Let me open by saying that I don’t really get it either, but I feel bad for Justin Bieber.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Why? He’s a rich, alcoholic, druggy douchebag kid who is reaping the reward of poor decision making.”
Fair enough. But I don’t think he’s always been that way. And I don’t think, at his core, that it’s who he wants to be.
Now please don’t misunderstand me – I am not a Bieliber. I’ve never liked any of his music. I’ve mocked dozens of people for offenses as small as singing along to a JB song to as large as actually buying a ticket to his concert without meaning it as a cruel joke. I even had to look up how to spell “Bieber” to make sure that it followed the “I before E” rule. Honestly. So that fact that I’m putting any kind of energy into thinking about this kid is just as (if not more) shocking to me as it is to you.
The one Bieber related thing I did take part in was watching Never Say Never. My reasoning was threefold:
1. I’m obsessed with seeing as many movies made during the given year so I can pathetically brag to my internet “friends” about it… because my real friends don’t care.
2. I got countless reports that the movie was changing the minds of people about how stupid JB was; the most notable being Sons of Anarchy creator, Kurt Sutter.
3. My friend and I agreed to have a bad movie night. Never Say Never was chosen as one of the evening’s selections.
Turns out that me, the most hardened of Biebs haters, ended up developing a bit of a soft spot for the little fella after my viewing. It could’ve been movie magic, but he seemed like a sweet kid. I even walked away thinking he was slightly talented. *GASP!* After that night, I slowed up on my Biebs bashing. Not that I stopped cold turkey, but I made exceptions for fans under the age of 18. They were free to swoon without fear of my ironclad arguments about how he is not as talented or legendary as The Beatles. (Yeah. I had that fight once.)
After awhile the Bieber fever seemed to die down. I kind of forgot he even existed except for the times I’d seem him in Kevin Durant’s Instagram feed with Carl Lentz, which always struck me as odd.
Today my social media feeds are being blown up with the news that he’s been arrested for drunk driving and resisting arrest. CNN reports that he even had drugs in his system. I’m so far behind on my JB news that apparently the warning signs had been there for awhile. Something like this was bound to happen. And it’s sad. It really is.
What the flip, Biebs?!
As I read through the stories, I couldn’t help but browse through the comments and what I found was exactly what you’d expect – hateful and uncompassionate statements from everyone. I literally didn’t see one positive comment about Justin, nor one person even trying to sympathize. Child celebrities getting into trouble is nothing new, but never have I witnessed this kind of consuming hatred for a kid. Even Lindsey and Britany had a few people pulling for them.
Then I thought back further – Justin was discovered on YouTube. Before that, he was just your average kid. Overnight (basically) he became one of the biggest stars on the planet. I have seen far older people with far less power go crazier than Biebs did much faster. That’s the thing though – money, power and fame corrupt. Imagine having your awkward teenage years shared with the planet. And imagine that you could hop on the internet and read a million comments making fun of the way you look or act or sing or any number of other things. It was hard enough hearing that from schoolmates, let alone millions of anonymous pop culture addicts. People get up in arms about internet bullying, but I’d qualify what I’ve read today about Justin as just that. What? Because he’s a celebrity he’s no longer a person with feelings and the ability to read? Just because he’s a celebrity doesn’t make him fictitious, nor does it void the public’s moral responsibility to treat human beings as human beings. That’s rough, man. I’d crack under that pressure too and I’m 30 with a good head on my shoulders.
I’m not trying to point fingers here. I, too, have said negative things about the Biebs. If not on the internet, then to people in person. I now see how ridiculous that is. Is his existence really affecting my life? Am I gaining anything by putting him down? What is the point? Chances are nothing I said (or typed) ever made it to Justin, but it could have. And it would’ve been one comment in the sea of billions that reiterated in his mind that in some way, he was not good enough. Now insecurities have lead way to irrational behaviors with dangerous consequences for a 19-year-old boy with too much money and fame. If history has taught us anything it’s that it’s only going to get worse from here. Finding your true identity in his circumstances must be enormously difficult.
Look what happened to Michael Jackson. Still, the internet didn’t exist when he was a child, and even if it did, everyone loved little Mike. Examine Miley Cyrus. She broke and no one was even bashing her. I don’t recall a general consensus that Hannah Montana was “gay.” She’s just acting crazy to break out of the kid star role. Britney Spears took some heat for being considered talentless, but no one was bashing her with Bieber magnitude.
From the moment Justin hit the music scene he has been met with ridicule. It’s just known that being compared to him is an insult. Ouch. Now that he’s in some real trouble, people are comparing his mug shot to Miley and mocking him for looking like a “pretty girl.” Geez, guys. Give the kid a break. Retrace what you did when you were 19. Had you gotten drunk? Had you done any drugs? Were you having sex? Did you rebel because you had a car, a little money and a sense that you knew everything? Let’s not act like we all had it figured out… or even that we have it all figured out now.
All I’m asking is can we all just lay off a little? Give the kid a chance to grow up and live a healthy life. There’s still hope for him. Stop being so critical about Justin and other people in the public eye for the choices they make. We’ve never been in their shoes. I’m sure it’s a different world and clearly it’s prone to throw people into a tailspin regardless of age. On a personal level, maybe we need to examine the negative things we say about people we actually know as well. Words have power. Choose yours wisely.
I’m pulling for you, Justin. Please don’t waste your talents and more importantly, your life trying to please people. Find who you are and be you. Surround yourself with people who make your life better and sincerely want good things for you. Don’t let your legacy become a tabloid story. You have the potential for true greatness.