When observing from afar the circus surrounding the life of Justin Bieber, I can’t help but be reminded of a certain episode of South Park.
The boys cross paths with Britney Spears in the middle of a media-fuelled crisis, driven to attempted suicide and with only half of her head intact, and set about helping her evade the paparazzi’s relentless gaze.
Of course, it’s later revealed that Spears had secretly been sentenced to death by media as part of an ancient ritual supposed to reap a plentiful harvest.
In the end, she is literally photographed to death.
Crazy, I know, but it’s an interesting take on the impact of the cult-like scrutiny placed on young celebrities like Bieber.
Regardless of what you think of Bieber – his music, his money or his persona – surely you can sympathise with the man.
The 23-year-old who can’t even stop in for a cheeky Nandos in Auburn without being surrounded by screaming “fans” within 10 minutes.
His life is the envy of all in many ways, but the mental anguish associated with his very existence should not be underestimated.
Probably the first time I've felt sorry for Justin Bieber. The poor guy can't even go for chicken without a mob of baying fans tailing him. pic.twitter.com/yzgLYr24y2— Joe Ellison (@Chevychased) March 17, 2017
We’ve already seen a few very public breakdowns in the past. That notorious smiling mug shot after being arrested in LA springs to mind and it can be argued that he’s just a brat.
But we must ask ourselves, especially my colleagues in the media, are we being responsible by fuelling this obsession with the bloke?
I personally don’t get why people would want to camp outside a takeaway chicken shop to catch a glimpse of a celebrity.
I have no doubt the media’s identification of Bieber as a click-baiting inch-filler is driving that obsession, but at what cost?
Will we only be satisfied when we see his life and undoubted talent unravel? His transformation from golden boy to laughing stock complete.
The pressure placed on the proverbial punching bags that are Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios by an Australian media desperate for a hero has undoubtedly contributed to their on and off-court meltdowns.
So how about we lay off these young men who, despite their obvious flaws, are exactly that – young men. We could lose them completely if we don’t cut them some slack, and give them space to breathe.
- Heath Parkes-Hupton is a reporter with Fairfax Media in north-west Sydney.