Another Open Letter to Bieber

Yes, here we are. Again. And like before, I know that you won’t see this. Hell, even your “people” won’t see this. And if they do, they won’t show it to you. Clearly your behavior in the news shows that nobody is driving the Bieber Bus.

Let’s hit a short summary of my previous issues…

  1. Memoirs don’t happen before you get a drivers license. Hell, you need a good reason for them to happen before you can buy a beer at the bar.
  2. If you have to tell people (especially your peers and fan base) you’re an artist and should be taken seriously, you’re not an artist. Respect is earned, not demanded.

I can tell the last open letter went unread as this newest bit displays a decided ignorance to the previously mentioned issues. And no, I’m not talking about the monkey. I mean, come on… we’re talking a monkey. If I had the cash, I’d totally get one too. I get it. Not having all your paperwork in order when taking it to a foreign country… THAT I don’t get, but I can forgive that one.

For those wondering (though none likely are), I’m not even talking about the pissing in a bucket thing. Teens do stupid shit. It’s kind of their thing. Well, most teens. And most of the time, their stupid shit is neither destructive, nor on display for the whole world. If I can see past some of the outlandish stunts Miley is doing in the public (hell on national television), I can look the other way here. Teenage douchbaggery, I get it.

And then you do something that the majority of the world cannot. You visit one of the Seven Wonders. Outside of a game of old school Civilization on a computer, most of my people will only see this through a web browser. So when faced with the Great Wall before you, the answer that popped into your head was to have your guards carry you up in on their shoulders?

In this day and age where my wife has me stop the truck so she can take pictures of the deer in the campground with her iPhone, how did you not understand people would be capturing this moment of Joffery-like behavior? Why don’t you just hired a guard with a seriously burned face and a sword, piss him off and call it a day?

You claim to be an artist. Art, especially music for me, is about the story. The story is about the experience. Here you were afforded one of the most potentially moving experiences of a lifetime – ANY lifetime – at the age of 19. And instead you decided to ride it on the backs of others. This shows that you don’t even take your own art seriously. How do you expect us to?

There’s no denying you have musical talent. But that is only part of it. Much like John Scalzi’s essay on how being a white male is like playing life on easy mode, possessing musical talent is like playing the musical game of life on easy mode. You’re already within reach of the prize.

My current favorite musicians (though I am nervous about claiming favorites in anything) are Wayland. The band does 320 to 330 gigs a year. They drive around in a retro-fitted airport shuttle towing a trailer with their gear. The last gig they had to cancel was because the rear axle on their trailer broke and it was taking time to repair. When a similar issue happened driving from the Pacific Northwest to Reno, they wrote a song about it. About the experience. Were I to see Mitch, Phill, Tyler… hell, even Dean… being carried up the Great Wall I would be considering the Warrior Wall back at my condo.

Not that they would consider it. They are from blue collar working stock. Each and every show they are genuinely appreciative of everyone that comes out to support them. And they have shown through their dedication, work ethic and passion that they are artists. Not a single one of them needs to tell me to take them seriously. That’s a big part of the reason I do.

You are left as a young man, not even legal to be in a bar, with more money than most people ever see in their lives. You have opportunities that most people can only dream of. Get your house in order and figure out what to do with it. When Patrick Rothfuss was left with (what he called) a “stupid amount of money” from his New York Times best-seller, he started a foundation that gave money to needy people. It inspired other artists to join in on the effort. He took his privilege and made it the privilege to others.

In both of the examples above, I have mentioned specific artists that I respect. Midwest folks, who made good. I am not saying to do what they do. Use the example to find your own path. And by that I mean your own path, not pointing one out to those whose backs you’re riding on. You’re a grown-ass man, stand on your own two feet. Prove you should be taken seriously, don’t expect it.

Zombie Joe

he who should rarely be taken seriously, except for now… 


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