Before Justin Bieber set foot on San Diego's Valley View Casino Center stage Saturday night for his first show back to the "Believe" tour after a five week break, he did something that in many ways themed the rest of the night ahead.
Before the concert, the singer met with Marisa Cox, a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who is also a kidney and liver transplant patient and has had over 35 surgeries.
Her mother, Adele, told Fox 5 her daughter recovers faster after surgery after listening to Bieber's music or watching his videos/film and has always wanted to meet the pop star and touch his hand.
The visit was arranged through the combined efforts of Adele --- who founded the Down Syndrome Center at San Diego's Rady Children's Hospital, DS Action (a fundraiser group), family friends --- and two hosts, Jagger and Kristi, from the local Magic 92.5 radio station.
Marisa got to meet her inspiration before the show, notably 24 hours after World Down Syndrome Day as noted by the DS Action team.
The singer posted a message about their encounter to his Twitter account Sunday, saying: "one of the best parts of the job. nice meeting you Marisa. stay strong for me!"
Bieber's timeline also mentioned part of a brief but heartfelt statement he made onstage at the San Diego show. During his set closers "Boyfriend" and "Baby," the pop star asked the excitable 9,800 crowd to quieten, then said:
"There's something I want to get off my chest." He added. "A lot has been said [about me] over the past few months. All I want to say is: 'I do this all for you'."
Possibly alluding to remarks made by other celebrities such as Kid Rock, and most certainly to the wide reporting of alleged and actual incidents that took place before and during his time off, Bieber's attempt to connect past the reckless, rehab-bound, thug persona he evidently feels is being constructed by, and in, the general press; is a timely reminder of two things.
Firstly; that behind the headlines --- many of which are sensationalized, while others appear to be generated by outlets invested in demonstrably spurious content, and/or specific media outlets with apparent ties to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department whose reporting could arguably be seen as accelerating the ongoing investigations of Bieber and/or his bodyguards and tensions in the star's Calabasas, California neighborhood --- there may be gaping and exculpatory holes in what outlets think they know about these cases.
Scroll to 5:30 for Bieber's brief statement:
As seen in the still continuing alleged reckless driving investigation of Bieber following accusations of speeding his Ferrari along the roads of his gated Calabasas, CA, neighborhood over Memorial Day Weekend, and the alleged hit and run of a paparazzo outside the Laugh Factory comedy club in West Hollywood; initially blared and recycled conclusions have since given way to 180 degree outcomes.
On the basis of security video footage which showed Bieber riding a motorcycle behind his Ferrari which was being driven by the rapper Tyler Okonma (The Creator), and Tyler's public admission of that fact, TMZ reports that it's "virtually certain" the Canadian will not be prosecuted in the alleged reckless driving case.
The teen was also recently cleared of all wrongdoing by L.A. police in the Laugh Factory incident after it reportedly became clear from witnesses and the chaotic situation seen in footage, that the paparazzo's intent to get a money shot at any cost was the stronger causal element.
Secondly; what if the above two examples of early guilt-by-assumption followed by exoneration, are forerunners of what's to come in the other Bieber investigations and the more damaging stories in circulation now?
Because, in the meantime, the glut of media reporting and paparazzi attention (who, in fact, service the fourth estate), is clearly negatively affecting a 19-year-old.
To what extent isn't known. But it's been going on long enough to merit some degree of caution by those of us, in whatever role that may be (editor, entertainment writer, journalist, etc), in regard to what we put into the public slipstream.
Some of extracts below are defamatory and false, others alleged and still to be determined, most are likely exaggerated, and it's possible none, one, or some of these may have veracity.
Inflationary baiting such as --- "posse terrorizes neighborhood," "singer stoned out of his box" "star and security grope girls in Austrian club," "King Kevi BFF sizzurp supplier" "Memorial Day segway riding, weed weekend," "temper tantrum Elizabeth Arden photoshoot," "stage delay down to video games," "Who's the daddy? second paternity scandal," "manager desperate wants singer in rehab," and almost countless more --- gets the clicks, but not without cost.
Back at Saturday's concert, Bieber wasn't the only one with something to declare. Some fans in the audience prearranged to hold up signs that read "Unbreakable." It was a message meant to inspire the teen singer and continued the night's theme of connection.
Ahead of Monday's Believe tour concert at L.A.'s Staples Center, Bieber's manager Scooter Braun reached out on Twitter for contact details for Makalya Gonsalves' family. Makalya is a four-year-old girl who suffers from an aggressive and very rare form of brain cancer.
On January 7 of this year, Makayla had her first brain surgery to remove the tumor and is currently in between chemotherapy treatments. The little girl is a big fan of Justin's and the Gonsalves family say he "keeps her smiling" through her procedures. The family are taking Makayla to Bieber's June 24 concert and she begins her next chemotherapy course the day after.
The family have been trying to arrange a pre-concert meet between Bieber and Makayla and have been helped in their efforts by a dedicated group of fans. Now, that Braun has reached back, it's highly likely the meet will happen.
But, perhaps more than anything, San Diego was a chance for the pop star to break through some of the noise that engulfs him and do what he has consistently done with his fans, children in need, and the numerous outreach efforts [for details click here and here] he has supported throughout his career to date.
These qualities get far less play in the press, mainly because scandal --- real or invented --- sells better. Given that so many have exercised their freedom to speech vent mostly malignant opinions about the teen star these past months, it seems only fair to allow Justin Bieber a few balanced inches.
[Image via Just Jared]
Note: An update was made to this article. Despite Fox 5 Morning News' claim on the video that they contributed to the Marisa Cox-Justin Bieber meeting, IQ were informed they did not. This has now been corrected. Magic 92.5 were always included in the text but we have also added the DJ's names.