Justin Bieber - Never Say Never
With a houseful of boys, we’ve avoided coming down with an outbreak of Bieber Fever. Not so for the audience of tween and teen girls at the movie screening I attended. Infection levels were at a high with lots of symptomatic twittering going on and I don’t mean the kind you do with your thumbs. This was the kind of high-pitched, anticipatory sound heard among a group of excited adolescents. Even Twilight enthusiasts could have learned a thing or two about fan devotion.
But it’s hard to be too critical of the phenomenon surrounding Justin Bieber. After all, every generation has had it’s own teen heartthrobs. Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Davy Jones, New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, among a host of others, have been sending young girls into screaming fits and setting hearts aflutter for decades. However few, if any, of these performers have been able to do it as quickly as the Stratford, Ontario boy who initially earned a following on Youtube. Thanks to the Internet and tweeting (the kind you do with your thumbs) he has since garnered a HUGEMONGOUS base of admirers.
Still one wonders if an equally sudden crash will come on the heels of his meteoric rise to fame. It happens all too often. (Where are you now David Cassidy?) In the meantime, the marketing machine surrounding Justin seems to be doing all they can to squeeze every possible dollar out of the young talent’s career by bringing his life story and snippets of his Never Say Never tour to movie theaters.
From a parent’s perspective, the film offers few concerns, other than a handful of terms of Deity and the infrequent use of bathroom slang. While the credits claim no studio responsibility for the depiction of tobacco in the movie, the incident was so inconsequential I didn’t even catch it. Each performance begins with an off-stage prayer. And the members of Justin’s core group also give back by handing out a number of free tickets, just before the concert begins, to fans who have been unable to get admission.
For theatergoers, all the hype surrounding this release may feel unwarranted (though some of the 3D effects truly do enhance the concert experience). For the most part, the amount of actual on-stage singing and dancing is minimal compared to the grainy home video clips and behind-the-scenes footage. During some musical sets the audience hardly has time to get their glow sticks waving in the air before the script cuts to interviews with Justin’s adult entourage including his talent agent Scooter Braun and vocal coach Mama Jan.
Although for some viewers this pop star may seem a little too confident or cocky while on tour, it’s understandable. Even 20, 30, or 40-year-olds would likely get a head rush from all the attention. Throw in a visit to the White House, magazine covers, TV appearances, photo shoots and a book deal and suddenly the business of being Bieber is awe-inspiring.
Underscoring the incredible power of social networking and the Internet, the production often feels less like a real concert experience and more like a teaser plugging the performer’s next appearance—hopefully one that is coming soon to a stadium near you. Yet if you are willing to overlook the film’s obvious agenda, Never Say Never will likely give young viewers just what they want—an opportunity to feed the Bieber Fever frenzy.