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Why Justin Bieber is no Michael Jackson

By the time this story goes live, Oprah Winfrey will have sent her interview with Justin Bieber around the world within 24 hours. It’s a promotion tactic, which has allowed the media mogul to call the interview ‘the biggest thing she’s done since Michael Jackson’, referring to her 1993 interview with the most famous man who ever lived. They’re big words – especially in a world that’s still coming to terms with Michael’s death – and I hope Oprah is feeling the gravity of their aftertaste as much as I am.

Justin Bieber is a brilliant phenomenon, an amazing performer, and possibly the most angelic face in entertainment. But as big as Michael Jackson he is not. In the interview, Oprah tells Justin that there has never been a star as big as him, because he is the first star outcome of social media. And it’s for the exact same reason I beg to differ. Stars whose fame is generated by social media are by default stripped of everything that’s mythical and mysterious, simply because they’re too accessible.

The best point in case was Oprah’s actual interview with Justin. It was boring, bland and trivial. Give me Justin on stage any day, but you can keep your televised one-hour glimpse into his teenage mind to yourself. Around the part about Selena Gomez, even Oprah seemed a little bored. Those of us who remember – and often revisit – her interview with Michael know that every second of that hour and a half has you on the edge of your seat.

“I don’t think I missed out on my childhood,” a calm Justin told Oprah. And maybe that’s part of the reason he’ll never be as mythical as Michael: because he hasn’t been through the same life-changing ordeals that made Michael’s mind and private life as intricate as his work. When Oprah interviewed Michael, she was clearly in awe. She was cautious, even nervous. With Justin, she was so comfortable she was giving him life advice and sharing his chips.

For decades, Oprah managed to remain a mystery as far as her private life was concerned, even though people had daily access to her on TV. But with modern times came modern measures and even Oprah succumbed to a reality TV show, which might have been about her production company, but which revealed enough about her private life to take what little mystery was left out of the picture.

Michael passed away before he was properly faced with the question of how to relate to such things when your name is Michael Jackson, leaving the social media crown solely to Justin Bieber. But don’t say there’ll ever be an interview as big as Oprah’s 1993 interview with Michael Jackson again. The internet has made celebrities too accessible for the world to ever breed a star as interesting and famous as Michael.

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