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Yes, Justin Bieber fan fiction.

 I happened upon a site this morning which was comprised of Justin Bieber-based fan fiction. At first I assumed it was a slash site, but was surprised to discover that it was actually not. But what was it? A cursory glance through its contents proved that it was a fan fiction site that seems to be by and for teenage girls, and its fiction consists primarily of thinly-disguised versions of the authors having romantic liaisons with Justin Bieber. So, of course, I decided to try my own hand at the conventions of what seemed to be a ridiculous genre. Over the course of the day, a few minutes here and a few minutes there, I banged out the following item, a piece of Justin Bieber fan fiction that I have decided is of MUCH too high a literary quality to post on the Justin Bieber Fanfiction Archive ;) Instead, I shall bide my time until a pro market emerges for such material or until someone solicits a novel-length treatment!  LOL

While this story is probably a totally ridiculous waste of time, it made me think about something seriously. Why exactly is it that I and apparently most people in my peer group find the adulation of Justin Bieber to be so ridiculous? A lot of very legitimate answers come to mind, but could there also be a streak of plain old meanness underlying it? He's just a kid who makes some music that isn't really to my taste, but that does that make him and all his fans a bunch of idiots? Probably not. So while I was at first planning to write a really snarky parody/pastiche of some of the material I found on the fan fic site, I almost immediately dropped that idea. What I came up with instead is still pretty preposterous and will hopefully cause some laughter and derision, but it's a lot nicer to its subject matter than what I had expected. 

"Your Justin Bieber"

You did not know, during those days of the beach house, that for everyone there is a Justin Bieber. Not necessarily Justin Bieber himself, but the concept of him, an ineffable want that cannot be set aside until one knows him. When you consider it now, in these soft terms, you wonder if he ever was anything but a concept, and never a real young man at all. You wonder this, as you stand again in that beach house's airy rooms, each one almost unchanged by time, even all these years later: Was he real? Was there ever really a Justin Bieber, or just that aching want that was, at last, effaced from the heart by age and time’s erosion?
            That this house still exists on this beach assures you that at least some of it was real. Yes, you regain confidence in your own history, and you know that while, for most people, Justin Bieber is an archetype with many names, a necessary totem in the passage through age and disappointment, for you he was more literal. For it was here in these rooms and on that beach that you loved—or at least imagined that you could have loved—the living man, the real Justin Bieber. As you linger, you will consider clutching the pillows of the bed to your face, inhaling deeply. Really, you wonder, do you really believe that the smell of his hair and sweat would still adhere to pillowcases and sheets, as if they had never been changed in all these years? Eventually you will lie down in that bed again, but not yet, not before a long time spent outside gazing at the sea…

The way it always happens:
            You wonder exactly why you have been sent on this particular mission, a glorified babysitting assignment, watching over a kid with perhaps too much fame perhaps too early. You don't know him, even by reputation, but the Agency has filled these gaps in your knowledge, because you spent a dozen hours on a plane filling your head with trivia about one Justin Bieber. He is "highly unstable" you have been told. His mother is crazy, they have said. But you see no objective evidence of any of this in his file. "He is completely unable to tend to even his most basic needs on his own," the file says. "He requires continuous maintenance." But the information in the dossier belies this: you find a video of the boy roasting a hog, buried in a pit of coals. His face is stained with soot, and he looks like he has stumbled right out of Lord of the Flies. He mouths a silent "Fuck you," and grins at a camera that he aims at himself. You start to like him a bit more already, even though you know he will prove to be yet another entitled piece of pop-cultural debris, a complete tool of the industrial/douche media complex. And your own son is already older than this kid, and you did not enjoy even his upbringing. You wonder why they could not have not sent you anywhere else, perhaps to interrogate death row inmates, or salve the egos of Middle Eastern despots, or force the last few aging Nazis to confess their crimes. But no, to babysit a teenage millionaire boy-monster, that's the work they give you. But as your tiny plane lands on a steaming tarmac on some isolated island, you watch his video again and you admit that you look forward to meeting this Justin Bieber.

            It takes no time for you know that you may be in the presence of your personal Justin Bieber, the Justin Bieber as concept, the Justin Bieber as premise. That he is literally the human incarnation of Justin Bieber seems almost beside the point. You are having dinner with him, a massive spread of take-out food that you picked up at a local taqueria. He eats it with great enthusiasm, so hungrily, as if he has been starved for days. He thanks you for the food, lavishing compliments, even as he chews and swallows. It's as if he thinks you cooked it yourself. He sips wine that you have decided to allow him to share with you. In no objective respect is he any different than any other hungry teenage boy, yet you cannot throw off the sensation that he is that undeniable thing that you did not know you were missing. This train of though leads in circles to ruin, so you engage him in what you assume is conversation of interest to a young man his age, and you drink a lot more wine. He laughs a lot, and he does not seem like he needs any help at all from a woman more than twice his age.

