Fans of ?Game of Thrones? know Joffrey Baratheon all too well. For the uninitiated, he is the strong-willed, supremely arrogant young king who occupies the Iron Throne and rules with an utter disregard for the welfare and concerns of others.
For non-fans of that HBO series, just imagine him as Justin Bieber, only without the sunglasses and Ferrari.
When Bieber hits the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday night, he will do so while dragging enough baggage to clog a major airport. There is a tipping point in the career of many artists when the danger arises that an imperious attitude might become more prominent a feature than real talent and appeal. When that happens, and corrective measures aren?t implemented, the artist can become known as a royal pain in the fanny for the rest of his days.
Bieber has arrived at those dubious crossroads.
Bad Bieber news seems to be accelerating as fast as the singer himself around his gated community in Calabasas, Calif. He has caused great consternation among the populace there, who accuse him of racing his white Ferrari around at high speeds despite the fact that children are present in the area. New speeding complaints were just made last week, and neighbors met early this week to discuss the matter.
Former USC and NFL star Keyshawn Johnson made news when he tried to confront him once, but Bieber reportedly hid inside his Calabasas house and waited for the big angry football player to go away. Other neighborhood non-Beliebers have complained openly about his raucous behavior and his loud parties, with several threatening to withhold homeowners? association dues?about $1,000 per month?until the Bieber menace is handled.
The Los Angeles County?s Sheriff?s Department is reportedly investigating an argument between Bieber and a neighbor in which Bieber allegedly spit on the neighbor and threatened him.
Fly and Dash
The latest incident, of course, came last week here in Las Vegas, where
Bieber and his posse are said to have acted so obnoxiously on June 16 that the singer was banned from Las Vegas Indoor Skydiving for life. The Biebs failed to pay his tab and was “disrespectful,” to employees, according to E! online.
That?s just classic, garden-variety Bieber. Then there?s clueless, self-brainwashed Bieber.
While on a European tour this past spring, Bieber visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and said of the diarist, who hid from the Nazis during World War II: ?Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.?
His intention likely was to say something respectful, but because he spends most of his time in a Bieber bubble, he didn?t quite get how trivial it sounded.
And then there?s bizarre Bieber, who walked around with his posse wearing a gasmask in London as a joke, or who showed up shirtless at airport security in Poland, or who sat courtside for Game 7 of the NBA?s Eastern Conference Finals in Miami this year in sunglasses, apparently paying homage to Vanilla Ice.
Finally there is insulting Bieber. He is certainly not the only pop star to show up late to gigs. But his fans generally are young kids, many of whom have to show up for school the morning after his concerts, and whose parents have to go to work. And there was Bieber, showing up two hours late for a show in London back in March, and then avoiding those angry parents the next day when they came to his hotel to articulate their displeasure.
Get the picture? His much-blemished reputation has gained a commanding lead on his actual talent.
Justin vs. Justin
For a counterexample, let?s look at another famous Justin: Justin Timberlake had every opportunity to be as much of an incorrigible hellion as Bieber. But he never morphed into that. He went from ?Star Search? and ?The New Mickey Mouse Club? as a child to a successful stint with ?N Sync and later a respected career in music and movies.
Timberlake is the anti-Bieber. He is what Bieber should be aiming at. Instead, Bieber is turning himself into a bulls? eye, and even though he?s being pelted with Internet salvos on a regular basis, he doesn?t seem to realize it. Or if he does, he doesn?t seem to care.
Make no mistake, he?s no rebel. There have been actors, musicians, writers, directors, comedians and other artists who have lashed out at perceived injustices, or challenged society?s conventions. Bieber?s antics are the result of a punkish devotion to ego gratification, which could translate into an abbreviated career.
He needs to reassess, without yes-men chatter to encourage his dopey choices. He can start by making peace with his neighbors; a truce there would show that maturity is within the realm of imagination. Then he could try to show up at shows on time, and ignore the taunts of paparazzi who want to bait him into the next YouTube moment.
The kid has talent. These young girls don?t badger their parents into shelling out hundreds of bucks and schlepping to arenas just because of his teen-idol looks. But the gifts he has to offer fans may seem cheap and empty if he continues along his current obnoxious path.
Kings don?t get to rule forever. How long they reign is often up to them.