“This is for all the haters who thought that I was here for just one or two years. But I feel like I’m gonna be here for a very long time,” said a resolute Justin Bieber last week, as he accepted the award for Favourite Male Pop/Rock Artist at the 40th annual American Music Awards.
If he does indeed stick around for years to come, I like to think that he’ll eventually resemble Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. Overweight, cloaked in shadow and shorn of his once famous locks, he’ll surround himself with belongings and keepsakes assembled from the various body parts of his adoring fans (willingly donated, obviously).
“Beliebe,” he will whisper, adenoidally, into the ear of a tearful and overwhelmed 40-year-old fan, as she slices off the appendage and clumsily threads it onto the bloodied chain of his gold necklace. Barely conscious, she will then stumble to a nearby chaise longue made of skulls, where Bieber’s ‘people’ will cover her with a patchwork quilt of skin, retrieve the blade from her weakening grip and replace it with a complimentary bottle of ‘Girlfriend’.
“Next!” they will shout, as another middle-aged superfan is ushered into the darkness.
To his army of dedicated fans, my musings about his possible (but unlikely) future probably marks me out as a ‘hater’. But I don’t hate Justin Bieber – well, not burning hate – he’s just a boring global phenomenon; a slip of a boy who makes autotuned pop songs for teenage girls to scream over. Sure, he comes across as a bit of a cocky twat as well, but that’s by the by. His loyal and ferociously unhinged fanbase idolise him.
“Justin Bieber spelled backwards is Rebeib Nitsuj, which means ‘Flawless King’ in a language I just made up,” tweeted one fan recently (probably after scrawling it on her parents’ bedroom door in lipstick and screaming “Rebeib Nitsuj!” while standing over their bed brandishing a carving knife).
Bieber’s slightly petulant acceptance speech at the AMA’s suggested that he saw the award as a victory over the ‘haters’ (or ‘haterz’) against whom he and his fans battle constantly. But what exactly is a ‘hater’?
According to a completely made up acronym provided by @iAmTheWiseOne on Twitter recently, it means: [H]aving [A]nger [T]owards [E]veryone [R]eaching [S]uccess. But I’m not entirely comfortable with that. It suggests that the famous and successful are deserving of our unwavering praise and adoration, like dictators appearing on the balcony of the presidential palace in order that throngs of admirers can vacantly applaud the cultural famine they’re enduring. Dissent will not be tolerated. Like the mother who was forcibly sedated during a heated meeting between the Russian deputy prime minister and relatives of those who perished on the stricken Kursk in 2000, you shall be silenced and removed. You will speak kindly and favourably of our heroes. You will kneel before our Flawless King.
No? Then you’re a hater.
The ‘hated’ tend to view this situation as the talented and fabulous being remorselessly persecuted by the marginalised and envious, who are simply jealous of their success and the trappings of their fame. As such, ‘haters’ are often deemed “irrelevant” and dismissed as shadowy lurkers with unspectacular careers, desperate to make a name for themselves by criticising their supremely talented targets. They’re just “people sitting in a basement with nothing better to do,” as Justin Bieber once said.
When Andy Dawson (@profanityswan) recently wrote a scathing review of Chris Moyles’ latest parody album in The Mirror, the former Radio One DJ took to Twitter to bullishly respond. “Andy Dawson in The Mirror. Hey Andy, I really bug you don’t I. You HATE my success so much. Really hate it. Thanks. Makes me want more,” said Moyles, in 140 characters of embittered smugness. “Shut down the haters sir,” chimed in fellow DJ ‘Grooverider’.
Because, of course, it couldn’t possibly be that his album was every bit the detestable pile of horseshit that Andy Dawson said it was. And according to Moyles, it wasn’t about the album at all. It was about Andy Dawson despising his SUCCESS. He hates it. Hates it so much, in fact, that the only way he could deal with it was to harshly review his work of unrivaled musical genius. To Moyles, he’s just another ‘hater’. His views are irrelevant. Likewise the opinions of any critics who have the audacity not to fawn over the vast amount of mind-numbing toss that the entertainment industry regularly churns out these days.
But it’s not only Justin Bieber and Chris Moyles that have ‘haters’. A quick search on Twitter yesterday suggests that it’s the must-have thing of the moment, even if you’re not remotely famous. Because having ‘haters’ means that your existence has been validated. You’ve raised your head above the parapet and triggered a reaction. A negative one, yes, but a reaction nonetheless. But even if you’re not relevant or self-important enough to have ‘haters’ specifically hating you, then you can always loosely claim to have them if you’re a certain zodiac sign.
“Haters hating on #Pisces cuz we are a lil bit of every sign all rolled into one and we pull it off like a true G,” tweeted @ZodiacPosts the other day. “I’m awesome!” replied one ecstatic Piscean, thrilled that the ‘haters’ apparently dislike the way in which he pulls off his meaningless existence “like a true G”.
And we shouldn’t forget Geminis, who “never care about what the haters have to say…they have more of a *talk to the hand* kind of attitude ;)”. Yes, of course they do.
But hasn’t the world always been calibrated to account for both love and hate? Marmite’s famous advertising campaign notably didn’t feature a load of whining teens slathered in gloopy yeast extract burbling on about how, if you don’t love their favourite spread, then you’re just a hater. The advertisers knew they had a product that was divisive, and that wasn’t universally loved. In fact, if you visit Marmite’s official website it gives you the option of hating it, right there. And instead of that mouse click being an empty gesture, it actually takes you to the ‘Hate Marmite’ Facebook page (URL: MarmiteHateParty). It’s a common sense, no bullshit approach to acknowledging that differing points of view exist, and will always do so.
I accept that YouTube dwellers who leave mindless “Your soh gayyy!” comments on Justin Bieber videos probably do tick the ‘hater’ box, because there’s nothing remotely clever or interesting about their contribution to the world. But the term ‘hater’ is now liberally used to smear dissenting views against, well, anything.
Let’s face it, if we all gushed about the same things we would find ourselves living in a zombie wasteland of intolerable blandness. Is that what we want?
So let us continue to be critical, and let us ignore the ridiculousness of the ‘hater’ label. After all, it will likely disappear in the next few years…like many of the celebrities whose success we apparently loathe today.
Anyway, I’ll be in the basement if anyone needs me.