Justin Bieber has no doubt seen and heard the deafening Internet reaction to pictures of him ascending the Great Wall of China borne aloft by two of his bodyguards.
Roundly criticized by a battalion of commentators and even some of his fans, the 19-year-old was most likely larking about with his crew at the centuries-old wonder of the world and may not have thought there was anything wrong with getting a princely assist.
And is there, really, in the great scheme of things?
Currently in China on the Asia leg of his Believe tour odyssey, like his infamous April visit to another historic site — Amsterdam’s Anne Frank museum — Bieber’s attempt at “culture” has landed him in yet another fine mess.
Sadly, or not, depending on your view of the teen star’s PR masterclass year, this fresh new hell comes after his refreshingly, self-aware turn on Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns series. Bieber’s scripted but nevertheless ragingly, funny sparring-cum-whipping-session with the Hangover star gave rise to talk of burgeoning maturity.
But wait, maybe all is not lost?
© Justin Bieber Instagram
Sure, Bieber’s recent incident-prone history stands on record for all to see — the paparazzo run-ins, allegations, late concerts, spitting off a balcony (Note :There are questions over the “on fans” claim), mop bucket, nightclub dramas, neighbor wars et al — but it seems the pop prince may be entering a timely, existential phase.
Earlier today, the Canadian uploaded an undeniably Emo photo of himself to his Instagram account. Naturally, he was shirtless, but it was pensive.
It follows three previous Instagrams posted yesterday, two of which appear to indicate a time of reflection may be upon the Biebs. Of course, now that I’ve said that he’ll probably upload a photo of himself riding through Shanghai with two Ladyboys on a Segway. But you get the point. Growth could be on the horizon.
Bieber may have millions, talent, and (for the most part) the devotion of fans, but every artist wants respect. And, in that aspect, the teen star is most definitely wanting. It can’t be much fun being constantly dubbed a “Diva”, “Elf King,” “Emperor,” “Douchebag,” “Super Brat” and all the rest, especially when your sense of self is still forming.
© Believe Tour Updates Twitter
If Justin’s Emo display is a sign he is reaching out, there are no shortage of shoulders. In addition to Miley “Molly” Cyrus’ public pearls of wisdom offered courtesy of Rolling Stone, Elton John, Sting, Judd Apatow, Channing Tatum and a host of others have also given their two cents on the “Baby” singer.
Somewhat ironically perhaps the best advice comes from a man Bieber has been compared to, ex-rapper Vanilla Ice. Speaking to TMZ Live, Robert Van Winkle shared his take on the perils of early fame, adulation and dizzying fortune, based on his own turbulent years in the spotlight and how he survived them.
“I wouldn’t wish my life on my worst enemy, and to be honest with you, I wouldn’t trade it with anybody today,” the 45-year-old told TMZ, alluding to his drug-fueled time at the top and the decline that followed.
Directing his comments to both Miley and Justin, Ice referred to that tricky transition period faced by child stars attempting to forge adult careers.
© Justin Bieber Instagram
“In their mind, they’re trying to adapt to being an adult in reality, [but] live their artificial life with all their fans, to please them as well.” Ice explained. “So it’s a confusing moment for them. If they make it and survive through, hopefully they can end up like I have. I’m very grateful for where I am today.”
Adding that real friends and family are key to navigate these gilded trenches, he said of Bieber:
“There’s gonna be a time when the music is gone, and he’s gonna have to figure out what’s his purpose in life. How does he fit into real reality, and being a real person, and not having the fans and the people around him that are fake. It’s like a snowglobe, man. You shake it up and it all has to settle. And when it settles, he’ll figure out who he is.”
Next to real scandals Bieber’s Great Wall of China shenanigans aren’t seismic, despite the hyperbole coverage. So here’s hoping this young man does “figure” out his extraordinary year and find a way to his personal summit.
Frankly, any adult commentator who can even vaguely imagine magnifying their own teen exploits through the lens of a 24/7 news cycle should be hoping for the same.