Over the past couple years, a real love/hate relationship has developed between Justin Bieber and his fans. On the one hand, he has regularly thanked his supporters for being with him through tough times. On the other, he’s been canceling meet-and-greets and being very vocal when people insist on taking his picture.
Most recently, the Canadian singer had a bit of a run-in with a young woman while in Australia for his “Purpose” tour. After turning down her request for a picture, she persisted and he said: “Look at your respect level. Look at your respect level.”
Despite his words, 20-year-old Sebah Helal can be heard saying: “Come on.” His reply? “Look at you… you make me sick.”
In an interview with the Herald Sun, Helal said: “He wasn’t in a good mood and was adamant that he wouldn’t take a photo with me.” Her mother added: “My daughter was bawling her eyes out. She was dying to meet him, and then he humiliated her. After years of supporting him, my daughter will never see him again in concert.”
This, of course, was after Helal parked herself outside of the Melbourne hotel where he was staying.
It’s interesting that people are shocked by this turn of events. Fans will know that Bieber made a statement back in May 2016 on Instagram. He wrote: “If you happen to see me out somewhere know that I’m not gonna take a picture I’m done taking pictures. 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 keep my sanity.”
Are we just ignoring the boundaries that this 23-year-old is trying to set? Are we also ignoring what he’s saying about feeling objectified?
There are celebrities out there who are notoriously private. Even in her youth, Barbra Streisand offered very few interviews, for example. In fact, there are countless lists of stars who keep fans and inquiring minds at more than an arm’s length.
When you have a young singer saying that they are trying to stay sane, that they feel objectified, and they say “no” to someone, why aren’t we respecting that? Is it because he’s a guy? Would we feel the same way about this if it was a man pushing to take a picture with a woman?
After all, look at Amy Schumer. A very similar incident took place last year. She took to Instagram and wrote: “This guy… put a camera in my face. I asked him to stop and he said ‘no it’s America and we paid for you’ this was in front of his daughter. I was saying stop and no… Yes legally you are allowed to take a picture of me. But I was asking you to stop and saying no. I will not take pictures with people anymore and it’s because of this dude in Greenville.”
In a second post, she clarified: “I am grateful to people who like my work and support me but not the ones who think that behavior is ok… I’ll still take pictures with nice people when I choose to if its a good time for that but I don’t owe you anything. So don’t take if I say no.”
The response in this very similar situation? Magazines used terms like “terrible encounter” and “scary incident” to describe what happened to Schumer. When she issued her statement, Us Weekly said that “Schumer means business.”
Why, then, is Justin Bieber an ungrateful spoiled brat for doing the same? He has a right to set his own limits. Just because he’s famous doesn’t mean, as Schumer pointed out, that he owes us anything. If someone asks you to back off, then back off. It’s pretty simple.