Music / Opinion

The Biebs and one lonely fan: Do negative gender stereotypes decrease his cred?

Emily Shelton look at how a rejection of Justin Bieber may just be a rejection of negative gender stereotypes

By Emily Shelton

Feature image via

My friend bought me a Justin Bieber snow globe as an ironic gift, and I love it. I think it is just hilarious. But at a birthday party I went to last night, the mere mention of Justin Bieber’s name was enough to curl the lips of all the twenty-something’s in the room. Things got ugly, fast. “Do you actually like Justin Bieber?” one girl asked, her tone demonstrating that she unequivocally does not.

“Sure,” I shrug. “What’s not to like?” Debate ensues; I am outnumbered.

The strong dislike for this poor lil’ pop star is a force to be reckoned with. What’s up with that?

One line argument goes, “it’s overproduced, vapid pop music. Justin Bieber does not write his own music and does not especially have any talent.” People belieb the fame is undeserved and this underscores what is wrong with the music industry: you don’t have to have talent to be a star. Other people have argued “I don’t mind Justin Bieber but I hate his fans.”

I don’t think any of these reasons are convincing. Let’s break them down one by one:


Some people say that Justin Bieber is not a talented singer, and therefore does not deserve all the attention he is getting. An interesting juxtaposition to Justin Bieber is Lady Gaga. Both are famous pop stars, but unlike The Biebs, it is perfectly acceptable to adore Lady Gaga. She wears exciting fashions, her lyrics are daring, and on top of it all she has a naturally amazing voice. That said, if I heard “Poker Face” on the radio, without seeing or knowing of Lady Gaga’s reputation, I would still like the song. You can’t see her cool outfit, it doesn’t particularly show off her vocal talent, but I like it because it’s entertaining and catchy. You don’t need to be able to conclude that a pop star is an artistic genius in order to enjoy the songs they produce. Pop music is a genre that does not require talent, it only requires a catchy hook.

Justin Bieber at his sweet sixteen. Image courtesy of

The unfairness of the music industry and fame

Some people are annoyed at how famous Bieber is because they don’t believe it’s deserved. But it’s not just a record label that can make someone famous. Take for example the beloved Antoine Dodson. That guy is super famous too, and making big money, for his family’s misfortune being turned into a catchy song. With the internet being the way it is, the prophecy of Andy Warhol is coming true. So it’s not really fair to dislike Bieber because of his fame; after all, it could happen to you next.

Bat-shit crazy fans

Much has rightfully been made about the insane death threats made by Justin Bieber fans towards any starlet he is pictured within the tabloids. I agree that some of those online commentators are way over the top. But that is an irrelevant reason to dislike Justin Bieber; he has no control over what his fans choose to do. But that’s fairly obvious. So there must be a deeper reason why Bieber’s fans are cited as a reason to dislike him.

My theory: is gender a factor?

Interestingly, sometimes I find it embarrassing to admit that I like The Biebs. This begs the questions, why do I feel embarrassed? What does being a Bieber sympathizer say about me? If I am a fan of The Biebs, it means that I am a mindless, screaming, puppy-lovin,’ emotionally naive girl.

Since I am succumbing to emotions, I am therefore neither rational nor intelligent. It’s a classic gender stereotype of the feminine that many twenty-something’s rightfully want to disassociate themselves from. Justin Bieber’s movie, Never Say Never, is coming to theatres on February 11, 2011.

If you have any doubt of my theory, keep an eye on the media coverage of the movie’s release and the way that female fans are portrayed. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that Beliebers will be portrayed as hysterical, irrational, and overly emotional. It makes a lot of sense for people to react in a strong negative way to these destructive stereotypes that for so long have been harmful to women, and I think that this anger is being unconsciously projected onto Justin Bieber.

You’re reading way too much into this, Emily. I just don’t like him.

Ok. That’s totally fair and I can’t argue with that.

I myself am not a diehard fan. I don’t have a poster above my bed and I don’t even have any of his songs on my ipod, but I have enjoyed the upbeat songs that I’ve heard. I don’t accept gender binaries, so I am confident that I can be both intelligent and rational despite being stricken with a mild case of Bieber fever. As I watch the snowflakes swirl around his squeaky clean image in my snow globe, I can’t help but think that the level of disdain towards Bieber should be justified. So far I haven’t heard any convincing arguments.

You can follow Emily Shelton on twitter @eshelts


7 thoughts on “The Biebs and one lonely fan: Do negative gender stereotypes decrease his cred?

  1. My daughter who is in grade 3 wouldn’t be caught dead admitting to being a Bieber fan and in fact even grade 1 and 2 kids establish their street cred by hating on the Biebs! but none of them have any reasons of course. He is just too uncool for school.

  2. People will always find excuses for disliking a musician, but I think it just comes down to not liking the artist, everything else just reassures the person it’s ok to dislike them. But in all honesty, i’m on the side of disliking pop music because artists can become famous overnight just because their record label invests a few mil into advertising. i dont know why the author of the article thinks that bieber hates don’t hate lady gaga, i mean, i sure do. sure, gaga has some nice vocals, but i just despise the fact she was thrown into celebrity status and claims she’s always been there. i also think that same thing is happening with most blockbusters today, half of their budget is spent on ads, which is the reason so many shitty movies are seen by so many damn people, imo.


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