Celeb Bashing: A modern day sickness.
This Monday (2.11.15) saw the release of Justin Bieber’s latest single ‘I’ll Show You’. Produced by Skrillex, ‘I’ll Show you’ seems to be Bieber’s way of asking the world to back off (“don’t forget that I’m human // don’t forget that I’m real’). It’s not the first time we’ve been asked to leave someone alone via his or her art form, and it certainly won’t be the last. Watch the video, and you’ll hear the message loud and clear. Shot in Iceland, we see a white boxer-clad Bieber floating baptismal-like in pure cold water, presumably a metaphor for his fresh start/personal growth. Whether or not you empathise with Bieber, ‘I’ll Show You’ sounds like a request to focus on and talk about his music, not him. The way we treat celebrities these days is an important issue: it highlights a more worrying info-grabbing mass mind-frame.
The instant and relentless nature of the Internet gives way to a greedy feeling of entitlement when it comes to celebrities – we deserve to know everything about them and, moreover, deserve a chance to be able to comment on anything they do. They are public property, and we hold them to a totally different standard than we do ‘real people’. By virtue of being famous, they lose all their humanity. Yet, if someone started harassing you or your friends over the Internet, you wouldn’t stand for it. It would be bullying. Still, millions of people feel they have the right to weigh in on the latest gossip. Our sensitivity is changing because of the increasingly impersonal way in which we interact. The way we use the Internet is distorting where we draw the line, plunging us headfirst into very shaky moral territory.
‘Celebrity’ isn’t a virtue in and of itself. People are famous because of what they do, or say they’re going to do and this keeps getting forgotten. We need to retrace our steps back to whatever it was that interested us in the first place, and make that the linchpin of our resolution. It’s beginning to feel like celeb bashing has become a kind of sickness – a desperate need to snub and humiliate, that links in with a Hobbesian picture of humanity. Maybe we never got as far out of the brutish State of Nature as we thought we did.
In a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, Bieber said: “ you have to figure out what you’re okay with, and what you’re not okay with, but you have to test the waters. I just happened to be in front of a bunch of cameras all the time and they caught all those moments.” It’s a really fair point. Everyone goes through a stage of growing up they’re not proud of. Then add all those things you wish you hadn’t done or said being documented step by step for literally the whole world to watch and analyse. Having your life served up for everyone to sample would be damaging at any age, but especially at time when you’re still trying to work out how to be a good person (a life-long endeavour, if you ask me).
So listen to ‘I’ll Show You’, and decide whether or not you like the song, not the life behind it. Pass opinion on the music that Bieber releases, because that’s the thing that he has offered to the public. Talk about the song’s form and content: how and if the two work together – does it even have both? Does it make you feel anything? Should it have to make you feel anything? Is Bieber a good songwriter, or just another sub-par pop star? It’s the world’s biggest cliché, but being famous doesn’t change the fact that you’re human. They are just people too.
Watch the video for ‘I’ll Show You’, the latest single from the forthcoming album ‘Purpose’ here: