Justin Bieber: Just a kid in the spotlight or the worst role model?

By: Mahnaz Angury

Justin Bieber has received negativity since the beginning of his career however this has increased incredibly since he has become a young adult. Numerous incidents have contributed to this including his drug use, physical fights with paparazzi, his public urination scandal, his disputes with neighbours and even his disputes with fan at his concerts. These and many more caused an uproar amongst numerous individuals who label him a ‘spoilt’ teenager. The negative reactions come from people of various ages including teenagers who disagree with his music, adults who believe he is a bad role model and others who believe his fame has caused him to act inappropriately. Due to his popularity and relevance in our society, many are concerned about the way a star like Justin Bieber could affect young kids today. All of the negative occurrences that he is involved in are widely broadcasted in the media raising awareness about his situation and possibly encouraging other kids to act similarly. This would be especially relevant to his supporters who admire him and would defend his actions regardless of how serious they may be. A particular article that outlines the amount of trouble Bieber has been causing and expresses negative views towards the subject of the matter is titled “Justin Bieber: Time To Shut Up”, written by Dean Obeidallah and published on CNN.

Although there are a number of people who have negative views towards the young star, he still has supporters and other adults who believe that his actions are ones of a normal teenager. Ricky Dunlop’s “Is Justin Bieber the Worst Role Model for Your Kids?” published on The Blot Magazine explores this side of the argument by empathising with Bieber and reminding parents that it is in the norm for teenagers to go through this particular stage. He also argues that ultimately, Justin Bieber is a human being that has made mistakes others would however unlike everyone else, his name and fame results in his mistakes to be broadcasted and thus judged by the public. Studies supporting this claim outline that it could be these inappropriate behaviours that result in kids avoiding similar situations in an attempt to escape the consequences Bieber could be facing.

From the title of Obeidallah’s article, his angle is made clear. Through the strong emotive words such as “shut up”, it is obvious that Obeidallah’s piece will be persuading the readers to agree with the negative perspective of Bieber. One of the main claims the author states is “just when you think teen superstar Justin Bieber couldn’t possibly do anything dumber, he does something that makes you do a double face palm. Bieber is truly achieving the impossible: He’s making Lindsay Lohan look good” (Obeidallah, 2013). This opinionated statement address the numerous incidences Justin has been involved in including speeding, drag racing, his arrests and various disputes. Through the appeal to comparison where the author compares Bieber to Lindsay Lohan, he attempts to persuade the audience that this teenager’s actions resemble or even outdo those of Lindsay Lohan, another star known for her controversies. Lohan was also in the media usually for her arrests involving drugs and other occurrences where it was made clear that she wasn’t a good role model. Similar to Lohan, Bieber also grew up in front of the spotlight since he became famous at a young age. By emphasising the fact that Bieber “makes Lohan look good”, Obeidallah raises similarities between the pair both of whom he would clearly consider bad influences.

pic-1

The effects Bieber’s actions could have on other teenagers is outlined in other articles which stress that his behaviours can in fact influence other kids. “Researchers at the University of Ottawa, used mathematical models to conclude that Biebermania behaves like a real disease – one that is capable of turning into an “apocalyptic infection.” The symptoms include high-octane screaming, hysterics, and mimicking the star’s poor life decisions (like his haircut)” (Kang, 2014). Bieber has been caught up in numerous drug scandals where he’s been pictured smoking cigarettes and marijuana amongst other illegal substances. The media coverage of such instances allow teenagers to witness this and develop an idea about the usage of drugs and its “normality’. “Celebrities have glamorized smoking in the media and are setting an example for supporters everywhere that it is acceptable to smoke” (Anonymous, n.d.).

Obeidallah’s negative view on Bieber is further emphasised when he states “He may have just redefined the word “narcissistic”” (Obeidallah, 2013). This statement is related to the incident where Bieber visited Anne frank’s house and stated he hoped she would’ve been a belieber. The author’s reaction to this clearly emphasises the fact that he believes the statement is inappropriate since it was directed to such an important historical figure. The author outlines who Anne Frank is when labelling Bieber a “narcissist” to inform readers who may not know. By emphasising the details of the subject and the hardships Anne Frank and her family went through, Obeidallah attempts to persuade his readers to agree with his view being that Bieber is a self-absorbed kid and his behaviour is something that parents should not want their kids to be influenced by.

Since the majority of the claims made in this particular article present Bieber negatively, the author attempts to convince his readers he isn’t biased through his follow-up statement. The follow-up claim reads “And I don’t say that as someone who harbors an inappropriate amount of dislike for the teen singer. In fact, last May I wrote a piece for CNN.com defending and actually sympathizing with Bieber when he had an altercation with the paparazzi. But that was almost a year ago. Since then, Bieber has become unbearable” (Obeidallah, 2013). This adds to the persuasive technique the author is attempting to make use of. By highlighting the fact that he had previously written an article about the same individual in a more empathetic angle and actually linking it, the author becomes increasingly persuasive especially to the audiences who were reluctant to accept his negative point of view. By outlining his previous work where he spoke of Bieber positively, the audience would be more open to listen to his arguments since they now know that he doesn’t have fixed negative views towards Bieber. Instead, he has explored his more positive side but the fact remains that he still disagrees with his behaviour regardless of previously being empathetic towards Bieber and his situation.

In a further attempt to convince readers that he understands the reasons behind Bieber’s actions he states “I get it. Bieber wants the world to know he isn’t a kid anymore. So he has decided to go the “bad ass” route. Bieber is clearly heading down the path of many child stars desperate to make the transformation into grown-up star. But his actions are not getting him there” (Obeidallah, 2013). Through this evaluative statement, the audience is able to see that the author has tried to understand the reasoning behind Bieber’s behaviour however fails to agree with the outcome. This contributes to the persuasive aspect of the piece because it presents the author as an informative and understanding judge. Therefore, the readers are able to agree with his point of view because his technique has displayed him as a somewhat reliable judge since he acknowledges where the actions are coming from but still argues that the affect it will cause isn’t right.

pic-2

Earlier in the article, Obeidallah appealed to comparison by comparing Bieber to Lohan in an attempt to highlight that this teenager has become an even worse role model than the actress who was known to be the worst influencer. In an attempt to highlight the fact that not all child stars evolve into such poor examples of role models, he again appeals to comparison and compares Bieber to Timberlake. He states “He, too, was a young star. First on “The Mickey Mouse Club” and then in the much better known boy band ‘N Sync. Timberlake didn’t try to be something he’s not. He continued to make music and then made a successful transition into acting” (Obeidallah, 2013). The aim of this was to convince the readers that not all kid stars evolve into such poor examples of role models. By displaying the first appeal to comparison, the author might have suspected that some readers may believe that Bieber isn’t at fault here but the fame and constant lack of privacy is. By emphasising Timberlake’s success from a child star into a great influencer of young teenagers, Obeidallah argues Bieber has the ability to become a good role model however chooses to follow Lohan’s footsteps instead. “A young man who had everything going for him—who could have been a terrific role model for other teens—seems to instead have chosen a path to self-destruction” (Krause, 2014). This could decreases the empathy the audience may have towards Bieber and significantly increases the persuasive aspect of the article.

Dunlop’s “Is Justin Bieber the Worst Role Model for Your Kids?” takes a completely different angle to that of Obeidallah. Obeidallah holds Bieber himself responsible for his actions and attempts to persuade his readers by emphasising examples of his bad behaviour. Dunlop however tries to convince his readers that Bieber is a human being and claims numerous other factors need to be taken into consideration when analysing his actions.

