Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Desiring Justin Bieber, the Tween Frenzy
You know you're a gulf away from youth when you not only do not understand why the latest teen singing sensation in so sensational, but you never knew he existed until he caused a public commotion involving crying girls waving meticulously hand-made banners declaring their love. (It is also a worry when a sixteen-year-old, the latest teen sensation, Justin Bieber, actually looks about twelve to you.)
I too was one of these girls in my pre-teen years. I was obsessed with the original "boy band" New Kids on the Block. I had posters covering every wall in my room, and a collection of cassettes, videos, books and whatever paltry range of merchandise was available in Australia. One item that did make it here, sold at Woolworths, strangely enough, was the New Kids on the Block doll. I bought the "Joe" doll and thus could posess my desired boy in miniature. When the band finally toured Australia in 1992, I crafted my own sign with "I Heart Joe" on it to wave at the concert. It was a marathon effort that involved copious use of glitter.
The commotion generated in the lead-up to the latest teen sensation Justin Bieber's arrival in Australia resulted in several girls fainting and a panicked crush at 2am in the morning! This is not the first time he has had to cancel a performance because of over-zealous crowds of girls. The police reported that girls had camped the night waiting, many without any parental supervision, showing their supreme dedication to the cause of catching a glimpse of their idol. The crush that ensued was partially blamed on mothers failing to control their daughters, who were repeatedly instructed to move back. David Koch, the host of the show Sunrise for which Bieber was performing, called the mayhem "extraordinary scenes, quite dangerous scenes down there".
Pre-teen and teen girl desire being described as "dangerous" and "extraordinary" seems a bit of an overstatement. I'll bet there were more girls screaming when the Beatles touched down in Australia in 1964. It is interesting to see girls injecting all their developing sexual desire into fandom for teen stars while they are waiting for the boys of their own age to mature. Before you know it Bieber will no doubt have a drug habit and will have a few children who must be concealed from fans (like New Kids of the Block, two members of which had "secret" children that fans could never know about because it would destroy the fantasy that they were available). As Bieber's interview comment when he was asked if he had a girlfriend suggests, the whole basis of this kind of teen girl fandom is the illusion that each girl has a chance to live out her dream to be with the boy hearthrob: "So all you Australians - I’m single". Don't worry about me encroaching on your territory, girls. I think I'd be doing something illegal given that I'm soon to be thirty-one.