Justin Bieber booed at Canada’s Juno awards? But, of course.
Where crowds once screamed themselves silly over the cute figure he cut as an undersized 15-year-old breaking through in 2009 with “One Time,” the landscape of 2014 is, um, shall we say, post-Bieber Fever.
Reasons? A combination of Bieber’s early ubiquitousness, his role in teen follies — which in his case, unlike the rest of us — play out for all the world to see via relentless, largely vicious press coverage and endless pop culture debate of those follies.
On Sunday, the 20-year-old singer’s Juno Fan Choice award win at the 2014 Juno Awards in Winnipeg was booed as it was announced and collected by Canada’s gold medal winning Olympic women’s curling team.
It was Bieber’s fourth consecutive win. Although he wasn’t at the event to collect the award or hear the booing, he has heard about the reaction and was likely stung — given that the boos came from his countrymen.
But the Juno Awards isn’t the first time Ontario’s most famous son has been put in the public stocks.
Bieber was booed at the New York Knicks Dallas Mavericks Madison Square Garden game on February 2, 2011, when an image of him wearing pink glasses on the overhead devolved adults to animals. And it was boos on maximum at Canada’s 100th Grey Cup game back in November 2012, mostly over a misunderstanding about the singer’s casual clothes when he met Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Hint: Harper surprised Bieber, not the other way round.)
More escapades on and off his Believe tour, by May 2013 it was positively gladiatorial when Bieber’s winning of the first fan-voted, Chevrolet Milestone award at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards turned into boo-central. A Miami basketball game in June saw more of the same.
But you get the point. Booing Bieber has become a thing. Rather like declaring him a lesbian was in 2011, or a girl, or mama’s boy or — post infamous deposition — an uneducated diva. No statement other than, “We know we’re blowing up Bieber’s faults out of all proportion but we’re having too much fun to stop,” is actually being made.
(Photo: Serena Ryder addresses the MTS Center audience at the Juno Awards 2014).
But, at last night’s Junos, something different and rather extraordinary happened.
Yes, Bieber was booed, but that wasn’t the end. Shortly after, one person took the stage and had the guts to say something that needed saying. And she did it while taking time out of her own moment to shine.
I am of course talking about Serena Ryder. The Ontario native who co-hosted the Junos and romped home with two prestigious awards, Artist and Songwriter of the Year. But before she did, she made the world and the bullies listen.
“Justin Bieber is an amazing musician and he deserved every bit of that award because he’s been working his a** off his entire life,” Ryder told the crowd.
“And we need to support how awesome he is. I think he’s great. I’m not just trying to kiss a** I think he’s great. He’s amazing,” she added.
What was so remarkable about Ryder’s brief but powerful speech in defense of Bieber was how she did it.
The rest is not the business of a music awards show.
It’s easy to forget that Bieber has talent, especially when rent-a-mouths such as Judge Judy Sheindlin and Sharon Osbourne go out of their way to declare him a value-free zone.
But, aside from the million dollar tours and tabloid residency, skeptics should take a gander at the singer’s musical evolution – which continues. From angelic, YouTube R&B covers in 2007, to spot-on vocal delivery on 2009’s My World, in particular “Bigger,” “Down To Earth,” and “Common Denominator.”
A few months later, 2010’s My World 2.0 ushered in “Runaway Love,” “Up,” “That Should Be Me,” and “U Smile” — gems that still shine with vocal presence, musical connection and charisma.
Moving to 2013’s Believe Acoustic, the Yin to Believe’s Yang, Bieber’s burgeoning adult voice gleams with a promise that is more than partially met on the uneven but emotionally exploratory Journals.
Bieber’s got a way to go creatively to match and surpass his heroes, but he seems intent on getting there.
In between all of that, add in near-constant touring, an almost complete lack of privacy and a level of press and paparazzi attention that would turn most of us into an 80’s Sean Penn, or at the very least — Christian Bale.
Bottom line? Continual messages of mass rejection to a still maturing human being who likely has substance abuse issues to address, and has probably never met or directly affected the lives of those who booed him, are acts of outrageous bullying that needs to stop.
On Sunday, Ryder showed how one voice that speaks with grace, compassion and truth has more power than the rabble of thousands. If Bieber takes anything away from his Juno win this year, it should be that.
His last tweet at the time of press suggests he heard Ryder loud and clear.
Know who you really are not what people tell you you are. ♛ http://t.co/FWaZUHcqi1
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) March 31, 2014
Check out Serena Ryder’s music here.