Hating Justin Bieber is the new black.
When I woke up this morning, all the morning news shows were showcasing a video of Bieber displaying a snotty attitude during a recent deposition. One of the show’s hosts even said he’d like to punch Bieber in the face.
Americans love to build up artists, turn them into icons (often without merit), and then devour them like starving hyenas once the stars prove to be human.
So it’s not surprising that a selfie by 18-year-old Maria Nunez, grimacing while Bieber is singing behind her at South By Southwest in Austin, has gone viral.
And, like many things that go viral, things aren’t exactly as they seem.
Look at the selfie. You probably a see a young woman making an “ick” face while listening to the over-publicized pop superstar singing his heart out.
Since it’s fashionable to dump on Bieber these days, the twittersphere has roundly embraced the photographic insult to the Biebs.
Nunez is a first-year journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin, and a huge fan of Tori Kelly, who was singing at Bangers on Sunday night in Austin.
Kelly happens to be under the same management as Bieber.
Nunez was standing at the front of the stage watching Kelly perform when Bieber made a surprise stage appearance. The crowd erupted and rushed the stage, leaving Nunez fearing for her safety.
“I was completely trampled,” she told Blotch this afternoon. “The edge of the stage was by my knees. I was kneeling at the front of the stage not knowing how to handle the situation, and I decided to take the selfie.” (Welcome to 2014; when your life is danger, take a selfie.)
Her expression was “a combination of everything” — being trampled, shocked, and scared all at the same time.
But it wasn’t a slam at Bieber or his music, she said.
“I’m not a huge fan of teen pop but he’s one of the icons of our time so it was pretty iconic that I got a picture with him,” she said. “It’s something I can tell my children.”
She tweeted the selfie on Sunday night from the club, checked it several hours later, and was surprised to see it had been retweeted 400 times.
Now more than 1,100 people have retweeted it, and it’s been written about in media outlets across the country, including USA Today.
“This is the first experience I’ve had with anything going viral,” she said. “I was starting to get scared that Justin Bieber’s fans would give me a lot of hate, but I haven’t read a single comment about ‘why is she doing that?’ People think it’s pretty funny I guess.”