An Apology for Justin Bieber (Andrew Powley)

So since I have had writers block for about a month now, I decided to feature a guest author on my blog – my cousin Andrew!  Andrew is a very creative writer – his use of simile and metaphor is impressive, to say the least.  This is an assignment we had to do for our Comparative Literature class, enjoy 🙂
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my humble university career is that simple intelligence has nothing to do with one’s success. That is, intelligence alone will not land you a career in that wasteland we call the real world. Undergraduates often get hung up in the common notion that a grade point average certifies the surgeons, legalizes the lawyers, and so forth.  And they’re right to worry about such trifles, but not for the reasons they think. Most people commonly associate the GPA with a measure of intelligence, or how “smart” someone is. Nothing could be further from the truth. Think about the grade you received on your first college report card. Was the grade you received a mark of how talented your brain was at computing information? Or rather, did it reflect how hard you slaved and trained yourself to understand course material? The latter implies that the GPA is not a measure of talent someone possesses, but more a gauge of a student’s willingness to work hard.

 I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a number of lectures with successful medical doctors, all of which had little to say about their relative brain capacities to others. In fact, they bragged about their work hours. They proudly told the horror stories of first-year residencies; relished in the memories of sleeping only eight hours a week.  They hung their third-world humanitarian experiences with pride around their necks.  It was a dedication to hard work that set these men apart—a dedication to harvest their own fruits of success.

I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in work, the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself…

Joseph Conrad (from his short story Heart of Darkness)

                Through personal perseverance one assimilates into adulthood, gaining a heightened awareness of reality. That reality is characterized by the undying principle that hard work determines success. For this reason, I disdain the current state of the popular music industry.  In the past, the musician had to fight and persist through trials and failures in order to secure his fame.

Take for example The Beatles; people generally assume that when the Beatles came to America they became a sort of “instant success” with undeniably natural talent. However, in reality The Beatles were a struggling band eight years before their rise to stardom. For eight years, Paul McCartney and John Lennon had to marinate in the back streets of Hamburg, Germany while pursuing their own music gigs, organize rock band logistics such as equipment, members, pay etc. They had to be businessmen. Only after “a hard day’s night” did the band really explode into this worldwide phenomenon. Their music is timeless because, yes, in part they were brilliant musicians, but more so the amount of work and entrepreneurship that went into creating a rock and roll powerhouse had a correlating pay off.

In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

Malcolm Gladwell (from his book Outliers)

                And consequently, the modern advent of YouTube has killed the spirit of hard work. I speak naturally of the abominable event of Justin Bieber’s “overnight” night rise to fame.

People don’t rise from nothing….It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.

Malcolm Gladwell (from his book Outliers)  

I’ll center my criticism on one crucial fact. Look at any biography and notice that Bieber never in fact pursued his own musical career by even bothering to post his own videos—his mom did it for him. Bieber never personally sought out record deals: they were handed to him by a desperate contract agent. This very notion has created a false reality amongst hundreds of young aspiring musicians that all they need to do is post their recordings online and then by some miracle the recording offers will pop up on their Facebook accounts. This is false, and I must make this apology for Justin Bieber. The modern conveniences of the digital age cannot substitute for hard work. If you’re young and naïve to the realities of sorrows and trials that accompany the rise to fame, start laboring now.  

To be alive is to have scars.

John Steinbeck (from his novel Winter of Our Discontent)

                Now, I respect the prodigy within Justin Bieber; his musical skills are incredible, and very few people have the ability to swoon millions of adolescent girls. Without a doubt, he must have put a considerable amount of effort into developing his talents by himself. Nonetheless, Bieber lacks the drive for entrepreneurship. He doesn’t write his own music, and doesn’t work to keep his fame. He doesn’t have to, mainly because he is still a teenager. I believe that the apparent lack of inexperience and honest labor will end up being detrimental to Bieber’s character.

This flaw already manifests itself with the prideful air in which Bieber portrays his music. He’ll turn a humble Christmas carol (“The Little Drummer Boy”), bastardize the religious sentiment and boast about his talents:

And I only spit heat cause I’m playin’ for the Son.
Playin’ for the King, playin for the Title,
I’m surprised you didn’t hear this in the Bible.
I’m so tight, I might go psycho.

Justin Bieber

Pride is the enemy of hard work–like a soft whisper from Hell it subtly insists that talent alone achieves fame. This is the greatest obstacle to success, and if not overcome, we halt our own potential growth. Soon, the musician sits idly by waiting for his tribute from the common man until he realizes all his friends have deserted and he is left with nothing—not even the drive to work harder.

You don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone!

Herb Brooks (coach of the 1984 US Gold Medal Olympic Hockey Team)

                 Bieber hasn’t developed the entrepreneur work ethic, and similarly once he turns 18 and enters adulthood, he won’t have the drive to work hard either. Unless he learns that taking initiative is what fuels fame, his music will turn into a short lived fad, and drift away with the sands of time.  

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