Celebrities are products of their environment

If you’ve taken a look at social media in the past week, you’ve probably heard about Justin Bieber. Early in the morning of Jan. 23, the wayward singer was arrested in Miami on multiple charges: namely, driving under the influence of multiple substances, resisting arrest, and using an expired driver’s license.

Bieber’s actions immediately sparked anger and condemnation among the general public, feelings that intensified when Bieber’s mug shot showed him sporting what I can only characterize as a carefree grin. To add to the controversy, he was quickly granted bail set at $2,500 US, waved to fans as he left prison, and was spotted that Saturday enjoying a day at the beach in Panama.

While the legions of “Beliebers” were incredibly vocal in coming to his defence, many people felt that Bieber wasn’t taking the situation seriously. I felt the same way, actually, when I heard about what happened.

But writing a column condemning the singer’s actions and calling for strict punishment would be taking the easy route here, and that has never been my goal with this column. I aim to start a dialogue and see both sides of the issues, so, to that end, I’m going to do something that I never thought I would do.

I’m going to defend the actions of Justin Bieber.

Many critics of the situation point out that Bieber is likely to receive much more lax treatment in prosecution and, if found guilty, sentencing than you or I would face in his circumstances. Citing such high profile incidents as the arrests of Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes, it’s a common sentiment that Bieber will receive no more than a slap on the wrist compared to the probable prison sentence of the average person.

What these critics are forgetting is that Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, and Justin Bieber are not average people, and they know it. In the case of our precocious Canadian pop star, Bieber has spent the last six years living a life in which he is idolized by his fans and obeyed by his friends. With an estimated net worth of $160 million US, he has more money, fame, and power than many of us can even imagine.

In these past six years, Bieber has gotten used to getting what he wants, precisely because he has the means to make it happen. The night of his arrest, members of Bieber’s entourage—including his father—were blocking traffic so that he could race against R&B star Khalil. Why? Because Bieber wanted to, and he has enough power that such a request will be granted.

As a society, we gave him this power by buying his CDs, going to his concerts, and generally making him feel like he was better than the rest of us. Even more than that, we took a thirteen-year-old boy and put him under a microscope for the remainder of his time as a teenager. These are usually the most difficult and troubling years of any person’s life, and we made Justin Bieber spend them under constant scrutiny.

None of this excuses what Bieber did on Jan. 23, or justifies the fact that he will most likely escape any major consequences. If anything, the reasoning supplied in this article speaks to a greater need for intervention, as it’s doubtful Bieber’s behaviour will improve without some help.

All I hoped to convey here is that our society had its role in making Justin Bieber the way he is. From the incessant adulation of his fans to the perpetual analysis from the media, we created this monster and now we’re upset that he’s out of control. So no matter what happens when Bieber is eventually brought to the courtroom, our celebrity-obsessed culture is just as guilty as he is.

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