Did you know that Justin Bieber has an origin story? I mean, not a real origin story, which would presuppose some superpower on the part of this little cretin other than a prepubescent voice and a winsome smile. There’s no real overarching cause for his existence, for Bieber is merely a YouTube sensation gone global. Ladies and gentlemen, this movie proudly presents the Origin Story of a Dipshit.
As hard as Justin Bieber: Never Say Never tries to be A Hard Day’s Night, I cannot deign to make that comparison. For one thing, Bieber was merely a misspelling of “beaver” until 2008. He hasn’t earned his keep, and he likely won’t, so let’s not insult The Beatles, shall we? We’ll just compare him to the most recently available example of blind tween “musical” worship, The Jonas Brothers, who were plenty inexplicable on their very own, but at least they never pretended to be anything but fluff. Yes, their own concert movie asserted that their frenzied fanbase was much more intense than The Beatles’ or those of New Kids on the Block, but the argument was very obviously made in a tongue-of-cheek way. At that moment in dubious cinematic history, the Jonases seemed to embrace their ephemeral (as well as creamy/ejaculatory) place with the acknowledgment that they’d be forgotten once the next teen sensation came along. And even if it wasn’t the Jonases themselves but the filmmakers who projected this belief, well, it was a very accurate assertion. It’s been less than two years since Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, and no one remembers who the hell those guys were.
So in comes this new little bastard, who echoes much of the Jonas vibe but still manages to be more annoying than all three of those brothers combined. Bieber is a highly-spirited, charismatic, and androgynous little imp who can dance his little heart out onstage and hit the high notes, but dare I say that, in Never Say Never, something far more sinister has taken place than the vainglorious celebration of the latest flavor. Until watching this movie, I took a very relaxed, ambivalent approach to the Bieber. To me, he was like Silly Bands: Plastic, amorphous, shiny, and very disposable. Now, he’s also a saucy little minx who has participated within a gratuitous, slo-mo, hair-flipping montage to the tune of Etta James’ “At Last.” His fans will eat this shit up, naturally, as will they enjoy the hell out of flashbacks to his early (or shall I say, “earlier”) life as presented through a series of home videos interspersed with approximately ten days of footage with a lead up to the climactic Madison Square Garden show. Naturally, a contrived crisis has been concocted to lend the barest of structures to the narrative. Oh no, Bieber has a sore throat … will the show go on? Seriously, just shut the hell up.
If there’s one positive thing that I can say about this movie, it’s that it eschews the Disney route to prepubescent success. The thing is, this new kid’s got so many on-camera handlers (let alone the ones that we don’t see), that it’s very evident that Bieber’s been manufactured and polished up a hell of a lot more convincingly than anything from the House of Mouse. Despite his tender age, Bieber appears frequently shirtless throughout much of the film while flanked by the likes of his creepy manager, Scooter Braun; his adopted father figure, Usher; and guest appearances by Boyz II Men, Ludacris, Jaden Smith, Snoop Dogg, and Miley Cyrus. As a documentary, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never was helmed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up 3D, hahaha) and runs a very long 105 minutes, in which the film’s predictable “reach for the stars” mantra runs on a loop that also projects the image that Bieber got where he is simply as a result of a constant supply of elbow grease. Bitch, please.
Unfortunately for parents, this Paramount release is a scarily convincing piece of agitprop that’s been released (unlike the Jonas Brothers movie, which arrived as they departed the scene) at the very height of Bieber Fever (and I do hate to resort to that lingo). Somehow, this documentary is not independent of but part of the ascent, and it instructs us that there is an origin story to this deplorable demi-god of pop music while also providing no reason for us to like him. And this documentary is perfectly OK with that. The message here is that it is healthy to unconditionally worship our pop idols without any other reason than that we must do so. And even if we don’t like Bieber, we should place that idolatry elsewhere or risk losing all joy within our inferior, ill-fated lives. Don’t listen to the haters and never question. Just buy.
Before you try and label my stance as an alarmist one, let me assure you that I recall the many teen pop/boy bands that have come and gone throughout contemporary pop culture. Hell, my very own city is the birthplace of “MMMBop,” and one can still occasionally witness Isaac, Taylor, and Zac creepily lurching through the supermarket at the midnight hour. Never fear that, one day, Justin Bieber shall be doing exactly the same in his little Canadian hometown. Until then, just ignore the little fucker and do not open that wallet.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.