When Bieber was arrested for DUI, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license, he was let off with very minimal consequence. The fact that his status allowed him to escape jail time highlights the issue present here when deciding who is to blame. The author outlines the incident and acknowledges that Bieber’s behaviour was poor however he dramatically emphasises the fact that the police allowed him to avoid jail time because he is a huge celebrity figure. He claims “So, who’s actually the bad guy in this situation? The kid that may have had a drink or two earlier in the day or the police officers that completely fabricated the events that took place that night? Who is JB supposed to look up to?” (Dunlop, 2015). This statement contributes significantly to the persuasive aspect of the author’s argument. Through the use of rhetoric questions, the author leaves the readers to think about the questions being asked and revaluate their perspective on Bieber. The claim outlines that the author understands that Bieber’s actions were bad however the police were the ones to blame in this situation because letting him off results in the star not realising his mistake. By allowing him to do whatever he pleases due to his stardom, Bieber won’t understand the idea of consequences and will instead continue his illegal and inappropriate actions. Therefore, the author is ultimately stating that the police’s action effect Bieber significantly and if he can’t trust the actions of the police, then who can he look up to?

pic-3

There are many other individuals Dunlop hold accountable for Bieber’s actions rather than Bieber himself which results in the inclusion of an informal fallacy throughout his article. Dunlop argues that Justin Bieber is a kid who grew up in the spotlight and it’s the people around him that have shaped his behaviour which portrays the use of ad hominem argument. His parents’ actions are outlined in the article to persuade the audience that the reason Bieber has been acting the way he has is because of the people that surround him. When discussing Bieber’s parents, Dunlop claims “These are the same parents who never got married. This is the same mother who was apparently abused growing up and the same mother who Justin says gives him drugs. This is the same father who at one point abandoned his son and the same father who was spotted with Justin moments before his arrest” (Dunlop, 2015). Some of illegal events Bieber has been caught up in involve drugs and his numerous arrests. In this one evaluative statement, Dunlop shifts the blame for these events from Bieber to his parents by mentioning that they were involved in both these incidents. There is no direct proof to this particular claim but these stories have been previously mentioned in other articles. Therefore this claim would be increasingly persuasive towards individuals who have read the other articles that mention these occurrences.

The follow up claim reads “Now, Bieber’s core group of friends includes a bunch of young, rich recording artists, models and actors. His “mentors” are manager Scooter Braun and Usher (aka the people that make tons of money off of him). Usher can’t even take care of his own kids” (Dunlop, 2015). He continues to outline the people that Bieber associates with one of which is his mentor Usher. By outlining that usher “can’t even take care of his own kids”, Dunlop tries to convince the audience that Usher isn’t a good carer which can be classified as a distraction argument. He is shifting our attention from Beiber’s behaviour to Ushers. The author is essentially stating that how someone who can’t even take care of his own child, won’t be able to help his mentee. The readers are even linked to a story in this claim which presents an incident when Usher’s child nearly drowned. This provides a backup for his argument and is highly persuasive since the linked article even includes the 911 call of the event. Thus, by analysing the behaviours of the adult’s in Bieber’s life, Dunlop persuades his readers that Bieber’s parents and mentors are to blame for their action since they are such poor examples of role models. Thus, since Bieber’s actions cause negative influence towards young kids, this author argues that the blame for this shouldn’t be place on Bieber but his adult influencers.

pic-4

In a further attempt to persuade his readers to empathise with Bieber rather than judge him, Dunlop compares Bieber’s youth to that of the readers. He states “Unless you were an extremely sheltered child, you can’t tell me you didn’t go to school with kids that did many of these things. I know I did. The difference here is that he is a lot more famous than those kids and the way the media is sensationalizing his behaviour is only encouraging him to continue down that path” (Dunlop, 2015). Through this appeal to comparison, readers are able to reflect on the fact that they weren’t perfect as kids themselves either. He follows it up with the fact that the only difference between the adolescence of Bieber and the adolescence of the readers is that Bieber’s every move is broadcasted to the world. His behaviours is even dramatized for entertainment purposes resulting in him to continue them rather than learn from them. “Instead of regimented piano lessons, soccer practice and SAT classes, the entertainer has committed himself to the steady, if largely self-directed, cultivation of singing, dancing and interview skills since he was 12” (Evans, 2014). Rather than be able to lead a normal life, Bieber is faced with much bigger responsibilities and in addition to that, his every mistake is presented to the public allowing the world to judge him for actions many others do at his age.

