As a youth pastor (and young adult), I am constantly trying to keep up with today’s ever changing pop culture, as the youth in our youth group are totally immersed in it. Knowing what they’re watching and listening to helps Terrell and I relate to them, and educates us to help them think critically about a lot of what they see in the media every day. Something that’s been happening over the last three years in today’s pop culture that has continuously intrigued me is the phenomenon that is Justin Bieber.
For those of you who don’t know, Justin Bieber is a Canadian pop singer who was discovered by his manager who stumbled across videos of Justin singing on the hugely popular international video site, YouTube. Since being discovered at the young age of 13, Justin has exploded as a teen sensation, with millions of “Beliebers” all over the world obsession over his voice, his dance ability, and let’s face it, his hair.
Justin Bieber has really taken over everything. The radio. The movie theatre. The View. The cover of any teen magazine. The nail polish section of any department store (strange, but true). It’s hard to believe that a 17-year-old boy from a small town in Ontario could cause such a ruckus.
Justin has over 10 million followers on Twitter, and over 32 million fans on Facebook. He’s obviously a pretty popular guy.
Justin is everywhere. People all over the world seem to have gotten infected with what can only be described as “Bieber Fever.” And believe me, I am certain there is someone you know who also has the fever! I can’t recall a single youth event all year, junior or senior, where Justin Bieber’s name was not mentioned, regardless of what the event was.
Despite being popular, I would have to say that Justin is perhaps as hated as he is liked. Only around 4 of my 30+ youth would ever admit to liking him when asked. When I said before that Justin was mentioned at every youth event this year, it wasn’t always in a positive way. Visit any video of him on YouTube and you will see just as many hateful comments that question his sexual orientation or gender as you will ones singing his praise.
And yet, even in the “haters,” Justin shines through. Go to the mall or drive down the street – I am sure the boys that can rant for hours over how much Justin sucks are the ones in the high tops, skinny jeans, American Apparel hoodies and baller caps with the iconic swooping J. Biebes hair style. I often want to ask those boys that if he sucks so much, why do they look exactly like him?
[As an aside…as Terrell said in his last blog post, the Internet gives us the opportunity to say anything we want about people without fear or repercussions. I have hardly seen this demonstrated more frequently than in the J. Biebs phenomenon. When people write horrific things about him online, I feel deeply saddened by it because, even though he is very famous, he is just a 17 year old kid. It makes me think about how if one of my own youth was being bullied this way online, something would likely be done about it – parents and teachers alike would be upset. But because he’s famous that all seems to go out the window…]
Anyway, you might be wondering where I’m going with all this. I am not entirely sure. I am merely one who continues to be intrigued by the world’s obsession with this boy – whether in a good way or bad.
I know that for myself, as someone who has a lot of concerns for this generation, I admire the way Justin Bieber has handled his fame. I initially (and perhaps somewhat secretively) supported Justin because frankly, I was just so relieved to see a famous young person who was actually talented! Too many young celebrities are famous for things other than their talents, which is too bad. He also has worked really hard for the success he has. Most young celebrities have the fame of other family members or Disney shows to ride the coat tails of. When I was a teenager, Paris Hilton was really famous. Why? Because her dad is rich. So I think it’s a good thing for our youth today to see someone working hard for their success.
So far Justin has taken his position as a role model to young people seriously, and that I have greatly appreciated. His main message to his fans is to reach for their dreams and not limit themselves. His songs are age appropriate, and I never worry that I’ll need to shield my eyes or ears during any of his much videos, lest I am scarred for life by something inappropriate (which I sure can’t say about Lady Gaga). Also, he recently released a perfume, and 100% of the proceeds of the product go to charity. I mean are there any other celebs under the age of 20 doing that???
I guess when it comes down to it, I appreciate Justin Beiber and the way he’s handling his success. Whether we want to admit it or not, we need more role models like him for the sake of our young people.
So, what do you think? Have I convinced you of anything, or do you really disagree with my point of view?
Have you been infected with the Fever?