Justin Bieber performs at the Grey Cup Halftime Show in Toronto (photo from CityTV)
Justin Bieber has been in the news a lot lately. His video for Baby, which was the most watched video on YouTube for a long time, has finally been shoved aside by this year’s biggest novelty hit Gangnam Style by South Korean artist Psy. He was booed throughout his performance at last night’s Grey Cup Halftime Show in Toronto, and again anytime his name was even mentioned. And he was presented a Diamond Jubilee Medal by Prime Minster Stephen Harper on Friday.
The Diamond Jubilee Medal is awarded to a wide range of Canadians that have made a positive contribution within Canada or has made an achievement outside of the country that brings credit to Canada as a whole. Other criteria for the award is that the recipient must have been alive on February 6th, 2012 (the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the Throne) and is a Canadian citizen. 60,000 Canadians have or will receive the medal this year, all of whom have been nominated and are selected by a panel. Many recipients are veterans or have contributed as volunteers to their communities but as the Governer General of Canada‘s website states, a variety of fields of activity are recognized.
Regardless of one’s opinion on Justin Bieber, he has achieved a lot as an 18-year-old. While I know very few people that admit to liking him, he still has a lot of fans, not only in North America but around the world and has a very surprising amount of support from the music community, specifically the world of hip-hop based on the collaborations he’s had since arriving on the music scene in 2009. He doesn’t exactly strike me as someone with the type of street cred that would justify collaborations with Ludacris, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj or Busta Rhymes, to name a few, but he’s done it. So despite my, and your, opinions, the Bieber is a big name. With a name like his and his target audience of tweens and teens, he is doing what few are able to and that is introduce Canada to a whole new audience that politics and travel ads aren’t able to do. It might not mean a lot on the surface but considering how Shania Twain put Timmins, Ontario on the map, that type of fame can go a long way for a geographical region. That, to me, says that he is deserving of the award he received.
Justin Bieber accepts the Diamond Jubilee Medal from Prime Minister Stephen Harper (photo from PMO flickr)
How he accepted the award – that’s up for discussion. Many are in an uproar over his choice of clothing when accepting the award from an important figure like the Prime Minister. That tells me two things: First, Justin isn’t the most respectful figure out there. Regardless of his fame, money, and even his schedule (the photo was taken at the Scotia Bank Place arena in Ottawa following a concert rehearsal), Justin likely could have put aside enough time to prepare for the meeting. It’s a photo op for both and even if he or the PM didn’t care about his choice of clothing, the medal and other recipients of it deserve the respect. The second thing I get from the uproar, people dislike Bieber more than they dislike Harper.
I can’t help but wonder whether the reaction would have been the same had it been someone like Neil Young receiving the medal while wearing a ratty tartan t-shirt and oil-covered overalls. My thoughts are probably not. There wouldn’t be criticism about the faults of his generation or his lack of respect because Neil Young isn’t a pop star. I hate to be the one to defend Justin Bieber (yet again) – I promise, I’m not a fan – but I have a problem with people who let their personal opinions of someone or something interfere with what is or isn’t deserved.
Take Stephen Harper, for example. I would likely never vote for him in an election. I disagree with most of what I have heard regarding his policies and I definitely don’t agree with his lack of transparency and treatment of the media. However, I’m not going to disagree with everything he says just because it comes from his mouth. If he says or does something that I support and agree with, I won’t hesitate to say so. I think it speaks a lot about a person who will always disagree with someone they don’t like or will never admit that something they dislike has ever contributed something positive to society or the world (ie: the Catholic Church). Coming back to Justin Bieber, I think he is capable of possibly recording a song I will like just as Rihanna did when she released Umbrella, several years into her career and after a dozen songs I didn’t like.
For the record, he already has: Beauty And A Beat.