            You slip gently from bed, not looking behind you, pretending that you did not notice that sometime during the night Justin Bieber had slipped into bed next to you, lying on top of the sheet. You decide that the amount of wine you consumed the night before will be your ironclad excuse: you simply did not notice, you did not wake up. Dressing quietly, the sleeping entity still lying next to the dent you left in the mattress, you decide to set aside the fact that he was there, that you noticed when he had laid down, that you could feel a trembling from him as if he were stifling great heaves of sobbing for a long time until he at last fell still. But you do look back at the bed and are surprised that he looks nothing like the child/angel/mannequin-thing generated by his public persona machine. Lying there in his underwear, dead asleep, he looks like a very human young man. His mouth hangs open slightly, he snores gently, his hair is a tangled corona about his head. You ignore this and head out of the house.

            At the market, you buy eggs and chorizo. You carefully select perfectly ripe avocados and mangos. Bunches of green onions and cilantro fill your basket, and you ask for two dozen freshly griddled tortillas. You shop as if you are preparing for a very important meal, and this briefly makes you feel stupid. But, in fact, you are gathering supplies for a breakfast that you will cook for Justin Bieber. Though you still have not comprehended Justin Bieber as a concept, as the scratch for the itch that you did know you had, you cannot deny that you cannot wait to return to the beach house and see if he is awake and if he wants to eat with you again. This shames you and delights you at the same time. You squeeze a chunk of queso fresco and you wonder about its slight yield under your fingertips. Your fingers think it feels likes digging into Justin Bieber’s shoulders.

            Do not say it, you tell him, as he tries to say it. Do not say this thing, you tell him, silencing him with your own lips pressed to his, because you know it’s not true. But you also know that he does not know it: boys his age lie all the time, even when they mean to be as sincere as a bleeding heart. They cannot comprehend their own emotions, not even one such as Justin Bieber. You have been with many men, yet you know that he has never been with a woman. This in itself seems preposterous: yes, he is young, but he is powerful and in his prime and can have whatever he wants anytime he asks. But he says it is his first time, and you somehow know that he is telling you the truth. Do not say that you love me, you think as hard as you can, yet you do not say the whole sentence aloud. Some shambling old crag of a mother in you wants to tell him to wait until it is right, until he is with someone he loves. Experience tells you that this is nonsense: wait for what? For unfulfilled expectations and disappointment? And, when it is done, you must admit that it is you who wanted it even more than he did. You wanted your Justin Bieber.

            He eats his breakfast enthusiastically, sitting in his underwear at the patio table. That bangsy hair that is the only thing that one ever notices in images of him does not exist this morning. It is tousled, strands heap in tangles and lay plastered by dried sweat to his forehead. “I know it didn’t really mean anything,” he says through a mouthful of scrambled eggs and avocado. “I know I was dumb to say I love you. But I still hope you at least like me a little bit.” You tell him that you do.

            And again, now, as always:
            You are in an airport in Europe. “Hello,” says a voice somewhere behind you. You turn around and see him for the first time in twenty years. Twenty years of age have not effaced his essential youth, though he seems to carry the weight of those years behind his eyes. “You look well,” he says. “You look good.”
            “So do you,” you say. A man in outré carnival garb stands behind Justin Bieber and snaps a pic of the two of you together. You do not know if he is a random fan or perhaps a lone paparazzo—Justin is no longer attended by the swarms of cameras that pursued him in his youth. They have moved on to new Justin Biebers. But as you look at him again, now, you’re not sure that you ever did.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2011 06:48 am (UTC)
Feb. 10th, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
I read the Esquire piece, and while I get can accept much of its thesis--even agree with it in principle--I find that it misses an important nuance of the Justin Bieber phenomenon. I think he is an archetype that we have known by other names and will know by other names in the future. Yes, it's all pop-cultural nonsense, yet it has a mass that cannot be easily set aside as much as we may want to set it aside. It recurs. What was old is new again. And again. My brief experience of writing about him--or at least my imaginary conception of him as a character in a story--makes me more sympathetic somehow to the whole situation and to him as a person. But objectively, yes, it's a concoction of a mass media operation that probably has no lasting value. But the same has been said of lots and lots of concoctions of the entertainment media before Justin Bieber. #getoffmylawn ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )