The riot-inducing tween sensation seems to be taking over the world. If there's one thing the olds don't understand about the singer it's his silly haircut. But it may be the perfect 'do for right now.
This haircut has no name and didn't start with our fair Justin, but like pervasive celebrity styles of old, it has taken on the moniker of the man who made it ubiquitous: "The Bieber." It's similar to the mod shag of the '60s, but longer. It's also a bit like a traditional bowl cut, but again longer and twisted about the head not only to keep the hair out of the eyes, but also to give it that little bit of extra je ne sais quoi that transforms it from a styling mishap into The Bieber.
That little bit of styling is what makes this the perfect follicular arrangement for a growing legion of teenage boys. These kids were reared in the era of the metrosexual, when men were determined to be a viable target of beauty advertising and therefore required to use products both by the media and the women in their lives. The Bieber is the perfect compromise. It looks a bit like a haircut gone to seed, but to keep its proper flavor, it needs a bit of styling and maintenance. It says to the world—and, more importantly, teenage girls—I care about my appearance, but I'm not as fussy as those emo kids with their sculpted asymmetry and guyliner.
The extra length also offers a little something else that the young ladies love: safe rebellion. The cut says that the wearer is a touch anti-establishment. He's doing something that his parents and teachers (and old queens writing on weblogs) don't understand, and this coiffure sets him apart. That said, he's going to be one of millions of boys with the same cut and will safely fit in with everyone in his homeroom.
Justin Bieber did wonders for his brand by associating himself with such an iconic look. (In 2030, when they make a teenage sex comedy about high school in 2010, it's the haircut all the boys will be sporting.) I can't tell you the name of one song that he sings, but just the mention of his name brings this unique tonsorial creation to mind. And every iteration of it on every teenage boy you see riding the Long Island Rail Road will have you thinking of Bieber. It is like The Rachael, a very specific thing for a very specific person. But famous hair can also be a trap. Just look at the blowback that Kate Gosselin got for adding extensions to her (disgusting but trademark) wedge, or the dip in ratings when Felicity cut off her signature curly tresses halfway through her run on television. The Bieber is going to be hard for the Bieber to pull off in a few years, but he may not even be around by then.
But even after he is gone and his name is only brought up when discussing the early years of Twitter-induced rioting, we will still remember The Bieber—revolutionary but safe, tussled but sculpted, classic but absolutely contemporary. It will outlast us all.