Yes-Men

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Nobody likes to be wrong. At least that’s what I’ve heard second-hand. I don’t have any personal experience with it since I’ve never made a mistake. We all have our burdens. Mine is being perfect. Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes my infallibility. The world is full of people eager to shoot down my good ideas just because they violate the laws of man and the laws of physics. Someday I’ll find a way to rob a bank with a lightsaber. Science needs to catch up with my evil schemes.

I need a lightsaber to rob a bank, but I need the money from the robbery to build the lightsaber. Life is cruel sometimes.
Teenage celebrities have a similar problem. Like me, they think they’re right about everything, but unlike me, they’re helpless pawns who can barely tie their own shoes. Seriously, New Kids on the Block folded after the lead singer choked to death on his own laces. I choose friends and confidants who agree with me because it shows they are wise and knowledgeable. Teen stars also pick advisers who always tell them “yes,” but with disastrous consequences. Adolescent brains are only capable of bad ideas. Sycophantic hangers-on have the same effect on those ill-advised plans that lighter fluid has on birthday candles. In my defense, the cake really lit up the room and my daughter’s eyebrows eventually grew back.

Cops recently arrested Justin Bieber for street racing while high. His own dad was there and didn’t stop him. If he ever told his son “no,” that guy would have to get a real job instead of flying around the country hitting on his son’s barely legal leftovers. I haven’t exactly achieved success in my life, but at least my retirement plan isn’t to be a groupie for my kids. Not that I have a choice. After the job I’ve done of raising them, I’m sure the nursing home my children put me in will actually be an empty refrigerator box. Maybe if I shape up now they’ll give me a newspaper to use as a blanket. Bieber’s adult entourage took the opposite approach. Rather than showing him the careful mix of tough love and outright neglect I use on my children, the singer’s manager, lawyer, and everyone else on his payroll simply cashed in as fast as they could before the kid crashed and burned, literally and figuratively. I feel sorry for whatever company is on the hook for his life insurance policy.

Celebrities would live longer if they cared about the environment. No one ever drives fast enough to die in a Prius.

It’s dangerous for impressionable young people to hire yes-men, but it’s easy to see why it happens. No man wants an adviser who constantly rains on his parade. If Bieber brought me onto his staff, my advice every day would be, “You suck, Justin. Quit singing and go live in a Dumpster.” I have a feeling my accurate, honest opinion wouldn’t be appreciated. A guy can only hear “nobody loves you” so many times before he tunes it out. That’s why I no longer listen to my wife.

It takes good judgment to find a confidant who also has good judgment, which is why 19-year-old millionaires end up being advised by psychopaths. Before he started a cult, Charles Manson was the manager for the Beatles. This vicious cycle of dumb kids picking even dumber consultants is why we have pop star monsters running amok across the country. Unfortunately, the president refuses to call in the military to stop the scourge of boy bands and other teenage heartthrobs. It’s different in Japan. That nation only has an air force so it can fight off Mothra and One Direction.

The kamikaze squadrons weren’t disbanded. They’re just waiting for the next tour date.
Bieber is making headlines right now, but I could switch out his name with any teen sensation a decade from now and the scenario would be exactly the same. Every pop star thinks he is a unique phenomenon, not a recurring punch line that repeats itself every four or five years. Each time a young singer makes it big in the preteen market, he honestly thinks 12-year-old girls will worship him forever. Not many junior high kids get excited for a 35-year-old has-been with a beer belly. By that age, Bieber’s money will certainly be gone. His financial planners set up his funds to last until he’s 27, which is about as long as anyone could reasonable expect him to live. The only way he’ll beat that mark is if he gets poor earlier than expected and can no longer afford drugs or a Lamborghini. If sudden poverty saves his life, he’ll find himself adrift in a world that’s moved on to the next up-and-coming teenage tragedy. Once that happens, the best Bieber can hope for is that his divorce and bankruptcy hearings get rolled together so he only has to pay his lawyer once. He has a lot to look forward to.

Bieber and other train wrecks might be tempted to warn the next generation of flash-in-the-pan superstars, but it wouldn’t do any good. Like speed limit signs and recommended serving sizes, their advice would simply be ignored. Each new teen idol has his own group of yes-men who act as a protective buffer against reality. Inside that bubble, the singer is the greatest person ever to live, and everyone from Stephen Hawking to Jesus is jealous of his fame and power. Such arrogance is unavoidable. I’m fairly cocky myself, and my life has been nothing but an unbroken string of failures. Most of us become more reasonable people as we age because life beats the confidence out of us. That maturing process would stop completely if I achieved the wealth of a small nation before I was old enough to drink.

If I was young and famous, I’d like to think I’d surround myself with the right kind of people, but nothing in my life now suggests that would be the case. Nowhere is this more clear than on Twitter. An emotionally healthy person evaluates criticism and learns from it. I aggressively block anyone who addresses me with anything less than effusive praise. It’s possible my detractors have valid points, but I don’t have the willpower to avoid using a button that lets me silence all dissent. I didn’t need absolute power to be corrupted absolutely. All it took for me was an audience and a smartphone app. If instead of a minor Twitter account I had millions of dollars and tens of millions of die-hard fans, I’m sure I’d make headlines for my stupid antics just like Bieber. The difference is mine would be deadly. I could finally afford to pay scientists to build my lightsaber.