Feb. 3, 2017, is a date that will be celebrated in history classes for generations as the day that Justin Bieber returned to Instagram.
For those of you who don't know, Justin is one of the most-followed celebrities on Instagram. His aesthetic is kind of all over the place but seems to be a mixture of shirtless selfies, moody/artsy shots (HE'S AN ARTIST, OK?!), and pictures that flaunt his wealth and fame.
Then there's little old me, with way less followers, way less wealth, way less fame, and marginally less shirtless pictures.
But what would happen if a nonfamous person who DOESN'T have a gazillion dollars and drive sports cars tried to re-create Justin Bieber's Instagrams?
Would I learn anything? Would it be difficult? Would it be EMBARRASSING? Would I expose my TRUE proletariat nature? There was only one way to find out — pick some of the Biebs' most noteworthy pictures and take my own stab at them.
The Resting on the Sports Car Picture
A picture on a Ferrari seems pretty par for the course for Justin Bieber. I, on the other hand, drive a '99 Honda CRV that has a huge dent on the left rear corner from when I accidentally bumped into a telephone pole (it's a long story, don't ask). Aside from the fact his rearview mirror is probably worth more than my entire car, I think I nailed this one. This picture was *NOT* comfortable to take — sitting on your front headlight is actually kind of a pain in the ass, literally. Also, I had to have my coworker take it in an alley by our office, which is a far cry from Justin taking his at what appears to be his mansion. The final product is OK, I guess, but I wouldn't normally advertise on social media that my car was made when Bill Clinton was still president, and with good reason — I got called out in the comments as a wannabe Instagram model for posing on my old-ass car. Rude.
The Emoji Picture
Justin Instagrammed this picture for his line of personal emojis, so I decided to do the same and create SAMojis. Having your own brand of emojis is usually reserved for celebrities with Kardashian-levels of fame, not little old plebeians like me. There's actually a lot of work that goes into launching your own line of emoji (or, if you're me, creating one fake emoji, LOL). First I submitted pictures of myself to our designer Alice, then I had to discuss with her the idea for the actual emoji (I chose to hold a Pamplemousse LaCroix because it's my favorite beverage and also I'm thirsty) and approve the final product. It actually took like a week to complete and it made me realize how EXHAUSTING it must be to be famous. Let's just say the power went to my head a little bit — now I really do want SAMojis to be a real thing.
The "Helicopter" Picture
My net worth means I'm the type of person who uses a milk crate as furniture, whereas Justin is in a *slightly* different tax bracket. Like of course I don't have access to a helicopter, but that was a minor detail that wasn't going to deter me from re-creating this. I had to settle for the BuzzFeed shuttle that takes employees between offices. The thing is, helicopter or not, I think we both look badass — and this was definitely the picture that I felt the coolest posting, despite the fact I had to have a coworker take a shirtless post of me. If I had any shame before this post, it's definitely gone now. Even though this picture wasn't really "me" in the sense I was re-creating an image (also, no chopper), I felt like it showed a badass side of me that I normally don't get to display. I could get used to it.
The Luxurious but Obviously Staged Picture
This picture Justin took cracks me up because he's clearly on his phone in the picture (Calling who? IDK. Your guess is as good as mine). While Justin seems to be at an exotic location on a remote island, I'm at my friend's parent's house in Studio City. He's got an infinity pool; my friend warned me not to go swimming because her pool hasn't been cleaned in weeks. Also, I'm drinking water out of a wine glass and I'm not even calling anyone on my iPhone. The amount of staging that went into this photo is hilarious — not only did taking it feel weird because nothing about it was real, but it also felt bizarre to post it because never in a million years would I find myself poolside looking like I was spat out from H&M's Coachella line, making an important call. Like, what?
But a funny thing happened playing make-believe — people actually really liked it (although one friend TOTALLY saw through it and knew it took a LOT to get this one shot right).
The Mood AF Landscape Picture
What I imagine Justin was thinking while taking this picture in an empty field: Angsty pop star thoughts. What is Ed Sheeran up to? Did I remember to gas up my Ferrari? Should I text back Drake?
What I was thinking when I was taking this picture in an empty field: Will a rattlesnake bite me? Am I getting sunburned? Where is the nearest restroom because I really need to pee?
The fact of the matter is, it feels ridiculous trying to take an artsy-fartsy landscape picture. Like, how does one *CASUALLY* find themselves in an abandoned field?! The answer is they DON'T. Also, do you know how hard it is to find an abandoned field near L.A.? It wasn't my favorite to re-create, and I feel like this picture makes me seem ~deeper~ than I actually am.
The Artsy Picture That Low-Key Involves a Lot of Effort
This was the last picture I took, and for one that involves me merely lying on the grass, it actually took a lot of effort (you know how the old saying goes: It takes a village to take an amazing Instagram). My friend Kristen had to stand on one of my kitchen chairs above me to get the exact right angle of me! Who has the time for that? Also, it was kind of embarrassing because we took the picture on my front lawn which faces a main street — everyone driving by must have thought we were insane (or maybe they mistook me for the world's biggest male pop star, we'll never know). That being said, it's a cute pic even thought I'm so pale I look like Casper the Friendly Ghost's gay cousin.
Also, after doing this project, I have serious doubts as to whether or not Justin Bieber knows how to button his shirt.
And for what it's worth, I totally got called out on how ridiculous the picture actually looks — my old roommate Stephen thought he was making fun of me for the degree of difficulty involved, but he actually got it right!
So, what did I learn?
— I am not rich.
— I'm also still not famous.
— That being said, looking cool really doesn't require any money or fame. As cheesy as it sounds, it's all about attitude and selling it.
— It also can be fun to be someone else or a fantasy version of yourself on social media (in this instance, a jet-setting pop star). Everyone knows Instagram isn't real, so why not have some fun with it?
— On that note, I could see myself posting more like the Biebs on Instagram. At first, I thought copying him would come across as douchey. But in actuality, it read as me being confident and sure of myself.
— It takes a lot of effort, and sometimes multiple people, to take one decent picture.
— And followers are also good at spotting stuff that isn't real. But if you understand you're playing make-believe, that's fine!
— I'm not sure if Justin Bieber knows how to button a shirt. And that's OK, because no one is perfect.
— And on that final note, Justin if you're reading this...can I borrow your helicopter?