You May Not Like Justin Bieber, But He’s Not The Antichrist

.     Isn’t it great how social networking sites and blogs give platforms to anyone and everyone’s opinion? It’s forced people to educate themselves into having an opinion – or, at least, reading someone else’s opinion to carry it off as your own. The problem here lies in the latter, as people have increasingly ceased to formulate their own opinion, instead jumping on righteously outraged bandwagons left, right and centre. Twitter especially boasts something of a gang mentality against certain singers, who receive intense amounts of adoration from fan girls, but also equal measures of ire from their detractors.
.     While I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber’s music, I feel that as the anti-Bieber brigade becomes increasingly rabid/sadistic, it becomes more akin to bullying, which is apparently justified because Bieber is rich, famous, has millions of pubescent girls fawning over him, and spawns deeply unimaginative pop music. These are not reasons that should excuse or justify bullying. Universal revulsion should be reserved for cases where justice needs to be brought against horrific acts that contravene others’ human rights. You’d be forgiven for forgetting, amid all the articles besmirching him, that Bieber isn’t an operator of mass genocide, a serial rapist or the head of a brutal sex-trafficking ring – he’s a slightly bland, seemingly undereducated pop star. (And no, much as you’d like to exaggerate, listening to ‘Baby’ doesn’t actually violate your human rights.)
.     Yes, it’s a shame that more creative music is routinely ignored by radio stations, music television stations and large swathes of the record-buying public. Yes, it’s almost as worrying that millions of teenage and tweenage girls deify a young man who, living his entire life in the spotlight and under the control of his record company’s management, probably has his entire image, sense of self and interview answers constructed by other people, and definitely has aired dubious views on abortion following rape – though it’s been stated that these comments were taken out of context. Yes, it’s just plain annoying when his fans, the self-styled ‘Beliebers’, make him trend daily on Twitter – and verges on chilling when they consider his cold to be more important than the death of a child with leukaemia.
.     But let’s get things in perspective here. If frenzied loathing Bieber has elicited from the public were instead used to rally against serious human rights abuses, what damage could be done there? Are the repetitive, soulless lyrics of “Baby, baby, baby, oh” (…because “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” is so much more poetic…) really more pressing an issue than the fact that homosexual activities in 8 holiday-worthy Caribbean nations are still punishable by prison sentences of over 10 years (in Barbados, it entails life imprisonment), or the fact that rape victims in the US army – where an alleged 19,000 incidents of rape are recorded annually – are denied abortions? Is it, indeed, not more worrying that Bieber, among others, has been the victim of a death hoax which, apart from being desperately irresponsible, is upsetting to the star, friends, family and fans, and downright cruel?
.     Evidently not. The crime that tops all crimes these days is writing a pop song without lyrical nous or creative orchestration. Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ became a joke and its singer a figure of fun last March. Not a problem – the video to ‘Friday’ was absurd, unintentionally parodic and amusing as a result. What was unacceptable was the way that the responses to its 13-year-old chanteuse – who didn’t even write the song, conceive the video or its non-sequiturs, or choose to Autotune her voice into oblivion – became more poisonous and personal as its YouTube views spiralled into the millions. The most vicious trolls told her to cut herself and “get an eating disorder so [she]’ll be pretty” [revealed here]. Less extreme, but very common, responses were that she was smug for smiling during the video and was ugly, with many responses taking a violent tone. Surely it’s infinitely more disturbing that adults judged – and criticised – how a 13-year-old girl looked on a sexualised scale, or were threatening violence towards her for enjoying an experience her parents had paid for her to have, than the fact the lyrics and video were stupid? So many people were casually saying they’d like to punch her that others did too; as it became normalised, it became acceptable. With bullying a more pressing issue than ever, now cyber-bullying has the power to attack behind closed doors, it seems irresponsible to promote and normalise it.
.     You don’t have to like rubbish pop music. By all means, dislike it. Dislike what it stands for, dislike the AutoTune, dislike the lyrics, generic beats and the artist’s management-constructed, conservative interview answers. But know that jumping on an anti-artist bandwagon is often the ultimate hypocrisy – by constantly squawking about how bland and boring Justin Bieber is, does that not make you bland and boring as well? More importantly, at the end of the day, Bieber’s music might be crap, but he’s not a woman-beater who wallows in his own martyrdom and makes young girls think that domestic violence is OK. The anti-Chris Brown bandwagon, at least, has something important to say.

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