Flash back to July, 2009: A 15-year-old Justin Bieber releases his first single, One Time, and instantly becomes one of America’s biggest pop stars. Over the next four years, the young singer rides the wave to superstardom and enjoys a time when everything he touches turns to gold. Things get rocky in early 2013 when Bieber and fellow pop star Selena Gomez call it quits. A run-in with paparazzi quickly ensues, as does an embarrassing public urination video, a Twitter retirement announcement, and, most recently, a DUI arrest. As the world watches Justin Bieber’s rise and fall, one can’t help but wonder: Who is really to blame?
America has watched its fair share of young celebrities as they attempt to navigate the tricky world of growing up in the public eye. Lindsay Lohan stumbled and fell on her face, baring her crotch to the world in the process. Britney Spears had a couple of short-lived mis-marriages and shocked the world when she walked out of a California salon with a bald head. Mary Kate Olsen, beloved star of the Friday night hit sitcom Full House, battled anorexia and drug addiction before finding her feet. Amy Winehouse, Brittany Murphy, River Phoenix, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Nicole Richie, and Amanda Bynes all share similar stories. The list of young celebs who get tangled up in the world of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll goes on and on and on.
Adolescence, the time that marks the transition from kid to adult, is hard enough as it is. Psychology Today describes adolescence as a “time of both disorientation and discovery,” calling it a transitional period during which young people develop independence and self-identity. Experimentation with alcohol, drugs, and sexuality is common during adolescent years. Friends and external appearances become most important as pressures to succeed and be accepted increase. Regardless of how well-adjusted or well-parented kids are, the teen years are never easy. They are, and will always be, a time of unique stress and can carry their fair share of trauma.
Difficult enough for normal people, adolescence seems to be even more challenging for young celebs. Child stars are thrust into a superficial world of money, power, greed, and influence where, due to their superstar power, they are treated like royalty. The world worships them – bowing at their feet, watching every moment, and judging every action. In cases like Justin Bieber’s rise and fall from superstardom, some continue to wonder who really is to blame.
It’s silly to expect that a child can mature into a well-adjusted adult while simultaneously navigating an unorthodox world most of America will never really understand. Can it be done? Absolutely. Just look at former child stars like Jodi Foster, Natalie Portman, and Justin Timberlake. Is it easy? Hardly.
Although Bieber continues to fall flat as of late, many Bieberbots stand by, waiting and watching to see what the pop star might do next. While Justin Bieber’s rise and fall may be more entertaining than stories about John McCain’s alleged too-liberal voting record, other factors, like the tumultuous adolescent years, may be partially to blame as well. Hopefully, the Biebs will make it through to the other side with his saggy pants and boxers intact.
Opinion By Katie Bloomstrom