The effect Bieber’s behaviour, like any other huge celebrities’ actions, could have on young kids is clear and evident. The popularity of social media has made it easy for the public to access the stories that outline the actions these public figures undertake. Teenagers who look up to these stars may always defend these actions and classify them as the norm. This could lead to them acting similarly and being negatively influence by celebrities such as Bieber’s behaviour.  “Their actions have more of an effect on us then many people believe they have” (Anonymous, n.d.). However, a study conducted shows that these negative behaviours amongst stars could in fact cause positive behaviours amongst teenagers. “This 18-month study was carried out on 24 groups of British children, aged 14 and 17, by experts at Manchester and Brunel universities, which  found that today’s celebrities serve a vital ‘social function’ that was previously delivered by religious or mythical figures, such as Jesus Christ, Judas and Zeus” (Evans, 2014).  Seeing individuals like Justin Bieber act this way and watching their lives unfold in such a negative way as a result of it could encourage teenagers to avoid the decisions they are making. “They learn lessons of greed, excess and insincerity from ‘bad celebrities’, whose public demise actually discourages them from bad behaviour and substances such as drink and drugs” (Evans, 2014). Thus it is clear that these stars do have significant impact upon teenagers however these effects could be negative or positive. Kids could mimic their mistakes or learn from them.

References

Wayne, T, 2013, Justin Bieber and Youth’s New Wilderness, The New York Times, accessed 29 November 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/fashion/justin-bieber-and-todays-youth.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Kang, S, 2014, Justin Bieber’s Influence On Your Kids, Psychology Today, accessed 28 November 2016, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-dolphin-way/201407/justin-biebers-influence-your-kids

Evans, SJ, 2014, Justin Bieber’s bad behaviour could actually influence children for GOOD, claims new study which says celebrities’ public demise works well to put teens off drugs and drink, Daily Mail, accessed 28 November, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2631726/Justin-Biebers-bad-behaviour-actually-influence-children-GOOD-claims-new-study.html

Krause, C, 2014, Justin Bieber: A Warning To All Teens, NDA For Teens, accessed 30 November 2016, https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/justin-bieber-warning-all-teens

Obeidallah, D, 2013, Justin Bieber, Time to Shut Up, CNN, accessed 27 November 2016, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/16/opinion/obeidallah-bieber-shut-up/

Dunlop, R, 2015, Is Justin Bieber The Worst Role Model For Your Kids?, The Blot Magazine, accessed 31 November 2016, https://www.theblot.com/justin-bieber-worst-role-model-kids-7714367

Anonymous, n.d., Celebrities and Their Influence, Teen Ink, accessed 31 November 2016, http://www.teenink.com/opinion/entertainment_celebrities/article/82342/Celebrities-and-Their-Influence/

 

 

 

 

The Burqini Ban

By: Mahnaz Angury

Due to the recent acts of terrorism as well as the numerous deaths that have been linked to the Islamic state, France has decided to ban the burqini in a number of its cities. The burqini is a form of swimwear chosen to be worn by Muslim women who want to go to the beach and show little to no skin. France’s decision to ban this item of clothing sparked huge controversy especially after pictures of a Muslim women being demanded to remove the burqini by French policemen emerged and went viral. The controversy associated with this matter has erupted causing anger amongst the Muslim community who have labelled this as an act of discrimination. Due to the publicity of this matter, countless articles have emerged explaining the situation and the facts or opinions associated with it. Many disagree with the decision and label it as wrong however there are still a number of individuals that agree with the notion and are happy with the situation. The authors of these articles use differing styles and technique to inform the readers and somewhat persuade them to agree with their opinion. Some are argumentative while other are more opinionated. Two articles will be discussed both which venture different perspectives in an attempt to explore a variety of opinions towards such a highly controversial topic. How the writers argue or explain their opinion will be analysed and what techniques were used to do so will be highlighted to assess ultimately whether the articles were successful in persuading its readers.

