Eighteen months of erratic behaviour culminated last week in his arrest in Florida on charges of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The case was subsequently dropped, but not before Bieber’s mugshot was beamed around the world.
Since the dawn of celebrity, young people have withered under the spotlight, overwhelmed by the privileges and responsibilities.
Like Bieber, a spiky haired Canadian who stumbled into teenage celebrity, The Lost Boys star was unable to transition from adolescent fame into serious acting, and spent more and more time partying. In his early 20s, he became a heavy drug user, going into rehab on 15 occasions. His movie career petered out. In 2004, Dublin rock band, The Thrills, released a song, ‘Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?’ Six years later they had their answer: he died of a pulmonary edema.
Gary Coleman’s older brother in 1980s comedy, Diff’rent Strokes, Bridges had appeared in Roots, The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. His career sputtered out with the cancellation of Diff’rent Strokes in 1986, after which he became addicted to crack cocaine, selling drugs to pay for his addiction. In 1989, he was charged with shooting a drug dealer eight times during a cocaine binge. Following two trials, he was acquitted. Now 48, Bridges has been sober 20 years. Fellow Diff’rent Strokes star, Dana Plato, died in 1999, having overdosed on painkillers.
The adorable little girl from ET, Barrymore, by age 14, was drinking alcohol and snorting cocaine. By age 18 she had cleaned up and has gone on to a productive career as actress, director and producer.
Raised by hippy parents, it seemed Phoenix would be a different child star: uncommonly mature, capable of seeing past the glitz. But he succumbed to a familiar cocktail of vices, dying outside a Los Angeles nightclub in October, 1993. His body contained lethal quantities of heroin and cocaine. The Stand By Me star was 23.
Ubiquitous in the early ’90s, thanks to hit comedy Home Alone (and its endless sequels), Culkin has had a difficult transition to adulthood. Having announced his retirement from acting aged 14, in 2004 he was arrested for possession of marijuana, receiving a suspended sentence. He had become estranged from his father, Kit, prompted by his parents’ separation in 1995. In 2008, Culkin’s sister Dakota died at 29, having been struck by a car.
Her talent was clear when she played twins in a 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. After starring alongside Jamie Lee Curtis in the comedy, Freaky Friday, critics were comparing her to a young Jodie Foster. Alas, Lohan’s rocky family life — her parents were twice separated before divorcing — ill-prepared her for celebrity. During Disney’s remake of The Love Bug, tales of Lohan’s all-night partying were lighting up the tabloids. By 2006, at the age of 20, she was attending Alcoholic Anonymous and better known for her outrageous behaviour than for her movie career. Lohan was uninsurable in Hollywood.
The creepy kid from The Sixth Sense, Osment has struggled as an adult actor. His personal life has been troubled, too: in 2006, he overturned his car and was charged with driving under the influence and drug possession. The court obliged him to attend AA for six months.
Remember the precocious 11-year-old who starred alongside Susan Sarandon in the 1993 adaptation of John Grisham’s The Client? He appeared opposite Brad Pitt and Robert de Niro in Sleepers and Ian McKellen in Apt Pupil. After that, things unravelled. Aged 15, Tennessee-born Renfro was arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana and, two years later, charged with trying to steal a yacht from Miami. A string of drug-related detentions followed and he repeatedly violated judicial orders to enter rehab. With his career in the gutter, he died in early 2008, of a heroin overdose.
One of those celebrities who ought to steer clear of Twitter, Bynes is a former Nickelodeon starlet whose public meltdown was excruciatingly detailed via social media. Alongside her increasingly frenzied Twitter screeds — in which she attacked Rihanna, Drake, and others — Bynes has been arrested on suspicion of drugs possession and, last July, for allegedly starting a “small fire” outside a stranger’s house in Los Angeles. She was held for mental health evaluation and released into the care of her parents.
It is probably too early to tell if Miley is having a public breakdown or is engaged in a canny branding campaign. Following last year’s ‘Twerkgate’ furore, where she danced provocatively with Robin Thicke at an MTV awards ceremony, one thing is clear: we no longer think of Cyrus as teenage sweetheart Hannah Montana. She further demolished her cherubic image by appearing to spark up a spliff on stage in Amsterdam, and by starring in a series of explicit videos. Is she truly suffering an identity crisis — or simply pulling our strings? Only Miley knows.