9:33 pm - 01/27/2013

Justin Bieber: Teen pop idols never die. They're gradually unfollowed

Justin Bieber stands on a crossroads in his career

Because I'm no longer 13 years old, I haven't really paid much attention to teenywink Canadian singing sensation Justin Bieber since he was first hammered into the collective unconscious like a nail of frozen piss into a cabbage, but I've just seen a photo of him and God, he's grown. He's now 36 years old and is played by a gangling miscast Jim Carrey action figure. And none of his costumes fit any more, which means he has to take to the stage wearing trousers that only come down to his knees and a child-size baseball cap optimistically Pritt-sticked to his hairdo.

Naturally it's left him too depressed to sing. His performances now consist of him quietly begging the audience to leave so he can have some time to himself. But they can't hear his pleas because they're too busy screaming, and they can't see his tears because they're watching his performance while filming it on their Samsungs and he's too far away for the weeping to be visible onscreen. Caught in a trap of his own making, he is the loneliest man in the world. One day he'll learn to express this in his music. And then you will love him.

The photo of Bieber accompanied an article about his mother, Pattie Mallette, who's courting controversy with a short anti-abortion film called Crescendo. She's hoping a series of screenings will raise $10m in aid of "pregnancy crisis centres". This seems unlikely, since most short films lose money, and unlike Crescendo, those aren't ideologically driven tales of abortion set in 18th-century Europe. Expecting an abortiony period drama (or, more accurately, missed-period drama) to generate millions of dollars is an act of optimism on a par with trying to pole vault over the sun. Personally, I'd downplay the gloomier aspects on the poster, change the title to something like Yipes a Doodle Doo! and maybe add a bit where a monkey drives a car.

This whole pro-life movie escapade hasn't gone down well with some. It's the latest in a series of setbacks for Bieber, who, I was horrified to learn in the past five minutes from the devastatingly trustworthy Perez Hilton website, had a bumpy start to the year. First a paparazzi died while pursuing his car. Then he was accused of smoking marijuana. Then he split from his girlfriend. Then he got his bum out on Twitter and deleted the photo moments later. Then he was accused of firing a Nerf gun at a security guard. Now his mum's made a controversial film. On top of that, he's ageing at an alarming rate. Since you started this article, he's put his crayons away and taken out a subscription to Decanter magazine.

He stands at a crossroads. But unlike teen idols of the yesterpast, he doesn't stand alone. In years gone by, teen idols would quietly fade from view, remembered only by a few hardcore devotees. The fallen star would pop up years later in an arch documentary to mutter something bitter about their former manager before stepping onstage at the Bumford Pavillion as part of a nostalgia line-up alongside Partners in Kryme and George the Hofmeister bear. But because Justin Bieber has over 30 million followers on Twitter, it's impossible for him to vanish gracefully. His fans can't gently forget him over time. They have to actively delete him. If things go badly for him, a huge percentage of the Beliebers will presumably tap "unfollow" – not all at once, but over time.

Picture the fan. It's 2021, she's at work, she's stressed, she's got a cardboard cup of coffee searing her palm, and she's trying to read a text from her boyfriend, when up pops an update from 49-year-old Bieber, griping about the waiting time at a Hertz customer service desk #aintgotalldaydudes.

It's the last straw. She forgets about the hours spent singing along to his music. Forgets the desktop wallpaper she had when she was 13. Forgets everything he once meant to her. And with a swipe of her thumb she finally, firmly, "unfollows" Zzzzwip. Thousands of miles away, killing time in the Hertz queue, Justin Bieber notices his follower count drop by one. It's been heading downwards since that incident with the Nerf gun back in Black January. Now he's down to a mere 6 million fans. It's hard on the ego, being gradually unfollowed by 24 million people over the course of several years. And so he does something bad.

He looks up the username of the woman who unfollowed him. Tweets something unpleasant about her avatar photo and says good riddance. She calls him a dickwad. He calls her a bitch. By the time he reaches the front of the queue, showbiz sites are running catty stories calling him "Justin Bitter" and mocking him for turning on fans. As a result, the man at the desk refuses to serve him. Yelling obscenities, Bieber is kicked out of the building. He tumbles down the steps, trips up and somehow, improbably, ends up accidentally sticking his entire index finger up the anus of a passing dog as he tries to break his fall. A passer-by films the whole thing on their mobile and shares it with the world. JUSTIN BEAGLER, they call him. He is disgraced. His follower count drops below zero, which ought to be impossible, but reality makes an exception. Later that night, alone, at home, he sings a song so heartbreaking you would (as pointed out earlier) love him if you heard it. But no one hears it. No one wants to know.

