Has Justin Bieber lost his swagger?
The man-boy pop star definitely hasn't had a very swaggerific 2013 so far. He broke up with the seemingly sweet and grounded Selena Gomez around New Year's, after stories emerged of him chasing around Victoria's Secret models (to be fair, he's not the only one who does that).
He's also been photographed smoking pot and hanging out with guys who were allegedly slurping the codeine-laced "purple drank," the drink of choice for the most definitely unswaggerific former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
What do I mean by "swagger"? In this case, it's a positive sense of confidence that can be charming when it doesn't cross the line into arrogance.
Bieber has been crossing that line. He showed his unswaggering, obnoxious side by tweeting about how he had such a terrible 19th birthday after a London nightclub wouldn't allow his underaged friends (including 14-year-old Jaden Smith) to accompany him inside. Then he took the stage two hours late for a concert at London's O2 arena, just in time to see dozens of his young fans and their parents leaving. He collapsed backstage during another show last week, then erupted at a photographer the next morning, yelling how he'd like to rip the guy's lungs out or some such thing (real swagger never involves screaming obscenities while being held back by your bodyguards). Then Bieber canceled a show in Portugal on Monday, after selling only 60 percent of the available tickets.
Too many twitpics
And for some reason, he just can't stop tweeting pictures of himself, topless with his pants hanging down.
Really, really not swaggerific.
And Bieber knows swaggerific. Or he should. After all, he hired a swagger coach.
True story. If you remember correctly -- and I don't, because I spend all my free time on YouTube watching 25-year-old White Lion videos -- Bieber had a "swagger coach" by the name of Ryan Good, who supposedly performed the same function for Usher.
"I have a swagger coach that helps me and teaches me different swaggerific things to do," Bieber said in a 2010 interview, adding, "He has helped me with my style and just putting different pieces together and being able to layer and stuff like that."
I don't know half of what he was talking about. I didn't even know having a swagger coach was a thing. I always figured that, once you used your superior genetics to gain fame and fortune to the point where you hired people to go to the restroom for you, the swagger came naturally.
But no, it's a skill that can be learned. Colleges will now probably start offering swagger majors.
Good was Bieber's swagger coach until October 2011 (they actually made a formal announcement when he left to pursue other work). But whatever Good was doing, it worked. Bieber kept up appearances as a confident, nice guy who Middle America thought occasionally hung out with bad-boy hip-hoppers because they shopped at the same stores or something.
But over the past year -- especially in 2013 -- something has changed. Is the Beebs losing steam? Are his antics harming his career? Has he completely forgotten he's from Canada?
And, more important, if he keeps this up, will Canada take him back (please)?
It seems there's a fine line between having swagger and being a fame-infected, self-absorbed brat. Justin Timberlake is a good example of a guy who has more fame than any normal person could survive, yet remains charming and likable -- and remember, this is a man who pulled a woman's shirt off in front of billions at the Super Bowl. He recovered, and has managed it well. He's confident, and maybe even a bit cocky. But it remains within respectful boundaries.
Maybe Justin Bieber needs to get Good -- as in Ryan Good -- back for a refresher course. Otherwise, Portugal isn't going to be the only country where he's canceling shows.
Contact Tony Hicks on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks.