Justin Bieber: The backlash builds

2013-05-31 12:20
Andy Goldberg
Los Angeles - Ever since he became an internet superstar at 14 in 2008, Justin Bieber has projected a picture of teenage wholesomeness in stark contrast to the usual image of young pop stars as spoiled, egocentric and self-entitled brats.

But in the last few weeks, that image has begun to unravel with the speed of a roaring Ferrari, as young Justin engages in the kind of teenage shenanigans that most American youth are famous for: driving too fast, smoking weed, binge drinking and sneaking into nightclubs despite being underage.

As for sex, he's even been hit by a new paternity suit by a woman who claims he fathered her child in a post-concert quickie.

Complaints from neighbours

Another low point came when Bieber was attempting to show some cultural maturity by visiting the Anne Frank Museum, dedicated to the memory of the young Dutch girl whose Holocaust diary became one of the most famous testaments to the inhumanity of the Nazi regime.

"Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber," Bieber wrote in the museum's visitor book, to howls from critics.

In normal teenagers such things would be dismissed with a resigned shrug of the shoulders. But in the case of Bieber they have been making headlines around the world, and raised the real possibility that the once squeaky-clean heartthrob could be getting into trouble with the law.

The Los Angeles district attorney is already considering whether to press charges against the singer for an altercation in March in which Bieber is alleged to have spat at a neighbour who had the temerity to complain about his fast driving and loud partying in their exclusive gated community in an LA suburb.

This week, police launched a new investigation into Bieber after his neighbours once again complained to police about him recklessly driving his white Ferrari through the quiet residential streets.

Smoking dagga

The complainers weren't just plain old suburbanites jealous of their young neighbour's youth, fame and fortune. They included retired American football star Keyshawn Johnson - with his own history of obnoxious behaviour - who was so spooked by the erratic driving that he hurried his 3-year-old daughter back inside and out of danger.

The incident is still under investigation, and deputies plan to send a reckless driving report to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to consider filing misdemeanor charges in the next few weeks.

That must have put young Bieber under a bit of pressure, which is probably why he visited three nightclubs Wednesday night, from which he was photographed leaving with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Bieber has made a habit of smoking dagga, according to celebrity tattle website TMZ.com, which reported that he has been spotted cruising through his neighbourhood on a Segway while puffing on fat joints.

'He is a teenager'

Such issues have been like manna to celebrity websites where Bieber's critics are commenting on his antics by the thousands.

"This kid needs some adult supervision," said one of the more than 3 700 comments on a Yahoo story.

"This is why KIDS should remain KIDS. (...) It's great and all that the boy could sing, but his life is a train wreck, hardly successful in my eyes!" said another.

Bieber's defenders seem few and far between, but one of them is singer Usher, who tried to put things in perspective in an interview with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres.

"We hope that in his transition that he will continue to just mature," said Usher, who signed Bieber to his label in 2008. "But in this day's age of social media there is no privacy. That kind of trial and elimination period is done in front of a camera.

"I don't look at it as a negative, though," the R&B star continued. "I look at it as a teenager. He is a teenager having to live his life in front of a camera. Imagine if you had to do that as a teenager. (...) You go through something to get to something in life. If there were no humps in life, there'd be nothing to get over."


  • Susan Gunning - 2013-05-31 13:28

    such a talented guy at such a young age...now he is paying the price for his fortune. This is what happens when all of a sudden you have all the rights to your hard earned money. Lets hope he doesn't turn out like the other "child stars" and will start focussing on his career and life path a bit more.

  • John Smith - 2013-06-01 18:38

    Too much money and too much fame at an early age...

  • Jonathan Darrel Woodruff - 2013-06-04 16:23

    Usher, surprisingly, is absolutely right.

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