Making the Grades
I was born about four decades too late to be a Justin Bieber fan. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the hordes of screaming girls (and even some boys) who show up in the artist’s latest concert movie, Justin Bieber’s Believe. It’s hard to find any adult as unabashedly passionate about anything in life. And what groupie doesn’t want to believe in their idol?
It’s been a bit of a rough year for the Biebs. While I always read headlines with a bit of skepticism, Justin’s run-ins with the law, wild parties, a break-up with former Disney star Selena Gomez and a paternity suit are just a few of the new stories that featured the singer in 2013.
But the songwriter does his best to restore his image in this second theatrical documentary. (The first was Justin Bieber - Never Say Never.) While the film makes mention of the run in with the British paparazzi, the encounter comes across as justifiable on the singer’s part. And to be truthful, I’ve seen drivers have equally outrageous outbursts just commuting home from work. Some may accuse the gloved, groin-grabber of editing his reaction but I think most of us would choose to edit a few things out, or even employ a bit of creative license, if our lives were to appear on the big screen.
However rather than focus on his own mistakes, Justin and his entourage choose to look at the positives of the tour. We get interviews from Justin’s manager Scooter Braun, the creative force behind the tour Jon M. Chu, and even the back-up dancers. The film also introduces us to Avalanna (a 6-year-old girl with a serious health condition) and other dedicated fans that wait endless hours hoping for one of the free tickets that are handed out before every concert.
A memorable moment in this movie is when a group of six ticketless friends are approached by Braun outside the concert venue. He tells them he has 5 tickets. They have to choose who won’t get in. For Bieber fans that have spent the day waiting for just such a chance, this decision causes some real angst. The most truly unselfish person in the film is the girl who gives up her chance to see Justin on stage so her friends can attend. (Don’t worry—the pure in heart are rewarded.)
I don’t think we learn anything new about Justin in this spectacle—other than the fact his dad tried to discourage his young singing son. But this isn’t a documentary for those seeking intellectual enlightenment or for the haters. Justin, wearing his signature droopy drawers, opens the film by asking why there are people out their waiting for him to fail, and fair enough. We are a society that too often takes pleasure in the faults and foibles of others. So no, Justin Bieber’s Believe isn’t for the critics or the calloused. This is a movie aimed directly at his fans—those who still believe (and haven’t read the headlines.)
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Justin Bieber’s Believe.
This movie is receiving a limited promotional push. Does that mean the studio believes there are enough Justin fans that it doesn’t need to spend the dollars, or do you think Bieber Fever is waning?
Why do some people find pleasure in the failures, disappointments or problems of others? Is it easier to make disparaging judgments about celebrities? How do you think you would react to someone publically berating you (as did the British paparazzi)? Were they only doing it to elicit a negative response?
Do artists have to continually up their performances in order to keep their fans? What kind of pressure would that involve? Justin sings, “as long as you love me” in one of his songs. Is acceptance something that motivates many performers? Do we all want to be validated by others?
How can a performer’s actions affect the decisions his or her fans make? Might Justin’s tattoos encourage his fans to get one? What are the challenges of so much fame? How can young performers avoid becoming a train wreck?