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Justin Bieber, Like Michael Jackson, Headed Toward Self-Destruction

Updated on February 15, 2014

Multimillionaire pop star compares himself to Michael Jackson

Justin Drew Bieber, a Canadian-pop musician, an actor, and a songwriter is headed down the path that Michael Jackson traveled—toward self-destruction. Arrested in Miami, Florida, on January 23 for driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and driving with an expired driver’s license, Bieber’s toxicology report disclosed that he had THC (a component in marijuana) and Xanax (an anti-anxiety medication) in his system, according to Rolling Stone. After his arraignment and release, he went to Instagram and compared himself to Michael Jackson: “What more can they say,” he wrote. One half of the split-screen showed Bieber standing on top of a SUV while the other side showed Jackson standing on top of a vehicle in Santa Monica, waving to fans.

Bieber himself, therefore, suggested that he is traveling the road that Jackson traveled. The hope is that, at some point—before it is too late—he will take a detour-lane along the way.


Unlike many entertainers, Justin Bieber reached stardom almost overnight and at an early age, apparently without much grit and grind, and was discovered by accident and succeeded with raw talent. Early in life, he kept his musical aspirations to himself and focused on hockey, soccer, and chess, according to wikipedia. But, “as he grew up, he taught himself to play the piano, drums, guitar, and trumpet.” At age 12, while still in elementary school in Stafford, Ontario, according to his bio, he performed in a singing competition and came in second place. His single mother, Patricia Mallette, videotaped the songs and posted them on YouTube for family and friends to see.

“While searching for videos of a different singer, Scooter Braun, a former marketing executive, clicked on one of Bieber’s 2007 videos by accident,” according to Wikipedia. “Impressed, Braun tracked down the theater Bieber was performing in, located Bieber’s school, and finally contacted Mallette, who was reluctant” because of Braun’s Jewish faith. Receiving encouragement from her church leaders, however, “she permitted Braun to fly her 13-year-old son to Atlanta, Georgia to record demo tapes. A week later, “he sang for R&B singer-songwriter Usher.”

While he was still recording his debut album, his first single, “One Time,” reached number 12 on the Canadian Hot 100, during the first week it was released. Later that year (2009), it peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “was certified Platinum in Canada and the United States and Gold in Australia and New Zealand.”

At a young age, he has already received recognition from world renowned award-giving organizations. His awards include American Musical Awards’ Artist of the Year in 2010; and in 2012, he was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best New Artist of the Year Award at the 53rd Grammy Awards. In 2012, also, his global fan-base included over 38 million Twitter followers.


Bieber went from “rags to riches,” so to speak, in approximately five years. At age 19, according to TheRichest website, he has a net worth of about $130 million. TheRichest analysis team compiled his earnings and financial data for 2010 to 2013 and posted it on its website. The data “gives a better understanding of [Bieber’s] net worth by breaking down the most relevant financial events such as salaries, contracts, and earn outs, endorsements, stock ownership and much more.”

In 2010, 130 shows of his My World Tour earned $44 Million, along with $3 million in endorsements. In 2011, sales for his “Someday” perfume amounted to $3 million; his project earnings in the United States for Never Say Never amounted to $73 million and in foreign countries amounted $25 million; and sales for his Under the Mistletoe Album brought in $4.4 million. In 2013, tickets sales for 157 shows amounted to $129.5 million; earnings for 122 shows of his Believe Tour amounted to $42.7 million, and earnings for YouTube viewers amounted to $14.43 million.

Still in adolescence, Bieber is a multimillionaire.


So much money and so much prestige at such an early age have the potential for a train wreck, many think. Forbs magazine considers Bieber to be the world’s ninth most powerful celebrity. And certainly, he is a troubled teen, struggling to find his way around the potential adolescent “deep hole,” as developmental psychologists calls it.

Bieber began his career squeaky clean, but that did not last long. He had “several run-ins with the law around the world” before he was arrested in 2014, according to Wikipedia. “In March 2013, Brazil charged him with vandalism; in the same year, Australian and Colombian authorities were upset with his graffiti. In the same year, one of his neighbors accused him of “spitting on him” and even “threatening him,” according to “Two months later, members of [his] neighborhood in Calabasas, California, complained that he was driving too fast in a residential area.” On July 9, 2013, he was “recorded urinating in a janitor’s bucket,” holding a photo of former President Clinton, and yelling “F… Bill Clinton.” On January 14, 2014, his home in California was searched, after he was accused of throwing eggs at his neighbor’s home. According to the New York Daily News, the neighbor said Bieber threw a dozen eggs at his house and caused $20,000 in damages.

On January 23, 2014, Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach for “drag-racing in a rented yellow Lamborghini against a red Ferrari,” wrote Ryan Reed of RollingStone magazine. Bieber and the “other driver used two other vehicles to block traffic in the residential area,” and “both were arrested after police chased the yellow sports car, which was followed by a pack of SUVs,” Reed continued. “Bieber failed a sobriety test at the scene, along with a Breathalyzer test taken at the Miami Beach police station. His $2,500 bond broke down to $1,000 for driving under the influence, $1,000 for resisting arrest, and $500 for driving with an expired license.”

On January 29, 2014, Bieber was held at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after the smell of marijuana prompted his rented plane to be searched by drug-sniffing dogs, according to The Star. Apparently responding to allegations the pilot and flight attendants made, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN that they were looking into whether passengers on the plane (Bieber, his father, and his friends) interfered with the flight crew. “NBC reported that the pilots had to wear oxygen masks because of the pervasive weed smoking and that Justin and his friends were abusive towards the flight attendants,” according to The Star. “An investigation dragged on for most of the afternoon and into evening,” CBS New York reported, “but nothing (no drugs) was found.”


Is there hope for Bieber? Is it possible for him to get back on track? Absolutely! However, advice may differ from person to person. Michael Jackson’s four brothers, performing on television Wednesday, were asked about Bieber’s troubles. One replied jokingly: “He needs a Joe Jackson,” meaning he needs an authority figure and a strong disciplinarian. Appearing on Jay Leno’s show last week, Miley Cyrus, a 21 year-year singer/star, gave Bieber some legal advice. When Leno asked her about Bieber’s legal troubles, she responded: “You’ve got a lot of money. Pay people to make sure you don’t get into trouble.” That is good advice, but Bieber’s father is not likely to become a Joe Jackson, and Bieber is not, presently, listening to the people he is paying.

Psychologists would say Bieber will not change his behavior until he sees a need to change. Behavior psychologists say all behavior is learned and can be unlearned, and new behaviors, learned. They also say all behavior (negative or positive) that is reinforced will maintain itself. Bieber’s hope is certainly in changing his behavior, but what will wake him up to the need to change? One thing that seems to be happening is that his fans, which have been reinforcing his bad behavior, seems—at least to a degree—to be backing away, or stopping to reinforce his bad behavior. An online petition, calling for Bieber’s deportation to Canada, garnered over 100,000 signatures within hours of the incident in Miami. A day later, it had more than 200,000 signatures, according to television reports. 100,000 signatures mandate a response from the president. Although he is not in danger of being deported, this might be a wake-up call for Justin Bieber because his fans are valuable to him.

Hopefully, it is! But if not, he may follow Michael Jackson to the sad end to the talented pop-star’s miraculous career.


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