Justin Bieber is experiencing some growing pains.
Despite being named the third most powerful celebrity in the world by Forbes in 2012, earning a reported $55 million over the previous calendar year, the 18-year-old Canadian pop sensation threw a little temper tantrum on Sunday evening during the Grammy Awards. And on Tuesday, responding to a light jab from the Black Keys’ drummer, Patrick Carney, who took home two Grammys, Bieber tweeted to his record 34.3 million followers:
the black keys drummer should be slapped around haha— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) February 12, 2013
The dis, which was retweeted more than 40,000 times, is just another in a long line of puerile missteps by a young über-celebrity—with an unprecedentedly powerful megaphone—who is still ironing out the kinks of adolescence.
Over the last six months or so, Bieber has been pulled over several times by the police in a fleet of luxurious cars, ranging from a chromed-out Fisker Karma to a white Ferrari. The problem, he claimed last week on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, is that his windows are tinted to avoid detection by the paparazzi. According to TMZ, Bieber was photographed back in January smoking what appeared to be a blunt at a party, and also allegedly was captured in photos at a party in early February with what looked like a large bottle of codeine, an essential ingredient in the recreational drug–beverage sizzurp. Some have blamed the influence of rapper Lil Za, a recent addition to Bieber’s crew, for the behavior, and Bieber recently delivered a mock apology for the weed incident on Saturday Night Live.
But let’s face it: driving infractions and minor drug usage is pretty par for the course for any 18-year-old, let alone a rich and famous musician.
The Grammys snafu, however, shows a certain lack of humility.
Like a mini-Kanye, Bieber is convinced that he deserves Grammys. Now, it’s perfectly fine to think this, since the young chap is one of the hardest-working people in music, recording and touring incessantly. And the Grammy Awards, which has become increasingly irrelevant over the years, had no problem bestowing accolades on less deserving acts, like fun. But there’s no need to voice one’s deservedness so brashly—especially when the method of delivery reaches more than 34 million people on Twitter, instantaneously. For a singer who was discovered on YouTube and rose to prominence via social media, Bieber should have a firmer grasp of the delicate nature of Twitter and its consequences.
The Grammys mess started back in early December, when Bieber’s latest album, Believe, a critical and commercial success, failed to receive any nominations.
Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, took to Twitter to voice his disapproval, saying: “I just plain DISAGREE. The kid deserved it. Grammy board u blew it on this one. the hardest thing to do is transition, keep the train moving. the kid delivered. Huge succesful album, sold out tour, and won people over...this time he deserved to be recognized and I dont really have any kind nice positive things to say about a decision i dont agree with.”
The pop star, meanwhile, kept his Twitter finger in check during the announcements, choosing to save his ire for the night of the ceremony.
Less than 30 minutes into the event, Bieber apparently got so frustrated watching the ceremony unfold without him that he tried to provide counterprogramming by setting up a Ustream and tweeting the link to his followers. After experiencing technical difficulties, he tweeted, “since nothing is working and im super upset i feel i gotta make it up to u. i should post a new song on twitter so you can still be excited.” The frustrated tweet received more than 107,000 retweets and 72,000 favorites at time of writing. He then proceeded to post a photo to Instagram of himself shirtless and looking very glum, along with the corresponding message, “Never been so frustrated.” (Earlier in the day he had posted a photo of himself showing off his abs with the note “Ur turn.”)
Twenty minutes later, he finally got his Ustream up and running and tweeted it to his followers. The tweet received more than 55,000 retweets, stealing a sliver of the 28.37 million-strong viewing audience tuning in to the Grammy Awards.
After the ceremony, TMZ ambushed Patrick Carney, the drummer for two-time Grammy winners the Black Keys. After he was asked, “Do you think [Justin Bieber] should have been nominated?” Carney replied, “He’s rich, right?” When the paparazzo pestered him again, asking, “So he could do without the Grammys?” Carney said, “I mean … I don’t know. Grammys are for music, not for money … and I don’t know. He’s making a lot of money. He should be happy, I guess.” The remarks may have been insensitive, but they weren’t too damning. Then Bieber unleashed this tweet: “the black keys drummer should be slapped around haha.”
Such typical teenage behavior is reminiscent of a story told by CSI star Marg Helgenberger in May 2011. Following Bieber’s memorable cameo on the show, the actress claimed Bieber “was kind of a brat” on set. “He locked one of the producers in a closet” and “put his fist through a cake that was on the crafts services table,” she told a French radio show. Or one year before, a then 16-year-old Bieber narrowly avoided arrest after pelting a Maryland state trooper with a water balloon.
It may all be trivial. But the world’s third most powerful celebrity, with the most robust social media following, is a role model to many young girls (and boys). And frankly, he can do much better.
So grow up, Biebs.