Text 1

http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/the-real-reason-france-wants-to-ban-the-burqini

Faisal Al Yafai is a writer for The National and has written an opinion piece regarding the burqini ban. The article is presented in the opinion section of the website making it clear from first read that it will contain a large number of evaluative opinions about the controversy that has taken place. The author’s opinion cannot be accurately assumed by the title which is ‘The Real Reason France Wants To Ban The Burqini’ however the first two sentence makes it drastically clear. The article begins with ‘politicians have a significant advantage over the rest of us: they have the ability to act. Even when the reasons for their decision are illogical, counterproductive or downright racist, they can still make them – and leave the rest of society to deal with the consequences’.  Through the use of emotive words such as ‘downright racist’, ‘illogical’ and ‘counterproductive’ when expressing the French government’s decision to ban the swimwear, the author’s perspective towards it can be clearly seen.

The nature of the article can be classified as evaluative, persuasive and somewhat factual. Since the piece contains information about the ban followed up by arguments and opinions of the authors, it can be considered evaluative. The tone of the author which is constructed heavily on how wrong the decision is and why it is wrong assists in the persuasive feature of the article since these arguments are laid out to make the readers think and evaluate or even revaluate their own opinion on the matter. Statistics such as the fact that there is a very little number of Muslim individuals that actually wear the burqini and the fact that Muslims in France are part of a minority rather than individuals who seek a collective build add to the factual elements of the article helping it develop a more argumentative style and persuade its readers.

One of the main claims presented in this article is highlighted in the statement ‘the burqini ban is a debate in which it is possible to see a division between the ways some countries in the west view liberty. For the US and the UK, liberty is understood as the absence of constraints: people can basically be left to do what they like. But for some European countries, especially France, liberty is more forceful – it means enforcing certain freedoms through political power.’ This statement demonstrates an appeal to comparison where the author attempts to build his argument by comparing how the situation is dealt with in other countries, ones which are presumably ‘right’ making the opposing countries being European countries ‘especially France’ wrong for doing the opposite. The French Prime Minister claims the burqini is a sign of ‘enslavement of women’ stating that the item of clothing represents the oppression that occurs in the particular religion. However oppression is not about being forced to cover from head to toe, oppression is about not being given a choice. Women being forced to cover up completely besides their will is oppression however forcing women to show more skin and cover up less is no different, that too is oppression. The French prime minister is supposedly attempting to eliminate signs of oppression from the beaches probably unaware that by doing so, he is in fact oppressing Muslim woman who want to cover up.  Therefore the logic behind ban becomes this: to inform the world that no one should tell women how to dress, we will tell them how to dress.

There is a clear and consistent informal fallacy evident all throughout the article being Ad Hominem argument. Yafai continuously directs his strong disagreement towards the people that have implemented the law rather than the law itself being politicians and in this case, French politicians. From the beginning of the article he calls them ‘racist’, ‘grubby’ and continues into the article always coming back to the people responsible for the decision which is France and its leaders. These emotive words also highlight the evaluative presumptions that exist with the article where the author describes French government as racist presuming that all of the individuals involved in French politics agrees with the decision that has been made.

In conclusion, this article displays a good level of opinion and argument by attempting to back up the disagreement they possess towards the decision to ban the burqini. The article was written mostly fairly as the victims of the situation were empathized with and the facts about the situation were outlined. The misconceptions that are being assumed about the Muslim group were highlighted which helped drastically with the persuasive element of the text.

