When we did our year-end features last month, we included a piece called "Bieber's Best (Read: Worst) Moments of 2013," but after Justin was arrested in Miami for drag racing while drunk and high on prescription pills and pot, the pop star's misbehaviour is not funny anymore.
There may be a tendency toward comparing Bieber's downward spiral to Britney Spears from a few years ago, but that would be a mistake. Yes, Britney lost her shit but Bieber's acting like an asshole. And there's a huge difference.
The media coverage was comparable, of course, and certainly Spears acted out by partying too much in public, but let's put her 2007 breakdown into perspective. In November 2006, she filed for divorce from K-Fed. In January her aunt, whom she was close with, died of cancer. In February she briefly checked into rehab, then fled and infamously shaved her head. She entered other treatment centres over the next month or so. Later that year, she lost custody of her children. And then the following January she had a breakdown as they were being taken away and she was hospitalized on a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold and diagnosed as bipolar.
During all this she was being followed by a paparazzi operating under an unprecedented intensity -- which nearly led to a "Britney Law" restricting their activities -- and was allegedly being drugged by manager-slash-svengali Sam Lufti, who was later hit with a restraining order in Feb 2008, just when her life got back on track.
Oh, and in the middle of all this, Spears also released her best album, Blackout and arguably her best song, "Piece of Me."
So Brit had real grown-up problems and real bad influences that led to her downward spiral. Bieber, well, broke up with Selena and turned 19, I guess.
Up until recently, his acting out has seemed like typical teenage stuff. He moved into his own place, partied with friends, graffiti'd walls, drove too fast and egged his neighbour's house. All of this would have been minor events in many (jerky) teenage boys' lives. Bieber's bad behaviour was magnified because of his fame and we could joke about how much his Jesus tattoo must disapprove.
I mean, really, the L.A. county sheriff can pretend all he wants that he's treating Beiber's egg raid the same as he would any non-celebrity, but most eggings don't result in 11 cop cars executing a felony search warrant followed by a press conference.
This new arrest, though, is different. Drag racing is a real problem, and driving under the influence is even worse. Combining the two -- and in a residential neighbourhood, no less -- is a recipe for death. This is not a joke charge like the other one, and it's not boys-being-boys, either. It's deadly.
At her worst, Spears was declared a danger to herself. Bieber is now a danger to others.
The media, us included, have had a lot of laughs from Bieber being smuggled out of a brothel or attacking the paparazzi or peeing into a mop bucket or losing his pet monkey. But there have been other instances, too, which were not so funny: threatening his neighbour, getting busted with a stun gun, the 911 calls about passed-out partiers and, just last week, the report that he'd developed a codeine habit and was refusing his team's urging to go to rehab.
Hopefully, this arrest will result in Bieber going both to rehab and to jail. The kid has talent, that's obvious to anyone who's seen the home movie footage in the Bieber doc Never Say Never, but it can only be squandered for so long. Based on the box office failure of his follow-up doc, Believe, and the barely-there sales of his new album, Journals, the public has had enough. So if he doesn't go to jail, at least he might just go away.
We don't need him anyway, we still have Britney.
Not to mention Miley, who by the way also broke free from her goody-two-shoes child star image without getting into any trouble at all offstage.
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In an example of saying something you never should, Bieber tweeted that The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney should be “slapped around haha.” (Following Carney’s statement that Bieber shouldn’t be angry over a lack of Grammy because he’s rich.) Great. So that’s when Carney got equally irrational: changing his Twitter handle to “Justin Bieber” for a weekend in an attempt to rile the fanbase and prove his own comedic talents. The bad news? Justin’s fans have a penchant for using “gay” as an insult. The good? Justin never wrote back.
After underage members of his entourage were turned away from Bieber’s birthday, the now-19-year-old pop star tweeted the lowly, “Worst birthday ever.” Not to turn this into a competition or anything, but until the guy he likes eggs his house on his birthday morning, Justin Bieber has got nothing on some of us.
