Justin Bieber doesn’t exactly have a spotless record. In fact, he’s gained a reputation as something of a loose cannon. Every now and again though, something happens which changes the way you look at him a bit. In this case, it was a car accident.
It’s been years since Bieber shed the ‘boy next door’ image that helped him rise to prominence on YouTube. Since then, he’s had numerous run-ins with the law, leading up to his first actual arrest in January 2014 for driving under the influence (and resisting arrest).
Since then, Bieber has built up an alarming array of offences. He’s been filmed doing everything from jostling with paparazzi to peeing in a mop bucket at a restaurant, and he was even charged with throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house. There have been so many incidents in fact that Bieber is better known for his antics than his music by some.
Most recently, he attracted unwanted attention by cancelling the last 14 shows of his global Purpose tour. He explained that the main reason for pulling out was that he needed to rest. But in a lengthy post on his Instagram account, he went further.
In fact, the singer went into a detailed explanation of how he was striving to become a better person and move on from past mistakes. He said that he’d let “jealousy, bitterness and fear run [his] life,” and that he wants his “mind, heart and soul to be sustainable.”
There’s nothing especially unusual about a pop star like Bieber leaving such an elaborate, emotionally charged post on social media. It’s also not all that out of the ordinary to cancel the final run of shows, especially considering that Bieber had already played 150 by that stage.
Some, however, suggested that there may have been less obvious reasons for the singer pulling out of the concerts. Even before the Instagram post, people were probing for more complex motivations behind the news. One celebrity image consultant suggested that there was a very particular force driving it, and that it may have been a stroke of marketing brilliance.
Speaking to The Mirror, Eric Schiffer referenced Bieber’s affiliation with the Hillsong church, saying that the star may be trying to promote a “fresh ‘faithful’ image” in order to bring in a “ new marketplace of fans reverent to the same higher power.”
Originally founded in Australia, Hillsong is a self-styled “global” and “contemporary pentecostal” church, which now has churches worldwide. It attracts, on the whole, a young crowd of worshippers and a very impressive roster of celebrities have been spotted attending the weekly service. These include Chris Pratt, Kourtney Kardashian and yes, Bieber himself.
Bieber has been involved with the church for years, since he got in contact with Carl Lentz, pastor of the New York branch of the church. In 2014, Lentz baptised Bieber in Phoenix Suns centre Tyson Chandler’s bathtub, apparently after driving around for half the night trying to find a suitable venue.
The spur-of-the-moment baptism is just one example of Bieber and Lentz’s apparently firm friendship. The two have been spotted shopping at designer stores, attending basketball games together and generally hanging out as buddies. Lentz also refers to Bieber as ‘Buckaroo,’ in reference maybe to the popular kids’ game featuring a bucking mule.
Some have suggested that, in the wake of the tour cancellation and his connection to Hillsong, Bieber might even be planning to open his own church. One source noted that he’d been attending meetings with other Hillsong members while he was Down Under.
Whether or not Bieber’s commitment to religion will spell an end to his controversial, and sometimes dangerous, behaviour remains to be seen. But it hasn’t stopped him from attracting the wrong kind of media attention. In fact, one recent incident occurred while he was actually leaving a service.
Bieber was exiting the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills when, as is often the case, he was met with a wall of eager paparazzi. Doubtlessly used to this kind of attention, the star simply got in his huge truck-like car and started to drive away. This was when things took a turn for the dramatic.
Initial reports suggested that as he attempted to move the vehicle, Bieber had hit and injured one of the photographers with his car. The police were called, but Bieber wasn’t detained or arrested and the hapless pap was taken to hospital.
You might almost be forgiven for assuming that Bieber wouldn’t have cared about hitting the pap, given his track record. After all, it was only about four years ago that Bieber threatened a paparazzo in London in an expletive-filled rant. Once again, at the time he had been trying to get in his van and drive away.
In this case though, Bieber seemingly handled the situation far better. For one thing, he was driving very slowly, and the victim, Maurice Lamont, seemed to have been standing dangerously close to the car as it tried to pull away. Video footage shows that after Lamont went down, Bieber immediately jumped out to see if he was alright.
Bieber apparently waited with the injured photographer until the ambulance arrived to pick him up. He even repeatedly asked if there was anything he could do to help. Speaking on the incident after being admitted to hospital, Lamont said that “accidents” happen. He even added that Bieber was a “good kid.”
Since the incident, Bieber hasn’t attracted any further controversial news. In fact, most recently he was seen exiting yet another church service with rumoured new girlfriend, actress Paola Paulin. Supposedly, the pop sensation wanted to make sure Carl Lentz approved of the relationship.
Given the way he handled the car incident, perhaps this religious devotion really is helping the megastar to turn his life around. After building up a bad boy reputation for doing whatever he wanted, maybe that can only be a good thing. And, when he returns to music, will his extended hiatus make him even more marketable? Only time will tell.