Text 2

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/08/france-right-ban-burkini/

Through the title of the blog post ‘France Is Right To Ban The Burqini’, it is obvious which direction this argument will go towards. The post, written by Gavin Mortimer is clearly an opinion piece shared to The Spectator. The style of the article is highly evaluative as the author attempts to justify what he has stated being that the decision to ban the burqini is the right one. The post is very casual and consists of numerous anecdotes that depict Muslim individuals in a negative light. This includes his girlfriend being attacked at a French service station for making the cross sign, friends who have been verbally abused by women in headscarves and even Muslim friends who are too afraid to be around Muslim men because of the reaction they will receive due to how they choose to dress without any proof of the authenticity of these stories. The whole article basically shifts the victim spotlight from Muslim women who want to cover up and still go to the beach to these other individuals who have been verbally and physically attacked by Muslim individuals all in an attempt to persuade the readers not to sympathise for the rights of Muslim individuals who are taking over France.

The main claim being argued in this post isn’t even directed towards the burqini ban, it is directed towards Muslims in France. The burqini ban is just used as an example of what should happen because of all the incidences that Muslims have caused in French community and that this ban is one of the ways to stop it from spreading. The author believes that Islam ideology ‘want all women covered, at all times, and burqini is part of their strategy’. This may be true due to the fact that burqinis were designed to cover Muslim women in a place where most wear revealing bikinis but the way this argument is set out gives off the impression that this swimsuit is forced upon women when many women wear it by choice. They wear it to fulfil their faith in their religion not necessarily because their husbands or male figure forces them to wear it. His argument is further developed through an incident that had occurred where a beach was privatised by Muslim men who wanted to protect the modesty of their wives and sisters who were wearing full Islamic clothes. By consistently analysing and expressing all the negative events that have occurred involving Muslims, Mortimer tries to convince his readers of why this ban is a good thing as it restricts individuals who shouldn’t be given the sympathy that they have been given in regards to this matter. The evaluative opinion associated with the way this post is written dramatically emphasises the fact that this author believes the ban should be placed because Muslims are getting out of control in France and this decision is advantageous as now this group won’t have the right to do something they are supposedly being forced to do.

The informal fallacy that is drastically evident throughout the article is Ad Hominem because Muslim individuals and why they deserve to have their rights banned is the central argument of the post. The article hardly addresses the ban itself rather emphasises all the negative occurrences that have taken place involving Muslim individuals being the ‘bad’ people who have attacked ‘innocent’ individuals. Most people would view Muslims as the victims in this situation, the ones that have been wronged and discriminated against however Mortimer takes the victim status from this group and hands it to everyone else and has attempted to back up this argument by sharing numerous stories where people have been attacked by Muslims for doing something outside of their beliefs. Another group the author has displayed an Ad Hominem argument towards British media organisations such as The Guardian and the Telegraph who have shown no support towards the ban and expressed disagreement towards the banning of the burqini. ‘They are among the several British papers to have run articles in recent days shrilly denouncing the ban.’ This statement is soon followed by the privatisation of the beach story which again makes Muslims seem violent since it supposedly ends with local teenagers being ‘viciously assaulted by three bothers’. By doing so, the author expresses his own disagreement of how British media has dealt with the situation and by following it with such a report, his attempts to reason his disagreement. This reveals that due to the articles that are being published by big companies such as the Guardian, Mortimer assumes that most of his audience will share similar views as them which is why he uses so many anecdotes that portray Muslims negatively in order to persuade these audiences and make them alter their perspective on the matter and ultimately agree with him.

Overall this article attempts to be highly persuasive but through the numerous expressed incidents which have hardly a factual evidence behind it, it fails to do so. Additionally, the article’s main focus should be centred on the controversy that is the banning of the burqini however the author rather focuses it on why the Muslims should not be empathised with and the fact that this ban is good because now this group is unable to practice part of their faith in public. It continues to try and persuade it audience of the advantage of the ban by consistently presenting the Muslim individuals in a negative light and making non-Muslims the victims instead.