I have something to confess: I’ve never heard more than one song by Justin Bieber in my entire life. I know, what a musical illiterate I am. I’ve heard “Baby” once, and then the instrumental part over and over again in the “Psychosocial Baby” mashup, which incidentally is one of the best things in this world since peanut butter sex. Other than that, I’m totally oblivious to what the guy puts out.
And you know what’s funny? I’ve never had to make the slightest effort to do that. It was remarkably easy to simply let all his oeuvre just fly over my head. In fact, I only ever came to know of his existence when I was watching the “We Are The World for Haiti” video. Of course, the first thought that crossed my mind then was, “Boy, I didn’t know Ellen Page could sing!,” until I checked the Wikipedia article for the song.
You’d think, however, that, based on the reaction of the internet over every new song by the Canadian singer, ignoring him is almost impossible. In fact, it seems that not only is it impossible, it’s also such a coveted state of being that people just go ballistic over it.
This doesn’t make the slightest sense to me.
Not that I wasn’t guilty of the same sin at some point in my life. I was really big on Iron Maiden when I was about 12 years old, and back then I spent half my time listening to it and the other half hating everything that wasn’t it. The mere existence of the Spice Girls or the Backstreet Boys was a thorn in my side, constantly poking me and making me miserable. Not actually, of course. I just pretended it was like that to look cool to the limited number of people that thought that kind of stuff was cool, i.e. my circle of friends. Everyone else just thought I was a total spaz.
Did I mention I was twelve?
Yes, that was the time when your tastes very much defined your social life, and, right as I was being introduced to the concept of “girls,” I was also discovering that my choice in music was like a chain-link electrified fence on fire between me and them. That frustrated me, but of course in my teenage pride I would never choose to stop being so militant about heavy metal. Instead, I just exacerbated it in the hopes that it would somehow become the standard.
It’s typical twelve-year-old behavior, and if you’re twelve years old and that’s why you hate Justin Bieber, you’re well within your rights. If you are, however, say, twenty-five, then I’m afraid there are no legitimate reasons to spam YouTube going on about how much you hate the guy. It’s never been easier to be selective with what you hear, what with mp3 players, Pandora, YouTube, etc… It’s not like you have to listen to the radio anymore, and, like me, if you aren’t interested in a particular kind of music, you can simply sidestep it by going on with your life and you’ll be none the wiser.
The trend of Bieber-hate, however, keeps going strong. The level of hate for the guy would make a casual observer suspect that his songs give people nut cancer, or that he’s some sort of reverse Santa Claus that goes house-to-house every night banging everyone’s mothers and giving them STDs.
The cancer thing brings me to a recent incident in which some people on 4chan tried to convince the world that the popstar was afflicted with the disease, and that led to an attempt to make Bieber fans shave their heads in solidarity for their idol.
Apparently, the prank didn’t actually work, and the hoax was soon debunked, but the level of work that went into this makes me think that these people are one copy of Catcher in the Rye away from Mark David Chapman. They fabricated news stories, tweets, and even convinced their sisters and girlfriends to shave their heads to make it seem that the meme was already starting to spread.
Are you serious? What do you gain by doing that? It’s not even funny, and it’s not because it’s tasteless. I’m not very fussy with my jokes. I don’t require any taste in them in order to laugh, and most of my humor is on the blue side anyway; it’s just that is simply not funny. If you had convinced each one of them to wear a rotting pork-chop around their neck for 24 hours I’d give you some credit for funniness, but shaving heads is just stupid.
It really comes down to that old tribalist thing that makes people kill each other over sports teams and petty stuff like that. To create a tightly-knit community you first have to establish an enemy that everyone can rally against. It doesn’t matter the justification for the choice of adversary, whether it’s a particular unpleasant artistic output or their genetic makeup. Oh yes I went there, because this is the Third Reich in a microcosm. Uniting against something makes people irrational, and thus they nurture their loathing even when they could easily avoid the thing they loathe in the first place, which is the case of Justin Bieber haters.
And the biggest irony to me is when I see these people saying things like "Oh man, classic rock is where it's at, but now all we have is Bieber," and then I remember guys like Robert Crumb, who hate everything made after World War II, and consider Led Zeppelin to be on the same level of musical trash that Justin Bieber is. It doesn't mean he's right, it just proves my point about tribes: He's not in yours, and laughs at the prospect of you calling yourselves some sort of "musical purists" or something of the sort.
My advice to you? Spend less time going out of your way to worry about stuff you don’t like, and more time listening to what you do like. And maybe read a book, too.
Unless you don’t like anything at all, which wouldn’t surprise me in these cynical, nihilistic times.