February 17, 2011

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

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Things were looking good as we popped on our 3D glasses and settled into our seats, in the illustrious company of the female populace of Dewitt Middle School at Wednesday night’s 10:20 showing of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never … in 3D. As the credits literally flew out of the screen and into our nauseated faces, we couldn’t help but marvel at how the scientific ingenuity that had created this visual wonderment truly represented the apex of Western Civilization.

The film begins with a montage that reveals the unparalleled promise of Bieber’s youthful genius. His mother, for instance, asks a bundled-up Bieber wielding a massive plastic shovel what he intends to do, to which he replies, “Shovel.” To her further entreaties of “what” he intends to shovel, the divinely inspired child replies, “Snow.”  Though at this point the film is still stagnating in the human cesspool of mediocrity known as Canada, the producers take great pains to inform us that Bieber’s thoroughly justified deification is directly attributable to his wholesome working class upbringing. For example, his comically overweight grandfather spends most of the funds tentatively intended for Bieber’s higher education on a Fischer-Price drum set, which Bieber proceeds to play for an extended period of the film with all the virtuosity of a five-year-old playing a plastic drum set.

It is here that one of the more disturbing tendencies of the film begins to emerge: the retroactive defense of the arbitrariness of Bieber’s meteoric rise to dominance as a sexually non-threatening global brand. There is no doubt that Bieber is moderately talented, but no more so than any other musically inclined child. Luckily, Bieber’s homemade Youtube videos cross paths with Samuel “Scooter” Braun, an intrepid alumnus of Emory University, the preferred educational institution of Suffolk County, Long Island. Scooter, a successful “Talent Manager” at So So Def Records with a penchant for man capris and Kangol headgear, somehow found himself stumbling upon videos of this energetic and passionate 12-year-old on Youtube, while browsing the Internet for “talented children” at the end of a long night at the office (come on, everyone does it). After this late night video session, Scooter proceeds to lure his youthful protégé to “Hotlanta” with promises of money, records deals and meetings with Usher Raymond IV, who you may recall from such videos as “Confessions Pt. 2” and “Love in this Club feat. Young Jeezy.” Bieber takes the bait.

From here, the film sweeps the viewer up in Bieber’s whirlwind ascent into a wrought iron heart hovering above 20,000 orgasmic pre-pubescent girls accompanied by their post-menopausal mothers, as he moans his way through the deliciously emasculated melodic stylings of “U Smile.” Other highlights include Bieber murmuring, with all the sensuousness of a 15-year-old virgin whose voice has yet to crack, that he “don’t need these pretty faces like I need you,” while the senior members of his management team frantically select a girl at random from the crowd to appear on stage. At each of the 87 stops on his tour, said random girl sits on a stool, weeping ecstatically, as she is gently caressed by Bieber’s professionally manicured, albeit preternaturally undersized hands.

While an hour of this footage certainly provides for ample intellectual stimulation, the film builds towards a climax that resonates with universal significance.  At the film’s most dramatic moment, Beiber, trembling under the shadow of metaphysical terror, is forced to confront the ephemerality of man’s hold over the destiny Fate has chosen for him. This existential struggle culminates in a Socratic dialogue between Beiber and his Botox-addicted mentor, who gently but firmly guides him towards the crossroads between his love for Chicken McNuggets, and his spray-tanned voice doctor’s vague dietary recommendations.

All of this is well and good, except that one cannot shake the overwhelming impression that Beiber is actually a hollow shell of a human being, selected by his management team for fame and potential earnings as randomly as the 87 girls he serenades on his tour stops. That an international audience is enthralled by the inexpressiveness of his asexual lyrics, the blandness of his utterly forgettable music and the vacuous personality behind his disconcertingly childlike features suggests a vast conspiracy. Viewing this film, we became utterly convinced of the insignificance of our existences in comparison to the minutia of Bieber’s, realizing that we each paid $16 to watch him solve a Rubik’s Cube … in 3D. This film has convinced us that Justin Bieber’s career is a tremendous joke America has played on itself without getting the punch line. But seriously — this kid creeps us the hell out.

Original Author: Alex Bankoff