A music video featuring a wild dance party in what appears to be a bowling alley has been viewed over 1,000,000,000 times. According to the 2010 Times of London World Atlas, that is the combined population of the all the countries that begin with the letters A through E, except for China, a total of 57 countries. This testifies to the charisma of Justin Bieber.
Of course, the proper meaning of that word, as defined by Emil Durkheim, requires that you have a message. Bieber’s gospel of following your dreams and other treacly crap like that was first set out in his book First Step 2 Forever. I am not ashamed to admit that I plan to buy this book. I will not, however, buy it at a bookstore I have previously visited, and will hide it whenever I am not reading it. When I checked out The Pornographers by Akiyuki Nozaka from the HCC library, I kept it in plain view by my bed. Anyone, like me, who cannot resist looking at any book that happens to be lying around could look at the curvy, luridly pink letters of its title and assume it was obscene. If they happened to flip to certain subplots of the novel, they might be further convinced. Although I am interested in the sociology surrounding Bieber, I do have an ulterior motive in purchasing First Step 2 Forever. At some point in the future, I will sell the book to the Smithsonian. It will fetch a lot of money because it will be the only copy in existence without any hearts drawn in it.
When I first heard of Justin Bieber I thought he was annoying. Whenever I had the misfortune to be exposed to one of his songs it consoled me to know that he would be gone soon enough, just like all the other acts produced to market to children of a certain age. I don’t care to do a five to ten minute Google search to find any names. I think it would be highly depressing to see all the dreams of those overbearing parents dashed. But I digress; I was in that nine-to-12-year-old age group when the word tween gained wide currency. If my dad was more liberal with money I probably would have been a very good marketing guinea pig. I used to think it was terrible that advertisers would market directly to vulnerable, impressionable children. My rage was lessened when I realized that the last time business made money from children was factory work, and this belief was swept away when I realized that most adults are just as impressionable.
I am slowly beginning to realize that Justin Bieber is not going away. He has so captivated the popular imagination that a musically untalented middle-aged guy who just happens to share his name is noticed by the news media. I’ve never seen an interview with the many women throughout the English-speaking world named Janet Jackson or Marilyn Manson. If I ever become famous, I doubt they’ll interview the UFC fighter or Oregonian sex offender who shares my name. Even his hair gets too much attention; someday one of his roadies will sneak up on him with a pair of clippers and leave him with an oddly placed bald spot. All the area prepubescent girls will then get their first experience with mob justice. If Sasha and Malia Obama get wind of those events it could get worse.
Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton both started out selling to sections of the population often denigrated by the mainstream of society. They are now both musical icons whose work will last long after they’re gone, if they do leave. Neither of them seems to be aging; they just seem to be getting grouchier and happier respectively. I envision a future in which I will listen to Justin Bieber artistically respond to the challenges of the middle-aged pop star by releasing an album of classic Lady Gaga songs, accompanied by autoharp, Theremin, and steel drum. Or maybe a mariachi opera based on the life of George W. Bush. Either way, it probably won’t be nearly as soul-crushing as I initially thought.
Tweens of America and across the world, I eagerly await your derision and verbal abuse! But be warned, I may not be as classy about it as Esperanza Spalding.