Given the demographics of the Canadian Football League, the booing and heckling of Justin Bieber during the Grey Cup game halftime show on Sunday was unsurprising, but still graceless.
A better fit for the league would perhaps have been the vintage Seventies rockers April Wine, who played at one of the pregame shows. Or maybe Trooper. The truth is that the CFL was lucky to land Mr. Bieber, a true global sensation who had just cleaned up at the American Music Awards, winning three, including Artist of the Year.
Let’s face it, Justin Bieber accepted the gig in a spirit of national pride. In a way it’s a tribute to the iconic nature of the Grey Cup game. He does not need the CFL, and he certainly does not need the CFL’s money. But the CFL could stand to benefit from some of the buzz, youth and, yeah, cool, of Mr. Bieber.
The boos represent one of those head-hanging moments for the country.
Contrast it with the warm reception given One Direction, the British boy band, when they performed at London’s Olympics closing ceremonies. Or the Spice Girls, for that matter. They were warmly greeted with loud cheers, and it was not an audience of teenage girls either. The crowd just had more class.
Pop acts like ’N Sync, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, and the New Kids on the Block have all played Super Bowl halftime shows without being booed.
The Grey Cup crowd were not being asked to put up a Bieber poster in their bedroom, and they need not have liked his music. But they should have applauded and cheered on a hugely talented young man, one of our own, who was raised by a single mom in Stratford, Ont., to achieve astonishing success.
Of course, the football fans are not alone. Bieber-bashing is something of a Canadian pastime. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier presented the singer with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal before a concert, Mr. Bieber was criticized for wearing a white T-shirt, backwards cap, yellow sneakers and unbuttoned overalls (hello, he was going on stage). Some particularly mean-spirited people asked why he deserved a medal at all.
There is nothing like international success by a compatriot to bring out the worst in us. Who knows, maybe Mark Carney will be the next to experience it. It’s time we grew up.
Editor's Note: A pre-publication edit to the print version of this article didn't get properly applied to this digital version when originally published. The edit has now been made.