Twenty years ago today, Justin Bieber’s parents welcomed the baby that would send preteen and teenage girls’ hearts aflutter. They likely didn’t expect that their young man would grow into a millionaire who is now facing a myriad of criminal charges for less than savory behavior. So, as the world says, “Happy birthday, Justin Bieber,” what is the young man doing to celebrate turning 20?
Justin Bieber is likely better known now for his mug shot where he is grinning widely and likely high than he is for the YouTube videos that megastar Usher saw when Bieber was a preteen. Those videos led to Usher signing the young talent to his label and sending Bieber into the megastar status he has come to enjoy today. Many may look at Bieber and think that the young star is one of the most fortunate young men in the world to have reached the heights he has at such a young age. The unfortunate part of all this is that history tends to rear its ugly head, time and time again.
Chris Farley was a young comedian when he died of drug intoxication at 33, and while his hefty weight was a contributing factor in his death, there is no arguing that Farley enjoyed the party scene that came with being a celebrity at times. Jim Morrison of the Doors was well known for his dabbling in drugs and alcohol; he died at 27. Both of these young men were cut down in their prime, and both were considered highly talented in their respective fields. Both shot to meteoric fame and, like the stars in space, exploded when the pressure got too high.
In saying “Happy birthday” to Justin Bieber, the question arises: how long before Bieber goes nova? He appears well on his way, between dabbling with prescription drugs and marijuana and hosting what appear to be all night parties. He has become more known for hanging out with a bit of a sketchy crowd than he has for his bubblegum pop ditties. The public can also see, based on the news reports that swirl around him on a regular basis, that Usher is no longer as prominent a figure as he once was, though he was apparently on hand during a recent trip to Panama. Selena Gomez has faded to the background. Bieber has done an outstanding job of estranging those who supported him most.
The pressures are undoubtedly extreme for the singer. He has been making more money than most people see in a lifetime since he was a preteen, and that is an insane experience to even imagine, let alone experience in real life. He has had cute girls – and likely some boys – swoon at his feet; he is not an unattractive young man. However, although he said a few months ago that he was retiring from the music business, can he really afford to? He has become quite accustomed to having the money to do what he wants when he wants to, and those who call him friend are no doubt accustomed to having a steady stream of money handy to feed their own habits. At the rate Bieber is going, there will be no money because he has spent the lion’s share of it vacationing and partying.
At this point, it would be difficult to lay the blame for Bieber’s current situation at his parents’ feet, and many have tried. The pop star has professed his love for his mother, Patti Mallette, on more than a few occasions, and it is clear he is close with her. His father, Jeremy Bieber, has been known to party with his son in clubs and on planes on a few occasions. Both have said that they are trying to let their boy live his life on his own terms, although it is hard to let go.
Fair enough, but even as they wish their son Justin Bieber a happy 20th birthday, they must be wondering how to bring their son back from his trip off the rails. It is one thing to change your image – every teenager has done that during their transition to adulthood – but it is quite another to change your lifestyle completely, apparently discard your friends and behave in a way that appears completely contrary to previous behavior. Bieber is not cold and calculating, as evidenced by continued charity works that he seems to enjoy, but it seems as though he is merely another teen who has fallen in with the wrong crowd as he makes his first foray into adulthood. What could be truly tragic in all this is if this superstar, like so many before him – and like he appears to be on track for – goes nova, bringing yet another young life to a tragic end.
By Christina St-Jean