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It’s 2010 and a fresh-faced youngster, standing no taller than 5ft 6, at the tender age of fifteen years has just emerged on the global music scene in some style with his first major hit “Baby”. Teenage girls around the world are starting to take notice and form an almost cult-like following for this young man.
This individual is none other than Justin Bieber, of course. Fast-forward to the present day and, four years later, here he is with a plethora of “best artist” awards and Grammy nominations, as well as a trail of broken records lying in his wake. Coupled with an estimated net worth of $58 million and Forbes officially naming him as the “third most influential celebrity in the world”, it seems like life couldn’t be sweeter for young Justin.
A lengthy list of grievances, however, is building up around the young pop icon, with a string of alleged assaults; one for himself and others for his security team who have been forcefully combatting persistent photographers anxious to snap his day-to-day activities. With popularity comes the heavy burden of constant media demand, something which Bieber has seemingly failed to prepare for.
The assault charges are merely the tip of the iceberg at the minute, as at the end of January the world’s media became fixated on the story of the arrest of the pop-star sensation in Miami under the uncompromising laws of drink-driving, drug influence and resisting arrest. Standard jurisdiction would suggest that any “average person” would be looking at hefty time spent in jail, though 24 hours later Bieber was returning home minus $2,500 which the judge had set bail charges at. Mere pocket-money for a musical maestro selling out entire arenas at $50 a ticket for months on end.
We have now been pushed, by some, into deciding – popstar or criminal? Some people say it’s about time to brandish and question that age old cliché, “too much too young”. We shouldn’t cross any wires here; child superstars have been going off the rails for years, so to speak. Miley Cyrus is another of those who, like Bieber, catches the headlines for her unruly antics just as much as she does for her world famous music.
“Sex, drugs and rock and roll” is a phrase fiercely associated with the emerging rock music culture in America during the 1960s and 1970s. This mantra has long since existed and is regularly exercised by the media as a convenient way of condemning celebrity antics. Of course, Bieber himself in recent weeks has once again drawn comparisons to this type of lifestyle, with disapproving commentators eager to position him under the spotlight as a young boy simply trying to emulate a despicable lifestyle because of his endless supply of luxuries.
Macaulay Culkin would be a much more adequate candidate for this mould; he stood as a child-star in the acting industry with the world at his feet. However, the winds of eminence carried him into the abyss, with a generous helping-hand from drug abuse and an incomprehensible new-found wealth. It would be painfully premature to suggest that Bieber is already going the same way as Culkin, with upcoming singles from his new “Journals” album to be released and yet another film to hit the big screens. 2014 has plenty enough to keep the teen star preoccupied and subsequently out of trouble.
Collectively, it will simply be the overall decision of Justin Bieber as to whether he goes down the same fateful path as the child-sensations before him. The sad reality is that his record label and all affiliated sponsors will steer his ship throughout high tides for as long as he can make them money, and let’s face it, that will not be coming to an end any time soon. Nevertheless, there will come a time when Bieber senses his career coming down the return side of its “peak”. One can only hope that he will then look back proudly upon his many positive achievements and not a scarred blotch of negative events which have may led to him becoming just another long-term casualty of child stardom.