" fare - he's a rosy cheeked little scamp that girls love, his songs are shallow and un-intelligent and he peddles out "love" songs even though he does not understand the true meaning of the word. The reception he receives from his female audience is not unusual - the world has seen it with the Osmonds, David Cassidy, David Essex, a young Michael Jackson and so on. But "Bieber Fever" seems so much more prominent, so much more aggressive and even disturbing. Lily Allen once had a laugh about him on her Twitter page, which meant that when it became public that she had lost her baby, a few "Beliebers" felt the need to repay the compliment in a slightly unacceptable manner.

What's the deal with this kid? I'm not too sure, but I have a theory. As mentioned at the start, Bieber is essentially where he is because of the internet. In the days of David Cassidy for example, girls went hysterical over him, but there was no place for them to pour out their emotions. They could have his poster on his wall, they could tell their friends on the playground, they could go to his concerts. That was about it. With Bieber, these nuts now have a way to express their (crazy) feelings - it's all the Bieber nonsense on Twitter, it's Facebook, it's all the fan websites, it's the reason for the 'most Googled' crown. Why do "hardcore" Bieber fans get unbelievably precious, aggressive and hostile? It's because they seemingly think they are "his biggest fan", and they must do/say things which reflect this. Death threats to Selena Gomez? She happens to know Bieber - this cannot continue!

Away from Bieber, there is a bigger link here - that of the cult of the celebrity. When I see people reading magazines such as "OK" and "Hello" I feel a wave of anger, followed by a bigger wave of sorrow and depression. Let's take a look at Digitalspy's front page - for this website, these things count as news:

"Bleakley 'turned down Brits invite'"
"Agron: 'Nicks visit makes Glee cast cry'"
"Neeson: 'I ran away from Richardson death'"
"Emma Watson 'growing hair for career'"

and so on. That last one is particularly galling - the idea that the length of Emma Watson's hair is anything to do with anyone on the planet except herself is just really, really sad. And you can ignore it, but you know full well in the next issue of "Heat" there'll be paparazzi pictures of Watson sporting slightly longer hair, and probably a "celebrity stylist" analysing the look and declaring judgement on it.

I love Twitter. Honestly, I think it's fucking great, but the downside to it is how it does allow people to indulge in all this celebrity nonsense. Francesca "Frankie" Sandford is a member of girl band The Saturdays (who I like, I'll admit) and I'm currently perusing the recent tweets that others have sent her. It's a bit depressing, and awfully needy. There's loads of tweets asking her to follow this random person back (she won't, understandably), a few from blokes telling her they love her, a few asking her to add them on their BlackBerry (seriously), one saying "I think I'd die if you replied to me Frankie!!" (you wouldn't, grow up) and one saying "the things I would do to meet Frankie". I have no problem with anyone tweeting/replying her, or any other "famous" person, but it really should be something worthwhile*. I daren't look at people's tweets to Bieber.

I've written more than I intended to and I'm as bored as you are, so let's wrap it up. Do I feel sorry for Justin Bieber? In a way, I do. Yes, he has money and fame etc, but I imagine his life to be one enormous pressure cooker, and I think it's unfair to heap all of this bullshit on him when he's 16. He goes along with it, of course, because I'm sure it beats going to school and being "ordinary" - and men in suits force him to go along with it, but in the long run I think it's extremely dangerous. Earlier on I mentioned how his songs are shallow - I think it's because he hasn't had a life. All the time that "Bieber fever" rages, he never will.

* I'm conveniently forgetting the projects that Dan and I run on Twitter every summer when I say that.