Jazz musician Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist on Sunday night. (If you’re like me, you said, “Esperanza Who?“) Almost immediately, the 26-year-old Portland, Ore., native faced the wrath of tweens and teens who believe 16-year-old Justin Bieber should have won the title. Spalding’s Wikipedia page was hacked, and she was virtually assaulted with comments such as:
“SHE IS F****** REATARD (sic) THAT NO ONE HAS HEARD OF SO B**** PLEASE DIE!”
“JUSTIN BIEBER DESERVED IT GO DIE IN A HOLE. WHO THE HECK ARE YOU ANYWAY?”
On Twitter, aggressive Bieber fans continued to pelt Spalding. “Congrats… on your 5069 followers,” one Bieber fan tweeted. “Were any of YOUR albums on top of the Billboard 200?” demanded another.
Were little girls quite this vicious when you were in junior high or high school? While the tweens and teens can be a season of mood swings, I can’t remember anything quite like this obsessive tsunami happening when I was a kid. In fact, any time any female celebrity is even remotely associated with Justin Bieber, the woman receives death threats from overly fervent fans.
Sure, young girls have obsessed over the likes of Elvis, the Beatles and countless other acts over the last century. But what has caused “Bielebers” to behave like rabid wolves? One theory is that the Internet has personalized Bieber so much in his fans’ minds they “own” him—that he’s somehow singing to them exclusively. And their fixation is fed by repeatedly viewing his YouTube videos—making Bieber the No.2 most-viewed artist of all time on the site (after Lady Gaga) with more than 1 billion hits.
To his credit, Bieber was a gentlemen, telling Spalding that he is happy for her. We can only hope his fans will learn by his gentle example—and their parents’ intervention.