SOMEHOW OR OTHER, I can’t imagine Justin Bieber would have ever envisaged this when he was recording videos in his bedroom all those years ago. ‘This’ being smiling into the camera of Floridian police, pompadour and all, after being arrested for drag racing through the streets of Miami. Under the influence, too. Whether or not he genuinely believed he was living out Need for Speed, the grim reality of life, which is so often blurred between the realms of stardom and normality, has come knocking.
It’s hard to remember the boy we first met in 2009 (and let’s call him that, because his transition into manhood has been indistinct, if it all existent): fresh-faced and baseball-capped, singing his innocent first choruses with a burgeoning feminine fanbase. Since then, our minds have been littered with images of him wandering through hotel lobbies shirtless, smoking, spitting, picking fights with a London paparazzo and now – perhaps inevitably – posing for not another God-forsaken selfie, but a mug shot. How delightful. What the hell happened?
The Bieber Empire, furiously built on relentless publicity and social network domination, is in turmoil. His notoriously beyond-devoted “Beliebers” and hundreds of millions of YouTube hits seem a long way away from a Miami custody desk. I wonder myself if he was wondering ‘what happened?’ when he was let out on bail today. Of course, when you have more than 60 million Facebook likes and are forever surrounded by borderline sociopathic teenage girls wailing “#WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin” in every single possible medium available to you, you must think you’re something special. A demigod. Invincible. But of course, a God wouldn’t get in a car, drunk, to be arrested and appear in court. And more obviously, the boy, whose supposed ‘retirement’ was being discussed just weeks ago, is not invincible. He is merely the cherry-picked product of a digital age, moulded by the mono-dimensional obsessives who buy his music, not least the monopolising moguls in charge of him, who, I’m sure, are staying well away at the moment, during this (in Hollywood standards) most mediocre of meltdowns. The problem here is not necessarily what he has done this week, but that Justin Bieber has been fed a constant diet of self-inflation pills for the last five years. Nourished by the warped ideals of the music industry, he has petulantly passed through puberty – the most defining stage of human existence – with a mangled perception of life and of himself. It has resulted in him simply believing that he is utterly invincible, which is arguably more dangerous than invincibility itself. He has believed that he can go where he wants, say what he wants, and most frighteningly, do what he wants. Remember his bringing a monkey into Munich airport, anyone?
At a time like this, it is only natural to remember 2007, Britney Spears’ annus horribilis, or those countless mug shots of a botox-tainted Lindsay Lohan between her spells in rehabilitation centres. Yet in all that, there seems to be a pattern emerging. Justin Bieber, for all his worth, is simply a victim of the infamous ‘too much, too young’ curse, that has affected many before him, and will do so to many after him. That aside, let’s not forget, however, that
driving drag racing under the influence could have killed somebody. I hope there is Justice for Justin, therefore. Then, perhaps, when he is sitting in a cell or mopping the floor of a youth centre in the Bronx, he might realise what went wrong. Perhaps this might be a lesson to him and his poisonous swarms of fans that actions have consequences. And perhaps most importantly, he might reflect on his experience and put together even a half-meaningful set of lyrics, too.