“What an appalling way for a young man with such privilege to live his life,” fumed Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail. Bad enough that teenage pop star Justin Bieber should be arrested for a “drink-and-drugs bender” in Miami, but then he emerged to give a defiant salute to his fans.
“Remorse? Contrition? Shame? Forget it. Here was a star milking every second of his new notoriety, while casting off the squeaky-clean image of his youth.” The effect on his fans of seeing him posing alongside a yellow Lamborghini in low-hanging leather black jeans was to suggest that their idol “is not just some reckless idiot heading for an early grave, but a cool dude sticking two fingers up to the authorities”.
The young pop prodigy was only 12 when his first home-made videos arrived on the internet. Since then, says Tony Allen-Mills in The Sunday Times, his “boyish looks, glamorous lifestyle and even more glamorous girlfiends” have helped propel him “to a height of global fandom that few other entertainers can match”.
The official Facebook page for The Beatles has received 39 million likes; Bieber has 63 million. But while one American TV pundit opined that he is “on the path to destruction”, not everyone is convinced. Was this escapade, perhaps, little more than a marketing ploy to show that Bieber has a hitherto hidden “dark side”?
The headlines about what happened were certainly alarming. Bieber was alleged to have been racing a Lamborghini against a souped-up Ferrari driven by a friend down a quiet residential street. The police report said that before his arrest he had “consumed some alcohol… been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication”.
Yet, says Allen-Mills, the report also said that this so-called drag race “had reached the white-knuckle speed of ‘55mph – 60mph’ on a street with a 30mph speed limit. Given that the Lambo’s top speed is a reported 198mph, Bieber “does not seem to have floored it”.
It’s also emerged that among the friends who helpfully blocked off the street to make sure no one got hurt was Bieber’s father, Jeremy, 38, a heavily tattooed martial arts enthusiast. “Far from being a rebel without a cause, Bieber turns out to be the rebel whose dad came along for the ride.”
As for the alcohol: the pop star did fail a field sobriety test – which includes walking in a straight line – but it now looks as if he hadn’t had more than a single beer.
So this supposedly drink-fuelled race was conducted at 55mph in a carefully closed-off street and involved very little drink. What, then, is the truth about 19-year-old Bieber? Is he really a “lost boy”, asks Allen-Mills, “lurching down the familiar path to drug addiction, revolt and disaster? Or is he merely a bored star, tired of toothpaste smiles and screaming 12-year-olds and seeking a little outlaw cred? Not too much, mind you: he is from Canada, after all.”
I suspect any self-respecting rock star of the 1970s would have regarded Bieber’s stunt as about as pointless as a quiet night in with a cup of cocoa.
Tabloid money: why not work in Costa while you chase your dreams?
• What’s wrong with Tory MP Esther McVey saying young people should take low-paid jobs at Costa coffee shops – or anywhere, for that matter? asks Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. “From the public outcry you’d think she’d suggested they all be publicly flogged. McVey’s not saying young people should junk their dreams – just that they should earn money while they chase them. Before I got my first job on a weekly paper I worked in a fish and chip shop, a café, a supermarket and a garage. For a whole year I went home smelling of either petrol or chip fat. Working in a coffee shop is not demeaning. NOT working is what’s demeaning. That’s what makes people feel helpless, hopeless and useless to the point where they can’t even try for jobs because their confidence is shot.”
• Bill Gates reckons foreign aid is such a great idea that he’s donated more than £18bn to the world’s poor through his foundation, says Tony Parsons in The Sun. We too believe in foreign aid, sending it to “economic powerhouses such as China and India, where they have their own space programmes – and even their own foreign-aid programmes! We ship foreign aid to Africa to prop up brutal regimes… But full credit to Bill Gates – he is giving his own money to the poor of the world. When David Cameron hands out 0.7% of our national income, he has to steal it from the taxpayer.”
• “Athlete Mo Farah covers distances very quickly,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “Just over a year back he was part of a campaign to persuade George Osborne to clamp down on tax-dodging firms. Now he’s announced that he will be living in the US… to avoid paying the right amount of tax on his humungous salary. So long, Mo – it was nice to have known you.”