Friday, January 8, 2016

An Ode To Justin Bieber

I thought I hated LeBron James.  I thought I hated Caitlyn Jenner.  Most of all, I really thought I hated Justin Bieber.  Until I listened to his new album, Purpose.  Today, I sat in my room, and did laundry, and listened to Bieber’s newest album—all the way through to the end.  I didn’t think I could do it.  I thought I’d hate it.  I hoped I’d hate it.  But, alas, I loved it—every single second.
            Am I celebrity hater?  Not particularly, but I do see the effects that celebrity culture has had on American norms and lifestyle choices.  I hated seeing LeBron James announce—in an overhyped live TV extravaganza, of all ways—that he was taking his talents to the Miami Heat.  In one fell swoop, he crushed the hopes and dreams of thousands of Cavaliers fans, and basketball fans in general for that matter.  So, jerseys burned, children and grown men equally crushed—that night an entire city wept, because of the actions of one celebrity.
            I really hated Caitlyn Jenner when she was still identifying as Bruce.  I couldn’t care less what gender she identifies with, but Keeping Up With The Kardashians, in my humble opinion, is the epitome of Reality TV—a genre I see as closer to fantasy than reality (apologies, I digress, once again).  Every day, Hollywood producers shovel bullshit (for lack of a better word) at millions of viewers, resulting in cheap laughs and countless bouts of anorexia and Xanax prescriptions.  Caitlyn Jenner is transgender, and I respected that, but I could never be a supporter of Reality television…never.
            Then, I listened to Purpose.  Wow, what can I say?  Justin Bieber, the child star turned young-adult PR hurricane—the worst possible role model for kids, today—put out an album that hits the nail right on the head.  It isn’t just a collection of poppy, million-dollar production, auto-tuned garbage.  In fact, I’d venture to say it’s the exact opposite.  The entire album is a piece that has one message—that message is purpose, and I believe Justin Bieber is well on his way to finding his.  In “Life Is Worth Living,” Justin paints a portrait of what it’s like to be him:
They try to crucify me
I ain’t perfect, won’t deny
My reputation’s on the line
So I’m working on a better me

What’s crazy about this verse, is that when he says “they,” he means literally everyone.  Every action he takes.  Every party he goes to.  Every word that comes out of his mouth.  Every drug that he takes.  Every person he meets.  Every woman he dates.  We all judge every single one of his actions, more than we would anyone else, because he’s Justin Bieber.
            Which brings me back to Lebron and Caitlyn.  Neither of them is perfect.  They’ve both made huge mistakes.  Just as Lebron indubitably broke a thousand hearts on ESPN, Caitlyn Jenner almost certainly diminishes the self-worth of women who don’t get plastic surgery and professional makeup—transgender or not.  Nevertheless, when Lebron announced that he was returning to Cleveland, an entire city rejoiced.  Likewise, when Caitlyn Jenner became the celebrity face for transgender issues, she opened the eyes of millions of ignorant viewers and spurred countless conversations that might never have otherwise taken place, let alone on TV.

            So, Justin, I’m incredibly impressed.  Your talent is undeniable.  Your success is apparent.  Yet, your personality—your purpose—bewildered me for quite some time.  I couldn’t buy into Bieber Fever, I just couldn’t.  Yet, today, I realized you’re only one month older than me—if I had the paparazzi following me around all the time I’d lose my mind.  And, just like you said, no 21-year-old (or anyone for that matter) is perfect.  So, how could I have expected you to be?

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