Running the risk of feeding Frank’s running sarcastic joke that I am indeed a Bieber fan, I could not avoid the opportunity to discuss the news that I just came across while reading up about the recent Juno Nominations. Justin Bieber was mentioned and I quote The St. John’s Telegram when I say, “Bieber, who was in Toronto on Tuesday promoting a new 3D documentary about his career, also got Juno nods for artist of the year and pop album of the year.”
Yes, that is NOT a typo. A 3-D documentary highlighting the life & career of Mr. Justin Bieber. This is not a good sign for the state of our entertainment industry. I’m sorry, but I fail to see the justification for a documentary when the subject of this documentary can list his VERY recent accomplishments as “I conquered puberty.”
I don’t want to make this sound like a piece bashing the kid, because really looking at his success and his bank account I’m sure it would just come off as jealous anyway. The kid can sing, and he’s been marketed beautifully, but that is not the point of this entry.
Johnny Cash had to die to get a major Hollywood documentary made about him, other really great documentaries can include Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, hell even Spinal Tap was great. The issue at hand is that the kid is 16 years old! What kind of story can they give us?
Yes, I understand.. he’s become an overnight sensation infecting the western hemisphere at an alarming rate and it all began from a little child making YouTube videos. It is a testament to the power that YouTube has to make celebrities. The Beeb’s has an intriguing “how it all began” story but … it began like a year ago. Are we really ready for a documentary on all of this?
This isn’t even a Hollywood script highlighting Bieber with some new-age Macaulay Culkin playing the staring role, this appears to be made up of stock footage from concerts and interviews with the man(I use the term loosely) himself. Which begs the question, “Why don’t you just do a concert DVD instead?” Seriously, I’ve seen some concert specials that had performance of songs, mixed up with commentary and interview clips from the artist and it worked fine. It wasn’t hailed as a “documentary.” Why should this?
I remember vaguely when I believe Silverchair was releasing their greatest hits album. When it was announced that the greatest hits album was being produced the VJ on the show I was watching basically stated, “they have like three records out over the past 10 or so years, isn’t it a little early for a greatest hits album.”
This thought came to mind when I saw the trailer for Bieber’s documentary. He’s skipping over the greatest hits album, the years of drug abuse, and the multiple ex-wives portion of his career and he is going right into the major theatrical documentary. This move has historically been reserved for the post-career, reflective period when either the artist looks back on his life and has learned a lesson and wants to share that with the world, or the artist has passed away and family & friends decide to tell his/her story. There are times where it is indeed nothing more than a money grab. I’m not too naive to deny that, but the documentary part of the career is never meant to take place in the I-just-started-my-career-so-look-at-me! phase… it’s too soon.
Hell even Michael Jackson didn’t have a production of this size done around him until after his death… well that is if you ignore the huge statues he built himself and sent to various parts of the world… but that was trying to promote his new album.
Bieber had a charting single in 2009, but released his first album on March 23rd, 2010… and now we look forward to a 3-D documentary on his life?? By rights since we normally condense a 30+ year career into the 90 minute film, by comparison Beeb’s two-year tenure should be compiled in roughly 15 minutes or so.
Maybe I’m reading a little more into this than I should, but I look at greats and legends that toil through the years and only garner acclaim after they have paid their dues, then I see Justin Bieber getting an opportunity like this and I no longer see the documentary as a tasteful homage to a great legend but merely reduced to yet another meaningless tool for record labels to promote their artists so they can squeeze every cent out of this cash cow before he turns 20 and they need to put him out to pasture.
You want to make a documentary? How about a major Hollywood production of the Stones 50+ year career? or even the late Aaliyah, she was just as talented as Bieber and had her life cut down far too early by a nasty plane crash. The point is there is a lot more justifiable options if you really wanted to make a documentary that have a lot more interesting facts about them other than how they were discovered… which is the only detail that separates Bieber from any other successful young artist out there.
Bieber is probably the best example I can think of that is illustrating the state of affairs that we, as the upcoming generation, are going to have to content with. YouTube and the internet in general are revolutionizing the way that we view celebrities. The trend that began in the late 90’s has just been reinforced with the internet granting everyone an outlet to have the voice heard. It was best said in the 1999 film EDtv, “It used to be that You were considered famous for being special, but now you are considered special merely for being famous” – And that’s how this world is becoming.
I understand the hypocrisy of what I am saying because in a way I am condemning the very medium that I am using right now to get my message across, so before I get berated for that I want to clarify. I am not saying that the internet is to blame for what can only be described as the mindless dictating the successful in the world of entertainment. With this medium there is more opportunity to hear what the people have to say about issues. Politicians would be wise to subscribe to Twitter and have a Facebook and hear what the people are saying. Social networking is not an evil that must be dealt with, it’s more of a tool or weapon that must be utilized with careful precision.
People getting famous on YouTube for doing nothing extraordinary is tragic when talented people can be overlooked simply to do the sheer quantity of videos being uploaded. But as the internet public it is up to us to support those that we truly believe have something to offer, and are deserved of acclaim from the masses. Don’t be afraid to subscribe and thumbs up videos that are worth wild, and comment showing support. They may be small actions, but they are encouraging none the less. Shows like Extra Credits I believe are worth it, but the ginger kid that rants into the camera about how he doesn’t like being called a ginger does not. ( of course the exception is the techno mix that someone made of him … this had effort and creativity)
The Key of Awesome is something I do enjoy, they put a lot of effort into their videos and most of the time they are pretty enjoyable (they have done a couple of not-so-stellar ones). Here’s one of there so-so ones but it fits the theme of this entry. Check it out, if you like it look at some other ones I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Back to the issue at hand. The problem is that I find that with todays world, especially the music industry there is a lot more emphasis on the marketing of a product instead of the quality. There are thousands upon thousands of incredibly talented people in this world, and a lot of them post videos to YouTube not unlike Justin Bieber did, but the difference?
Well the right place at the right time helps. As Justin built a following on YouTube, he got spotted by some important people that launched his career. Someone could be the most insane guitar player in the world, but the problem is, if you search YouTube you’ll find a handful of people that will fit that description. These are those whom you respect their ability, and you say “oh dude, that chick is awesome” or “he’s sick!” … but that’s the extent of it.
You need something about you that can be marketed in such a way that important people can and will make money. A guy with a good voice that can play guitar is all well and good, but it’s been done… over… and over… and over… the industry needs to see something in you, something that sets you apart.
We’re at a point were song-writing and musical ability falls back to the shadows in lieu of a new, dynamic look, or gimmick that can be sold to the masses. Of course once you’re marketed and make a success, after a couple of albums of their rules you can just break away and go be yourself because if you played your cards right you have a fan following that will help you maintain your success in some way.
Bieber winning a Juno to me is the equivalent of Achmed The Dead Terrorist winning best comedian at the TNN Music City News Country Awards instead of Jeff Dunham. Bieber can just dance the moves that someone else choreographed for him, while singing lyrics that are written for him and be called an immensely talented artist.
To Justin Bieber, congrats on the Juno nod and the upcoming documentary. I wouldn’t tell you to change anything because it’s working for you pal, but I just don’t need to like it.
So the moral of the story? Be selective with the videos you share with friends. Don’t hesitate to spread the word when you see something online that you believe is truly remarkable, I’ll admit that I may be a little too hard on Beebs. He is definitely not the worst artists that is active today in the industry, the kid can actually sing. Even if someone else choreographs the moves he is a pretty good dancer so at least he does have his strengths… but there’s still so much more appropriate ambassadors for the power of YouTube, we just need to find them and get behind them so they can be discovered and show the world their skill.