What is there to say about Justin Bieber? Everyone has an opinion about him. For better or worse, he is a Canadian icon. Most likely for the worse. Bieber’s latest stunt — a DUI in Miami — has left his fans stunned, his detractors ecstatic and the rest of us unsurprised. As of Jan. 29, over 100,000 signatures have appeared on a petition to have Bieber deported from the U.S., making the issue something the White House will actually have to deal with. Given that he has also just been charged with assault against a limo driver, he will likely be returning to Toronto to face a judge shortly. Like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Macaulay Culkin, Amanda Bynes and many others, Bieber’s brand has soured. But thanks to the Internet more people than ever before can gleefully gather in the social media town square to see him disgraced.
Genuine understanding of a celebrity’s personal life is difficult. Try to picture a separation of Justin Bieber’s personal thoughts and actions from his public persona. One can imagine that he has had few desires denied in the last five years.
While most 19-year-old boys hold onto the delusion that they are invincible, this behaviour often comes grinding to a halt when real life catches up to them. However, Bieber has enjoyed unbelievable fame. Armed with limitless riches, status, youth and beauty, he can indulge whatever hedonistic pleasure he wants. Should we be surprised that he has done exactly that?
We created Justin Bieber. We need to get used to the fact that if we shower massive amounts of fame and fortune on a young person, they will likely turn into a monster. When they spiral into partying and drug addiction, the world acts disappointed with them, as if they should know better.
This shock and dismay is a sanctimonious act. As much as we enjoy placing these people on pedestals, we revel in their fall all the more. We barely perceive them as real people. They are the images we want to see in the mirror, illusory friends when our real ones seem less than glamorous or distractions from the banalities of our own lives. We want to think that what celebrities have is so much better than the homework, rejection, chores, loneliness, dead-end jobs and meaninglessness that permeates the rest of the world.
Those who envy Bieber for his life of luxury and ease may be interested to know that there are signs that he’s fed up with his life and wants to escape the entertainment industry. In December he tweeted that he was planning to retire and expressed exasperation with the treatment he has received from entertainment media outlets. “The media talks a lot about me. They make a up a lot of lies and want me to fail but I’m never leaving you, being a belieber is a lifestyle,” he said. We are not sure whether to feel sorry for him or to mock him for living on the moon.
Bieber’s public relations team quickly denied that Bieber was retiring. We often forget that young celebrities are surrounded by cynical or opportunistic people fishing for something — a career opportunity, a shot at fame or even a potential lawsuit. Fame seems sweet until you’re alone with a bunch of yes-men and no real human connection.
Us normal peasants will never experience what that level of fame is like, or what kind of personality it takes to get there, but maybe we should take a moment to be thankful that we’ll never know.