How not to hate Justin Bieber
There’s a right and a wrong way to make fun of this privileged little dumb ass
Article: Julia Dima – Contributor
Listen, folks. I hate Justin Bieber as much as anyone. His music is awful; he’s an over-privileged, rich, white boy; he’s fat-shamed fans; and yes, he was just arrested for a DUI while drag-racing a Lamborghini. Of course, the Internet and celebrity culture reacted in clever and original ways: by emasculating him, infantilizing him, and making prison rape jokes. Oh, wait, that’s not clever and original, it’s petty.
Some of the most popular memes shared show Bieber’s mug shot photo-shopped with heavy brightly coloured make-up, or him just straight up morphing into Miley Cyrus. I’ve also heard about five too many “drop the soap” jokes. You can almost hear my eyes rolling.
So, why take this seriously? Why not just laugh because I think Biebs is a shame to my country, to music, and to all living things? Because the way people are executing their attacks is about much more than Justin Bieber.
The jokes do two scary things. The first thing that happens is the feminization, and the trans jokes (he was DRAG-racing, guys). That may seem like a harmless by-product of Bieber being pretty effeminate in his body type, and the long running jokes comparing him to a lesbian. But what it’s saying is that being effeminate, being gay or trans, and dressing in drag are shameful and embarrassing. It reinforces the notion that a man is not a ‘true man’ if he’s comfortable expressing stereotypically feminine expressions. It also devalues femininity, and implies that being feminine or female is shameful. To quote the famous line from Cement Garden, “For a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.” Making fun of Justin Bieber for being effeminate is akin to using ‘gay’ as an insult. That’s clever, right?
The second issue is the rape jokes. I would not wish sexual assault on my worst enemy. Anyone who understands the trauma and difficulties involved with being a survivor would not wish it for anybody. But Justin Bieber makes your eardrums hurt, and it’s okay to suggest he should be raped? Anyone who thinks that’s an appropriate punishment for anything has some severe issues of their own that extend far beyond not liking a celebrity. And that’s pretty scary.
The biggest issue, however, occurs when you think about what you’re saying when you imply that Justin Bieber is effeminate and deserves to be raped. This is about more than Justin Bieber. It’s about gender relations. Thinking it’s okay to make a joke about a “pretty boy” being assaulted says a lot about what you think women and trans people deserve. You’re saying that Justin Bieber deserves to be hurt not because he’s a crappy dude who makes terrible music, but because he’s effeminate. And being a woman is not worse than being Justin Bieber. So, get your crap together world, and stop hating Justin Bieber for his excellent eyebrows and ability to pull off bright pink eye shadow like a boss.