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Give Justin Bieber a break, says professor

Pop singer Justin Bieber appears in front of Judge Joseph Farina by video link in this still image from video from Miami, Florida January 23, 2014. Bieber was arrested in South Florida on a drunken driving charge. (REUTERS/Pool)
Pop singer Justin Bieber appears in front of Judge Joseph Farina by video link in this still image from video from Miami, Florida January 23, 2014. Bieber was arrested in South Florida on a drunken driving charge. (REUTERS/Pool)Credit:

Kids these days. First, Miley Cyrus embarrasses herself — and many of her teenage fans — with a tasteless performance at the Video Music Awards. Then Justin Bieber gets busted for DUI and posts a picture of himself leaving prison on top of an SUV, waving to his fans a la Michael Jackson during the singer’s 2004 child molestation trial. What’s happening? Miley’s lewd moves may have been carefully orchestrated, says Montana Miller, but Bieber is more complicated. Miller, who grew up in Central Mass. and went to Harvard, thinks a lot about Bieber. A professor specializing in youth culture in the department of popular culture at Bowling Green State University, she’s got Bieber on the syllabus. Miller screens his movie, “Never Say Never” in her class, which, not surprisingly, is immensely popular with students. Believe it or not, Miller says we shouldn’t judge Bieber, but instead feel badly for him. “He’s very sadly exploited. Everyone in his life is using this kid,” she says. “His entire entourage, including his mom and dad, seem incredibly loathsome. When I watch the movie, I feel a deep sense of sympathy for him.” Don’t misunderstand. As the author of a book about drunk driving prevention programs in US high schools, Miller says she doesn’t take lightly the singer’s arrest. But, no matter how much like a punk Bieber acts, we’re wrong to judge. “That’s what I tell my students,” she says. “There’s so much we can’t know about what’s going on.”

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