Justin Bieber gets an unfair reputation. In the wake of his majorly outrageous (and, at times, illegal) hijinks, this statement sounds questionable. Unfortunately, it's a statement I haven't given up on since six years ago, when I was defending Justin for his "girly voice." A few years later, I was fervently promoting his movie and (somewhat politely) lashing out at those who criticized his ever-changing hair. More recently, I've attempted to be a sacred protector of Jelena, the whirlwind celebrity romance between Justin and Selena Gomez.
Now, I'm left to pick up the broken shards of Justin's explosive ego, as he courts Anne Frank, urinates in restaurant mop buckets, and walks across the beloved Chicago Blackhawks logo, which allegedly brings bad luck to the Stanley Cup 2013 Champions.
Why have I always been so defensive over the Biebs? Well, aside from his beautiful face and surprisingly toned abs, I've always felt that there is more than meets the eye with Justin. While many say actions speak louder than words in terms of his bad behavior, it's also important to consider the numerous POSITIVE actions Justin has taken in his life to not only help himself, but to help others.
For starters, Justin has been heavily involved in the charity Pencils for Promise, which raises funds to build schools in third world countries. One dollar from every Justin Bieber concert ticket sold is automatically donated to the charity, aiding in the development of schools specifically in Guatemala. While many can argue that his management team dresses him up with these philanthropic headlines, it's hard for any Bieber fan to forget Avalanna Routh, the 6-year-old girl whose fight with cancer touched Justin personally. Known amongst fans and family as "Mrs. Bieber," Justin often flew Avalanna out to shows and spent plenty of time with her, even traveling to wherever she was in order to foster a unique fan-to-star relationship. Likewise, Justin has been a reliable supporter of the Make-a-Wish foundation, meeting with terminally ill children whenever and wherever possible. Although charity work doesn't justify (GET IT?! JUSTIFY?!) Justin's many missteps, it gives me hope that he cares about issues beyond himself.
In terms of maintaining Justin, I put 100 percent faith in Scooter Braun, Justin's longtime manager, and Usher, pop sensation and mentor to the 19-year-old star. Having discovered and worked with Justin since he was pint-sized, I've chosen to believe that Braun is someone Justin can heavily trust and rely on when he gets into trouble. Likewise, I believe Braun has somewhat of a leash on Justin, and if anything were to go too far, the reins would be pulled in. Similarly, if you've ever seen Usher on NBC's hit singing show The Voice, you would know that Usher doesn't fool around. He's a creative and thorough coach, but he's extremely tough and straightforward when he needs to be. If both Braun and Usher felt Justin was completely out of control, I think they would lay down the hammer on him in a much more serious way. Although money, fame and power can corrupt, I believe that Justin's bond with both authority figures in his life prevents him from unleashing any sort of wrath on either of them.
It's difficult to ignore the fact that Justin is also going through what could arguably be his first heartbreak. After having an incredibly public yet deeply personal relationship with Selena Gomez, the stress of having to recover from a break-up after two years of dating in the spotlight is inconceivable for all us commoners. It seems dumb to blame Justin's poor behavior on a teenage romance, but let's examine some past offenders of the same situation: 1) When Nick Jonas and Miley Cyrus separated in 2007, Cyrus died her hair black to combat the image of herself that Jonas had pushed for 2) Taylor Swift's numerous bad break-ups have resulted in hit (although meddlesome) songs, causing lots of opinions to erupt on whether her or her ex's are the problem and 3) I think we all can remember how off-the-rails Britney Spears went following her terminated relationship with Justin Timberlake. The public makes it impossible for Justin to grieve over his ended relationship, causing anger and resentment towards the industry that made him successful. Likewise, most of the information leaking about the break-up sheds a negative light on Justin, which probably has caused him unimaginable amounts of anger and/or humiliation. The fact of the matter is, we'll never really know how the relationship was or how it ended. All we have is hearsay, and even if Selena or Justin were to step forward in a confessional type interview, we would only have a one-sided story.
What most recently has made me especially defensive of Justin in the aftermath of this break-up is Selena's new song, "Love Will Remember," which is supposedly about Justin and their relationship. At the top of the track, over a simple beat, a voicemail-type recording plays in which a boy professes his love for Gomez and refers to her as his "princess," insisting she is "worthy of all the love in the world." While this would seem unique to a song, the issue lies in that the voice sounds identical to that of Justin's. What upsets me about this is that Selena is seemingly exploiting Justin in a vulnerable moment in order to either prove that Justin has given up on the relationship, or to simply sell records. If what Justin is saying in the voicemail is no longer true, that doesn't mean it was false at the time he recorded it. Furthermore, if the recording isn't even that of Justin's, it was a dig at him and intended to say, "Look at how much you loved me -- what happened?" In any event, I feel for Justin and feel his feelings shouldn't be laid on the line in order to sell music. Selena's song would've been just as compelling without the recorded voicemail. Why try to hurt someone when you don't have to?
Perhaps Justin's greatest form of defense is his artistry. If you've ever seen Justin in concert, you would know that his performances speak for themselves. He brings 100 percent of himself to the stage, from dancing, to singing, to fan interaction, he is always willing to slap on a smile and get out there, because it's what he loves to do. Justin doesn't go through this entire life for the money and fame. What has always come first and last for Justin is his music and his value as an entertainer, and I believe if he was no longer invested in himself as a musician he would give up. But that's something Justin has never done -- he's never given up. Throughout a grueling traveling schedule, throwing up on stage, fainting down a stairwell and plenty of life endangering mobs and situations, Justin has never said, "I'm done." He's kept performing, kept signing autographs, kept tweeting. Although many see Justin Bieber as a villain, he's really the anti-hero: for every thing he's done that saddened, angered, or shocked me, I've still stayed true to him, because despite all his shortcomings, he is truly a remarkable talent and an incredible performer. He's only human, and young, and young people make mistakes. Maybe it's time we closed our minds and opened our hearts to Justin as the teenage boy he is, rather than the enormously popular pop phenomenon.
If you want to start beliebing, maybe the best place is with Justin's most recent release, Believe Acoustic. Or, follow him on Instagram, because I swear, those shirtless selfies can make ANYONE fall in love.