That's one potential future. The other is this: he reinvents himself as Justin Timberlake 2.0, ages gracefully, makes billions more dollars, and gains another 70 million followers. He designs uniforms for them and teaches them anthems. Gradually they seize control of the towns and cities. Six of them kick you to death in your own home before ransacking the contents and setting the building ablaze. Identical scenarios play out around the globe. The world is plunged into a 1,000 year reign of darkness. I'm sorry. But those are the only two possible outcomes.

Whatever happened to your childhood/teenage hood faves, ONTD?

Mine are now the Kings of Saturday night light entertainment.

From such humble beginnings:

nabuch 27th-Jan-2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
So, ONTD, when do you think he will fade into obscurity?
die2nitelive4ev 27th-Jan-2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
I think he'll more adult album about sex and drugs next and everyone will hate him. He's already faded TBH
morgan90 27th-Jan-2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
He's only ever been popular within his extremely specific demographic, but he's already fading. As more Next Big Things come along he'll slowly become less and less relevant
kurtvonnegut 27th-Jan-2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
i don't know anyone irl who cares about him

then again i'm 24
muzicnem 27th-Jan-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
I know a girl who's 23 and is in love with him. I was side-eyeing her so hard, I almost pulled an ocular muscle.
lillylilacs 27th-Jan-2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
same, and even my younger cousins think he is embarrassing
bittermunchkin 27th-Jan-2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
I'm 20 and I don't know anyone close to my age that likes him. Even my friends who love top 40 stuff. I have no idea who his main fan base is supposed to be, but the only person I can recall meeting who liked him was a 9-year-old girl I babysat a couple years ago.
invisible_cunt 27th-Jan-2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
a friend of mine is 23 and loves him
it's embarrassing and i tease her for it bc she needs to look at her life and choices
deltabean 28th-Jan-2013 12:41 am (UTC)
cherisheddesire 27th-Jan-2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know, I think he'll last . Obviously he won't be as big as he is now but it's not like he'll disappear
kwikimart 27th-Jan-2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
Two more years

Then we have to take him out back and shoot him or else he'll end up like Justin Timberlake and I do not want another one of him.
gpin2084 27th-Jan-2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
not soon enough
mynamehere07 27th-Jan-2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
Hopefully in the next 3 years.
dynamite_state 27th-Jan-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
depends on his career choices, really.

Either he decides to finally create a more mature and ~sexy image and release the next "Justified" (like people were expecting him to with Believe; talk about feeling underwhelmed) or he'll stick to his current audience who will abandon him the second the next hot thing comes along.

He can still milk this album for at least 3 more singles imho (All Around The World, Thought Of You, Believe) so we'll just have to wait and see. I honestly appreciate that he's sustained most of his popularity cause he's one of the few (not exclusively teen) artists out there rn who put effort into choreography, even though that doesn't always works out for him.
venetianglass 27th-Jan-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
my 2 nieces who are in his key demo have already moved onto 1D.
pastelward 27th-Jan-2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
i don't know, it depends on what he decides to do next. but i don't see the transition to ~adult~ music going too well for him.
calichaos 27th-Jan-2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
hopefully itll be even better than Jesse Mccartney's obscurity now and jonas bros. altho i like him better than them...
andres01234 27th-Jan-2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
yes, like no direction
myxwill 27th-Jan-2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
In 2 years or so, then maybe he'll get addicted to meth.
nene718 27th-Jan-2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
hdu he's the next michael jackson
lockupmytears 28th-Jan-2013 12:02 am (UTC)
He's slowly is already with the rise of 1D. It's making him even thirstier for attention, that's probs why he broke up with Selena.
glass_houses 28th-Jan-2013 12:21 am (UTC)
Not soon enough.
hollis1975 28th-Jan-2013 12:34 am (UTC)
all of my daughters' friends were over him. its all 1d all the time right now. 98% of all teen acts fade

if it wasnt for ONTD i wouldnt hear much if anything about him. the loss of fame will probably suck extra hard for him.
celtic_thistle 28th-Jan-2013 01:05 am (UTC)
This year. His target audience has already moved on to One Direction.
heart_of_butter 28th-Jan-2013 01:29 am (UTC)
How long did The Jonas Brothers last?
age_of_green 28th-Jan-2013 01:31 am (UTC)
I think the era of Bieber is already in it's decline, and he'll become irrelevant in 2014.
forgethissmile 28th-Jan-2013 02:53 am (UTC)
He will inevitably follow the path of the Jonas Brothers.

One Direction is already to Beiber what Beiber was to the Jonas Brothers.
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