Once upon a time, pop singer Justin Bieber was all over the media because of his talent. Whether someone loved or loathed him, it was not difficult to understand why he got so much attention. He was a singer. Nowadays, Justin Bieber is still very much in the media. However, it hardly seems to be based on his talent for music, as it seems to be regarding his talent for getting into trouble. The one thing that hasn’t seemed to change is the support of his fan base, the “Beliebers”. But at this point, what exactly are they supporting? Is there something for the “Beliebers” to truly believe in?
At a young age, the Canadian born youngster managed to transform himself from a YouTube viral star to an actual pop phenomenon. His first extended play, My World, catapulted the then 15-year-old into the spotlight with catchy songs many were probably embarrassed to admit they actually liked. He grew up a bit on his follow-up, 2010’s My World 2.0 and whether you liked it or not, the boy had obvious talent. R&B superstar Usher mentored Justin and the wave of success was massive. His young fans, happily calling themselves “Beliebers”, kept him on top. His first five releases charted in the top 10 on Billboard, which is interesting considering out of the five, only two were actual full length albums of original music (the others consisted of two remix CDs; My World Acoustic and Never Say Never; and a Christmas album, Under The Mistletoe).
By 2012’s Believe, it started to dawn on most that at any given point in time, they were going to run into a Justin Bieber song. Not only had his music seemed to mature, the first single from Believe; the more urban-influenced, Girlfriend, began to crossover into R&B owned radio stations. Justin Bieber was no longer just a pop star, he was a music star. However, other things about him changed as well, beginning with his image.
Long gone were the days of the infamous Bieber hair style. It was eventually replaced by a sleeker cut that mirrored his maturity. The singer started to get a few tattoos, which he proudly showed off. There was a rumor that he impregnated a female fan at one of his concerts. The accusations were eventually proved false. If anything, the rumor added a bit more edge to someone perceived as being clean-cut. There is nothing wrong with wanting to change ones image and to be seen differently, but Justin Bieber took that edge to the max and then some.
There were rumors about him smoking marijuana. Those rumors were eventually proven to be true. There were accusations that stronger drugs might have been consumed by the singer. They were never fully denied. There were speeding issues the singer seemed to have on a constant basis. When he was not driving one of his cars, one of his close friends were behind the wheel and sometimes, the results were disastrous: a paparazzo was killed attempting to take a picture of Justin inside of his yellow Lamborghini. He met a cruel end when he was hit by an oncoming car in another traffic lane. In an ironic twist, Justin Bieber was not the one driving that evening.
More accusations of drug use followed. Violence got into the mix when after being released from a hospital in late 2013, the young star got into a scuffle with a paparazzo. There were missed concert dates and concerts he arrived late to. There were police raids at his house, on his tour bus and even on his private plane. This month alone, the now 20-year-old has been accused of allowing his bodyguard to chase after and beat down a paparazzo. He is also facing a possible theft charge for attempting to steal the cell phone of a woman, as he believed she had been taking pictures of him. The sad thing about these moments are that they are only a small amount of things he has been accused of. That does not include his first formal arrest earlier this year for conducting an alleged drag race down a busy Miami street.
His fans have stood strong by him, more than ever. However, their support of him seems to come at the worst of times. Whenever a negative story about Justin Bieber comes to fruition, the “Beliebers” seem to rally together and protect the young star in the most obscene of ways. Following the initial stories that Justin had been drinking and on drugs the night of the drag race incident, a hashtag on Twitter began to trend, which read “We Will Always Support You, Justin”. He eventually admitted that he had taken Xanax and smoked marijuana on the night of the incident, which left him in an impaired state. Someone could have been injured or worse, possibly killed that night. But still, his fans supported him and promised that nothing would change in their eyes.
Another instance has to do with the “Beliebers” attacking many journalists for simply speaking the truth about the instances Justin has been in trouble. For a while, TMZ dedicated a section of their television show to airing phone calls of angry fans calling into their studio and saying some rather derogatory things to the people who work there. They seem so badly to want to believe their idol, but the “Beliebers” do not seem to be putting their money where their sometimes dirty mouths are.
Justin has released some music since his troubles began, as well as a movie. However, neither seemed to do as well as releases in the past. 2013’s Journals, a compilation album of songs Justin released one at a time through iTunes, did not fare well in sales at all and was his lowest charting release. None of the songs from the album had much radio play. The release right before that, an acoustic version of Believe, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album charts. It might be easy to believe, no pun intended, that the iTunes release negated the need for sales of a physical album, but that has never seemed to stop him from selling and selling well.
His second movie, Justin Bieber: Believe, yes, there is a theme here, opened during Christmas Weekend 2013 and brought in around $3.1 million over those first few days. His first movie, Never Say Never, brought in almost 10 times that amount in its first three days of release. Taking that into account, one can see that the brand of Justin Bieber is not bringing in as much as it used to. So what exactly is being supported?
There was some new music teased earlier this year and Justin has constantly riled fans up with bits and pieces of things he says he is working on, but none have come to fruition. It seems like the only thing being supported is his bad behavior and something our parents instilled in us from a young age is that one does not support bad behavior.
People grow up and change all of the time. It is human nature. Justin Bieber is no longer that 15-year-old boy with the floppy hair who seemed to beckon the world with catchy pop tunes, sweet smiles and songs the older generation liked, even if they did not admit it. Now at 20-years-old, the more we hear about him, the more we hear about his troubles as opposed to the reason he became famous. He recently tweeted that his fans should not “believe the rumors”, something else he has done many times before over these past troubled years. But at some point, one has to admit that rumors are not rumors when there are facts clearly shown and proven. Let us hope something changes in Justin Bieber. If only for his fans, the “Beliebers” want something to believe in.
Opinion by Jonathan Brown