5 steps Justin Bieber needs to take immediately
“Wait. I’ve already seen this movie and I know how it ends…and it almost always ends badly.”
That’s what I thought this morning when I read about Justin Bieber’s arrest in Miami for driving under the influence and drag racing. Though anyone who has paid any attention to Bieber over the past year could have seen this coming—in fact, the only shock is that it took so long. However, just because someone is on an obvious collision course, that doesn't make the ensuing wreck any less sad.
Bieber has been under a relentless spotlight for more than four years. He’s gone from a 15-year old with a tragically bad haircut and a seemingly preternatural maturity level to a punk who’s acting out every chance he gets.
For the last year or so, very few Bieber headlines have been about his music. Instead, they’ve been about his and his friends’ behavior: speeding through his gated community, egging a neighbor’s house, urinating in a bucket, spitting on his fans, getting caught with pot on his tour bus, sending photos of his penis to ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez…really, there’s no shortage of incidents. None are so major individually as to elicit too much concern, but collectively they are a massive red flag that he is in trouble.
Five steps Justin Bieber needs to take to get his career—and life— back under control before he becomes another fame casualty:
*He needs to go to rehab: After the egging incident and assorted other hijinks, Bieber contested that he was simply being 19. No, he’s simply being 12....or he's being a 19-year old with substantial abuse issues. He needs to realize he has a problem—whether it’s with pot, alcohol, lean, or whatever else is being alleged—and get some help, not only with the physical addiction but with learning what it means to be an adult and to take responsibility for his actions.
*He has to clean house: Bieber has way too many enablers circling him feeding off his fame. According to reports, his entourage blocked off a residential street in Miami last night so he could drag race. Really? No one thought to tell him this might not be a bad idea? Whether it was Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson or a host of other gone-before-their-time superstars, surrounding yourself with people who are paid by you to do your bidding (and, therefore, will never tell you no) is a one-way ticket to disaster. He may need to clean all the way to the top, including manager Scooter Braun— or Braun may be the one person who can still talk sense into his young charge. The usually chatty Braun has been silent on Twitter since Biebs' arrest.
*He needs to disappear for awhile: Bieber hasn’t really had a break since he broke through four years ago: he’s either been on tour or making music. Yes, with teen idols, there is the need to strike while the iron is hot because of the built-in short shelf life, but he has been in the news almost every week. He needs to quit Twitter (his 49 million followers will somehow survive if they don’t know his every thought) and he needs to go to an undisclosed location…perhaps a bunker… and concentrate on being a 19-year old instead of a worldwide superstar.
*He needs to concentrate on the music: Last fall, Bieber released one song each Monday for several weeks before they were collectively available. The #musicmonday series was also meant to build excitement for his new theatrical documentary, “Believe.” The music gained no traction whatsoever and the movie tanked. The problem with the music wasn’t the delivery system, it was that none of the songs were compelling enough to warrant repeat listens. So after a nice, long, healing hiatus, he needs to focus on the music and figure out what works for him because the recent flight of songs didn’t.
*He needs to spend some time with Brad Pitt: Pitt and his partner, Angelina Jolie—our generation’s Richard Burton and Liz Taylor— seem to navigate fame in a way that enables them to shine light on the causes and projects they want to promote. They have cameras in their faces all the time and they never fuss or complain. Yesterday, Bieber posted a picture of what it was like for him at the beach in Miami, and it showed him being stalked by three photographers. It is horrible that he is so mercilessly trailed, but he has to find a way to come to terms with his fame and the paparazzi and no one has done that better than Brad Pitt.