A teenager drove 50 in a 30 zone. A teenager smoked a marijuana cigarette. A teenager said something dumb one time. Outraged? Probably not. Now what if I replaced the worlds “a teenager” with “Justin Bieber”? Outraged? ABSOLUTELY YES WHAT A PIECE OF UNHOLY SHIT DEPORT HIM IMMEDIATELY NO WAIT SHAVE HIS HEAD FIRST THEN SEND HIM BACK TO CANADA AND THEN POST HIM HIS OWN HAIR IN A BOX AND MAKE HIM CRY.
Gimme a break, world. I will never get over the daily tragedy of how we, as human beings, tend to waiver things of genuine importance in favour of going batshit over which celebrity millionaire may or may not be terrorizing the other celebrity millionaires in the elite celebrity millionaire neighbourhood they all live in, which is a sentiment so tired it fell asleep face-first in bog over a thousand years ago and drowned to death. Noam Chomsky said, “The general public doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know,” and it only takes one look through all the current e-petitions to the White House to realise how painfully true that is.
To put things into some kind of perspective, the ‘Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card’ petition accrued almost 250,000 signatures in a matter of days. Meanwhile, a petition to file charges against two police officers that beat a 37-year old homeless man with schizophrenia to death in Fullerton is currently slugging around 16,000 and there are at least three different petitions about net neutrality, which, combined, don’t even reach half the signatures demanding that Bieber be booted back to Canada. Essentially, that puts our concerns in the following order: 1) what Justin Bieber lists as his official place of residence, 2) freedom of information online and 3) police brutality. You’d be able to find more logistic strength in a scientific paper titled “Jurassic Park could happen”.
Then again, there are also petitions to “Declare the Monday after the Super Bowl National Hangover Day and give America the day off work” and the ever-abstract “Investigate 9/11”, so maybe a government petitions site isn’t the place to be searching for logical social patterns. Still, 250,000 is an outrageous number of people who are deeply emotionally invested in hating a teenager. In fact, that number is so high that the Obama administration is now legally obligated to take time away from their busy schedule of miraculously turning the words “free” and “healthcare” into a clusterfuck of negativity to comment on whether or not they will deport a singer because “the people of the United States feel that [they] are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture.”
Okay, firstly,America, your reputation in the world of anything wasn’t all that great before Bieber decided to let someone photograph him hanging from a stripper’s nipple. In fact, I can’t think of a time when it was ever overwhelmingly positive. There is currently a documentary about Mitt Romney on Netflix in which he refers to himself as a human flip-flop and you very nearly made him your president. You’re planning on glorifying an Old Testament-style cycle of hate and retribution by hosting a “celebrity” boxing match between DMX and George Zimmerman and made the announcement on the would-be eighteenth birthday of Trayvon Martin, the boy Zimmerman was accused of murdering. Also, in 2004, 51% of you believed in creationism over evolution. I wouldn’t worry about a young Canadian with a temporary off-kilter swag to sense ratio screwing up your international image.
Secondly, and I didn’t think this would ever need to be spelled out but, hating celebrities – especially when they’re teenagers – is a super lame way to spend your adult life. Virginia Senator Mark Warner responded to the “deport Bieber” petition with a tongue in cheek, “As a dad with three daughters, is there some place I can sign?” So, you know… When politicians start making fun of you, you should definitely re-hash your perspectives. Also, how dumb do you think Obama is? If he signed off on this it might as well be his own death warrant. It’s political suicide. I don’t want to imagine the level of social uproar the British government would have to deal with if they kicked out George Michael after he drunkenly smashed his Range Rover into a Snappy Snaps. It would make The Tottenham Riots look like a drum circle at Glastonbury.
Thirdly, you’re trying to send him to Canada, not the moon. He can drag race and smoke weed in Canada too, if he wants, and it will be just as big of a deal because they also have the news in Canada. Thus, he will continue to be a “terrible influence on [your] nations youth” wherever he lives. If you hate somebody’s music, that’s acceptable, but if you’ve made that decision they might as well not exist to you. If you hate somebody as a media-presented entity, that’s just silly.
I couldn’t care less if Justin Bieber is living his life like an endless audition for Fast & Furious 8. I definitely don’t care that he threw an egg at the golden walls of some millionaire’s fifth home. I don’t even care that he’s rocking some very questionable facial hair right now and that’s normally my first point of judgement. He’s a singer. And have you heard him do that, by the way? Like, sat down and actually listened to something other than ‘Baby’? Because he’s fucking great at it. His last release, Journals, featuring Chance The Rapper, R. Kelly and Future to name a few is on some real Abel Tesfaye level shit and, contrary to popular belief, he is listed as primary songwriter for the majority of his material. Does a kid who engages in common acts of antisocial behaviour have more of a social responsibility just because he’s the voice of a multi-million dollar angel? I would argue not.
Like every other Lohan, Britney and Culkin, Bieber has been forced to grow up in public. They are all children deprived of a childhood, shot from the womb straight into a wolf pit in which every animal is dangerously obsessed with excess and failure. Remember puberty? That shit sucked. Now imagine if every mistake you made, no matter how small, became a worldwide headline. If that doesn’t make you want to punch a security official and take an electric razor to your head I will give you a medal.
The phrase “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE” is so deeply embedded in cultural consciousness that its sentiment hardly needs repeating, but I’ve always felt like Chris Crocker is, in many ways, the last bastion of human decency. He recognised a huge issue with the way we treat celebrities and artists in general (which ironically turned him into one and now he has his own wave of daily death threats to deal with). We seem to think that just because somebody has put themselves out there in the public domain they automatically have a responsibility to obey and oblige. This rings true from media treatment of megastars like Bieber right down to the kind of debased “Anonymous asks” underground bands get on Tumblr.
We expect our artists not only to act “professionally” (read: “perfectly”), but also to tolerate everybody else’s shitty behaviour. It’s okay to photograph them every single time they go out for a jog, but when they retaliate by launching containers full of beans they’d better believe they’ll be facing assault charges.
And when we’re not treating them like “zoo animals”, as Kanye West once put it, we’re treating them like demigods, which I’m sure Kanye would fully back, but it’s that sort of crazy ring-kissing that makes a person feel completely entitled to volunteer a ridiculous opinion about Anne Frank’s musical preferences in the first place. Throughout his entire career, Michael Jackson couldn’t even run through a rehearsal or a sound check without the crew treating it like a religious experience. You can’t begin to comprehend that level of psychological damage unless you live it.
We don’t see celebrities as real people because they live in entirely different worlds and this leads us to judge them by unreasonably bi-polar measures. On the one hand, we want them removed from society for not having the option to make their mistakes privately. On the other, when somebody does something obvious like suggest gay rights might be a good thing we’re all OMG MACKLEMORE FOR PRESIDENT. It’s dumb. They’re people, too. And I mean that in the sense that the majority of people are terrible, so if you’re going to invest time and energy into hating some of them then at you could at least focus on those that actually have some relevance to your life, like the ones working on Wall Street or beating up minorities for no good reason. Don’t waste your time actively campaigning against a “troubled teenager” whose personal life is overshadowing his potential to make some of the best pop music this side of the millennium.
Originally published on The 405 here.