Cult of celebrity cuts youth deep

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IOL pic nov20 justin bieber Reuters Teen idol Justin Bieber is set to make Twitter history this weekend when he is forecast to overtake Lady Gaga as the most followed person on the microblogging website.

So here we are. January, 2013. Still breathing, still cursing and cussing our way to work through the traffic and, for some, fantasising about our next dream holiday to the Greek Isles as we find ourselves already falling into the rut of a dreary daily routine.

The December 21 doomsday prophets have scuttled back to their corners and mankind as we know it continues to live on. Which is not necessarily a good thing. Would that some sort of cataclysmic event had indeed taken place, if for no other reason than to rid the world of the depraved personalities who increasingly populate it.

Case in point: this week’s leading entertainment story, which tells of Beliebers (Justin Bieber, pictured, devotees, for the uninitiated) being encouraged to cut themselves in a bid to convince JB to relinquish his love of puffing on the magic dagga dragon.

Yes, you read right. So ardent was the “Operation Cut For Bieber” initiative, it was trending across the globe within hours of launching on Twitter. “You stop using drugs and we’ll stop cutting. You make this world meaningless and we’ve lost hope,” wrote one campaigner, accompanied by a photo of her duly slashing the skin on her forearms.

Forget the fact that there is no actual evidence of Bieber smoking any substance (weed or otherwise). The story raises several other – far more alarming – questions, the first and most obvious one being: why didn’t Twitter immediately crack down on the accounts propagating this delinquency?

Second, were those behind the so-called movement genuine Beliebers (which, if they were, still wouldn’t justify their idiocy), or part of the delightful sub-culture the advent of social media has spurned, known as trolls (anonymous internet users who derive perverse pleasure from intentionally posting messages that incite anger, hate, discrimination or violence)? And if so, what measures are being put in place by social media platforms – which are largely used by impressionable youngsters – to curb trolling?

But the truly troubling question is: what does it say about the teens of today that they would be willing to go these extreme lengths of self-mutilation for someone so far removed from their own reality, and to whom they have effectively attributed something akin to godlike status? Has our world become so lacking in true role models that a baby-faced 18-year-old with an average voice can be held on high because he happens to be kinda cute?

Stories such as these about Operation Cut For Bieber clearly point to a very disturbing “yes”. And this in turn brings the most disquieting consideration overall: such mindless idolisation is not simply about Justin Bieber alone.

Rather, it’s symptomatic of the direction which not only our youth, but our “fast food, flashy lifestyles and plastic people” society is increasingly opting for. One that encourages a generation of vague, disinterested, self-involved, poor-me individuals lacking in depth.

And far from dissuading it, popular culture seems determined to help them along in their vacuous cause.

LARA DE MATOS

TONIGHT EDITOR

[email protected]


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