Booing is bad manners

Canadians are known for being polite people, but last weekend thousands of spectators at the Grey Cup game in Toronto were anything but when they aggressively booed their nation’s most famous young superstar before, during and after his half-time performance.

Okay, I understand these predominantly male football fans are not remotely interested in Justin Bieber’s singing and dancing, but didn’t they learn in kindergarten that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Perhaps they missed a class.

I have to admit, the 18-year-old singing sensation isn’t my cup of tea either, but I’m sure he’s okay with that. He has millions and millions of adoring fans all over the world screaming for him the way my generation screamed for Michael Jackson and my mother’s generation screamed for The Beatles. Since not many football fans have Bieber fever, booking him as part of the half-time show was clearly a ploy to boost their ratings. Undoubtedly it worked in that regard.

“The spectators at the game paid good money for their tickets,” one of my friends said in defense of their behaviour. “They have every right to show their displeasure.” But who are they displeased with? The organizers that booked an entertainer who was obviously not someone their fans would appreciate? Or the entertainer who was doing what he was hired to do?

“That is not music,” another friend said angrily. “It’s bubble gum crap!”  What a coincidence. I heard the same thing about Michael Jackson in the 80s and my mom heard the same thing about The Beatles in the 60s. I wonder if those “crap singers” were treated with such hostility by their native countries after becoming international superstars.  I doubt it.

“Bieber is an embarrassment to Canada,” my friend continued. “Wearing undone overalls and a backwards baseball hat to receive an award from the Prime Minister is an absolute disgrace!”

I have to say, if he were my son, I would have strongly encouraged him to change into a nice suit to receive such an honour backstage during rehearsals, but his questionable wardrobe choice doesn’t warrant the kind of revulsion normally reserved for violent criminals.

The severe backlash against Justin Bieber has baffled me for years, and it continues to surprise me as it becomes more intense. I’ll never forget the first grown man I heard spewing venom and practically frothing at the mouth over the young singer when he first became a break-out star. Being the mother of two children who loved Justin’s music, I felt defensive on their behalf as well as his.

In the world of arts and entertainment, what’s considered good or bad is entirely subjective.  Pleasing everyone, as we all know, isn’t possible. Do we really need to get aggressively rude towards someone just because we don’t like them or their work? Who among us would enjoy that type of treatment?

I guess if the trade-off is fame, fortune and the adoration of millions, most of us would learn to ignore the angry haters and recognize the jealousy, resentment and hostility for what it’s worth: nothing.

As a Canadian, I’m extremely proud of my fellow countryman for his astonishing success and contentious talent. His music might not be on my playlist, and I probably won’t be taking any fashion tips from him either, but the Biebs will never hear any booing from me. Like most Canadians, I’m far too polite for that.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at

Barenaked Leaders

Are men funnier than women? Well, their naked bodies sure are.

When I first saw the nude painting of prime minister Stephen Harper circulating on the Internet I laughed, and I’m guessing that was the reaction most people had. I’m also guessing that if the artist had painted a famous female politician in this same manner, it wouldn’t have been perceived as witty at all.

On a lark I produced a fun video exploring how much better the world would be if more artists painted presidents and prime ministers in the buff and gave examples of what that could look like. Yet pairing up political noggins with naked bodies in Photoshop was only humorous if the subjects were male. A fact my videographer, who was working on this task, found distressing.

“Another guy?!” Jason groaned after about the tenth set I sent. “Can’t you find some feminine figures for me to work with?”

I complied and sent him a topless man in a tutu.

Knowing that wasn’t what he had in mind, I thought about this double standard. It reminded me of the difference in reactions between male and female strippers. I’ve seen both, and believe me, the experience doesn’t compare.

When I was 20 one of the ladies was retiring from the newspaper where we both worked and a large group of us went to “Ladies Night” at a local club. I had no idea that some of these sophisticated women I’d looked up to would turn into wild-eyed lunatics when the male dancers started their rhythmic undress. The hooting and hollering from the audience was accompanied by so much laughter that they quickly became more entertaining to watch than the men on stage.

It would have been a completely different scene if the roles were reversed.

Whether a guy’s got a six pack or a keg for a belly, the random image of his nakedness will more than likely illicit giggles than lust. I’m not sure why that is, except that it’s a much less common sight to see. After finding far less nude males on the Internet in comparison to women, I now have proof of that.

“I don’t like it,” my friend said in response to the full monty painting of our prime minister. “I think it’s humiliating.”

A portrait that Stephen Harper never posed for and was purely based on the artist’s imagination shouldn’t be humiliating, but I tried to understand where she was coming from.

Personally, I liked it, and not just because it made me laugh or because of Margaret Sutherland’s political statement.

I liked it because it reminded me that no matter what our position is in life, we are all just human beings and as naked and exposed as the day we were born. Most of us just choose to wear clothes that cover that fact.

To watch my short video “Barenaked Leaders,” please visit  or watch it on YouTube