By Frank Moher
My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to like Justin Bieber.
I’m quite serious.
My first reaction to the news that The Bieber caused a near-riot when he appeared at a Kitchener, Ont. mall on Boxing Day, there to buy some shades (because, after all, his future really is so bright he’s gotta wear them), was the standard derision: Oh how ridiculous, he’s this generation’s David Cassidy, or is that Shaun Cassidy, get a grip people (and by “people,” I mean you, 13-year old Kitchener-area girls).
Or, as the manager of the Sunglass Hut put it, with admirable southern Ontario laconicism: “I thought, my God it’s a 16-year-old boy who’s shopping — what’s the big deal here?”
But it happened that I had just finished watching Michael Bublé on HDNet, playing Madison Square Garden. And just days before, at my end of the country, Diana Krall and hubby Elvis Costello had shown up at a mall in Nanaimo, B.C. to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, causing, if not a near-riot, a lot of texting and twittering among my son’s friends. And I thought how great it is that Canadians, particularly young Canadians, have these undeniably international and A-list celebrities to call their own. (Yes, I know Elvis isn’t a native son, but we’ve adopted him.)
In my day we had Gordon Lightfoot and The Guess Who. Good, but not the same thing.
So why not add Bieber to the list of Canadian mega-things in whose halos we bask? After all, he’s the biggest star of them all at the moment. And he himself put his finger on why they really matter to us: according to that same store manager, “he said he keeps some of his money in Canada.” These one-person industries bring some big coin back to the homeland. And not just when they go Christmas shopping or pay the taxes on their local manses; Bublé has already laid-out the bucks to buy a piece of the WHL Vancouver Giants and before long he’ll be able to afford the Canucks.
So I apologize for all the nasty things I’ve said about Bieber in the last year. Sure, I thought “Baby, Baby” made The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” sound like “Appalachian Spring,” but the kid won four American Music Awards in November, including Artist of the Year, so what do I know? I’m out of the Lightfoot/Guess Who era. I’ll be doing my best in 2011 to understand the error of my ways.
However, I still refuse to like Nickelback.
Update: Here’s video of the visit (guaranteed 100% importance-free):
But I prefer this, of The Biebs escaping — or rather, not escaping — a horde of teenage girls on a . . . well, you’ll see: