On this eve of the release of Justin Bieber's movie, Never Say Never, I felt it would be an appropriate time to discuss how I feel about him. Simply put, Justin Bieber makes me uncomfortable. This is not a dislike of him as a person or a hatefulness toward his music, but a true unease.
At first, I thought it was his look of mild androgyny that led to my discomfort, because I've noticed in my little time on this planet that gender factors very highly into how we align, associate and build relationships with others (even, and especially with pop stars we will never know or meet.)
But if anything, Bieber's gender placidity -- which spawned the creation of the now famous blog Lesbians that look like Justin Bieber -- might actually be a reason to like him. Like David Bowie or JD Samson, there is also something very powerful and attractive in the gender unknown.
Then I thought, maybe it's his age. Bieber's been around in the virtual public spotlight for a handful of years now, and he's only sixteen. (Of course, Willow Smith trumped him age-wise with the release of "Whip My Hair" in 2010, a song for which I refuse to have an opinion on because I won't turn a critical eye to a human being born in 2000.)
Age, however, shouldn't be cause for distress, as the teen (or pre-teen) pop star role is not a new phenomenon. After all, Stevie Wonder was eleven when he was signed to Motown. At seven, Jojo sang for Bill Cosby on that weird show "Kids Say The Darndest Things" and Bieber's own career booster, Usher, was also under age when LaFace records picked him up.
But after seeing the preview for Bieber's teenage girl heart-rattling docu-shmoozer, I mean "The inspiring true story" -- something clicked. It isn't his gender-bending shag or his premature age at all. It was just him, as a proposed monumental music maker, a part of music history, and a commodity. The idea that a mediocre singer with piercing eyes containing the incapacitating power of Jiggly Puff's lullaby could have his short story captured in an "inspirational tale" was frightening.
When I look into his YouTube'd eyes, I feel like he's carrying this secret, this notion that he knows the power of his not-very-interesting-career that has captured our numb minds -- teenage girls especially, as Bieber knows they are the best conduit to spread blase pop culture through waves of social change and/or NKOTB-styled hysteria -- and made him as popular as he is as a sixteen-year-old kid.
I thought about attempting to brave Never Say Never, but I don't think my curiosity is enough to support that kind of downfall of our collective music-consuming intelligence. And as I stand by and watch the worship of Bieber as a false idol, I will feel a pain for the story of Freddie Mercury, as is it will probably never be told to a generation of kids that might need him more than they know. Luckily, my sixteen-year-old sister thinks Justin Bieber is dumb, and just might get into Queen's discography -- since Glee already has.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.