I know what you are thinking. Justin Bieber? Really?! Justin Bieber? That little Canadian kid that got famous on YouTube, became friends with Usher and became a star. Believe me when I say that this is truly a blog post that I never thought I would write (but Never Say Never…right?). Every time I would see Justin Bieber trending worldwide on Twitter, it drove me crazy. I didn’t understand the appeal.
My sister (who is 21) has been a Justin Bieber fan for a good long while now and I always thought it was ridiculous. She and her friends would watch his movie so often this summer that I would have to leave the house. Finally, I sat down with a friend of mine from graduate school and watched the movie that had been driving teen girls crazy. I was pleasantly surprised by how talented a musician this kid is, but more so by how he goes out of his way to lift up these young women who constantly swoon over him. It wasn’t until I saw him performing with Chris Brown in the video above that I was really struck by what a positive presence he is compared to the trash that young girls (and boys) are force fed by pop radio (ie: Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend).
Let’s take Chris Brown, of domestic violence fame, for example. He too started out as a fun singer for young women to have crushes on and he returned the favor with songs of “Young Love”. However, we soon found out that he had no idea on how to actually treat a woman. It is not hard to believe that he was a product of a culture that devalues women, views them as possessions to own and sexual conquests to be had. It only took him five years to go from “Excuse me Miss, What’s your name?” to this lyrical gem:
Take it off I wanna love you and everybody wanna touch you
You movin right wanna what’s up under then back it up, beep beep like a trucker.
Nice tights, nice waist, and you know I can’t forget about your face
Don’t none of that matter I’m about to make your pockets fatter
As if it weren’t bad enough for young men to see stories of him punching his girlfriend in his face and seeming far from contrite about it, they get treated to songs equating the worth of women with dollar signs. Now compare that with my new favorite teen idol, Justin Bieber. This kid calls a female audience member on stage every show during his performance of “One Less Lonely Girl” and these young women begin to understand that they should be put up on a literal pedestal and treated with respect. He makes them the center of attention and sings:
How many I told you’s and start overs
And shoulders have you cried on before
How many promises be honest girl
How many tears you let hit the floor
How many bags you packed
Just to take ‘em back tell me that
How many either or’s but no more
If you let me inside of your world
There’ll be the one less lonely girl
Now as much as I would prefer these lessons to be coming from someone’s father or brother, I will take the message wherever I can get it. Women are constantly told that their worth is derived from their looks. Young women need some countervailing force telling them that they have real worth. Given their borderline absurd obsession with Justin Bieber, he is as good a place as any. After all, when they smile, he smiles. What a better world this would be if men started getting their happiness from making other people feel better.