by Mike Tanner
I don’t hate a lot of things. In fact, in the entire world, made up of all the people, places and things, there is probably only one thing that I legitimately hate. That thing is sauerkraut. Even in the case of sauerkraut, I would make an exception. If you told me that I could eat a sausage if and only if you put sauerkraut on it, a man of my stature would be unable to turn down that sausage. I don’t entirely understand hatred, and yet I hear it every day. I hate that movie. I hate that song. I hate that shirt. I hate that person. There’s an amazing amount of hatred floating around that we spend our day wafting through, but none of this hatred confuses me, befuddles me, or gets me down quite so much as the hatred this world seems to have for one young man by the name of Justin Bieber.
He is a cultural phenomenon. Much like troll dolls, pog or a plethora of other fads, Justin Bieber is unlikely here to stay. He is a talented singer. There are those who would argue this and those people are, in point of fact, wrong. While it is arguable that his performances on albums and likely even tours can be fabricated, but there is enough video and audio evidence made of the Biebs during his youth to suggest that Justin Bieber can certainly carry a tune. It seems illogical that people would hate him due to him being a poor singer anyway. There has to be something more.
Beiber is everywhere. He’s on every webpage, every television show and every awards ceremony. He is everywhere because he’s what’s hot right now. Even as we tear this 17-year old kid apart for being popular, it’s also us that put him on the top of the charts. Now, by “us” here I mean the teens among us, aged 13-16. But overall we as a planet still embrace what this young Canadian does. Why do we hate him so? Is it because he’s popular and rich? I sincerely hope not. He grew up in low-income housing, the only child of a teenage single parent. He taught himself how to play drums, piano, guitar and trumpet. He built a multi-million dollar empire out of absolutely nothing. What’s not to hate?
Maybe we hate him because of those cookie cutter songs that his record company gets him to sing. I mean, after all, who wants to hear that “for you I would have done whatever” when we could instead learn that if you lick the lollipop really well, you could “lick the wrapper”. While Katie Perry sings about letting you touch her in her skin-tight jeans and wanting to see your “peacock, cock, cock, your peacock, cock”, Justin Bieber sings about youthful relationships, young love and relative innocence. As a soon to be father, Justin Bieber is the absolute pinnacle of what I want my child to listen to. Well, I might throw in In Utero and the occasional DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, but let’s just say for now that if the world were full of the music of Justin Bieber, I don’t think it would be that bad of a place. I would go so far as to say that it is reminiscent of a better time. When songs were about going to the beach, holding a girl’s hand and maybe asking her to marry you, it was a much safer place. Now every page on the Internet is slathered with porn, Girls Gone Wild is available daily on every episode of reality television and we’re allowed to say shit, bitch and ass on daytime television. It’s not a better place. It’s the kind of world that makes me want to raise my kid in a cabin without the Internet or television. I won’t, because I’m a nerd, but it makes me want to.
Now let’s get to the real point of things. Who “hates” a 17-year old kid that they don’t really know. The issue is not with Justin Bieber but instead with the way we think. We think about things in the absolute ultimate degrees. We “hate” Justin Bieber. We think that the new iPhone is “amazing”. It’s “unbelievable” to us how good the new Starbucks creation we just tasted was. Each of these things is a lie. We don’t hate, it’s not amazing and we absolutely can believe it. The way we speak is silly. Louis CK has an entire routine based on how terrible we are as people with the way we overdo absolutely everything. We eat at buffets, we drive Hummers, we have 32” TVs in our bathrooms and we think in absolute extremities. If anyone on the planet actually hates Justin Bieber, they’re a terrible person. If someone hates Chris Brown, based on the history of that individual or their own personal history, I will give them that. If someone hates Jesse James because he cheated on his wife and broke her heart, I will give them that. But if Justin Bieber didn’t personally kick your mom in the privates or stab your dog with a corkscrew in homage to Stephen King’s Needful Things, you have no business even suggesting that you hate him.
I can say with certainty that there is no one currently alive that I hate. There are a myriad of people who have done terrible things to me and I know I’ve done terrible things to other people. But I would hope that none of those people hate me. I certainly don’t hate any of them. I don’t hate celebrities because they give their kids a stupid name. I don’t hate pro athletes because they holdout for more money. I don’t hate musicians because they ask for crazy stuff in their dressing rooms. I don’t hate people who’ve lied to me, because I’ve lied. I don’t hate people who’ve broken my heart because I have broken hearts. I haven’t broken many. Maybe I haven’t broken any. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Hate takes a lot of effort. I may be naïve but I still believe it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Enough with the hatred people. Relax. Breathe. If you don’t like Justin Bieber, don’t listen to Top 40 radio. If you don’t like Glee, don’t watch it. Rather than spending your time and effort hating a 17-year old kid who’s living his dream, maybe get off the couch and do something with your own life that you can be proud of. Me? I’m going to go get a sausage, hold the sauerkraut.