Look, I get it. I’ve been dumped. I know what it’s like to be in that sort of stupor where you can manage to fumble through your daily motions, but yet you’re sort of incredulous that no one notices that your heart is slowly leaking out your sphincter like you just ate a bag of Lay's with that synthetic diarrhea oil.
So I feel some compassion for Justin Bieber, who allegedly got dumped by Selena Gomez, his girlfriend of two years, last week. He’s 18, she was his first big love, and she ripped out his tender heart and did the break-dance head-slide move all over it. It’s OK, Justin. I feel you. I’ve pop-n-locked in your bedazzled high-tops myself.
Justin and Selena in better days:
As a fellow dumpee, I understand why Justin’s performance last night at the new Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn was so wooden, so flaccid, so rote. His dance moves lacked energy, his singing showed no passion. He made almost no stage banter apart from a few scripted-sounding introductions to songs and a halfhearted “Brooklyn, are you ready to boogie?” as he descended from the rafters on wires with a huge set of steampunk angel wings. His bitter ennui was palpable as he sang to the “one less lonely girl” preselected from the audience to sit on stage with him. In fact, the only moment of pure and raw emotion of the whole show was that teen girl’s face mouthing “OH MY GOD” on the JumboTron as he crooned by. While romantic love may be as fleeting as it is devastating for a teen, admiration and fan love remain pure and solid as a rock.
Justin's steampunk stage set:
I admit I’ve delighted in the video of Justin puking on stage, and I secretly hoped he would barf again last night. And while it’s troubling enough that a grown woman would drop a C-note on tickets in the hope of watching a teenager vomit, it’s worse knowing that as he made a stadium of young girls scream. (And oh, the screaming! So. Much. Screaming.) He probably wanted to barf his poor broken little heart out.
There was a suspiciously strong showing of twentysomething hipsters in the crowd (my friends and I happened to be seated next to one such couple), though the majority of the crowd was made up of young girls and their vaguely annoyed parents. A popular trend among the young fans was to wear matching outfits with your friends, especially homemade fan shirts. I remember how fun it was to dress up in matching outfits with friends at that age; feeling emboldened to wear something stupid because your friends are doing it too.
For these young girls, attending the concert isn’t about Justin, it’s about their experience. Dressing up, screaming with your friends, wearing the shirt you bought the next day at school. These girls are still young enough to believe that love exists in a binary of acquiring/losing, and not the messy, nasty gut-wrenching parts in between. They don’t know what it’s like for Justin to stare into his dressing-room mirror, the roar of the crowd chanting outside, his eyes searching for some piece inside him that was once lovable, the piece of him that Selena would kiss sleepily next to him on the couch while they watched TV. They don’t know what it’s like when Justin realizes that piece of him is gone; ripped off like a scab too early, causing his blood to ooze out at an unstoppable rate like a hemophiliac Hapsburg prince. They don’t see that Justin has to stumble out onto the stage to entertain them as contractually obligated, though he knows that this piece of him, some fleshy chunk of his heart, is lying decomposing in a fetid-smelling bog somewhere.
That said, the food at Barclays is very good.