Justin Bieber: We’re All to Blame

Mar 10 • Blog • 20853 Views • 2 Comments on Justin Bieber: We’re All to Blame

I’ve spent a lot of time defending Justin Bieber over the past few years. Not because I particularly like his music, and not even because my kids are fans (they aren’t): I defended him because he was a kid, and all kids make mistakes. It’s just that most of them don’t have to make their mistakes with the world watching. The mother in me wanted to protect him. Bieber-a-few-years-back-JPG

Then this morning, a Toronto radio station played some clips of his deposition in the lawsuit filed against him after his security allegedly beat up a photographer in Florida. The clips are available on TMZ, if you really want to hear them.

When I heard the clips, I was angry: he was mouthy, belligerent, and just plain bratty. I was driving along, steam coming out of my ears as my train of thought continued. I thought of the videos I’ve seen of him before fame hit, busking on the steps of Stratford’s Avon Theatre. I thought of a segment on “Ellen” several years ago where he went to an elementary school in one of the poorest sections of LA to bring a massive donation of school supplies. No doubt the supplies were sponsored, but what struck me was that he could have gone in, done his good deed and left, but he didn’t: he stayed there with those kids, listened to them, and told them his story. He was visibly moved by that visit.

I thought about a fourteen-year-old kid who put videos of himself singing on YouTube: a kid like a lot of kids, who just wanted to perform, and then I really got angry.

All I could think about was how this child was exploited. The entertainment industry takes people, chews them up and spits them out on a regular basis. It’s a horrible thing for even adults to deal with, but we let them do this to children, and then have the gall to insult those same children when they break down from the pressure.

In those clips that I heard, on top of sounding arrogant, it was fairly clear to me that he was on… something, and a scenario emerged in my mind. A kid, full of energy, explodes into the stratosphere of teen idoldom. This kid, trying to please everyone exhausts himself. Except that now he’s not just a person, he’s an industry: dozens of people’s livelihoods depend on this kid performing concerts, appearing on radio and TV shows and events, being everywhere, and being everything to everyone. His parents, who should be protecting him, are now on his payroll. Are you able to tell your boss to go to his room?

The kid is tired, needs a break, but that can’t happen, because people will lose money. So someone says to him, “Here, just take this to get through this next concert, and then you can have a break.” But there’s always a “just this next” and so the kid keeps taking whatever it is, until he needs something else. Meanwhile, the kid is still being told that they’re the greatest entertainer ever, because as long as the kid believes that, they’re more willing to keep going, so as not to “disappoint the fans.” Lack of judgement, from youth, and from the “something” he’s constantly being handed, makes his ego explode, and he starts acting out, because really, who’s going to stop him?

I’m not saying that this is what happened to Justin Bieber. I have no inside knowledge of his life or career. But really, is it that far-fetched of a scenario? If it didn’t happen to him, it could have happened to Lindsay Lohan, or any other child star whose name later becomes the butt of jokes, a cautionary tale. Apparently we didn’t learn anything from the life and death of Judy Garland. justin-bieber-mug-shot

But we don’t care. We want our pop culture, our entertainment. You can’t have a family movie without the cute kids in it! Preteen girls need the sweet face of their favourite singer to swoon over!

At what point, though, do we say “enough is enough”? When does society as a whole decide that it’s not okay to put a kid on a “worst dressed list” or to stalk them for a picture of them kissing a new girlfriend or boyfriend? When do we say that it’s not okay for a kid to be the sole support for their entire family?

I don’t know the answer, but I wish we’d at least start the conversation.

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2 Responses to Justin Bieber: We’re All to Blame

  1. Lindsey Anderson says:

    Honestly.Cynthia..I blame the parents. Here is why. I have teens..I am constantly berated for letting them fall on their face..they get an F on a test? It’s their fault, not the teachers and I dont argue it for them. They want to join a club at school? Fill out paperwork needed, figure out the deadline..let me know. I will not remind you . And they have missed deadlines and the opportunities. Our generation of parents are ridiculous. The average 18-20 yr old has a record amount of depression right now.. why? Life is dissappointing. They fall and no longer can Mom and Dad cover their ass. His parents wanted to live the life. No kid on their own signs up for this. Mom and Dad are doing drugs..buying him drugs..cars..women..they love it. He is their ticket in….

    Now, he is officially an adult..pity is gone. He needs to take charge. He puts others in jeopardy driving around wasted..treats women bought or willing, like crap. He is a adult making choices..no one..NO ONE to blame but him. I had pity for him as a kid..no way was he not driven by uneducated, insecure adults. He is an adult one and frankly, I don’t respect him at all. He is trash.

    • Cynthia says:

      I’m not at all disagreeing that the parents have a large amount of responsibility here. Quite frankly, they should have done a better job of protecting him. But a pop star of that magnitude, at such a young age, doesn’t have a typical upbringing. They don’t have the pressure of remembering to hand in a paper so that they get good grades and can go to college, they have the responsibility for people’s livelihoods.

      And don’t get me wrong: I totally believe that he needs to be held accountable for his actions. Truthfully, that’s the only chance he’s going to have to get it together at this point. He NEEDS to be told no, you cannot do that, and this is what happens if you don’t. But the point that I’m making isn’t even just about Bieber: it’s that we need to take a hard look at the exploitation of children in the entertainment industry. I do NOT believe that that kid from Stratford would be acting this way had he not been introduced to that world.

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