Once upon a time America loved Justin Bieber.
We couldn’t get enough of his mop-topped hair, pre-puberty voice, bright eyed ‘kidness,’ and that irrepressible smile.
But the times it seems are a-changing, and a music-centric poll by Public Policy Polling “Americans Hate Justin Bieber,” revealed the country has not only turned their backs on the formerly beloved singer, it came together to do it.
Yes, Bieber has done what Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Bush Jr. couldn’t, and present incumbent President Barack Obama so far hasn’t: Unite the reds, blues and those ever-shifting greys.
Thrown into an uber music superstar soup of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Adele and even social pariah Chris Brown, an older skewed mix of Republicans, Democrats and Indy’s, essentially said Bieber was the all but last one they would fish out.
The exact figures for the 19-year-old?
Opinions on the teen were: 20% favorable, 54% unfavorable and 26% not sure.
But the real kicker? The Canadian was the only artist to punch in a majority of unfavorable ratings across party lines.
It could be worse, but not much.
Brown, who looks set to spend the rest of his natural life in permanent public contempt after his 2009 beat down of his then, now, and perhaps always on-off girlfriend Rihanna, notched up a 57% negative rating. But obviously, that will be small solace to Bieber.
Lady Gaga also scored unfavorably along with Brown, albeit Democrats looked on both artists more favorably than Republicans.
Swift, Adele, Beyonce and Timberlake aced with across-the-board approval ratings of 53%, 54%, 51% and 52% respectively, although more Democrats liked the cut of their jibs than Republicans.
Timberlake’s hip (he takes drugs at music festivals and he’s touring with Jay-Z this summer) but equally urbane (he golfs a lot) appeal, found favor with 34% of all partisans polled as the artist they would most like to see as president.
Sadly, Sid and Nancy aka Brown and Rihanna’s political stump never made it out of the gate — 5% and 2% do not an Oval Office resident make.
Clearly, daily chronicling of Bieber’s Believe tour — paparazzo face-offs, vomiting, fainting, monkey troubles, late concert starts, Anne Frank guestbook faux pas, social media riot acts, shirtlessness, a tour bus drug bust, Dubai speeding fines, did we miss anything out? Oh yes, battery allegations — appear to have taken a toll on the American public’s patience.
So what does this now officially documented mass dislike mean for the Biebs?
A shuffling walk of shame back to Ontario? Public penance perhaps? A year spent as Drake Bell’s runner, swapping out his supercars for a family hatch, tattooing “Sorry” across his forehead, or how about withholding his drop-crotch pants wardrobe à la ‘the helicopter’?
If I may suggest, none of the above. We’ve been here before. Freeze frame some of the biggest names in popular culture and you will find they’ve all spent time in the stocks.
Think a pre-Vegas Elvis Presley scandalizing 50’s America, Elizabeth Taylor’s scarlet lettering only marginally appeased by marriage to Eddie Fisher, and the rage visited on Kristen Stewart post those Rupert Sanders pictures.
To most members of the public, being world famous, especially if you’re an in-your-face, impossibly rich, social media accelerated megastar like Bieber, means you’re fair game.
Add in an entertainment news cycle that feeds on and exploits lowest common denominators like envy, hate, and anger and revels in the type of coverage that today saw much tutting about an Instagram of Bieber legally drinking beer on a South African safari; and one reading of Public Policy’s poll is that the teen star really is an icon of our hypercritical times.
Whether it’s at the beginning, middle or end of their careers, ever-present pap stalking of stars means more are finding themselves in the crosshairs, just ask Reese Witherspoon. The trick is to keep on moving.
Bieber’s recent history may be strewn with actual andperceived missteps and a look further back reveals instances of flipping under pressure, but he does have one advantage. He’s a teenager and whether he knows it or not, he will eventually grow up.
Perhaps one day the vast swathes of the American public that backs politicians who support blocks on expanded background checks on gun owners, are part of the mass apathy toward the over 45 million without basic health insurance, continuing domestic fails like obesity, our prison system and ailing infrastructure, will also grow up and let Justin Bieber stumble into adulthood just like everybody else.