Sometimes, you look around, and something that had previously and comfortingly escaped your notice demands your attention with a relentless fury.
Right now, that something is Justin Bieber.
The first time I’d ever heard of this kid was in the following video:
That little video has OVER 20 MILLION HITS. For a while (too long, probably), I just thought the kid was crying over some boy at her kindergarten.
Then, around the same time or shortly after, I became aware of Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber. (Click it. At the moment I write this, there are 209 pages on that site.) But I still didn’t quite know who he was.
That video above was posted in February 2010. LWLLJB went live in March 2010.
Flash forward to now, one year later. I don’t think I have ever heard a single Justin Bieber song, and yet a 3-D movie of his life was released on my birthday.
Then, two days after the movie release, he lost the Best New Artist Grammy to Esperanza Spalding, which provoked his rabid fans to wage digital war against her.
Then, a few days after that, he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Then, a few days after that, he appeared on CSI, where
he his character was shot to death. Only 13 million hits on this one, but trending:
Then, a few days after that, he got a haircut.
And here’s where we have to pause for context, because this haircut is BIG news, and it’s big news at a time when New Zealand is being struck by another earthquake, and regimes are losing power in Egypt and Libya, and the Governor of Wisconsin is trying out fascism, and there are so many other things we have to be worried about.
Besides, the last time a male singer’s haircut was big news, it was because he had joined the Army.
But this is about more than a haircut.
See, Bieber is Christian. His music isn’t Christian-themed, but his image is, so much so that his
followers fans call themselves Beliebers. So much so that Paramount sought to exploit this angle in promoting the Bieber film. So much so that, in the Rolling Stone article, he speaks out in absolute terms about a number of issues, including health care and abortion.
Now, I’m not judging his faith, although I do judge his willingness to allow it to be used as a marketing tool. And I don’t question the validity of his beliefs, but I do question his motives in putting forth a position on abortion. (And to be fair, I also question Rolling Stone‘s wisdom in giving him the platform to put forth a position on abortion.)
Please understand: I don’t question these things because I agree or disagree. Whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant. And I do believe that 16-year-olds are entitled to their opinions. But most 16-year-olds have to write those opinions in persuasive essays in English classes, or defend them in debate competitions. Most 16-year-olds don’t have movies made about them. Most 16-year-olds don’t have Beliebers. And I would argue that this young man – who must be aware of his followers, aware of his influence, aware of what he’s saying and how it’s being transmitted – isn’t just some 16-year-old speaking his mind. This 16-year-old is preaching.
And it’s a little scary that his Beliebers retaliate with death threats whenever their messiah loses a prize, or is seen in public with a Kardashian, or is criticized. (Seriously. Google this shit.) Death threats. From Christians. Over a 16-year-old singer.
A 16-year-old singer who’s song lyrics include repetitions of “Baby, baby, baby, ohhh” and “I’m coming for you” and “Let me inside your world.”
A 16-year-old who calls girls “shorty.”
And now, he’s a 16-year-old who just wants to go to the Playboy Mansion. And apparently, he wants to go with his dad.
Just like Jesus.