As some of you may have heard, Justin Bieber recently walked off stage in Manchester because his fans would not stop screaming, during one of his concert for his Purpose tour. This happened when he was trying to communicate to the audience. His fans proceeded to boo him as he left the stage.
At first it seems kind of understandable that the audience would be cheering. Indeed, it is a regular phenomenon during the performances of huge pop stars during the interval between their songs, and one could argue that the fans were expressing their excitement. Yet, with a bit of thought, this scenario is deeply unsettling, if you put yourself in the shoes of a musician performing in front of a crowd of thousands.
Communicating with your audience is just as important as the musical aspect of a live show. Indeed, most famous pop stars, notably Taylor Swift, do not simply sing but engage with their audience of adoring fans, probably as a tactic to increase their likeability, the quality of their show, but maybe simply to feel “a connection” which Justin Bieber listed as the reason why he had decided to speak in between sets. Bieber claimed that “the reason why he was upset earlier was because he travelled across the whole world to come [to Manchester] and [he dedicates his life] to performing and bringing smiles to people’s faces.” Being a musician, or any entertainer for that matter, is an extremely difficult job. It requires a high level of energy which needs to be maintained throughout each performance which can be exhausting. Yes, fans are paying hundreds of dollars to see their idol perform, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t respect the one who is putting on the show.
This reminds me of a photo of Hillary Clinton facing a crowd of fans whose backs are turned to her while they are taking selfies. The fans were clearly not interested in getting to know their idols on a closer level; they simply wanted to put themselves in the same photo as Ms. Clinton. In the generation of selfies, technology has increasingly taken the place over intimacy, during fan and celebrity encounters. Instead of enjoying the moment, we are more interested in making that moment visible.
What this incident in Manchester reveals is that there is a very toxic side of fame, which is not the well-known cliché that fame destroy someone’s humility or purpose. Ironically, it is that fame can bury self-expression. All Justin Bieber wanted to do was express himself to his fans, but his fans did not let him. Another pitfall of fame is that it erases the humanity of the famous. The people who attended the concert clearly forgot that an artist in the entertainment industry’s desires extend beyond simply wanting to entertain the attendees. Celebrities usually divide their public and private persona, but what we caught was a rare glimpse of authenticity with Justin Bieber’s actions. Instead of booing, fans should learn to appreciate this ‘once in a blue moon’ moment. It certainly won’t happen again anytime soon.