[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005CT05AY][/pullquote] As someone who has little knowledge of Justin Bieber, his debut film Never Say Never taught me three important facts about the pop sensation: He’s Canadian, he’s left-handed and he is improbably and sickenly talented. Being the first megastar born from success on YouTube.com, Beiber’s debut album My World went platinum and he was the first artist ever to have seven songs from one album in the Billboard Top 100 at one time. The list of accomplishments goes on and it’s especially impressive considering his real fame only began in October 2008. His rocket to mega stardom has resulted in the release of a part-biopic film, Justin Bieber Never Say Never.
Produced by his talent manager, the hilariously-named Scooter Braun, Never Say Never follows the build-up to Bieber’s 2010 concert at the legendary Madison Square Garden. Showing footage of his early life, the film charts his success through talking heads from friends, family and superstars whom all wax lyrical about the child prodigy. His talent is undeniable whether it is drums, guitar, singing or dancing. He really can do it all. Add to that his natural charisma, baby-face looks and supremely marketed image and you’ve got a money-making machine. The film itself is pure fluff, slickly executed though it is, it will only appeal to ˜true Beliebers.’ There is a great deal of subtext if you look a little deeper than the candy-coated surface.
Bieber is put on a pedestal from the outset and most of the action is narrated by others, and we are left to simply observe him without ever hearing him say anything meaningful or real. The epitome of cult of personality, Bieber is unashamedly adored and revered by everyone on camera. His fans are whipped into a frenzy of hysteria and it makes for some uncomfortable viewing when pre-teens are declaring their love for him and asking him to marry them. Much like Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers before him, he has been positioned as a sex icon without the mention of sex itself. It seems that we as a society are happy to sell sex to pre-teens as long as it seems clean and perfect.
Braun has done a masterful job of creating the perfect image of Bieber both when performing and backstage. He is a good boy, who cares deeply for his fans and everyone. He’s Christian, although the Jesus Christ analogies peppered throughout are a little over-the-top, but in reality the way people follow his every move and give him the power over their decision-making put him in a position to be a Christ-like figure. But the film doesn’t dwell too long on these thoughts before skipping on to a montage of ballads and him showing off his sporting skills or ‘just hanging’ with his fans. It’s enough to make a cynics head explode.
Any cynical thoughts are however, swatted away. He’s a good boy, he wants to perform regardless of health issues and he is surrounded by a ˜family’ of people who keep him ˜grounded.’ But we have seen the effects of fame on young artists such as Britney Spears and Michael Jackson, and there’s every chance that a child with Bieber’s level of fame and attraction could go a similar way. I hope for his sake that I’m wrong and his ˜family’ do as good a job as they’re portrayed to be doing for years to come, but the cynic in me can’t help but think once he outgrows his baby-face his fame will disappear as quickly as it appeared, as his old school head teacher says Justin came back and signed his locker, but our cleaning staff are diligent and cleaned it away.