Is Justin Bieber’s Behavior Helping or Hurting His Image?

March 11th, 2013

(Photo: FameFlynet, Inc)

By Jake Rohn

In recent weeks tween sensation and international heartthrob Justin Bieber has shown the world just how grown up he is. The “As Long as You Love Me” singer started off the year by getting caught on camera smoking marijuana multiple times (which he later admitted and apologized for on Saturday Night Live). More recently, he made headlines overseas by showing up hours late for a concert at London’s O2 Arena, then just last Friday, the pubescent pop star got into a verbal altercation with a UK photog, telling the man “I’ll beat the f–k out of you,” before being whisked away by his security. With a myriad of child stars whose careers fade as their voice deepens, it begs the question: Is Justin Bieber on the path to becoming the next Justin Timberlake or is he spiraling into the world of the many other child stars whose last fleeting moments on TV are a reality show or one of VH1’s famous “Where Are They Now?” specials.

In today’s culture, which thrives on celebrity headlines, it seems that no press really is bad press. In fact, for pop stars, showing that you have an edgier side is often a valuable commodity in the quest for longevity. Britney Spears had a well-documented meltdown, even shaving her own head and going into hiding. A few short years later, it’s as if it never happened. Even Chris Brown, who has been vilified more than just about any figure in popular culture, has somehow managed to maintain a successful music career that seems to grow larger with every Twitter outburst. So what’s the secret?

One answer is summed up in a quote by the great Chris Rock: “If the beat is alright, they’ll dance all night.” People will always respond to good music. Time after time, artists have proven that the ability to rock a crowded club trumps personal shortcomings. From Michael Jackson to D’Angelo, people always judge pop stars on product first. The second answer: People don’t like to be lied to. The reason Ja Rule’s career disappeared faster than a snowball in the desert is because he lied about who he was. Ja Rule’s private school, middle class background was exposed by 50 Cent worse than Eminem’s last opponent in 8 Mile. So what does this all mean for Bieber? If history is any indication of what’s to come, chances are he’ll be fine. His skills are undeniable and his recent transgressions will probably be overlooked the moment he puts out another smash single. The one thing that could hurt him the most is showing up late for shows. Fans seem to remember that. Otherwise his actions look to be that of a typical adolescent and his music has so far adapted to the ever-increasing electronic trend, his voice still melts hearts and his boyish good looks have not left him just yet.

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