First of all, I'd like to give a big shout out to my dad, Ernie Zarate (yes, the famous actor I look nothing like) for turning 73 years young today. It was a blast seeing him attempt to "strategize" his buffet game-plan at a well known eat-all-you-can restaurant in a quaint mall in Marikina City. My father indirectly influenced my passion for sports and being a broadcaster himself—he hosts a weekly radio music show for a government FM station, besides being a full time disc jockey in a previous era—has also indirectly inspired me to pursue this craft. I'm sure my mom would have enjoyed his bash as well, if she were still with us today.
Seeing that we are talking about a music celebrity, I borrowed a line from one of my favorite Duran Duran songs "Hungry Like The Wolf" to usher in this blog.
Recently, I picked up a story that trended on Twitter® about some uncouth and somewhat inappropriate pictures posted by recent Manila visitor Justin Bieber via his Instagram® account. I'm pretty certain by now most of you have already seen these cleverly doctored photos and if it wasn't our national treasure, Manny Pacquiao, on the receiving end of this cyber-gag, we'd all find it a bit funny but a tad tasteless.
This is an attempt at being humorous from the mindset of an 18-year-old. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong subject at a very inopportune time. Now the jury is still out on the origin of these photos. There are unconfirmed reports that Bieber merely reposted these creations. But the captions were his. This drew mixed emotions from fans across the globe and a generally negative set of responses from Filipinos across the globe.
My reaction? One of disdain.
I respect Bieber and what he has achieved in his catapult to stardom over the last three years. I find him very bright and witty. His musical talent (thanks in part to Neo) is beyond question. But there comes a point when these kids, especially those who have achieved fame and fortune faster than normal, should learn how to be sensitive about the nature of their stature and how it directly affects the pop culture of the world—no matter how seemingly innocent their intentions are.
Let's look at this way: if some cyber citizen from Santiago, Chile created these photos and posted them and it went viral, there would be about a handful that would have reacted and then it would lose its appeal. Needless to say, it would never make headlines. But since one of the leading icons of international pop culture is the one who unleashed this in social media, all of a sudden, his deed is no longer under the microscope. It's gone global.
Another factor that makes this so inapt is that Bieber has long been associated with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Pacquiao's would-be dream opponent. Mayweather recently released a statement expressing his concern for Pacquiao and wishing him well after the eight-time world champion's shocking knockout defeat last Saturday (Sunday, in the Philippines). But although Mayweather's statements were filled with sincerity (at least from how I felt about it), a small doubt cloud has been cast with Bieber's ill-timed posts.
I'm pretty sure Bieber's PR team will rectify the issue very soon. But Bieber is now at the point of his human life where he has to be taught a few lessons in being a world-influence and what the repercussions a lapse in judgement may create, even in tiny ripples. Bieber must learn to take responsibility for his actions and must avoid getting into situations like this in the future. Sure, it was an innocent attempt at humor. But he has to have the foresight to assess what can be damaging not only to the person he is poking fun at, but also to his image as a whole.
Come on, guys: Bieber committed a "rookie mistake".
I, for one, am quick to spot an unintentional bad joke, whisper my "I think that was a bit out of line" unsolicited advice and quickly forgive, knowing (and hoping) it will be the first and last of that nature—ever. His PR team will follow this lead, I almost guarantee it.
It would be interesting to see, though, what would happen if he tries to defend his actions on this. That might ruffle a few feathers from a fiercely loyal Filipino…like myself…
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.