No Longer a Bieber Believer

Many who watched last night’s Grammy Awards wondered where the Biebs was.

Although the twice-nominated pop star didn’t receive any nods this year, the 19-year-old sensation – who Forbes says earned $58 million in 2012 – could have spent the night cavorting with cronies in the Staples Center.

Instead, just days after his arrest for drag racing, driving under the influence (with an expired license) and resisting arrest, Justin Bieber was spotted in Panama.

Perhaps he was looking for a hat like Pharrell Williams’.

BieberMy 13-year-old daughter, for one, didn’t miss him.  According to a text Pea sent me between classes on Thursday morning – the day news of Bieber’s arrest circulated — she is “officially over the Biebs.”

Oh, how quickly they fall.

Less than a year and a half ago Pea and her friend Smiley were rocking out to JB at the Tacoma Dome. The two had, like thousands of other teenage girls, decorated T-shirts for the occasion, in hopes of being spotted and brought on stage for a serenade.

Now that Pea is no longer a Belieber, I hope she will understand the error in how we elevate, adore and ultimately enable young stars.

On Thursday evening, I was so proud that she noted how Seahawk Richard Sherman, an A student and Stanford graduate, had been vilified for his off-the-cuff, post-playoff-game comments, while Bieber – after all his recent shenanigans – is forgiven as a “misguided youth.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have sons close to JB’s age, so I am all for forgiving youthful transgressions.

The problem is more about boosting young singers, actors and athletes onto pedestals and holding them up as role models, watching – and even helping them – fall from grace, and then allowing them to easily wipe the slate clean and start over.

It seems a well-crafted public apology is all that is needed, and then these so-called heroes are back filling stadiums and making millions. What lessons are learned?

So often, pop stars and superstar athletes seem to gain success over night; make oodles of money; abuse drugs, alcohol and rules of the road; ignore marriage vows; get arrested and then rise again. Apparently the message for our youth is, “Go ahead and mess up. We may stomp on you when you fall, but if you have many millions or a high Q Score, we will help you rise again.”

This only perpetuates the hero-worship problem.

As Lauren James of recently pointed out, JB has been riding a “personal-image rollercoaster…and has narrowly avoided being severely reprimanded each time, which has boosted the young star’s ego and seemingly given him a sense of invincibility.”

In fact, The Independent reports this morning that the recent charges against Bieber have been dropped, as his lawyers claimed police had “exaggerated” allegations that JB ingested alcohol, pot and prescription drugs before speeding off in a  $260,000 Lamborghini.

When it comes to our sports stars and celebrities, we never tire of second chances.

Yankees slugger Derek Jeter will play again, and is still a rich man. Lance Armstrong fooled us for years, and I see people wearing Livestrong bracelets. As a society, we have contributed to the problems teen-show stars Amanda Bynes, Demi Levato, Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus have experienced. And, we always celebrate their resurrections.

The very talented young actress Lindsay Lohan has appeared in court nearly 20 times in the past six years, for offenses including resisting arrest, stealing jewelry and brawling in night clubs, and her jail sentences are always shortened due to “overcrowding.” I can’t even talk about Charlie Sheen, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods or Nicole Ritchie.

Life doesn’t work that way for most of us, and it isn’t helpful for our kids to believe that redemption is that simple.

While I’m all for forgiveness, I think accountability and penance are equally as important. I don’t want my kids to believe it’s that easy to eradicate past problems.

And I want them to idolize people who use their power in positive ways. I want them to gain inspiration from actors and singers who donate their millions to the needy, who spend their time working in soup kitchens instead of bar-hopping in Brazil or shopping on Rodeo Drive. I want my sons to revere athletes who volunteer at inner-city Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations, instead of spending their free time on pleasure yachts and their money on custom sports cars.

So, I’m giving permission for young bucks to look past their money-hungry handlers, and think hard about who they want to be and how they want to use their power. And, I’m urging the rest of us to model the right kind of idol worship.

 –       Linda Williams Rorem, 26 Jan. 2014
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  1. Christine Oaks says:

    Per usual you hit the mark in your blog about our kids & the selection of questionable “heroes” like Justin Bieber. While I cast no judgment on the young Bieber, knowing the many land mines that attract 19 year olds, I have stumbled upon a wonderful & truly inspirational site if you’re looking for admirable role models.
    Take a look @ the Congrssion Medal of Honor website. It is the highest honor our government confers & the character, bravery & selflessness if the recipients is nothing short of breathtaking. Award ceremonies are linked via u-tube & the story behind the recipient’s medal is told. These men (almost all are men) are spectacular & humbling at the same time. Worthy of emulation in many ways-worthy of our gratitude surely & definitely worthy of hero status for our sons instead of the relative obscurity many have. Start with one who has become “famous” in recent years, Michael P. Murphy. He was a Navy SEAL & the hero of the book “Sole Survivor” which was made into a movie in 2013. Just one option, but an excellent source of inspiration for young & old alike.

  2. Lovsted Carrie says:

    Great posting! Teenage idols are a great discussion to have with both our sons and daughters! Thanks!


  1. […] While deportation is unlikely, we think our youth do need better role models. See our post No Longer a Bieber Believer. […]

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