Spare a thought for poor ol' Justin Bieber

The kid from Stratford, Ontario, is a pop idol and a teen tycoon, but every silver lining has a cloud
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It can’t be easy being Justin Bieber. Oh, sure, the teen-pop superstar has an estimated net worth of US$108 million, he’s shagging Selena Gomez, and he drives that cool all-chrome car. But just as every silver lining has a cloud, even Bieber’s seemingly charmed life has its drawbacks. Let’s face it: Selena Gomez is the poor man’s Vanessa Hudgens, and even Vanessa Hudgens isn’t all that hot. Also, despite its price tag, the Fisker Karma is mostly known for being a rolling hunk of shit with an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames at inopportune times. (I tried, but I couldn’t find any downside to having US$108 million.)

Even the Biebz’s status as the king of YouTube isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. His video for “Baby” is the site’s most-viewed video of all time, currently sitting at over 784 million views. On the other hand, it has also racked up almost 3 million clicks on the “dislike” button, compared with 1.3 million “likes”. You don’t have to be Chad Hurley to figure out that millions of those views have come courtesy of haters who want to give “Baby” the thumbs down and leave cogent, well-reasoned comments like “Eminem is king of rap. Justin Bieber is the queen of crap!!” and “who thinks he is the one fag Joinha ae kkkkkk”.

It was on YouTube, of course, that the kid from Stratford, Ontario, got his start, thanks to videos uploaded by his mom. Biebz is the first YouTube celebrity who has managed to parlay viral-video stardom into major-league global success. Those dudes who ran a dry-humping gang-bang train on a defenceless ottoman to the strains of Pretty Ricky’s “Late Night Special” didn’t do it. The “Chocolate Rain” guy couldn’t do it, no matter how many times he moved away from the mike to breathe in. And Star Wars Kid certainly didn’t, primarily due to his utter lack of any discernible talent.

Bieber also kicked open the floodgates for everyone who thinks the world desperately needs to experience how they would have sung that Ke$ha song from last night’s episode of Glee. News flash: unless your name is First Aid Kit, no one wants to hear you warble your way through some cover tune—especially if it happens to be called “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Or “Baby”.

The haters have plenty of other reasons to take a swing at Bieber—not the least of which is his own (alleged!) willingness to take swings of his own at the paparazzi. And James Franco, too, if the National Enquirer is to be believed. According to that newspaper of record, JB has threatened to hit Franco with so many rights he’ll be begging for a left, all because the 127 Hours star has been seen getting a little too friendly with Gomez. Mind you, the Enquirer would also have us believe that Bieber plans to bottle his own sweat to sell at a charity auction. On the off chance this is true, Justin, here’s a tip: you’ll fill that bottle a lot faster if you use urine instead. Just sayin’.

And then there’s Bieber’s unfortunate tendency to open his mouth for reasons other than to sing or shovel in spoonfuls of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries. Like talking to journalists, which you know is never going to end well. As he revealed to Rolling Stone last year, his stance on pregnancies that result from sexual assault rivals that of U.S. Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin. “Um. Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason,” said Bieber, who was either paraphrasing John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion or making shit up off of the top of his head.

But let’s not judge the guy too harshly. No one ever asked Elvis where he stood on Jim Crow laws, nuclear proliferation, or the Caramilk secret, nor should we expect Bieber to have nuanced positions on the issues of the day. He’s just an entertainer, and a damned dedicated one at that. Despite painting the stage twice with the contents of his stomach during a September 29 concert in Glendale, Arizona, an ailing Bieber finished the show. By the following night, a YouTube clip of the performer taking a Technicolor yawn had been watched almost 500,000 times. You have to give him props for soldiering on, and maybe even have a little sympathy for the guy.

When’s the last time the entire Internet watched while you spewed the remains of your dinner? It’s not easy being Justin Bieber, I tell you.

Comments (6) Add New Comment
ashley macisaac
justin beiber is canada's most famous citizen.thank you for finally putting out there some truth about Canada's most important person today-next only of course to Justin Trudeau.Vote Liberal.
Ashley MacIsaac- liberal entertainer
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abdul
true every word
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ger
THE Ashley MacIsaac?
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Ian Weniger
Dear John,

The young man you refer to as "Star Wars Kid," in case you didn't know, never wanted that infamous video uploaded. If the Globe and Mail is to be believed, his family drew up a lawsuit for damages perpetrated by the peers at his high school, back in the day, for posting it to Youtube without his consent or knowledge.

You seem to have crossed the line from sophomoric Straight.com snarkiness to gratuitous cruelty and revictimization by claiming SWK's failure to monetize his viral success like the Biebz was due primarily to an "utter lack of any discernible talent". While many Youtube wannabees seem to be oblivious of the shortcomings in their videos, I suspect most of them wanted to be seen and knew that the interweb is forever. The young man in "SWK" may have known he was no Darth Maul (or even Chad Vader) but I doubt he planned to share that lack of the Force with the world.

If Wikipedia is correct that SWK's family settled out of court days before the lawsuit went to trial, then perhaps, in fact, his legal team did parlay some cash out of the affair, but in grief and injury and not glory or glamour.

Your remarks aren't libelious, but they distract from your point that viral-ity is rarely proof of talent nor a path to fame. Your article remains valuable because few people wonder if Justin Bieber would have had a better life if he had just done the school-band thing until he grew up.
Ian Weniger, Vancouver
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John Lucas
Ian, thanks for your comments. I knew the Star Wars Kid back story before I wrote the column. My point was not that he was trying to get famous and failed at it. My point was simply that the original Star Wars Kid video and all of its various parodies and mashups were watched millions of times on YouTube without him deriving any benefit from the phenomenon whatsoever. Maybe the "lack of discernible talent" bit was a tad gratuitous, but the fact is, Ghyslain Raza didn't exactly have talent agents beating a path to his door, in spite of his massive (albeit accidental and unwanted) celebrity. By all accounts, he's found his niche and is doing just fine now, out of the spotlight. So, good for him.
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