The Power of Bieber Fever (in Sydney)!

April 27, 2010 in Entertainment, Social/Political Commentary by pacejmiller

All I’ve been hearing and seeing lately is “Bieber Fever”.

I don’t really know much about the pop teen sensation with the bangs and the prepubescent voice, but when I first heard his name mentioned on the radio (not very clearly), I was stunned.  I was like, “Is this possible?  A teenage heartthrob with the name ‘Beaver’?”  Everyone’s talking about this kid who’s giving young girls “Beaver Fever?”

I was kind of relieved (and disappointed) when I found out that I had misheard.  Damn.

Anyway, for weeks all people could talk about was how Justin Bieber, a 16-year-old Canadian who was discovered on YouTube, was coming to Australia.  And that he was only going to be giving a single, once-off performance on the local morning television show Sunrise.

Originally, I think the performance was supposed to take place outside the Sunrise studio outdoors in Martin Place, the heart of the Sydney CBD, but “safety concerns” forced them to shift to the more spacious Overseas Passenger Terminal down the road at Circular Quay (not too far from the Opera House).

Young girls started camping out from 6pm the night before, and the crowd numbers surged into the early hours of the morning.  Reports say there were already around 4000 people waiting to catch a glimpse of Bieber by 2am.

However, the girls got too excited and broke through the barriers and people started getting crushed and trampled.  Apparently, at least 10 girls fainted, and someone may have fractured a knee cap.  Efforts by police to calm the crowd down were futile, and eventually the live concert was cancelled!

Risking a riot on their hands, Sunrise invited Bieber into the studios back at Martin Place to perform one song (Baby) instead of the scheduled three.  Needless to say, it got very crowded there, as many of the kids from Circular Quay migrated back up in a hurry.  Even after Bieber left, they stuck around for ages, hoping to catch another glimpse of him.

Disappointed fans lashed out at organisers and Sunrise for the botched concert.  Many had camped out all night in the cold, while some travelled all the way from other states just to see him.  Meanwhile the police pointed the finger at uncooperative parents (the few that bothered to show up with their young kids).

One 10-year-old who came out with her mother by train at 3am said:

“I like Justin ’cause he’s hot.  He’s got a fantastic body and a great voice.”

I swear, I did not make that up.  Direct quote from the papers.

One father was particularly angry at the whole mess, and said:  “Clearly this total waste of our kids’ time, sleep and pocket money getting there was a deliberate publicity stunt designed to exploit fans.  Certainly [Sunrise] knew that thousands of kids would turn out, and it would be unmanageable, and set him up to play to a few kids at Martin Place.  Channel Seven and Sunrise owe the fans and their parents an apology for shameless publicity stunts that ended in injury, hurt , disappointment, money spent and sleep deprived.”

Personally, I am quite perplexed about this whole thing.  I have nothing against the Beaver himself (I think good for him, the kid must have some talent for getting discovered via YouTube).  But there’s just so much wrong with what happened here.

First of all, what the heck are parents doing by allowing their children (some of which are very young) to camp out in the city all night by themselves?  Some of these kids are like 10, 11, 12 years old.  I just can’t imagine my parents giving the okay to something like that to me and my sister when we were at that age.  Secondly, as unlikely as that is, it’s even more unbelievable to me that some parents would actually accompany their kids in the middle of the night, or camp out, just to see the Beaver perform a couple of songs.  If they’re a fan of the Beaver themselves, that’s another thing (though it is quite disturbing in itself), but are these adults being good parents by making the effort to come out with their kids to make sure they are safe, or are they spoiling their children?  I think that’s an interesting debate.

Nonetheless, I place the blame with the organisers.  It was simply poor organisation.  Seriously, they are making 4000 young girls seem like some sort of unstoppable force of nature.  We’ve seen other outdoor concerts and performances, marathons, political marches, industrial action, not to mention sporting events, in and around the city CBD that have way more people, some way more unruly (though when it comes to teenage girls, this is debatable).  And we never seen any of them cancelled for “safety concerns”.

Most of all, this is not the first time something like this has happened for the Beaver, so it’s not like they can say what happened was totally unexpected.  Bieber’s concert in a mall in Long Island last November was also cancelled due to overflowing crowd concerns.

Fact is, they underestimated the power of “Beaver Fever”.