They said they were just friends and laughed off the photos a few weeks ago that suggested there might be a teen romance budding.
But Justin Bieber broke the hearts of millions of his young fans when photos surfaced on Monday of the 16-year-old singer canoodling (bare-chested) with Disney star Selena Gomez (18) (wearing a bikini) on a yacht in the Caribbean over the New Year.
Just to set the record straight, the pictures that we saw from paparazzi photo agency site Bauer Griffin didn’t actually show the kids kissing. But they sure were up close and personal.
Nothing alarming there, you might think. Unless it’s the still boyish frame of the young Canadian crooner.
But the pictures were enough to set off a torrent of nasty Twitter messages aimed at Gomez from Bieber’s young (ish) fans, including a number of death threats to the young star of Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place.
“roses are red, violets are blue, @selenagomez if you’ll break @justinbieber’s heart I’m gonna kill you”, and “@selenagomez stay away from Justin paedophile, retard wait i’m gonna kill ya in the night underneath your smelly bed,” were just a couple of the over-the-top reactions.
Americans were quick to note that any sexual relationship between Bieber at 16, and “older woman” Gomez would amount to statutory rape under US law as Bieber is well below the age of consent.
Not that he’s likely to be pressing charges, given his obvious enthusiasm for Gomez in the pictures.
But when did fans get so vicious, and so possessive of their stars?
And why is it that the girl is getting the brunt of the criticism with no threatening Tweets to Bieber for stealing the affections of Gomez?