Justin Bieber has had one of the most unpredictable careers in pop music. Starting out as a viral child star on YouTube, he was scouted out and introduced to Usher, and the rest is pop culture history.
Since then, he has made the transition from child to teenager to adult, and his relationship with his fans has resembled a constantly spinning unspooling thread, winding back and forth between DUI arrests, peeing in mop buckets, and basically following the prototypical time-tested model of extremely famous child star turned uncontrollable and hated teen.
It seemed Bieber was destined to burn out early, a victim of his own fame. But everything changed in November 2015.Bieber did a total 180. As a child star, he was beloved by his fanbase, and mocked mercilessly by young adults. Hating on Bieber was the cool thing to do. Enter Purpose. The album, produced by EDM heavyweights like Skrillex and Diplo, was an absolute hit with the same demographics that once derided Bieber as a childish artist. He crafted a hit project that was in line with modern music, and totally revamped his image as an artist who was here to stay in the new era of pop music. But the saga of Bieber keeps unfolding. Now, he’s been banned from China for “bad behavior”, punched a fan at the tail end of 2016, and has accidentally hit a member of the paparazzi in a truck. A combination of bad luck, and the recklessness that anyone at his level of lifelong fame would be used to, have led him to pen a long note to his fans about the latest news to break from the Bieber camp: The Purpose World Tour was cancelled. Without explanation, theories ran wild. But now, Bieber himself has given a statement on the matter.
It’s a funny thing, when celebrities use Instagram screenshots of notes or documents to communicate written ideas with fans. Why not launch a WordPress? Or a newsletter? It’s funny that a photo site is used for prose. Rapper The Game is also infamous for his incredibly long Instagram posts with an absurd number of hashtags at the end. Twitter fingers, Insta fingers, maybe a podcast would be better? The post is rambling, but it was likely all written in one burst of inspiration. Bieber just seems worn-out, and he needs a break for a while. Seems perfectly fine to me – he wants to learn from his mistakes and be a better human without pushing himself constantly until he makes a poor decision due to overwork and stress. At least, that’s how I take it. It’s pretty sweet to be able to quit work and just take off some time, knowing you can come back whenever and no one will bat an eye! Overwork is certainly an issue for the Western world. And in an interesting twist, Carl Jung once made a religious argument as to why this is.
Jung argued that because Christ died at age 30, the Western world has only planned the structure of a full life with youth in mind. The extended burnout of 60 plus years in the workforce is ignored, while the first 20 years of life are structured heavily by changing grades, schools and internships. Maybe we should take heed from Bieber’s woes and see that millions of Americans feel the same thing, but are unable to take time off. John Maynard Keynes, arguably the most important economist to ever live, once believed that people in the future would work for only a handful of hours per day as technology became more capable. If productivity is eternally rising, but overall morale keeps dripping away, we may have to consider the structure of modern adult life more carefully.