See celebrity scandals for what they are

By Steven Gillard

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During the past week or so, two stories have been receiving a lot of attention in the media: Seattle Seahawk’s cornerback Richard Sherman’s interview following the team’s victory in the National Football Conference Championship; and Justin Bieber’s arrest for driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving on an expired license while drag racing in Miami Beach, Fla.

In the final seconds of the NFC Championship, Sherman tipped a pass in the end zone into the arms of his teammate, thus ending the San Francisco 49ers’ hopes of a comeback and securing the Seahawks’ place in Super Bowl XLVIII. In a post-game interview with Erin Andrews, Sherman made some enthusiastic statements, claiming that he was “the best corner in the game” and also stating, “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get.” He was soon vilified by the online community for being classless and egotistical, with many Patriots fans claiming that Sherman—and only Sherman—could possibly make them root for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

While Sherman’s conduct isn’t exactly tasteful, it’s forgivable. He was interviewed shortly after making the biggest play of his career, and he was caught up in the moment. It’s not like what he said wasn’t true, either—Sherman led the NFL in 2013 with eight interceptions. He actually is the best cornerback in the game. When all is said and done, his interview amounts to little other than trash talk and boasting, natural parts of any sport, especially one as physical as football.

What is far more concerning than Sherman’s lack of humility is the response of the online community in the days following Justin Bieber’s arrest for DUI and drag racing. Following his arrest, parts of the online community voiced their support for the pop star. Hashtags such as #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin quickly began trending on Twitter. Lady Gaga voiced her approval of the support given to Bieber by his “Beliebers” in his time of need. Everybody makes mistakes, especially those thrust into the spotlight at a young age, right?

Wrong.

Bieber could have seriously injured or killed somebody. He doesn’t need support. He needs jail time. In 2012, 10,322 people were killed due to drunk driving. Had Bieber’s drunken escapade ended in manslaughter, I doubt his fans and peers would be showing such support.

Bieber was handed a life of luxury. All he had to do to get to where he is today was post some videos on YouTube, and now he has the world in the palm of his hand. With millions of dollars, the adoration of women everywhere and fast cars, his life is one to envy, yet he insists on acting as if he is above the law.

Richard Sherman, on the other hand, was raised in Compton, California, a city notorious for its gang violence. He graduated as salutatorian of his high school class and went on to attend Stanford University. Sherman was the one who was born into adverse circumstances. Sherman is the one who should be a thug. Yet where is his criminal record?

It’s disturbing, really, how a football player’s emotionally raw but harmless rant creates as much backlash as an entitled pop star drunkenly drag racing a Lamborghini down the streets of Miami Beach. I don’t approve of Sherman’s lack of sportsmanship and professionalism, but the fact that it generated as much attention as Bieber’s crime says a lot about the media, and the society in which we live.

People were quick to judge Sherman when his interview deviated from the norm with a rare display of passion, and quick to forgive Bieber when he carelessly risked the lives of those around him.

We need to see things for what they are and not how we want them to be. If you want to see Sherman as a classless thug who can only play football, you will. If you want to see Justin Bieber as a lost child struggling to deal with a life of superstardom, you will.

Look beyond the caricatures of the media, however, and you will see something quite different. You will see a well-spoken, educated and competitive man with a passion for the game of football; and you will see an arrogant punk, convinced of his own importance, who believes he is immune from the law.

Steven Gillard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]