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Analyzing 'Justin Bieber Sleeping' — An Art House Film

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Nov 07, 2013 | 12:20pm EST

Justin Bieber filmed sleeping by Brazilian GirlExpectaculos/YouTube

Justin Bieber Sleeping 
A short film. Written and directed by some girl.

Film school came in handy this morning when a short film capable of uprooting the tectonic plates of pop culture popped into the zeitgeist this week — an officially untitled art house project that we have dubbed Justin Bieber Sleeping (philistines that we are, shooting for the obvious). Tackling a wide array of themes in its 15-second runtime, JBS is dripping with artistic merit and sociopolitical implications, standing as the most important cinematic composition to hit our public conscious since The Kimyele Fiançailles. A fool's errand though it may be, we're daring to delve into this Kubrickian masterpiece and uncover everything that it is challenging us to understand about film, about society, about ourselves.

The Approach of the Singularity
The feature opens on a shot of two deceptively placid gadgets resting on an blanket-less sofa/bed hybrid. Monopolizing the bulk of the sleeping quarters while their allotted humanoids — the sleeping Bieber — lies helpless, a victim of the diabolically giddy anti-heroine whose video phone instills in her all the power that she might crave... or so she might think. It is not she, this nameless would-be sorceress, who is in control, but the electronic device. She dotes dutifully on its attentive eye, trying to please it with her incarceration of the languid prince and her fearsome choreography... but the hopelessness in the dead eyes of our leading lady shows too vividly that there is not enough food on the planet for this insatiable beast.

The Emptiness of the Hollywood Image
We transition to our second vignette: a long, quavering shot of Bieber lying somnolent beside his baseball cap, rearing a florid tattoo. A hapless victim of his own brazen quests through infamy, Bieber has traded in his humanity for placement as an icon — his arm for an Rorshach test and his bedside counterparts for the blushing hat that has all but replaced everything to sit beneath. Nobody comes to Bieber's side in this time of need, in this time of hapless destitution. All he has are the items and the images he has amounted... with nobody left to revel in them, rendering them, and he, an element of nothingness.

The Dark Truths of Human Perception
Finally, we meet our protagonist. The captor of our dissipating young artist. The eyes through which our story is told — with them, we gaze upon the tranquillity of innocence. We see not the menace in the gadgets, the hollowness of Bieber, but a scene of preserved tranquillity. But when these eyes are turned back upon themselves, we see things all too differently. The lighting dampens, the shots quaver hastily, and we're welcomed into the grimace of this woman. The venom of her deeds surfaces as we see her bask in the apprehension of the icon, clamoring for the approval of the all-seeing gadget. To our heroine, everything on scene rests easy. But from the swapped vantage point, we see the villainy, the treachery, the unholy sorrows in all that is represented in Justin Bieber Sleeping. As our film's creator and cinematographer, she represents the viewer as well. Our eyes. Us. She is recognizable as the epitome of human, doing all that she can to best and appease, to feed her own hungers for power and approval, these hungers strong enough to paint her meals with a picture of Rockwellian sanctuary. But as she blows this image, this horrifying image, her farewell kiss, we know that what she sees is not what is there. What we've seen... what we've known... it's all what we've forced ourselves to see and know, as the truth would be all too horrible to face.

el fin

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