Few of us can imagine being followed around by men fighting to take our picture all day every day, so ultimately, we’ll never know how stressful, invasive, or terrible it can feel – especially at an age where rationality isn’t exactly at a premium. So maybe we would’ve done this a lot sooner: jumped out a van to tell a pap we’d “fucking kill them” after they slagged us off. However, we are lowly mortals. Biebs has been in the industry since before puberty – so maybe it’s time to tap into the Zen.
During a European stop this spring, Justin visited the Anne Frank House; the place in which the Frank family hid from the Nazis during the Holocaust (in case you hate history and have refused to learn about it until this point). So as one does, Bieber signed the guest book: “Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would’ve been a belieber.” Yikes. However, the wee pop star found an unlikely ally in Anne Frank’s stepsister, who came to his defense following the fallout. “It’s so childish,” said 83-year-old Auschwitz survivor Eva Schloss. “He’s a young man, and she’s a young girl, and she liked film stars and music.” And who are we to argue with that?
A stun gun and pot were found on Justin Bieber’s bus in Sweden, according to Swedish police, which J-Biebs adamantly denied via Twitter -- sort of: “Some of the rumours about me…where do people even get this stuff. Whatever…back to the music.” (Where do people get this stuff, Justin? Like, if I wanted a stun gun. Where do I get one, since it seems like you know?)
After backing out of a payment deal with an indoor skydiving facility in Las Vegas, Justin Bieber was effectively banned for life, likely making it the first time someone has ever screwed up that badly in Las Vegas. (Which arguably actually makes this an achievement.)
Listen, we’ve all not wanted to hold it, but none of us – none of us (not even the guy from high school who still drinks in the 7-11 parking lot) – would pee in a restaurant mop bucket, no matter how badly we needed to go. Why? Because we’ve all worked jobs that have involved using a mop bucket. Also: because we are not morphing into the entitled anti-Christ. However, most puzzling was Justin Bieber’s outburst at the end of his “rest room” visit, declaring “Fuck Bill Clinton!” (And listen, buddy, we don’t blame you if want to be married to Hillary, but peeing in mop buckets isn’t how you win her heart.)
Or maybe not. Despite reports – and images – that Justin Bieber was spitting onto a group of fans from a Toronto balcony, he and his camp claimed that wasn’t the case, and that he bought them hot chocolate and played new music for them instead. Either way, points lost for spitting over the balcony at all. You’re an adult, son. Swallow your spit like the rest of us.
It was bad enough Justin Bieber seemingly jumped on the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning bandwagon, but then he stood on the head of their logo, and touched the Stanley Cup with his bare hands. Fortunately for Bieber, the Blackhawks still come out looking worse: their name and logo still culturally misappropriates Native Americans, after all.
After being rushed by a man in a Toronto nightclub, Justin Bieber and his men sprang into action (read: his bodyguards took the man down, and Justin Bieber kicked at him), and a disaster was averted. However, more disastrous was the loss of Bieber’s $40,000 gold chain. (So don’t say he has everything, you guys.)
At some point during the year, Justin forgot he once recorded a Christmas album, and sanctioned himself badass enough to dabble in graffiti. However, the real problem was his penchant for racist imagery: his most recent “work” (an image of a monkey decked out in cold) arguably drew far too many parallels to racist imagery of the past. So while he was reportedly charged with vandalism, may the real lesson be “read books before doing anything else again, Justin Bieber.”
For the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with brothels. The sex industry is older than any of us, and in the case of Justin Bieber, he was simply participating in an age-old activity with a consenting woman who was doing her job. However, it was the messy and impromptu exit from the Brazilian brothel that made the whole thing an ordeal: rushed out under a bed sheet (from the brothel, so for the love of all that is good, please let it have been clean), Justin slinked out. But seriously bro, if you’re old enough to go to a brothel, you’re old enough to leave it like a grown up adult.
After Justin’s pet monkey was left in Germany in March, it found solace in a German zoo – one now waiting for $11 000 from Bieber. Says the zoo’s lawyer, “If Mr. Bieber will not settle his costs, the payment might have to be enforced when he will enter Germany again.” That’s all well and good, but I just can’t believe that with his power and influence, Justin didn’t get his monkey on Sprockets.
Follow Joshua Ostroff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joshuaostroff