Justin Bieber became a new star on YouTube in a totally different way last week when he was filmed sleeping by a Brazilian girl — interpret from that what you may. This was, of course, after he was seen partying for hours into the night at a "gentleman's club" and expressed his, um, artistic side with some graffiti in Rio de Janeiro.
This, of course, was quickly overshadowed by Miley Cyrus toking it up at the European Music Awards. Although it Cyrus has frequently revealed her master plan in interviews — go crazy, get press, sell more records — the media continues to eat it up, and it seems like everyone has something to say about it. But while Cyrus is getting PG-13 in public, Bieber seems to be getting even more scandalous in private, yet his antics are nowhere near as publicized and vilified as Cyrus'. This became even more clear when Cyrus did a parody of the video of Bieber sleeping, with her acting as the Brazilian girl filming the scene. Cyrus may do a lot of controversial things, but the public hasn't had a peek into her private life that's even close to that intimate or incriminating.
Cyrus is working under a huge double standard in the industry. She and Bieber have incredibly similar backgrounds — both are pop stars who became early at a young age and are awkwardly growing into adulthood. Both operate under the societal expectations for their gender and celebrity status: for Cyrus, that means appearing nude in music videos and grinding onstage; for Bieber, that means popping bottles in the club and hooking up with girls. Both appear to be acting of their own volition, although Cyrus' is constantly questioned. But Cyrus' antics have been publicized, criticized, and taken apart for months until there's nothing left to talk about. Meanwhile, Bieber's indiscretions go more or less under the radar — people look, point and laugh, and move on.
Not that more people should criticize Justin Bieber (quite frankly, they're just both teenage idiots. Nothing here is interesting enough to criticize.). But there's a huge difference in how these pop stars are being treated, and it's sending a very clear message. People had different expectations for Cyrus' maturing as a pop star: they wanted her to be a chaste role model or they wanted her to be demurely sexy, but they did not expect for her to be aggressively sexual. And now they're freaking out. On the other hand, Bieber, who's been peeing in mop buckets and tagging up Brazil, is expected to have this kind of behavior as a male pop star. No one asks if he's going crazy, if he's being taken advantage of, if he's no longer a good role model.
Regardless of how you feel about either pop star, most of the shock and scandal doesn't come from their actions. As a woman, Cyrus had some incredibly unrealistic expectations to live up to, and she failed to live up to them, so people hem and haw and speculate. Don't believe it? Imagine if the roles were reversed and Cyrus had been the one caught sleeping on video — there would have been five different opinion pieces and two open letters by now.