Ah to be young and in love. Scratch that, to be young, rich, famous and sort of in love. That latter may be up to interpretation, but teen King and Queen Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez have used a recent Hawaiian vacation to assert their control over their relationship and their careers. Their puppy love may have been initially kept under wraps, but thanks to one media-manipulated kiss these two are now incapable of keeping their hands off one another. But considering the immense fame that The Bieb is currently enjoying, so much PDA with a pretty and famous girlfriend could have the potential to distract him from his work, unleash the jealous hordes of Beliebers on his lady love, or worse: enrage moms and dads who fear their daughter's obsession is getting a tad too randy for their liking. To further investigate what's at stake for two kids who can't even legally drink, we rang up Hollywood image consultant Michael Sands. "That's his home court advantage in venturing out into the public; he's learning how to kiss and hug. You're seeing kissing and hugging 101, all for the cameras," he explains, before continuing with what might be a more cynical interpretation of their romance than even we at Popdust can conjure. "Basically she's really not his girlfriend, it's set up by the parents or the manager. It's not going to last."
Shocking words for those who believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and above all else, love. But while asserting his masculinity by dating a "hot" girl and publicly sticking his tongue down her throat may be a way for Bieber to transition from boyish "Baby" singer to (we feel icky typing this) mature musician, these aggressive displays of heterosexuality have to be off-putting for some of Bieber's younger fans (or at least, their parents) who only recently learned what it meant for his voice to change. "Perhaps some fans will be turned off, but I don’t believe it will grossly affect his image. People are intrigued and want to learn more about the lives of celebrity couples in love," says Dr. Tina Morse, a MA, MFT Cedars-Sinai Hospital Psychiatry Team Fellow, who gives a second opinion that caters to all proponents of the Bieber-Gomez relationship. In addition, perhaps the fact that Bieber brought Selena home to Canada to meet his parents will quell doubters. (See, it's not all about bikinis!)
Pop stars tread a fine line as they grow up in front of the public eyes, particularly when it comes to satisfying their "needs." Most things are better left unsaid (or unseen), save for coming out with an abstinence pledge. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake kept things largely PG during their tenure as pop royalty, the most offensive public display they had were those horrible matching denim outfits. (Now about that virginity thing...)
But let's not just criticize poor Bieber for being a horndog. (What were you doing at 17?) The older and wiser Selena is clearly not as innocent as her Wizards of Waverly Place character anymore. And yet, it's interesting that she'll do away with the pink horses from her video after catching flack from the likes of P!nk, but refrain from hiding in her bikini or giving The Bieb a smooch in front of the cameras, despite the risk of backlash from heated Disney parents. (That may just be a testament to P!ink's intimidation factor.) There must be a larger number of PETA members than Disney fans in the 18-49 market.
To us, this whole relationship is real—Selena has to like Bieber enough to stomach all the talk about swag and his recent Hebrew tattoo acquisition, whereas as at 17, Justin's probably just happy to have someone let him touch her boobs—but also extremely professionally convenient. With Selena's new album out later this month, and The Bieb always promoting something, these pseudo-smushing beach photos are examples of two kids no longer playing by their handlers' rules, and hedging their bets that the paparazzi shots will help their personal stocks rise. Maybe they're right. And if not, we hope it was worth it. If these sexy times (and, we hope you're sitting down for this one, proposal rumors) continue, fans should view these two in a different, more adult light. It's only a matter of time before choruses of "Baby, baby, baby oh" become ironic.
For lots more pics, videos and up-to-the-second dish on Justin, be sure to check out his Popdust Artist Page.