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Justin Bieber at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Invision/AP, File) (Isaac Brekken/AP)
Justin Bieber at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Invision/AP, File) (Isaac Brekken/AP)

Globe editorial

Britney Spears: role model for Justin Bieber Add to ...

Where is Britney Spears now that Justin Bieber needs her?

She is probably working on a new hit record or, being a single mom, tending to her sons, Sean, 7, and Jayden, 6. Still, it would be good if the pop princess could spare some time to counsel Mr. Bieber on etiquette and public decorum. It wasn’t that long ago that the Biebs, as he’s affectionately known to his fans, seemed to be handling the burden of teen-pop stardom with considerable grace. Today, not so. The past year has witnessed one episode of boorish behaviour after another by the Canadian-born performer, much of it captured on video, including recently released footage of Mr. Bieber apparently relieving himself in some poor janitor’s bucket in a Manhattan nightclub and squirting cleaning fluid on a portrait of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

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None of Mr. Bieber’s antics to date have been totally over the top, especially for a 19-year-old with too much money, too much fame and a posse of pals calling themselves the Wild Kidz. More often than not, he’s been apologetic, as he was on Thursday to Mr. Clinton. Nevertheless, the accumulation of incidents is worrying. Hence the suggestion that Ms. Spears intervene, politely, of course, in his affairs. Who would be a better role model?

While Ms. Spears, at 31, is now a paragon of poise and responsibility, it wasn’t always thus. There were a few years – roughly 2004 to 2008 – when the singer seemed to be careering to her doom in full public glare. So distressed was Rolling Stone magazine that it ran an 8,000-word cover story titled “Britney Spears: Inside a National Tragedy.”

Ms. Spears, in other words, has been there and back. The hope is Mr. Bieber would more readily take this sage elder’s advice than that of his mother or father and change course before he hurts someone, most notably himself. Earlier this year, Mr. Bieber made headlines by adopting, then abandoning a 14-week-old capuchin monkey named Mally. A zoologist said the adoption should never have been permitted since, to avoid feelings of abandonment and potential erratic behaviour, a capuchin needs to be at least one year old before being separated from his or her mother. Perhaps the rush of fame and fortune has had that kind of unmooring effect on Mr. Bieber. Perhaps Ms. Spears’ nurturing could help provide the necessary course correction.

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