Dear Justin Bieber…Canada Called. You Can Go Home Now.

Pop culture, for the most part, is really not my thing.  I am a 43 year old mother of a 4 year old son and no teenage daughters, which is why I can proudly say I know nearly NOTHING about Justin Bieber.  I don’t know any of his songs, and I wouldn’t recognize his voice from the sea of other disposable pop songs.  According to recent news stories, he seems to be just another spoiled kid with WAY too much money, privilege and popularity, and he’s using his wealth and fame to be a horrible role model for his fans. Until recently, he was a blip on my personal radar, just another over-groomed pretty boy I would occasionally see on the poster rack at Wal-Mart, or hear about on a commercial break on TV in relation to the Teen Choice Awards, or something of that nature.  When it comes to teen pop celebrities, I could care less than less.

But this week, I have to admit I have gotten somewhat riled up over Justin Bieber.  Several friends of mine posted a news story on Facebook within the past few days, relating to Bieber’s arrest for drag-racing in a Lamborghini in Miami Beach, intoxicated, at 4:00 in the morning.  He mouthed off to the police officer, who noted that he was obviously under the influence (did I mention that he is 19 years old?), and was subsequently arrested.  The photo associated with the article?  His mugshot…he’s smiling.  I don’t know about you, but if I was in that much trouble at 19 years old, I would have been wetting my pants and sobbing as they took my picture, praying that my parents would NEVER find out.

That’s me…but I’m not Justin Bieber.  I read in a follow-up article in our local paper (yes, it made our small-town newspaper) that his bond was posted at $2500.  The person paying that bond is only responsible for 10% of the amount, which means that for $250, he was back out on the street after driving 55-60 mph in a 30 mile zone, driving drunk underage, and committing criminal recklessness and disorderly conduct.  Somehow I suspect if I had done those things, I would NOT be out on the street for $250.  And to open up another can of worms, what if the offender had been an unknown (read: “non-famous”) 19 year old Hispanic or African-American youth? Would they have been free to happily return home for $250 after such a crime spree?

I found it especially noteworthy that he was smiling in his mugshot…I thought that was peculiar at first, but then after a few days I noticed how many people were talking about the incident on social media, and it occurred to me how much free publicity this kid had scored for his antics.

There was another news story that I heard on the radio recently about Justin Bieber visiting the Great Wall of China.  Apparently Bieber was on a press tour, and when they got to the Great Wall, the poor, exhausted, yet seemingly healthy and fit teenager didn’t have the energy to climb all those steps, so he sat in a chair and had his bodyguards carry him up the steps.

Celebrity overexposure is a big problem in our society, and I don’t see it curbing anytime soon.  Americans are insatiable for star gossip, and we can’t get enough, so why should anyone take away our candy?  After all, it’s much easier to digest than REAL news, because at the end of the day, E-news doesn’t really affect us, and it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of world events.  This misdirected attention means that we often miss genuinely significant world events…for example, during the massive civil uprising in Egypt in June 2013, American “news networks” had us all glued to the George Zimmerman trial.  I would wager that most Americans were completely unaware that the events in Egypt even happened, but I bet we all know the verdict of the trial.  Admittedly, there was a lot at stake in terms of racial profiling associated with the trial, but did we have to have FULL coverage of the trial, to the exclusion of all else?

Even if you do your best to ignore it, you can’t always avoid hearing about what flies around in so-called “entertainment news”. You see stories posted on Facebook, on the headlines on magazine covers in the check-out lines, or you hear stories on the radio when in a store. It’s easy to shake our heads and mentally chastise these so-called pop-culture idols (and I confess I am doing just that over Justin Bieber’s ill-conceived antics), but we also have to keep some perspective.

I may be old-fashioned, but I feel that with fame comes a certain amount of responsibility.  I do think that there decent people in the celebrity realm who are crucified for relatively minor indiscretions…things that perhaps even we ourselves have done, but as non-celebrities, we’re allowed to make mistakes, especially if we don’t get busted.  We as a society tend to want our celebrities as flawless in their personal lives as they appear to be on the outside, and when they mess up, we publicly flog them for it.  My husband recently said it well…we want our celebrities up on pedestals so we can knock them off.

But there is a big difference between an indiscretion in an otherwise un-newsworthy life, and living your life as if your fame and wealth makes you untouchable.  And it seems that there has been a rash of young celebrities in the past 15 years that have made a lifestyle of going down the proverbial rabbit hole of crime, drugs, infidelity, etc…we’ve had endless stories about Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, McCauley Culkin, and a host of “reality TV stars”.  And even though I rather pride myself on not knowing which Kardashian is which, or why Snookie, Jon & Kate, or any so-called “Real Housewives” have any business being famous at all, I do appreciate knowing who some of these people are in popular culture because I am a parent, and my child is going to be exposed to them, whether I like it or not.  And I don’t want to be one of those parents who is completely out of the loop.

So many young celebrities who are idolized by kids/teens choose to live self-indulgent, reckless and flamboyant lives with no regard for their young, impressionable fans. They seem to forget that in the age of social media, every time they burp it ends up on Twitter.  And if I were the parent of a young daughter who idolized one of these bulletproof teen stars, I’d have my work cut out for me in terms of explaining how they should only be an example of how NOT to act.  I’m not a prude…I have done things in my life that I will NEVER tell my parents about, and I feel fairly certain that I haven’t made my last mistake in life.  But I do feel that when an entertainer markets themselves to young fans, with their fame should come a sense of responsibility to be a good role model. And if they can’t manage that, they should have a parent or a manager guiding them.  And if they don’t have THAT, maybe we shouldn’t keep making them richer and more famous.

So Mr. Bieber, you may fancy yourself as this generation’s James Dean, but it’s time to get over yourself.  Sure, you’re allowed to make mistakes like any teenage kid, but if you keep making a complete arse of yourself, I truly hope that the authorities get sick of arresting you and ship your sorry butt back to Canada.

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