As of yesterday, the Jonas Brothers have broken up. When I first heard the news, my first thought was "I need to write a column about this."
I was thinking about how to write this column and how easy it would be to write this as a musing on the end of childhood. After mourning the loss of this piece of my youth, I would then put the breakup in the context of college and my growing fear of the unknown. As college students, our childhood is over, and the end of the Jonai simply cements it. To write a column like this, however, would be too easy, and it would put the brothers on a higher pedestal than anyone should ever be on. Because at the end of the day, the Jonas Brothers did not consume my life. And as I wrote in my previous JoBro-themed piece, I did not consume theirs. Although I listened to "When You Look Me in the Eyes" and "S.O.S." on repeat in middle and high school, I was also living. I was writing papers and reading books and making friends. I was learning who I could trust and who I would grow up to be.
As were they. Joe, Nick and Kevin were learning how to travel constantly, grow as musicians and deal with the pressures of being teen idols.The line that separates us is one of place and experience and opportunity. It is not one of essential humanity. The outrage on Twitter when the news broke is an example of how invested we are in the idea of celebrity.
Our ideas of music and celebrity have become too intertwined. Music frames our lives, like a soundtrack to a movie. The music itself is not the movie, it only emphasizes it, making the sad parts sadder and the happy parts happier. Our admiration for the artistry that we connect with so emotionally has turned into obsession of the people who created it.
We make people famous by putting them on pedestals founded on skill but built with bricks of greed and jealousy and physical attractiveness. But these bricks crumble so quickly; when they cannot be rebuilt, the forgotten famous are abandoned for the youngest and brightest star. It is the musical foundation that is left at the end. Leonard Cohen provides an interesting perspective on this when he sings "We are ugly, but we have the music;" the music enhances our lives and helps us to see the ugliness and the beauty in ourselves and the people around us. The end of the Jonas Brothers is not truly the end. Music, like literature, goes on indefinitely, changing each new generational audience. Maybe the music will last. Maybe it won't. But the breakup of the Jonas Brothers is not the symbolic breakup of our Jonas-related memories and ourselves. It, along with all celebrity gossip and scandal, plays such a small role in our lives when it comes down to it. We will go on to learn, to love people, to be affectors of change in our communities, to be livers of the life before us. I guess my point in saying all this is that somewhere between "Hold On" and "Paranoid," I became obsessed, too involved in the lives of three people I had never met to notice myself.
When we become too emerged in celebrity culture and lifestyle, we become distant from our own lives, our own characters.I have vivid memories of car rides with friends, shouting the lyrics to "Burnin' Up" with the windows down in high school. The grin on my face, the chattering of my teeth, that feeling of being infinite that music so often creates. These are feelings I am grateful for, moments I will try my hardest not to forget. They are not moments founded in how attractive Joe Jonas is or how cute Kevin and Dani are on their reality show. Rather, these are memories firmly ingrained in my relationships, my character, my history and my appreciation for all that music does to improve our lives.The Jonas Brothers had an impact on people. They helped thousands of girls deal with all the angst and pressure of middle and high school with their carefree pop-rock. But to obsess is to overstate their importance and do an injustice to the purpose of music: not simply to absorb, but to reflect, to make our own discoveries and impacts on the world.
So Joe, Nick and Kevin, I hope the rest of your life and career lead you to fulfillment. I hope that you still dream extravagantly and pursue things that both make you happy and do good in the world. Your life and your family are not over, just as the lives of your many fans, myself included, are not over. We are just beginning.
Claire Dodson is a junior in English. She will forever be a fan of the Jo Bros. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.