Selena Gomez has always played the good girl.
Like most starlets who emerge from the world of family programming, she's built her brand on relatable, friendly characters who are occasionally misunderstood but never mean. Even in Spring Breakers, her most controversial film to date, she portrayed Faith, a girl who trades her youth group for bikinis and booze but is ultimately the lone voice of morality on a seriously debauched vacation.
It makes sense that Gomez gravitates towards these roles: She seems to take a lot of pride in her reputation off-screen, too. In October 2013, about a month after Miley Cyrus twerked her way into the spotlight with a foam finger and copious amounts of tongue, Selena gave the crowd at Brooklyn's Barclays Center a speech about embracing her goody two-shoes rep.
"You guys trust me, and I don't take advantage of that — thank you so much," Selena insisted. "I kind of feel like it's the same thing that you guys have to deal with — all of these people telling you how to live your life or how good you are.
"You know, people tell me all the time that I'm not sexy enough or I'm not cool enough, or I would be cool if I did this, but can I say one thing? One thing that I think is sexy is class."
A few weeks later, she reiterated the strength of her convictions in an interview with Teen Vogue, hinting that her on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber affected her behavior (they were off at the time).
"You fall in love and it completely consumes you, so a part of you is broken when that's gone," Selena explained. "And part of you wants to have that rebellious feeling where you're just like, forget it — I can do anything I want. I've tried it, and I've never been that girl. I'm always going to be the girl you want to take home to your parents, not for the night."
So when Gomez canceled the Australia and Asia dates of her Stars Dance tour in December 2013, it came as a shock to her fans. It was even more surprising when, several weeks ago, her reps confirmed that she'd spent a few weeks in January at a rehab clinic to treat "emotional issues."
Last week, news broke that Gomez had apparently cut ties professionally with her mother and stepfather, who had acted as her managers for years. Sources claimed that Gomez felt she'd "outgrown" her parents, but there was much speculation that the young performer's rekindled relationship with Bieber might have been a factor in her decision.
So... should be worried about her?
At 21, and with over a decade of experience in the entertainment industry, Selena is more than capable of making her own decisions when it comes to her career. A change in management could help her to find the footing she seems to long for in the music world. In multiple interviews, Gomez has expressed ambivalence over her future in pop, admitting that she's been very removed from the songwriting process and that she considers herself a much stronger actress than singer.
"I started music when I was 14. And I had like four No. 1 club songs before I was even allowed in a club," she explained at a January press conference for her upcoming film Rudderless. "So I think that journey still kind of is happening for me."
That said, Gomez's first big move after the management switch is a little unsettling. According to Ryan Seacrest, Selena is planning to release a new song and music video soon — and the video very directly addresses her on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber.
"I saw Selena the other night and she's got a big new song coming out and a really cool video," Seacrest revealed. "The video will get people talking about whether or not it's about she and Justin Bieber."
This might get Gomez a lot of attention, but that doesn't mean it's a good career move.
If Seacrest is right about this video, chances are that Gomez feels she's inching closer to emotional honesty in her music. But the end result, really, will be an invitation for tabloid drama. Sure, she'll satisfy a couple thousand "Jelena" shippers, but let's be real here — do shippers really care about the music? Actor Rob Lowe summed up the major problem faced by many teen idols in a conversation about Justin Bieber on Oprah Prime last week: "He makes really good music, he does, but I think he knows the dark secret, and the dark secret is 80 percent of his audience doesn't give a s**t about the music. And he knows it."
If Gomez wants to be taken seriously as an artist, she's better off keeping that aspect of her life off the table... especially given Bieber's reputation of late.
But then again, she's 21. There's plenty of time to recover.