Viral cultures like these were nothing new of course. "Baby, one more time" churned thousands of mindless dancing Britney wannabes, painfully oblivious to the song’s deeper referral to “not-a-goddamned-thing”. No one knew under what circumstance would Bruno Mars ever have to catch a grenade for his girlfriend, but he made thousands of guys walk around with a fedora, asking drunk women if they wanted to get married. Lady Gaga inspired legions of zombies, each of them going around asking "Did you know she's Illuminati?" before grinning proudly to themselves over having spotted the "subtle" symbolism in her videos and subsequently going home and masturbating to their self-perceived genius.
Viral cultures like these spurred me to organize a resistance group called the AMM - Against Mindless Music. Our form of resistance was tweeting to our followers, (all 15 of them) how these songs made no sense, and basically calling fans ‘Fags!’ on fan forums. Our efforts were met with an unenthusiastic, four word reply saying "go die lah you", followed by a prompt banishment or blocked account. If the singers came to Malaysia for a concert, we’d up our game; we'd throw eggs at the cars parked outside.
We always thought we were immune to each new wave of viral culture, until we lost Lim Ju-En, one of our longest members, to Lady Gaga. It happened so fast - one day she was on the internet forums typing "SHE'S JUST A COPYCAT MADONNA YOU FAGS! LOL!" and the next day, she started calling herself 'Lady Juju' and started wanting "the psycho, the vertical stick". What was it anyway? An erect penis? If it was, why would anyone call it psycho?
We mourned her loss, but that made us press on harder. There were going to be others, and we couldn't stop the good fight. After Ju, I set up a website, http://khairie026.livejournal.com/ as a way to keep track and raise awareness about these cultural pandemics, but traffic was like Zouk at closing time: filled with dubious characters you'd rather not talk to.
Sarah Rostam was my second in command in the AMM. She had this thing about being a black diva – she sang Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and did the finger raise and the head wave perfectly - and was efficient at spotting viral singers early. If she heard a song on the radio that sounded stupid and catchy, she'd warn us the next day. She correctly predicted that Gaga was going to be the next wave, way back when people thought it was the title of a Freddie Mercury song. But even she misses a couple sometimes.
Sarah and I were both in the car two months ago discussing the egging logistics of an upcoming Bruno Mars' concert, when we heard "Baby" on air for the first time. Our conversation faded into an unearthly silence. I turned the volume up.
"Bayy beh, bayy beh, bayy beh Oooouuuh~! Bayy beh bayy beh, Ooouuuuh yeah~!" the radio blared. Questions popped after every line. Wasn't he 16? What's he doing buying a ring to win his girlfriend back? Was Ludacris eventually arrested for being a 13 year old paedophile?
After the song ended, I turned the radio off. I frowned at Sarah, who looked at me knowingly. "I'll look him up," she said. "What was his name again? Bieber? How did I miss this?" she cringed, as she typed out his name into her phone.
"Okay. Send me whatever information you have, and I'll e-mail the rest of the gang. Let’s be safe - I don't like this..." A shiver rippled through my spine. "...this, Bieber" Something didn't feel quite right about him. There was an unsettling feel to all the viral singers we've heard before, but he felt particularly menacing.
I sent the email to notify the rest of the AMM, but they had all heard 'Baby'. We agreed to have a meeting soon, but all of them were caught up with work, or life. I couldn’t say the same for myself – AMM was first priority, eating and having sex be damned. I couldn’t be out looking for a job and dating, not when Bieber’s music was out wreaking havoc in the world.
Within the next few weeks, the infection grew exponentially. His songs blared on the radio, and girls started singing his songs in groups while hugging and giggling uncontrollably, luring other girls to join in. #9millionbeliebers became the number one tweeting trend, and girls started changing their facebook last names to 'Bieber', claiming that they were his number one fan, and having cat fights with other people who were also number one fans.
Trailers of his biographical movie, ‘Never say never’, came out in cinemas, to be screened in 3D.
This was fast becoming a 6 on the viral scale, and I knew things couldn’t wait. I called for an AMM emergency meeting at my house, two weeks later.
Sarah was the first to arrive.
"I've got news," she frowned. "Nigga, this guy is big. He done infiltrate mah house. My sisters can't stop playing his shit over and over again." She raised the finger. "I need water."
Jo Yi Au and Melanie Hwa arrived next.
Jo Yi was the fighter of our group. She was a petite girl, but if she didn't like you, she'd tell you to fuck off and tell you that you were as ugly as a deformed, wrinkled chicken skin. She had spunk - so much so in fact, Melanie had to balance her out most times, and keep her calm when shit hit the fan. And shit did hit the fan when I saw her walk in and commented,
"Holy shit it's him," I startled. "Fucking Bieber!"
To be more specific, Jo Yi had his hair. It was the same bulbous hair, with jagged fringes that were close to hiding her eyes, and long enough that she could flick it. Still, I regretted saying it out because the next minute, she'd grabbed me by my balls, with a sort of crazed look and fire in her eyes. I'm not sure if you could get high from being in intense pain, but I was momentarily transported to the insides of my ball sack, where I saw about a million little Jo Yi's simultaneously pounding on my nuts with sledgehammers. I felt nauseous.
"Eh, chill lah, he din know you got a haircut k?" Melanie consoled, coming up beside her and resting an arm on her shoulder.
I felt the vice-like grip loosen, and fell back into my chair, cupping my balls gently, resisting the urge to cry.
"What the hell, Jo Yi," I grunted. I glanced at Melanie, "Is she infected?"
"No lah, she just got her haircut last month. And she din know about Bieber until she did. Now everyone's asking her if she's a Bieber fan, and some even thought she was him."
"And it's fucking pissing me off," Jo Yi glared at me, sitting herself down. She flicked her hair.
I smiled through the pain. Jo Yi wasn't going to be infected anytime soon.
"Alright," I sat up and composed myself, though I was still clutching my balls. "...we're going to suspend our efforts against Bruno and Gaga for the time being. This guy is coming up way too fast. We gotta spread some hate, and quick, before he takes everyone we know. Now I was thinking we could post some photoshopped naked pictures of him on the site-"
"Uh... about that," Sarah interrupted, shifting her eyes. "I just got to know he's coming to Malaysia next month, and I have to bring my sisters to his concert. Sorry nigz, I can't get out of it."
"Yeah, and Jo Yi and I have to go to the premiere of his movie next week too." Melanie cut in.
"What?" I asked, looking at them, feeling a slight pinch of betrayal.
"It's for work. We have to go check it out. Don't worry lah, we won't end up like..." she paused. "...Like Ju. It's just for work."
Right around the time Melanie turned pretty, she started working for a blogging company. Don’t get me wrong, she’d always been easy to look at, but until around 4 months ago it’s like she had an epiphany or something. She started looking like a model wherever she went.
Part of her responsibilities was to socialize and network people, so I suppose the transformation was part of her job. I once asked her if she’d model for an anti Bruno Mars campaign, but she would always change the subject.
"And why are you tagging along?" I asked, looking at Jo, making sure my hand was firmly protecting my nuts.
"My friend is going to watch some stupid show, I'll have to go make sure she's okay lah..." she shrugged.
We ended the meeting that day, deciding that nothing could be done at least until Jo and Melanie were done with the movie. Again my stomach tied in knots; this Bieber managed to somehow catch AMM off guard. I raised the viral alert to a seven, but I kept it to myself. My instincts yelled at me like transvestite who’s been stared at for too long.
All I could do right now, was wait.
To be continued...