Justin Bieber and Harper Lee: At first glance, it doesn’t really look as if the two have much in common. One is a 22-year-old pop star, perhaps one of the biggest names on the planet, and the other is a recently deceased novelist, famous for her books To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.
While the similarity between the two isn’t immediately apparent, the fact remains that both shared a similar concern: the fear of disappointing fans.
Justin Bieber recently announced that he would cancel all of his fan meet-and-greets going forward, writing on Instagram that “the pressure of meeting people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to be is so much for me to handle and a lot on my shoulders. Never want to disappoint.”
Throughout her life, Harper Lee expressed a similar sentiment. The novelist, who passed away in February, was a huge star in her own right. With the immediate success of To Kill a Mockingbird in 1961 and an eventual Pulitzer Prize, Lee was arguably one of the most recognizable and accomplished writers of her time. She’s already gone down as one of the classic voices in American literature.
And like Justin Bieber, Harper Lee was uncomfortable with the expectations of others, so much so that Lee opted to live a reclusive lifestyle for much of her adulthood.
For her 2014 book The Mockingbird Next Door, author Marja Mills had an opportunity to move in next door to Harper Lee and get to know the then-octagenarian about her time life and her decisions to avoid the public spotlight.
— LIFE (@LIFE) March 17, 2016
In her book, Mills writes about a woman who didn’t want to deal with living up to “impossible expectations” in regards to a second book. But she also wrote about a woman who was afraid of not living up to expectations of what fans thought she should be, both as an author and as a person. In fact, a 2015 article published by the Lansing State Journal details a chance encounter Harper Lee had with a fan, after which Lee reportedly said, “I hope I didn’t disappoint her.”
As a result of these feelings, Lee swore off interviews and avoided fan encounters at all costs. Lee simply didn’t like the “pressure and the publicity” associated with her stardom.
Justin Bieber Cancels ‘Draining’ Fan Meet-and-Greet Sessions – Newsweek https://t.co/AAhfiCXC0j
— JustinBiberbiography (@JustinBiberbiog) March 23, 2016
Her decision to avoid fan encounters wasn’t really all that different from Justin Bieber’s recent decision to call off fan meet-and-greets. On a personal level, it seems as if the reasoning behind Bieber’s decision is the same as the reasoning behind Harper Lee’s efforts to avoid the pressure of what fans thought she should be.
Reports indicate that Justin’s decision to cancel meet-and-greets wasn’t only influenced by the draining exhaustion he felt at meeting with fans. Additionally, Bieber’s security team influenced the decision after the safety of the 22-year-old “What Do You Mean” singer came into question at a recent event. Find out more about Justin Bieber’s canceled meet-and-greets in the video below.
In a culture that acts as if celebrities owe fans a piece of themselves, decisions like the one made by Lee and Bieber can be wildly unpopular. That’s certainly the case with Bieber’s recent decision, as fans who had already purchased meet-and-greet tickets and tickets for one-on-one experiences took to social media to express their displeasure. One can only imagine how fans would have reacted had social media been around during the height of Harper Lee’s popularity.
Lee’s unease with her fame just goes to show that Justin Bieber’s decision to forego one-on-one time with fans isn’t completely unprecedented. Other entertainment celebrities before Bieber have done the same, and for the same reason.
Find out more about Harper Lee, her privacy, and her life in the video below.
[Photo by Mat Harward/Getty Images Entertainment]