01/23/2014 12:08 EST | Updated 03/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Don't Compare Bieber's "Problems" to Britney's Meltdown

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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