Why We Hate Teen Idols, But Especially Justin Bieber

Baseball, Child Stars, Music, Teen idols


So, if you stick around after Saturday’s minor-league baseball game between the Augusta GreenJackets and South Carolina’s own Charleston RiverDogs, you’ll be treated to the on-field destruction of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus merchandise. In fact, if you pitch in Bieber and Cyrus merchandise for the post-game bonfire, you’ll receive $1 ticket vouchers by your RiverDogs hosts.

The event is called Disco Demolition 2: You Better Belieb It, and it’s the unofficial sequel to the Chicago White Sox’s infamous Disco Demolition Night-cum-riot of 1979.

The White Sox promotion at Comiskey Park was ostensibly about America striking back at an oversaturated music form, and, for real, when Ethel Merman‘s making a dance track out of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” things have gotten out of hand. But there might have been something bigger and deeper going on, too: Disco backlash, as embodied by Disco Demolition Night, has been interpreted as a particular kind of American striking back at the gay and black artists who popularized the music. The question now is: What to make of the Bieber and Cyrus backlash?

The RiverDogs say it’s about Bieber’s “numerous run-ins with the law,” Cyrus’ “controversial performances” and both artists’ music.

“Disco Demolition 2 is dedicated to the eradication of their dread musical disease,” Dave Echols, the team’s general manager, says on the team’s Website.

Not said, and maybe not even consciously understood is that it’s also dedicated to the proposition that we hate our teen idols.

Teen idols are heroes to tween and teen girls, and what do they know? Clearly, not as much as tween and teen boys who hero-worship, say, 19-year-old baseball phenoms or MMA fighters.

The bottom line: It’s not that we don’t respect Bieber (especially Bieber), although we don’t (and his recent inability to make no news other than bad news doesn’t help), it’s that we don’t respect his fan base.

Which sounds an awful like how the first Disco Demolition Night came to be.

My Summer Project: Unbreaking the Broken Village People Promise

Me, Music, My Father, Village People

VillagegowestThirty-five years ago this summer, my father bought me the Village People‘s Go West. It was the first album that could be called my album; it was the first album that I wanted to be called my album. I was 11, and I was desperate to start my record collection with this disc. I was so desperate that there, in the aisles of  Wherehouse Records in Los Angeles’ Westwood Village, I promised that, in exchange for a copy of Go West, I would learn to play every song on Go West. On the accordion.

That did it; my father was sold. I got the album. I did not, however, learn to play any song from Go West on the accordion or on any other instrument, although I eventually did publicly perform “Y.M.C.A.” on acoustic guitar (something which is neither here nor there as it relates to my Village People promise since  “Y.M.C.A.” was from the group’s 1978 album, Cruisin‘, and not from 1979’s Go West.)

In any case, a promise is a promise, and 35 years behind schedule or no, I have decided my summer project this summer will be to learn to play every song from Go West. On the accordion. Or sometimes on the ukelele.

And while my father never got to hear my non-ironic cover of “Manhattan Woman”—he died 10 years ago from causes unrelated to my unfulfilled Village People promise—you can if you stay tuned here for my occasional updates and videos.

Go west, won’t you?