Frankly, I’m not interested in talking about how Justin Bieber really feels, because I don’t know — I can’t know. It’s not my business, besides.
Yet we live in a culture of celebrity, in which visibility expands the borders of one’s own “business.” We understand this to be how the world works, though most of us include within this understanding some measure of critique.
Justin Bieber and James Corden sing carpool karaoke on the way to the 2016 Grammy’s. Post continues after video.
But we are not surprised when VICE interviews a psychic healer regarding what Bieber can do to restore and balance his spiritual energy — a piece that’s not actually for the sake of the subject’s healing, but for web traffic.
Nor is it particularly shocking to see a wildly successful artist’s struggles dismissed (welp, that’s what happens when you become famous as a neonate) or mocked (oh poor Justin, his life must be sooo hard).
As published at Marie Claire, “Despite his can-do attitude when it comes to bleached blonde hair, Justin Bieber just can’t with his fans right now. Like, he’s trying to can, but he can’t. He just can’t.”
We’re so used to this that we might ignore what’s really being said: That people’s experiences are up for debate, that some people’s pain is real and others’ is fake, that only some people deserve to have their boundaries respected.
That last part, it is so familiar. It’s not a Bieber thing, not a celebrity thing. It’s a pattern; it’s our society’s way of being. We all owe of ourselves to other people, and not in a spiritual, we’re-all-in-this-together kind of way, but in a way that exploits and commodifies and drains. Conversely, we are made to feel entitled to other people’s time, to their emotional labor, to what they create.
I remember a friend saying to me once that minimizing someone, positioning them below you, is dehumanizing, and so is idealizing them. In the few years since then, she’s become increasingly well-known online. Consequently, ever more demands have been made of her time and her art, mainly by people who do not know her but revere her. I imagine those words she shared with me have rung truer and truer.
Love u guys.. I’m going to be canceling my meet and greets. I enjoy meeting such incredible people but I end up feeling so drained and filled with so much of other people’s spiritual energy that I end up so drained and unhappy.. Want to make people smile and happy but not at my expense and I always leave feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression .. The pressure of meeting people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to be is so much for me to handle and a lot on my shoulders. Never want to disappoint but I feel I would rather give you guys the show and my albums as promised. Can’t tell you how sorry I am, and wish it wasn’t so hard on me.. And I want to stay in the healthy mindset I’m in to give you the best show you have ever seen ;) A photo posted by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on Mar 22, 2016 at 4:54pm PDT
There are many versions of fame these days. Not all of them translate into wealth, security, or a management team. Bieber does have access to these things; in that, he is very privileged. All fame, however, signifies visibility.
We may feel like we know the people we observe, although we merely see pieces of them. We may feel a stake in their lives. But they are not ours, as much as some of us would like to believe otherwise.
But that’s not what the world wants from him. It’s more convenient for boundaries to be negotiable. It’s more convenient for health to be conditional and self-love provisional. And that affects all of us.