Being young, rich and famous has its perks, a list too long to count.
The downside, of course, is what we read far too often on the cover of US Weekly. Drugs. Careers out of control. And, in some cases, death.
So the news that pop sensation Justin Bieber got charged with resisting arrest after admitting to driving under the influence comes with a caveat. Should he heed the cautionary tales of other young stars, he might find himself wiser for his troubles at the ripe old age of 19. Ignore the warning signs, and the singer’s career could head south–and that’s the best-case scenario.
Amy Winehouse: The tatted-up chanteuse sang as if she had lived a dozen lives already and few of them ended well. Her singular voice made her this generation’s great torch singer, but she couldn’t keep her personal demons at bay. Winehouse flirted with mega-stardom before she died from accidental alcohol poisoning in 2011.
Miley Cyrus: Some will argue the former teen star’s transition to adulthood went off without a hitch last year. She’s selling records, dominating headlines and putting her wholesome past in the rear view mirror. Look closer, and you’ll see a singer branding herself as an envelope pusher of the highest order, not a sophisticated singer/songwriter with a message we all need to hear. Media labels hold fast, and the Twerk Girl might find her new persona much harder to shed than that of Hannah Montana.
Lindsay Lohan: She spent her teen years delivering precocious parts in The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday, and she appeared poised for more challenging roles thanks to Mean Girls. What happened next came at us in a blur of toxic headlines, addiction woes and plastic surgery that changed the natural beauty forever. Her comeback could still arrive, but for now she appears stuck as a punch line, not an A-lister.
Robert Downey, Jr.: We got to know the young actor through throwaway roles in Back to School and Weird Science, but his recreation of a silent film icon in Chaplin prepared us for a more sophisticated artist. A one-sided fight against addiction followed, and Downey ended up behind bars. This tale has a very happy ending, as Downey got sober and became one of the industry’s most beloved actors via films like Sherlock Holmes and the Iron Man trilogy.
Bieber has more than enough time–and talent–to follow Downey’s path. Let’s hope he’s both a student of recent pop culture history and has enough people in his life to support him on his journey.