Poor Justin, he obviously isn’t enjoying life. Or maybe he’s been enjoying it a little too much. You could see this coming two years ago as he seemed set on slipping into the empty shoes of the ultimate Boy Wonder, Michael Jackson - as well as the masks, mannerisms and, of course, a monkey!
But then, like Jacko, Justin was forced into a celebrity mould from a very early age; performing in the streets at just six years old. Of course, he was always going to make it. With a dedicated Mum, an unrelenting social media campaign, that distinctive voice and those angelic looks, he could hardly fail. Still barely out of his teens, the Canadian superstar shows no sign of losing his sparkle, despite some worrying behaviour and a spate of bad publicity, including the latest drag-come-drink debacle which many other lads have experienced – but out of the glare of publicity and in (slightly cheaper) old bangers!
Today, Justin has around 45 million Twitter followers who continue to grow “at a rate of one new follower every other second.” He also has the multi-million dollar mansion, a Ferrari, a Ducati motorcycle and all the toys a teenage boy could possibly want.
Nothing wrong with that, of course. Yet, for all his wealth and undoubted success, I feel sorry for him. In his position, most young men must eventually tire of the constant attention, the pressure of being on show, of having to be nice – even to the preying paparazzi. Unlike the rest of us, Justin can’t give in to normal teenage moodiness, must never lose his temper (unless he wants scores of column inches in the press), always look ‘swag’ and never, ever be himself in public.
Another downside is what Justin calls the ‘haters’. For envy can be manifest in several ways, from persistent stalking to outright threats, ridicule and hateful comments. Just like a fairground ‘Aunt Sally’, those on whom fortune seem to smile are there to be thwacked by the ungenerous and resentful – if not by a coconut then, at the very least, a vicious verbal brick or nasty tweet.
And, if you crave to be the next Big Thing, think about the negatives which celebrities, including Justin, have to cope with:
The problem with fame is the unwelcome attention it can bring. Paparazzi and stalkers go with the territory, of course, and anyone in the public eye is a potential target for kidnappers and assassins. (The attempted kidnapping of singer Joss Stone is a case in point.) If this weren’t worrying enough, there’s a need to protect family members too, and while 24-hour security can be reassuring, it can also be restricting.
Loss of freedom
Once a person becomes known, he or she is public property. The usual activities most people take for granted, such as walking the dog, nipping to the supermarket, or going to the movies suddenly become military-style manoeuvres. Alternatively, the celebrity may simply opt for a life of seclusion, spending their days behind locked iron gates with less freedom than a Carmelite nun!
Loss of privacy
In common with many of his fellow A-Listers, Justin no doubt bewails the lack of privacy. Nowadays, he can rarely enjoy a meal or a quiet cup of coffee without being approached by curious fans.
And just imagine the discipline it would take never to be caught in a less than flattering pose. Whereas most people can afford the occasional sly scratch or burp, and may be forgiven for absent-mindedly picking their noses, any similar lapse by Justin could well make front-page news.
Lies, gossip, rumours and slander
If fame brings admiration, it also invites site, jealousy and exploitation. All it takes is a chance remark from someone pretending to be in the know and your reputation could be in tatters.
‘Kiss and Tell’ stories by publicity-hungry wannabes, faint praise by unscrupulous colleagues or negative comments from anyone with a grudge are all fodder to voracious media who delight in smashing the very idols they help to create. Rumours abound.
Change of personality
There are famous people who keep their feet on the ground, usually respected professionals for whom fame is merely a by-product of their career rather than an end in itself.
Sadly though, even serious artists, sports personalities and performers can succumb to fame’s not-so-subtle snares. When star-struck fans queue for hours to get a glimpse of you, when sycophants agree with every word you say, when everything you wear meets with acclaim and applause and your looks, style and attitude are slavishly copied, it takes superhuman effort not to listen to the hype, especially if you’ve been hearing it throughout your adolescence.
Young celebrities are particularly vulnerable; the more their egos are massaged and inflated, the more adulation they crave and the more unreasonable their behaviour becomes until that nice boy next door or kind-hearted girl who loves her mum are totally unrecognisable. A diva is created.
Conversely, no matter how great the ego, the smaller the self-esteem and the more a celebrity may lose sight of the person they really are. They may feel vulnerable and even paranoid, which causes them to retreat even further behind their carefully crafted image. And the more famous they become, the less satisfied they are.
Loneliness and strained relationships
For all their millions of fans, superstars are often lonely people, cut off from reality, stifled by their monstrous self-regard and unable to form lasting friendships. Good advice is often viewed as criticism. Genuine friends tend to distance themselves as the superficial takes precedence in the celebrity’s life.
Marriages are particularly vulnerable. A charismatic, good-looking actor or artist of any genre will be targeted by scalp hunters and gold diggers. By the very nature of their craft, they’ll be working with other beautiful, talented performers and, when temptations inevitably arise, loyalty to a mate may often go out of the window, resulting in marriage breakdowns or, at the very least, a serious lack of trust.
Certain professions are notorious for attracting all sorts of unsavoury influences. Where there’s money and glamour there will inevitably be drugs, drink and promiscuity in abundance. Just think how many wonderful, talented people have been destroyed by such practices, no doubt introduced at an early age by people pretending to be their friends.
Of course, there are survivors. Not every star turns to alcohol, mind-altering substances or a series of unsuitable affairs. But even celebrities with iron-cast self-control and all the Botox in the world can’t stop the march of time. Eventually, youth begins to fade and despite the miracles of cosmetic surgery can’t alter the audience’s perception.
This is when stars begin to ‘reinvent’ themselves – again – becoming more outrageous in a desperate attempt to gain attention, which is food and drink to seasoned entertainers.
But in a field where youth is everything and fame is fickle, a fading star may find the only avenues left open are reality shows.