WordPress is asking us (well, asked us… this is Thursday’s prompt) to describe the generation immediately younger or older than us, and to explain what we understand least about them, as well as what we can learn from them.
I’ll take the Generation younger than me. I’m 29… so… I don’t know exactly how old that ‘generation’ is, but probably kids around grade 7-8, maybe early high school? Middle school I guess. Particularly… middle school girls.
Here’s what I don’t get about Middle School Girls……
I don’t get the Biebs.
I don’t. I do not get Justin Bieber.
I know I was guilty of poor musical choices when I was in Middle School. I was a member of the raging wars between friends that were caused by not being able to choose between ‘N Sync and The Backstreet Boys. Confession: I loved ‘N Sync so much more than The Backstreet Boys, but none of my friends would admit to agreeing, and so I towed that Backstreet Boys line hard core, too embarrassed to admit that I had free will and a mind of my own. Twelve year old me had a mega crush on Justin Timberlake. It didn’t last, though… his transition to hip hop or whatever that is… lost me.
But I digress. I don’t get Justin Bieber.
I do understand that Middle School girls find him adorable. I don’t, but that’s probably best since I’ve got like ten years on him.
When he first hit the scene, I was very clear with my classes of middle school aged students that even if you weren’t a fan of anyone’s music, it was important to recognize talent and give credit to that where it’s due. I’ll die on that hill if I have to. I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber’s music, but I won’t deny that he’s got a good voice, and you have to be driven to achieve any sort of success. I mean, I have a great voice… but I don’t have the drive or the desire to sell out stadiums, do tons of interviews, and constantly be watched.
I’ve been watching American Idol this season, and I’ve never really been a fan because I have typically found the judging really condescending… but I am digging the combo of Keith Urban, J Lo, and Harry Connick Jr…. even though he’s earned himself the nickname “Hatchet Harry.” It occurred to me after something Harry said though…. that this would not be the life I’d want. He talked about getting up early, going to bed late, always being ‘image-conscious,’ and being willing to do whatever it would take to make a name for yourself… all of those things are a part of what they’re looking for in the next American Idol. So while I think it would be kinda cool to be a star… maybe for a day… I know it’s not the life I want.
Back to Justin Bieber… when he came onto the scene, I defended him against… particularly the Middle School boys… because they can be ruthless toward anyone with talent, never mind those they deem talentless.
But now…. now I don’t know how to defend him, and I’m glad I teach primary kids so I don’t have to defend him. My kindergarten girls will say they love him, and that concerns me a bit… but…. I feel like the majority of that comes from older sisters.
The thing is… talented or not…. and I haven’t listened to anything he’s put out in a long time so my jury’s totally out on that… he’s become a terrible role model, and I can’t understand how Middle School girls can be so blind to the drunk driving, the racing, etc… there are other charges… I just haven’t cared to pay attention to them.
I had two grade 7 girls last year who decided that they would both marry him. They were going to share him.
I wish that I had some way to explain to these girls that they can do better than whatever ‘bad boy image’ that the Biebs is trying (or maybe not?) to get out there.
I wish I could convince the world that DUI charges, speeding, and assault should not bolster celebrity approval ratings… this has always confused me. It’s the same kind of mentality that keeps Rob Ford going strong.
Now I’d like to make something really clear… He’s only 19. I understand that many 19 year old kids go through rebellion/poor choices/partying/whatever… I never did. So I find I completely lack empathy in this situation…. That said, just because he’s 19 doesn’t mean his actions are to be excused. Perhaps just a little better understood…
I just don’t get the hype… I mean, I don’t wish him ill; I don’t want to see anyone lose a life; I don’t want anyone to lose a dream they’ve worked for… I’m not judging… I’ve made mistakes, and I’ll keep making them until I’m no longer this side of heaven… I just quite simply don’t understand the undying support of a celebrity no matter what they’ve done… sometimes to the point of tears in the case of my middle school girls. I had one last year who burst into tears because one of the boys said something mean about Justin Bieber. Apparently, we don’t need to bully each other anymore. We can just make fun of the current celebrity obsession. I just wish Middle School Girls would be that devoted to their friendships. There’d be far less drama all around.
What can we learn from Middle School Girls, though?
1. They’re loyal when they need to be.
2. They’re independent and don’t feel like they need to justify their musical choices at all, to anyone. I actually kind of admire that.