My Opinion (As a Teenage Girl and Feminist) on why Bo Burnham Will Be a Superstar in Less Than Five Years:
He has unlocked a secret formula, a hidden demographic that marketers have completely ignored for ages: The Smart Teenage Girl. See, teenage girls are one of society’s biggest scapegoats. Everything they do is wrong. There is no winning when you are a teenage girl. They are labeled and made fun of in the media as shallow, manipulative, brainwashed, dumb, boy crazy “sluts” OR as fat, bitter lesbians (I’m not saying being lesbian is bad thing, the media is) with no social life. There is no in-between and there are few exceptions to this rule. The idea that teenage girls could EVER actually be SMART, INTERESTING, NICE people positively boggles these marketers minds. They target the teenage girl demographic with One Direction, Justin Bieber and Urban Outfitters. This works for a large portion of them, but not all. Enter Bo. Bo Burnham is typically attractive enough for him to be your celebrity crush, but pale and skinny enough for him to not be *everyones* celebrity crush. He’s a musician, comedian and actor who sings edgy songs criticizing mainstream media, filled with fake illuminati subtext and raps an anti bullying song with the word “faggot” used multiple times. He isn’t mainstream, he’s edgy, cool, biting, but he also has that sweet, nerdy, introverted side that everyone loves. He makes the smart teenage girls go wild. Whats a smart teenage girl?? I’m talking about the hipsters, the nerds, the girl who sits in the back of the class and asks the teacher multiple times to “please use more gender neutral language”. The girls who watch Doctor Who and research conspiracy theories in their spare time, the fourteen year old who reads Eve Ensler. To quote Bo: “The spastic fat chicks.” These girls exist and they are far more common than you think. They don’t want to listen to One Direction and they are disgusted by Justin Bieber. Until now, marketers have have had no idea what to do with them. Enter Bo. Now you know why you love him so much.
It’s so weird. I look at these pictures and I see two very different people. In 2011 I was battling intense depression, cutting, denying my gender identity (as well as my sexual orientation, but less so) and about 101% sure that I wouldn’t make it to my quinceañera. To put it simply, I was lacking a lot of confidence.
Let’s flash-forward about two years. I looked like this:
But more importantly, I looked like this:
2013, I was 13 (turning 14 in about one week) and in the hospital, getting ready for neurosurgery. Now, the medical specifics of my need for hospitalization and neurosurgery are long and–quite frankly–boring. Long story short, I had a seizure in the middle of my 8th grade math class.
I was already having a tough year, having moved from my home of 7 years, Minnesota, and being placed in a less than LGBT+ friendly Christian academy. So the whole seizure thing kinda felt like a slap in the face. I was already the new kid, I didn’t need to be a medical anomaly at my school. But the deed had already been done and I was in the hospital. When I returned to school after being out for a little over a week, I felt othered. On one hand, I was being babied and coddled by a bunch of small children and slightly younger girls who had known me for about 5 months, but on the other hand, I was being bullied and tormented by a bunch of asshole-ish guys who I had to spend the entire day with. I was an emotional wreck. I so badly wanted to be normal, but with my constant battle with my gender identity and the fact that I had stitches and a titanium plate IN MY HEAD, normal just wasn’t practical. After two years of being self-harm free, I relapsed.
A few months later, I was fine. I hadn’t relapsed (though the thought had come to mind) and I made a very important decision. I came out. Right here. On this blog. A few minutes later, I told my mom. I cried all night and she held me.
So, we’re in my freshmen year of highschool now. I’ve gotten into writing songs and had just finished making a garageband demo of my first song, “Dear September”, I loved it (note the use of past-tense, I hate that song now). It was an anti-bullying song, a form of self therapy and a song that, with some work, could do what music had done for me, save lives. Naturally, I wanted to share it with someone who I kind of admired as a songwriter. For the purpose of this post and to avoid Tumblr Drama™, I won’t be naming this person. They do, however, have a blog on this here website and are still actively writing and posting originals. Anyways, when I tried to reach out to them and maybe receive some good ol’ songwriter-to-songwriter support, this happened:
I was devastated. I kinda gave up songwriting and felt like I couldn’t trust my own art. I had let my one healthy coping mechanism be taken away from me, just from a few careless words by some person on the internet. I kept writing a little bit, but it didn’t feel the same. The magic wasn’t quite there. The songs were dull and didn’t really reflect me, but instead the happy, lighthearted persona that I had put on in my everyday life, on and offline. For nearly a year I struggled with thoughts of suicide and self-harm. I wrote out countless suicide notes and developed some pretty awful insomnia. Finally, my freshmen year came to an end. Remember how I said that in 2011 I didn’t think I would make it to my quinceañera?
Let’s go forward a year after my quinceañera (aka now), I’ve just written the first song that feels really genuine in about one year. It’s called Modern Prophet (<< that’s a shameless self-promo, friends) and it just feels like me. Currently, I’m working through a set of songs to cover for gigs with my guitar teacher and keeping an eye out for local open mic nights. I have never felt more confident in myself and my art. For the first time in years, I feel like there’s a future for me that doesn’t end in tragedy or in pain and sorrow, but instead ends in me leaving a legacy for people to celebrate and carry on for years to come. So here’s to you, jerkidiot and all those other kids that tore me down during this journey, I built myself up again and I feel amazing. Thank you all, I owe you guys everything because your words that once caused me so much pain and anger have fueled me and my ambition every step of the way.