Why are we still paying Bieber any attention?

We live in a world of crazy news stories. Planes vanish out of thin air. Wars are started and ended. And Justin Bieber totally got a new tattoo! Also a DUI! And he was really a brat to his bodyguard. Or was it his lawyer? Will this hurt his music career? Wait, does Selena approve? Will his Twitter work in jail?

Justin Bieber has always been an over-exposed individual. Ever since his swoop of hair appeared in our collective consciousness back in 2008, the Biebs has inexplicably captivated our attention, perhaps more than his musical talent would justify. But after his January arrest for drag racing under the influence, a tidal wave of baby-faced mugshots that seems truly unprecedented flooded the world.

Why, exactly, do legitimate news sites feel the need to cover every new development in a 19-year-old’s immature antics? Surely there are some more relevant stories being shunted aside for this constant Bieber bombardment. There are buildings exploding and governments in turmoil – a myriad of real and pressing problems people need to be informed about. Why so much coverage for the toothy grin and petty crimes of a singer? The answer is, of course, that the public wants to hear about it. So why does the public have this ravenous need for every detail of Bieber’s disrespect and entitlement?

A possible answer comes from an unlikely source: former teen star and current non-Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio. In a New York Times interview in 1995, DiCaprio hit on a phenomenon that may still ring true today. “People want you to be a crazy, out-of-control teen brat. They want you miserable, just like them. They don’t want heroes; what they want is to see you fall,” he said.

Maybe this obsession with Bieber’s downfall is not so unrelated to the disturbing news stories of today. In a world of insecurity and chaos, it could be that watching a wealthy young man fumble brings a certain sort of schadenfreude. Even the attractive hotshots are not immune to the difficulties of life. Whether or not this is true to the extent that DiCaprio proposes, there is no doubt that ever since the days of “Baby,” most of the public has absolutely loved to hate Justin Bieber.

That this arrogant singer is behaving in a fairly terrible manner is not a question. One needs only complete a brief Google search to discover the extent of his entitlement, arrogance and outright disrespect for the law and for others. However, all of us behave in ways that are kind of terrible at times.

Bieber hasn’t committed any heinous crimes or proven himself a threat to the community, things that would warrant extensive news coverage. He is just a common petty criminal with an attitude problem. There is no reason for the intensity of the scrutiny which surrounds him. And if he is truly a struggling, confused little boy like his lawyers and best buddy Usher keep insisting, then perhaps the public should award him a little more empathy and leave him alone. It would do everyone some good.

Rebecca Carcaterra ’17 carcaterc@stolaf.edu is from Glenwood Springs, Colo. She majors in English and sociology/anthropology.