Less than 24 hours ago, Justin Bieber was online living up to his professional obligations by tweeting about the release of his latest musical effort, a collaboration with up-and-coming artist Chance the Rapper on a song called “Confident.” (Oh, the irony.)
But just a few hours later, according to the CBC, he went to a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Then, surrounded by an escort of a dozen of Toronto’s finest, he battled his way through a crowd of dozens of photographers, reporters, screaming fans and curious onlookers to turn himself into the authorities to face assault charges.
It was the 19-year-old pop star’s second arrest in a week, coming off a string of public scandals, embarrassments and brushes with the law. This type of meltdown has begun to feel inevitable for stars at Bieber’s level: Justin Bieber is a kid who has had locks of his hair sold on eBay, whose number one fan spends thousands on plastic surgery to look like his idol, who gets relentlessly chased by paparazzi, who has been attacked by fans on stage — not to mention how he’s had his every action, tweet and song analyzed by fans and the media alike.
Let’s do a quick recap of the most recent drama in Bieber’s life: The most recent charges stem from an incident that occurred on December 29, 2013, in which Bieber allegedly assaulted a limousine driver in Toronto. That arrest comes in the wake of charges in Florida including DUI, resisting arrest without violence, and driving on an expired license. Those back-to-back arrests come hot on the heels of allegations that Bieber spearheaded an egging assault on his neighbor’s home in Calabasas, Ca. While egging is usually seen as a harmless teenage prank, the incident caused an estimated $20,000 in damage (those are expensive windows in Calabasas) and led to a dozen Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies raiding Bieber’s home two weeks ago, seizing the security video system as evidence. Detectives are apparently “tightening up” their case against Bieber for his role in the alleged egg attack before meeting with prosecutors in order to decide whether to charge the pop star with felony vandalism.
Probably in an effort to distance himself from his neighbors, Bieber headed to Miami to blow off steam. There, he was taken into custody after he was pulled over on suspicion of drag racing a rented Lamborghini down a residential street. He failed a field sobriety test given to him at the police station and while he passed the Breathalyzer, he allegedly admitted to drinking, using marijuana and taking prescription pills, police said. As the charges against Bieber mounted, a petition to have him deported back to Canada garnered enough signatures that the White House now has to respond to it. His legal team filed a plea of not guilty to those charges on Wednesday, while Bieber was in Panama City, Panama with his mother Pattie Mallette, manager Scooter Braun and mentor Usher, in what some speculated was a mini-intervention for the singer.
Exhausted yet? Just imagine how Justin feels.
Until his support system (and Zach Galifianakis) intervened, on a scale of 1 to Lindsay Lohan, Bieber seemed mere days away from an Amanda Bynes-style bong-throwing incident; he’s in the throes of the kind of epic public meltdown that has become de rigeur for child stars. At the very least, Bieber has a team willing to go to bat for him, as Braun was quick to spring to his defense on Twitter:
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) January 29, 2014
While there’s a certain schadenfreude to seeing a pop star who spent his teen years surrounded by screaming Beliebers begin to take it all for granted and tarnish his own hard-earned reputation, it’s also just plain sad. This video of Bieber from 2007 shows a spirited tween who loves to perform, not the fame monster he’s become:
It’s tough to imagine Bieber still has that love for performing. Now, at the peak of his celebrity, he can’t even do the right thing and turn himself in to Toronto authorities without inadvertently staging a scene that evokes the height of Beatlemania. It’s even sadder because it’s so predictable: Bieber’s path was well-trod before by stars like Lohan, Bynes, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Drew Barrymore and countless others who buckled under the glare of the spotlight.
Coincidentally, Bieber’s great unraveling comes just as a new teenage pop sensation carves out her space in the headlines. Lorde, also known as Ella Yelich-O’Connor, was the youngest performer to top the Billboard charts in almost three decades and as of Sunday, is the youngest ever to take home Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. As she starts out in her career, the 17-year old is already sounding off about the media’s “lecherous gaze.” It doesn’t bode well for the young New Zealander, but at this point, who could fault her for already sounding bitter?