by Mohamad Lutfi
within the realm of popular culture.
You can proclaim your ignorance and purity, but I doubt there are many left amongst us who has not been touched by Bieber Fever.
His fanatical following of young (and young-ish) girls and boys, have brought his album to the top of the charts internationally, which has led to 16-year old Bieber touring the world to perform in front of his legions of adoring fans.
Scratch adoring. Worshipping fans.
The infamous antics of Bieber’s mob has been in the news almost as often as he has, raising the bar of celeb-mania to new heights. The Beliebers, conveniently stereotyped to the training bra set but in reality extends to the faux-hipster nodding to ‘Baby’ on his headphones, has been responsible for concert cancellations, death threats, and rioting. Twitter itself was gamed by these fans when it tweaked it’s algorithms to prevent ‘Justin Bieber’ from becoming a permanent ‘Trending Topic’.
But really, is any of this really new?
Justin Bieber, is only the latest in the line of wholesome teenage idols, and follows closely the footsteps of his predecessors, Aaron Carter, The Jonas Brothers, etc. etc.
And before the moms get the chance to shake their heads in mock-disbelief, remember Donny Osmond , Scott Baio, or Leif Garrett?
They may be VH1 fodder now but back in their day, man, they were the Justin Biebers. Right, mom?
And travelling back further would reveal that icons as vaunted as The Beatles, Elvis, and Cat Stevens began their show-biz days as sweet, manufactured, pop acts.
Clearly, this isn’t some new phenomenon and it has been of interest enough to warrant a study. In her research, Rachel Karniol of Tel Aviv University tries to decipher the reason behind the popularity of our matinee idols, and tries to relate ts to the flowering sexuality of teenage girls.
In her paper, Idolization of Male Media Stars, she argues that feminine-looking male idols, i.e having more feminine features and associated with a ‘comforting and reassuring’ image, provided a ‘’safe’ target of romantic love in the period of time before girls start dating and become sexually active.’ These non-threatening males provides the girls with a channel for romantic love that doesn’t compromise their need to conform with society’s demand that they be ‘good girls’.
News of the male idols’ philandering will only lead to losing the ‘good girls’ favour, and conveniently to the attention of the bad, sexually interested girls.
It remains to be seen whether Bieber Fever will be to Justin Bieber as Beatlemania was to the Fab Four. Early Beatles too sang sappy love songs, as Bieber does, but they did it after their voice broke. It would seem that unless he can prove his worth as a musician, Justin Bieber stands to lose a lot more than his prepubescent pipes.