I suppose if I’m watching Glee I should at least consider writing about the show’s musical aspect at some point. I’ll shamefully admit that I was only familiar with three of the songs from this week’s episode. Two of them were from that classic Canadian rock outfit Justin Bieber.
I was all about to launch into one of the innumerable internet hate-fests against that lovable Ken doll, but I thought I should check his Wikipedia page first. In the first paragraph under the Career section, I stumbled on this choice quote from La Bieber mère, regarding the music exec who first wanted to manage sweet Justin:
Mallette [Justin’s mama] was reluctant because of Braun’s Jewish religion; she remembered praying, “God, I gave him to you. You could send me a Christian man, a Christian label! … you don’t want this Jewish kid to be Justin’s man, do you?” However, after praying with her church elders and receiving their encouragement, she permitted Braun to fly Bieber, then 13, to Atlanta, Georgia, to record demo tapes.
So after receiving guidance from his church kinfolk, this kid from Nowhere, Ontario, along with his god-fearing, Jew-hating mother, has indeed become bigger than Jesus. Forget The Beatles, this is Biebermania.
Yesterday’s Bieber songs on Glee, though undeniably loathsome, represent the kind of mixed audience the writers are trying to target. Until this episode, I had mostly assumed that the Glee audience consisted of older teenagers, twenty-somethings, and single women and gay men in their thirties. The coy misunderstandings, the sexual tension between Will and Emma, and the brief lesbian tryst between Santana and Brittany–this isn’t really a kids show.
But apparently younger kids are watching Glee, or at least convincing their parents to prolong bedtime for at least one musical number. I’ll note here that both Justin Bieber songs occurred in the first half of the show, and that by the end of the episode, the Bieber plot was basically abandoned for the anthem plot.
So how does a show like Glee recruit an audience of Bieber minions, but retain its core viewership of lonely women desperate for some Puck-lovin’? (or maybe Finn’s more your thing. As for me, I like Mike Chang because he doesn’t sing. Oh, and those abs.) Bieber is a polarizing figure: either you love him, or you regard him with some ironic distance and try to recall what it was like to be crushing hard on the *NSYNC boys. Dressing the Glee Club’s guys as Bieber clones gratifies the tiny viewer who watches Glee as she paints her nails with a polish from the new Justin for OPI line, but it also engages the older viewer who finds the Justin Bieber mass hysteria rather comical. We can swoon or laugh, but we’re watching Glee either way, and from a FOX producer’s point-of-view, that’s the only thing that matters. Stay tuned!