Justin Bieber Cancels Meet and Greets: Why It’s Probably for the Best
Justin Bieber kicked off his Purpose world tour on March 9, and its third week has been an eventful one. Days after Justin delivered a rambling, possibly booze-fueled speech at an LA club following his Staples Center gig, the singer's settled on one way to Love Himself: He's canceled the meet and greets for the rest of his tour stops.
"I enjoy meeting such incredible people but I end up feeling so drained and filled with so much of other people's spiritual energy that I end up so drained and unhappy," he confessed in an Instagram post shared on Tuesday night. "Want to make people smile and happy but not at my expense and I always leave feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression."
Justin's decision to cancel, and the mixed reactions it's incited from fans, calls attention to the knotty financial and interpersonal politics of the artist meet and greet. To be fair, pre-show M&Gs can be extremely draining for artists, often occurring just when they're supposed to be rallying their best self for an impending stage show. I know that I personally find interacting with dozens of strangers in rapid succession fairly exhausting, and (MOST OF) those people aren't obsessed with me — nor do I have to go sing my heart out for a crowd shortly afterward.
Justin, arguably even more than other pop stars of equal status, owes his staggering fame to the passion of his mammoth fanbase. But that fervor can become volatile when a fan comes face-to-face with the object of their long-held devotion, and just one bad or even scary encounter can overwrite the memory of a hundred lovely ones.
Hours before Bieber broke the news of his cancellation on Tuesday, a fan account shared what's purportedly a screen grab of a message sent to I'll Show You VIP Package ticket holders that cited a "security incident that caused our team to have to meet and re-think how meet and greets were handled."
TMZ claims to have further background on this incident, which reportedly happened on Monday night. According to "sources familiar with the situation," a person already on Justin's security's watch list managed to get close enough to the star that it alarmed them, and she was removed from the area.
"He's had his hair pulled, clothes ripped and one fan even gave him the flu," the site says. "We're told Justin never complained, but Monday night's scare was a wake up call for security."
Reactions to his decision were an even mix of supportive and outraged, the latter reaction stemming from the (very) hefty price attendees paid for the tour's meet-and-greet packages. The "Ultimate #Purpose Experience," priced at an eye-popping $2000, bought fans a selfie with Justin in a backstage visit and a seat in a barricaded section near the stage. The "I’ll Show You’ VIP #Purpose Experience” cost $925, and guaranteed a group photo with Bieber.
As for the "can I get a refund?" question, you can find a revised outline of what a "VIP hangout" will get those who ponied up (no more selfie time with Justin) here. Prior to the meet and greets' official cancellation, fans who'd been demoted to the group 'VIP hangout' were alerted that they couldn't get a refund without also losing their ticket to the show itself.
Meet and greets have become an industry standard, baked into the economics of staging an enormous — and enormously expensive — tour. But are they worth it, given the sometimes staggering financial and/or emotional cost to parties involved? Did you pay for a Purpose VIP package? Let us know in the comments.
And finally, consider what Marina and the Diamonds has to say on the matter: "Our responsibility is putting on an amazing show...well being is far more important."
Justin Bieber Kicks Off the Purpose World Tour