Typing the words “Justin Bieber legal issues” into Google yields over 30 million results. Spitting, fighting, Twitter pranks, mop bucket urination, vandalism, the alleged list goes on and on. This morning comes the breaking news that he’s been arrested for DUI and drag racing. Sadly my initial reaction was “GOOD.” Outside of the safety issues of those around him, why did I jump to this emotion so quickly. Maybe more importantly, why do I get the feeling that I’m not alone?
Remorse is a powerful tool. Everyone makes mistakes or uses poor judgement at points in their lives, and when it affects other people physically or emotionally, remorse can show the person responsible knows they are the ones responsible, and are accepting of whatever punishment could be coming their way. More importantly, it shows they are trying to make amends for their actions.
A few celebs who come to mind in this manner: Tracy Morgan, who “joked” at a show that if his son were gay he’d “pull out a knife and stab him.” Shortly thereafter he apologized, said he abhors violence, met with the gay and lesbian community in NYC, shot a PSA with GLADD, and personally apologized to the crowd at the show. That shows remorse. And I respect that.
I don’t think Robert Downey Jr. remembers much from the late 90’s through 2005. Although his problems were mostly self-affecting, they did have an influence on the shows and films he was working on. Woody Allen couldn’t have him in a movie because he couldn’t get him insured. 10 years later, cleaned up and sober, he’s Iron Man for god’s sake. He pulled himself together, mostly for his sake, but he admitted he was in the wrong and fixed it. I respect that.
That’s the key. When someone knows they’ve done something wrong and hurt someone else, if they show they’re truly sorry for something and fight to win them (or us) back, we tend to root for them. When we see them trying to make things right, we want them to succeed. Show us some effort and we’ll cheer you on. Turn the other cheek, and feel our wrath.
Rob Ford. Do I even have to say anything else here? Has the man truly shown remorse for anything he’s done? Not including his groomed public statements, which usually come after a not so apologetic statement that transfers blame and points fingers outwards at everyone else. We all know the man needs help, and hopefully he gets it before he does himself or someone else irreversible harm.
Chris Brown. This man beat a woman’s face to a bloody pulp, and yet he still seems to find ways to portray himself as a victim of the media and the public. Do you know what would go a long way Chris? An apology for being violent, and then stopping with the violence. Instead of attacking Drake. And Frank Ocean. And the dressing room at the Good Morning America. And getting booted out of a 90-day anger management course after 13 days for throwing a rock through your mother’s car window. These things make people not like you, not because we’re “haters”, because you’re not showing any remorse.
And now Bieber. There is no doubt that jealously can lead to hateful thoughts and words, and there are plenty of people who are jealous of Justin Bieber’s youth/fame/fortune/success. He can get mocked his haircut, or what he wears in a picture with the Prime Minister, but these are things that really only affect himself. When he spits on fans from a balcony, or pisses in a mop bucket, or spray paints a wall in Brazil, or drag races in his private community, or eggs his neighbor’s house, or mouths off to customs while a member of his entourage is arrested for drug possession, and shows little to no remorse for these actions…that’s when the general population turns on you. That’s when things that shouldn’t make any difference in the world become rallying points, and when every baby toe over the line gets run over by a public steamroller.
It isn’t that people make mistakes, it’s that they take responsibility for them and try to make amends. You can be judged on what you say, but you’ll always be judged on what you do. And after today’s news, we’ll have to see what Justin Bieber does. Every day is a chance to turn things around, the next step is up to him.
Or at least, his lawyers.