Canadians Should Be Proud of Justin Bieber. All Canadians.

(*Originally published with Black Press and BCLocalNews…)

Justin Bieber is a legend and pop culture icon. I’m serious.

And yet, if he really does retire, I fully expect to see my Facebook feed flooded with petty little messages of hallelujah or good riddance, as if the temporary end to one uber-successful career justifies how little the rest of us do in ours.

But this would be a shame. The kid sold out Madison Square Garden at 15 years old, is one of the biggest Canadian celebrities of all-time, and – for a generation of people who should see this as nothing short of inspiring – went from a crappy room in Ontario to the top of the entertainment food chain, and he did it all through YouTube.

At this point in 2013, Justin Bieber is the defining celebrity of the century, the sort of star who resembles everything this millennial generation is known for and who has used the means at his disposal to construct the sort of career that terrifies traditionalists.

Sure, he’s turned into a shady (because he wears dark sunglasses, like, everywhere now), older and awkward form of what was once, to a lot of people, a pretty cute Canadian kid on the rise. But his music is his music. His platinums are still platinum. And, to a lot of loyal fans, he’s their be-all-end-all.

Consider that artists like The Beatles and William Shakespeare were once viewed similarly during their careers – the cheap, corny, lowest common denominators of their profession. Leonardo DiCaprio went through the same teen-pop idol status after Titanic hit and, to a smaller but similar extent, so did Robert Pattison after Twilight and Zac Efron after High School Musical.

Some artists turn their careers into something much, more more. Some can’t make the transition. Apparently, some retire. If Justin Bieber really is retiring because “the media talks a lot about” him, then he hasn’t realized what I’m sure a lot of his peers, the better ones, have: it stops. They’ll stop talking about you. They’ll stop crucifying you. They’ll stop treating your every misstep like it’s a massive leap in the wrong direction for mankind. And they’ll stop once they know their readers don’t care.

It’s the kid’s choice whether or not he wants to wait it out. But it’s our choice to not act like the bunch of couch-dwelling cynics we certainly are.

You don’t have to like Justin Bieber’s music or even like him. I don’t.

But for anyone who hasn’t accomplished anything to treat the kid’s retirement like it’s some sort of cause for celebration, well that’s just… pathetic.