Justin Bieber is touring England. It’s been a long tour. It started in March. He’s expected to tour through this month and next month, and do a few shows in December. And then pick up again in Australia and New Zealand next March. As I’ve noted repeatedly through his career, the deeper JB gets into a tour, the more he struggles. And he seems to be struggling right now as he’s made a point of lecturing his fans about their “obnoxious” screaming. Last night he walked off stage for a few minutes because he was trying to talk and didn’t feel like they were paying him enough attention:
There are so many angles to take on this situation. Like, oh, hi white boy, you mad you’re trying to use your voice and people are ignoring you? There are a lot of people who know what that feels like, and they’re not getting paid millions of dollars for it. Also, as reader RA wondered in an email to me last night, what would happen if it were a female artist who did the same, did any of the sh-t that JB has done through his young career. This question was addressed on Donald Glover’s brilliant Atlanta a few weeks ago. The episode is called Nobody Beats The Biebs and it features a black Justin Bieber who walks around ruining display tables, pissing in hallways, and generally being a f-cking bratty asshole. As Vulture observed, the point of the episode isn’t just to mock Justin Bieber – although that’s great too – but, primarily, to highlight how identity, specifically racial identity, can elicit bias, and how identity can alter opportunity. (Atlanta is a tremendous achievement and if you haven’t already, you should totally watch it.) Justin Bieber keeps getting away with it. That is his superpower.
And he claims he has a Purpose, which, apparently, right now appears to be delivering lectures during his shows. So, basically, he wants to be Kanye West. Or even Adele, who does a lot of talking during her shows. Talking to the kinds of fans who actually hear her. And this is what I suspect is happening here. We have seen JB over the last couple of years try to move into artistic adulthood. It’s not an original desire: to be taken seriously. Knowing that he’s been a pin-up boy for as long as he’s been famous, he’s trying to force through a transition. It’s just that…well… transitions take time. And he’s just been through one. His songs used to be for teenagers. His last album broke through at the clubs. Now, while touring that album, he’s trying to convince us that he’s a Thinker. Nobody’s ready for that yet. We’ve just started trying to get used to the idea that he might make good dance music. We have to sit with that for some time before the next phase. But Justin being Justin, of a generation that needs sh-t to happen RIGHT NOW, and with the entitlement of someone for whom sh-t always happens when he wants it, wherever he wants it, once again isn’t prepared for the public’s rejection of his timetable.