Let me preface this whole piece, before the peanut gallery weighs in, that I do not identify as a Justin Bieber fan. I identify as a Philip Seymour Hoffman fan, but this piece is not meant to advocate nor tarnish the reputation of either public figure. I am not comparing the two men, but rather their circumstances of fame and substance abuse with information available to the general public. That being said…
It seems a petition from the public has made it’s way to the White House for review touching on the subject of pop culture. The measure calls for the deportation of Canadian-born pop star Justin Bieber for, among other offenses, driving drunk in Florida recently.
Then, even more recently, came the shocking news that Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman expired from a drug overdose in New York. His contributions to the arts, with a combination of film work, stage credits and giving back to fledgling actors, made his loss a hard-hitting blow to the biz. Hoffman has had multiple brushes with addiction and sought rehab more than once, but it sadly didn’t appear to be enough to save him.
Despite Seymour’s celebrity status, he was a homebody and main stay of the NYC neighborhood he was a part of. Despite Bieber’s celebrity status, however, he has spit on fans from hotel balconies, called an overweight fan a “whale”, and has turned himself in for assaulting a limo driver.
The subject of these two men’s actions call into question the power of influence a celebrity holds over the public who supports their work. In a Yahoo! New piece, actress Nicole Wilson states how she knew Hoffman in passing and the circumstances of his demise tarnishes the standard he’s set as an actor.
“It seems to me he very much held true to the person he had always been. It really is a shame,” Wilson says. “I guess I’ll have to find someone new to look up to now.”
I guess the point I am trying to make, is that when someone becomes famous for their art, whether musically or in film, do they owe us their personal lives, and in the same regard, should we allow their personal lives effect our view of the art which once moved us in some way? Everyone is human and has skeletons in their closet. Of course, if one breaks the law, they should pay the consequences as any regular citizen should, and we are normal to mourn the celebrities we value who are gone, since that piece of our lives is gone. However, should we continue to be a paparazzi culture with a spyglass to these individual’s lives, or just focus on the things we like that they make?
Above all else, I want to make it clear that I am not glamorizing Bieber’s and Hoffman’s actions. Addiction is not a glamorous lifestyle and is bound to end badly. And come on, Justin, that yellow Lambo was hideous, as was your choice to get behind the wheel while drunk.