In defense of Justin Bieber’s tour cancellation: Go ahead and rest up, boo
Justin Bieber deserves a break.
On the heels of China banning Bieber from performing in the country due to concerns about his past behavior, Bieber cancelled the remaining dates of the Purpose World Tour. Some Beliebers with tickets to the 14 remaining shows are mourning, and his cancellation has also brought attention to the importance of the 23 year old stepping away from the spotlight he’s been under since the age of 16.
It isn’t the first time he’s stepped back from fans and, for his sake, hopefully it is not the last.
2013 and 2014 were rough years for Bieber. In no particular order of grievances, there’s the abandoned monkey, the peeing in a bucket, yelling "Fuck Bill Clinton," the Anne Frank comments. Not to mention the arrest for a DUI, and climbing (and mooning) Myan ruins.
He even claimed he was "retiring."
He later would explain to GQ that despite all the negative press and headlines he, "wouldn’t change much," but in order to clean up his image from that mess of a year and a half, Bieber had to have a plan.
He filmed a video apologizing for his past transgressions, gave calculated media appearances and magazine interviews, and was the subject of a Comedy Central roast in 2015 that attempted to absolve him of years worth of wrongdoings in the public eye by letting us all witness scathing dragging and his reaction to being called the "King Joffery of pop."
Following the perfectly executed PR play, Bieber disappeared for a bit only to return in glory with "Sorry" and "What Do You Mean?", two bangers that prepped the world for the album Purpose, and multiple emotional performances that (real tears or not) began to expose cracks at the foundation of impossibly high standards set upon a young dude like Biebs.
Since early 2016 and up until this week, Bieber’s been on tour with Purpose for 16 months, performing in almost ever continent…and it clearly hasn’t been easy. Throughout the tour, Bieber has expressed how increasingly difficult it has been to be who people expect him to be on top of performing to shrieking sold-out crowds daily.
Since early 2016 and up until this week, Bieber’s been on tour with Purpose for 16 months, performing in almost ever continent…and it clearly hasn’t been easy.
Just few months in—after storming off stage and walking out of a radio interview—Bieber had some things to get off his chest. "Sadly it’s been a rough week for me, long days no sleep, while having to be ‘on’ as they would say for cameras fans etc," Bieber wrote on Instagram following a show in Norway he did not complete. "In no way did I mean to come across mean, but chose to end the show as the people in the front row would not listen. Hopefully people will understand where I am coming from."
From there, Bieber announced he was cancelling the meet and greet portion of the concert experience, explaining that he ends up "feeling so drained and filled with so much of other people’s spiritual energy" that it makes him depressed and unhappy.
"I enjoy meeting such incredible people but I end up feeling so drained and filled with so much of other people’s spiritual energy that I end up so drained and unhappy," he wrote.
"Want to make people smile and happy but not at my expense and I always leave feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression. The pressure of meeting people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to be is so much for me to handle and a lot on my shoulders," he continued.
And just in case you’ve forgotten— he’s a 23 years old, who has had to grow up in public on top of the pressure he’s has said he feels.
Sheesh. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting just imagining life in his (really expensive) shoes.
In 2016 he continued to reel back and away from his fanbase as much as possible, even chastising those who ask for a photo and setting limits when it comes to fan interactions.
"It has gotten to the point that people won’t even say ‘hi’ to me or recognize me as a human. I feel like a zoo animal, and I wanna be able to to keep my sanity," he wrote in May 2016. "I realize people will be disappointed, but I don’t owe anybody a picture. And people who say, ‘But I bought ur album,’ know that you got my album and you got what you paid for… AN ALBUM! It doesn’t say in fine print whenever you see me you also get a photo."
His personal statements, much of which are shared on Instagram, read as if we’re privy to heartbreaking journal entries. They’ve actively worked against the unspoken rule between celebrity and fan that leaves fans expecting unlimited access in exchange for a celebrity that remains as perfect as we believe them to be, at all times. Perhaps it’s due to his age, access to social media or the sheer volume of fans he has amassed over the years, but Bieber has broken down that notion more aggressively than his peers in the music industry.
It remains an unfair expectation on the part of the public to expect so much from a young man who has been in the public eye since a very young age.
It’s clear Bieber has been wrestling with constantly pleasing fans and being Completely Over It™ and it’s safe to bet his stans agree that only way we’re going to get what we pay for ("AN ALBUM!") is not worth it at the expense of uplifting an unhealthy, unstable twenty-something public figure, no matter how many hit songs he delivers us time and time again.
In a statement posted on Instagram regarding the cancelled tour, manager Scooter Braun mentioned that Bieber’s "soul and well being" comes first. When TMZ cameras caught him in Santa Monica on Monday, the day the tour cancellation was announced, he seemed to be putting those things first, too.
"Everything’s fine. I’ve been on tour for two years," he explained, admitting he just needed to rest and make some time to ride bikes before apologizing for those who felt "disappointed or betrayed" by his decision. Bieber stans, for the most part, have been supportive in the comments, understanding that their fave has been grinding and deserves a bit of rest and recuperation, and their sentiments have muffled sounds of his critics and skeptics.
It remains an unfair expectation on the part of the public to expect so much from a young man who has been in the public eye since a very young age. And it’s reassuring that he is trying to respect his limits rather than pushing himself to an unhealthy point that has very negatively affected other celebrities. Justin deserves a bit of a break and good for him for recognizing it.
Here’s to hoping that during this time away from the stage, Bieber gets all the barefoot Boston park sessions his soul needs.