We complain about Justin Bieber, but his problems point to much deeper social concerns.
It seems to be the cool thing to attack Justin Bieber these days.
Whenever his name comes up it’s usually followed by vitriolic comments about how bad his lifestyle is and how great it would be if something awful happened to him. He’s a hated figure among the people who don’t like his music and I find the hatred to be both misplaced and fascinating. To be honest with you, I genuinely like the guy. I have no interest in his music and can only name 2 songs he’s ever made, but so help me, when I look at him I see much of my younger self and I think many other men would to if they were honest with themselves. While it’s clear that he’s on the wrong path in life, I think he needs society’s love and compassion instead of its disgust and blind hatred.
Justin Bieber is only 20 years old
Yes, 20 years old and barely out of his teens. Assuming you’re over the age of 28, can you think back to what you were like in your teenage years or very early 20s? Were you a buttoned down and sensible member of society, or were you a semi out of control little hell raiser with rampaging hormones and a tidal wave of insecurities? Did you know what your place in the world was, or were you just trying to hide the fact that you were lost trying to convince everyone else that you were as confident as they all looked and sounded?
Where you playing by society’s rules, or were you acting out against everything your parents brought you up to believe? Also, assuming you were very well behaved, did you secretly wish you had the courage to cut lose and go wild like the ‘cool kids‘? I know I definitely did, and sadly the majority of us grow up thinking this behaviour is something to aspire to.
When I was 20 I was lost.
I thought the entire world was crazy and waging a personal nuclear war against me. That made me very scared and lonely and manifested in committing a ton of immature and reckless acts, which in hindsight were massive mistakes. Justin Bieber is a 20 year old with all the insecurities that you or I had, but also half a billion in the bank and youthful good looks. He has spent the last quarter of his life being mobbed by legions of screaming fans who faint every time they see him. Given all of the above, I think it’s unrealistic to expect him to act any differently. If I were in the same situation at the very same age, my actions would have been identical..
His reality is completely warped
What I think people find hard to accept is the fact that Justin Bieber simply doesn’t live in the same world as the rest of us. In addition to the hordes of screaming fans who mob him every time he leaves his house, he also has scores of suck-ups and hangers-on in his orbit. These people offer no guidance. They tell him everything he wants to hear, so he’ll keep them around to leach off his fame and status. He also has to deal with the millions of negative, nasty, and downright disgusting comments that people make about him across the western world. Those contrasting experiences mean his brain is probably caught in the middle of an epic tug of war. If I thought you were criticising me at his age, I’d make a point to be even more boisterous just to give you a definitive ‘go fuck yourself’. Something tells me that Justin is the same way.
He’s a celebrity at the worst time in history to be famous
Everybody knows that people like Elvis, The Rolling Stones, and Motley Crew got up to some serious escapades in their heyday. But they had an advantage over Justin Bieber, they were famous in the pre-Internet era. All the hotel rooms they trashed were done at a time when people didn’t have gadgets that allowed them to shoot HD video for the entire world see within seconds. Bieber is going through the craziest time of his life while being a global celebrity and living in the most connected and technologically advanced time the human race has ever seen. That sucks for him. I praise the heavens above that Facebook wasn’t around when I was 20 (2002) because if it was, I doubt I’d be able to live down the amount of embarrassing content I’d be tagged in.
We’ might be more jealous of him than we want to admit
We as a people (especially us guys) need to come clean for a moment. Grand Theft Auto is one of, if not the most popular video game series of all time, and I think the reason for that is clear. The reason Grand Theft Auto is popular is because its engrossing storyline takes place in a world where almost anything goes and we’re free to cut loose to our heart’s extent. I think that deep down a large part of each and every one of us would like to live in a world in which we could do anything we pleased. A world in which we could be, and do, whatever we wanted.
That’s the kind of reality that Justin Bieber actually lives in. He’s an immature global celebrity, and no matter what he does society lets him get away with it. There are no boundaries placed on his actions and it’s unrealistic of us to expect him, and his inherent immaturity, not to take advantage of the situation.
People generally do whatever they can get away with.
Although it’s a terrible thought to address, a number of people are only nice to others because they fear what might happen if they really speak their minds. I think Justin Bieber is living proof because he’s in a position that allows him to get away with a hell of a lot more than most people. If stories are believed, he smoked so much weed on a recent flight that the pilots had to wear oxygen masks, but he faced no legal repercussions when the plane landed.
He’s been known to no-show at recent events and reportedly spat on some of his female fans. Both of the above sound like the actions of a degenerate, but his fans still love him to death and haven’t stopped going to his shows. This is the effect he has on people. Someone who’s lived with that sort of power for the last quarter of his life is going to be deeply affected by it. I think that’s the kind of power that can easily corrupt an uneducated mind, especially a 20 year old one.
He’s on a downward spiral of self-destruction
The sad and sobering thought about Justin Bieber is his lifestyle of poor choices. They are going to catch up with him at some point unless he makes drastic changes. Whether he ends up in rehab, penniless, or God forbid, dead, he’ll have to pay the piper soon enough. When that happens, he’ll have millions of screaming vampires revelling in every last second of his public demise as his world comes crashing down. One thing that we as a society love to do is project our unfulfilled hopes and aspirations onto celebrities as we build them up into modern day gods. Then, once we’ve built them up, we tend to resent the fact that they believe the hype we’ve created and delight in seeing them fall.
Justin Bieber is almost certainly going to experience this first hand. When he does, he’ll probably end up a middle-aged ‘has been’ crippled from years of drug use. He’ll have millions of dollars’ worth of debt, no more attention, and a desperate desire to go back to the glory days that will be gone forever.
His demise might be appealing to some, but not me. Not while I can see that he’s the product of his environment rather than an objective evil. Not when given the right set of circumstances this could easily have happened to yours truly.
What we can do about it
If we want to live in a world with no potential Justin Biebers, we need to find ways to create a world full of happy and well-adjusted individuals with high levels of self-esteem. More effort and energy needs to go into helping people cultivate feelings of genuine love for the person they see in the mirror, so they don’t walk around with deep psychological holes that constantly need filling from external sources. We need a process that involves helping the adults of today get fully in touch with themselves while teaching them how to nurture the children in their lives, so the children don’t develop feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt as they grow older.
Any time I see someone acting like an asshole what I’m really seeing is an insecure person who’s putting up a massive front. If we can help people of the world become whole and complete, we’ll live in a world with fewer idiots.
Do I know exactly how this process would work? No. But I’d love to be a part of that discussion.Bieber fan or not, The Good Men Project always delivers different points of view. Receive our daily or weekly email. Sign up here. Photo: Pancko/AP