pop replicant

Is Justin Bieber a cyborg?
In the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung,’ one of Germany’s biggest transregional daily newspapers, I just read a wonderful review of the 3D-documentary ‘Never say never’ (Chu 2011) on Justin Bieber. Jan Füchtjohann begins his review thus:

Does the teenie-popstar Justin Bieber dream of electrical sheep? Just like in Philip K. Dick’s science-fiction novel and blueprint of ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Do androids dream of electrical sheep?’ there indeed is a growing number of people who try to find out if Justin Bieber is a regular boy, or a replicant who should be phased out. [my translation—put the blame on me]

‘Never say never’ does a good job in rendering Bieber human, Füchtjohann says, ‘but then again we know from Blade Runner, that even family-histories can be simulations made up from scratch.’ [my translation] Later he quotes US-American cultural critic Steven Shaviro on the ‘post-cinematic celebrity:’

They circulate endlessly among multiple media platforms (film, television talk shows and reality shows, music videos and musical recordings and performances, charity events, advertisements and sponsorships, web- and print-based gossip columns, etc.), so that they seem to be everywhere and nowhere at once affectively charged and iconically distant. (Shaviro 2010: 7-8)

This is nicely put and in turn reminds me of Gibson’s ‘Idoru’ (1996).

CHU, JON M. 2011. Justin Bieber: Never say never [motion picture]. Hollywood: Paramount Pictures.
DICK, PHILIP KINDRED. 2005 [1968]. Do androids dream of electric sheep? London: Orion.
FÜCHTJOHANN, JAN. 2011. Beunruhigendes Wesen: Die 3-D-Doku “Never Say Never” soll den Popstar Justin Bieber menschlich machen. Süddeutsche Zeitung 60/2011: 12.
GIBSON, WILLIAM FORD. 1996. Idoru. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
SCOTT, RIDLEY. 1982. Blade Runner [motion picture]. Burbank: Warner Brothers.
SHAVIRO, STEVEN. 2010. Post cinematic affect. Alresford: Zero Books.
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