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Thursday, January 17, 2013

the one about justin bieber

relevant portion of the video is at the 2.00 minute mark.


“Dear god give us back Tupac and take Justin Bieber. “

I was watching a show by Jimmy Kimmel, or more precisely a snippet of a show where celebrities would read nasty tweets sent to them by people around the world. Mr. Bieber read this one out and looked at the screen. It wasn’t a hurt look just a look. The look said  look at what people say about me. It was just a glance at the screen at the end of reading that tweet, it was dignified, it was hurt and I was disgusted. Not by him of course but by the person who had sent that tweet to an 18 year old boy.

At 18 I would hurt if someone made a snide comment about my acne, I would be heartbroken if a girl I liked didn’t pick up my phone call. At 18 he reads about people wishing him dead and then he looks at the screen like its no big thing. He’s used to it by now. I can tell. Who else is more reviled on the internet than Justin Bieber? Who else is more hated by the age group just above him than this young man? We have all heard and laughed at the jokes about Bieber. How he looks like a woman, how he should be a lesbian, the quality of his music etc. etc.

I hear it all the time too. When friends want a quick cheap laugh they fall to Justin and his… I am not even sure what it is about him that brings people to such displays of hate and spite. We could argue that it’s all done in fun but he’s 18 years old and for the last couple of years he has read these things about himself, he has heard them, he has lived with them. Why though?


The last time I was with people who went on a Justin Bieber hating frenzy I posed the question of why? Why not just change the radio station and listen to something else? Because “this is a sign of degrading musical and cultural tastes. He is a symbol of things going to the dogs and the younger generation being unable to appreciate the things that really matter.”  How after all can changes by Tupac have that much less hits than baby by Justin Bieber? Then why not listen to more Tupac instead of hating on Bieber.

Changes is a beautiful song though. It is about something important, it is about discrimination and pain, it is about what we need to do in our lives to make our lives better. It is a song about what it means to grow up black and poor in America. “Instead of a war on poverty they got a war on drugs so the police can bother me.” That’s a beautiful line. In the space of a tweet he manages to indict the whole American drug policy, in so few words he lays it bare showing what it actually is discrimination based on race or at the very best economic and social class. It is an iron fist used to keep down the masses that someone didn’t think should rise. All through the song you get these beautiful lines, each of them speaking to a truth, each of them words you can imagine a Che Guevara figure singing, “They got money for wars but can’t feed the poor.” This before they engaged in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars these two were proof that that government had money to spend but wouldn’t do it on social welfare, on education or even the health of its citizens. “I made a g today, but you made it in a sleazy way, selling crack to the kids, I gotta get paid.” This is one of those songs that you point to as a defence to people who say that rap is about bitches hos and money. It’s about those things but it’s also about life, it’s about the state of the world, it’s about the experiences of  a group of people that we would never understand as well if we didn’t listen to their music, but it’s also about bitches, hos and money because that’s a part of the life these people have known. Changes is something, it deserves more views than Justin Bieber but that’s my opinion and you know how I try to make this a reality? I don’t listen to Justin Bieber instead I listen to 2 pac.

This is how it works, this is how a free market economy works. People choose what to listen to, the nature of free speech means they can say what they want about those who they don’t like. They can wish death on Justin Bieber without fear and with the internet they are able to make sure he knows what they want. Is this what has changed? Is it the internet? We have all heard and know about how anonymity and mob psychology make us worse people. We can spout off without any danger of repercussion. Does that mean we should though. Sure I think Tupac is better than Justin but people older than me thought music had gone to the dogs because they loved Marvin Gaye and before that because they liked Elvis Presley and before that and before that. The history of music is a history of one generation not understanding the crap that the next one puts in their ears. The people of my parent’s generation can’t hear rap. Not that they will refuse to listen to it they actually can’t hear the lyrics. They have no idea what is being said and when they look at the videos all they see is skimpily clad women and alcohol and weed. On that they judge and say it’s horrible music. On that they decide that what we listen to is crap.



The things my 14 year old cousin listens to are completely alien to me. Her life experiences are different, she grew up with Facebook and twitter and the internet. And on a deeper level what she has gone through that human beings all go through is not yet close to what I have done and gone through. She has no heartbreaks in her past, she doesn’t know the pain and sweet yearning of unrequited love, she hasn’t had betrayal and deep deep disappointment, and she hasn’t had to make a choice that could conceivably change her whole life. And so the music she listens to, the music she relates to speaks to her life experiences. Tiny crushes and small heart fractures and playing in the sun. As it should be. We struggle with so much darkness, indecision and doubt as we get older and that cloud doesn’t rise. For a moment in their lives, for that moment before they begin to doubt the existence of God or even the fact of his love. That moment before they see the devil living in all of us and the pains that are caused when a system is ran by human beings. For just that moment isn’t it better for them to listen to Justin Bieber talk about things they understand rather than “I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself is life worth living should I blast myself?”

The thing about Justin Bieber is I can’t really listen to him. I can hear him and think his songs are catchy but they weren’t made for me. When I want to contemplate I put on a song that says “I’m tired of being poor and even worse I’m black, my stomach hurts so I’m looking for a purse to snatch.” There is a lot of dark reality awaiting the young ones out there. When they come to see it and ask themselves why people must suffer and want to find out about the sufferings of others they will listen to Tupac. Until then let them have Justin Bieber and a place filled with rainbows and suns. If you don’t like him don’t listen to him.

Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races. Tupac said this in that song. He was talking about racism but nothing is ever about just one thing. He was also talking about hate. Hate with no reason. Hate that spreads bitterness and poison all over the world. Hate that makes people feel less than they are that makes them feel worse about who they are. The kind of hate that makes the person who sent that tweet send it.

Maybe it’s all the darkness we know that allows us to hate him so much. Maybe it’s because we are still so young we don’t realise that all this has come before and that all this will come again. Maybe it’s just mindless fun and the need for a few quick, cheap laughs that drives us to say these horrible things. Whatever it is is it worth that 18 year old boy being told that someone wishes him dead just because this other person can’t switch the channel, mute the radio or walk away. There is already too much hate in the world for more unnecessary drivel aimed at Justin. Still changes does need more views on you tube so here I link it for your viewing and thinking pleasure.