Admit it: Justin Bieber is no longer the Biebs you once knew. Seventeen, shorn and scandalized—and as of last week, threatening to grow a mustache! Justin Bieber is wading into his late teens with the legacy of his childhood stardom strapped high on his back and the rushing river of adulthood threatening to wash the whole thing away. Don’t buy it? You don’t have to, it just is.
Growing up gracefully is hard to do IRL. In the swirling sea of superstardom, it’s damn near impossible. The entertainment industry is littered with so many shipwrecked lives and careers that the battered, bruised, washed up and burnt out former childhood star has become a cliché, and a cautionary tale.
This is not to say that Justin Bieber is on a collision course with disaster simply because he cut his hair and made some questionable public comments on a controversial issue. But both moves proved divisive, signaling for the first time since Bieber’s debut nearly two years ago that Bieber Fever could eventually cool.
Not that this should come as a surprise. Justin Bieber is no longer a cultural phenomenon; he’s a cultural fact. But now that our initial fascination is wearing off, the question is: Where does he go from here? As shown by the recent media dustups – over his haircut, the marketing of his film Never Say Never through religious channels, his comments to Rolling Stone, his links to Usher and Usher’s possible sex scandal, his mustache! – Bieber news today is driven more by criticism than praise. Bieber and his team are dangerously close to losing control of the narrative and becoming old news. After all, there are only so many times he can cut his hair.
If only he had been a part of a group. Then he could just go solo, hit reset, and we could get to know him all over again, new haircut and all. Hey, it worked for another famous Justin.
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