Justin Bieber was discovered at age 12 after posting videos of himself singing on YouTube. Until recently, he was a leading trending topic on Twitter. His “Baby” video alone has drawn more than 160 million views on YouTube, and footage of him bumping his head on a revolving door went viral.
Now there's a Bieber backlash on the medium that gave us the boy singer: the Internet.
The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab has released an application called Shaved Bieber that allows users to scrub the freshly scrubbed 16-year-old Canadian from computers, The Telegraph reports. The app will blackout Bieber’s name and pictures of the mini mop top from your PC.
Bieber (hopefully) is too young to get the naughty pun behind the app name. But he's certainly smart enough to appreciate the satire of his web ubiquity.
Whatever you think of his manufactured pop sound and his effect on tween girls, you've got to give the kid this: he has a sense of humor.
He showed as much last month, holding his own against Tina Fey on "Saturday Night Live." As an April Fools gag, Bieber flooded Funny or Die, with comic shorts, declaring he had bought the site and renamed it “Bieber or Die.”
He lampooned himself as both a creature of the Internet and a spoiled celebrity with lines like this: "Anything that’s not Bieber, dies. I'm a star. I do what stars do. I ride on yachts, I autograph lady lumps and I pay people to slap them."
Bieber is showing early parallels to another (former) teen idol with “SNL” links, a flair for comedy and a knack for viral videos: Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake got his start nearly two decades on “Star Search,” a gentler “America Idol” of its day. Bieber, meanwhile, is a product of the web, which seems to be a new route to pop stardom.
Just this week, “American Idol” judge Ellen DeGeneres announced she was starting a record label – and signed 12-year-old Grayson Chance who appeared on her talk show after she discovered his YouTube cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” The latest YouTube sensation, meanwhile, is a 2-year-old girl from Ireland whose version of Bieber’s “Baby” will elicit a smile and some laughs.
So tempting as it might be to ban Bieber from your computer, even if only to make a cranky statement on pop culture, you run the risk of missing out on some Justin gems like these:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.