I first became a fan of KISS in 1987. I was 14, and Paul Stanley was 35. That year, KISS actually received a fair amount of video airplay on MTV, but I have to admit that Stanley seemed old.
Mariah Carey released her first record in 1990 at the age of 20; she is a few years older than I am, but I never viewed her as “old” in the same way that I viewed Stanley as old. Not until I viewed her new video with Justin Bieber.
The “All I Want for Christmas” duet with Bieber is a remake of Carey’s 1994 Christmas release. It’s not unusual for artists to pair-up, and the song has some respectability as a contemporary Christmas classic. But why does the now 41 year-old Mariah Carey want to sing a duet with 17 year-old Justin Bieber?
Bieber is the butt of many jokes, but somebody is listening to his music; and somebody is helping to make him rich. Carey may suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome (I will never grow old), or perhaps she recognizes that Millennials view her much like I viewed Paul Stanley, and she hopes that Bieber’s youth will rub off on her. She’s hoping that she can appeal to a new generation of music lovers. And maybe it’s working. The video has received 2 million views in just the first 2 days of its youtube release.
But the video is undeniably creepy. Mariah spends most of her time in the video standing against a wall. In the opening sequence, Bieber and his bros walk by and she winks at him. Bieber’s goofy expression doesn’t indicate that his head contains any inappropriate sexual thoughts towards Carey, and he keeps on walking. After all, he has to fill his cart with a bunch of stuff before all of the common people are allowed to enter the store.
For most of the rest of the video, Mariah stays by the wall, turning to let her butt face the camera in multiple shots. Is this intended to be seductive? Is she trying to capture Bieber’s attention? If so, it’s not working. Bieber is too busy filling his cart with high-tops and multiple Nintendo 3DS’s.
Meanwhile, all those lucky enough to receive “gold tickets” are finally allowed to enter the store. Is Mariah Carey supposed to be Santa Claus? And is Bieber just Santa's Little Helper?
By video’s end, Bieber and Mariah end up in the sleigh together, with the happy masses surrounding them, their arms full of presents. But who has Mariah been winking at and shaking her booty to? At the 3:59 mark, a shot of Bieber indicates that he’s getting “ideas,” but in the next shot, it’s Mariah and Bieber back in the sleigh. Has the entire scene been imagined?
What message does this video communicate to you? What audience do you think its message is intended to target, and does it succeed?
“There's a lot of bad isms floating around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism.” – George Seaton