Ah, the trappings of modern celebrity. While living the fast life and getting burned for it is nothing new for any pop star, today’s celebrities are having sex tapes leaked, faking unauthorized sex tapes, wrecking cars, going to rehab, and making shows about that. Sometimes it gets to be so crazy that you shave your head and attack a car with an umbrella, invite people to stone you to death, or say “Fuck it,” and go to Africa.
But indignity, more than ever, leads to opportunity, which means attention and profit, so now the name of the game means debasing oneself and letting everyone watch. To be loved and reviled in equal measure is hella lucrative.
Justin Bieber. Everyone loves that kid. If stodgy oldsters know anything about youth culture, it’s that Bieber’s the main man. He’s beloved by adolescent fans, tips generously at strip clubs, and like the best of them, he fails upward.
Have you ever wanted to watch him pee?
If you said “no,” that’s a perfectly acceptable answer, but now, thanks to the Miami, Florida police, you can if you want.
In the public interest of god knows what, the police department released nine hours of footage of the incarcerated pop star while he was being booked for DUI last January.
Now, if you’ll recall the R. Kelly sex tape, that depicted a celebrity peeing, a man who a court decided was not R. Kelly, and he was peeing on a woman who was underage. Not quite the same thing, but aside from that, it’s hard to remember any instance of a celebrity piss tape.
Oh, there was that one time that Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas pissed her pants on stage. Maybe that counts. That was at a show, though, so there was no sense of privacy being violated. More like “That’s unfortunate. Accidents happen.”
Anyway, there’s an enormous black bar over Bieber in the jailhouse tape, because his penis is enormous and shaped like a square, or the police wanted to be extra safe. I know there are sexts out there that TMZ got ahold of that purport to show Justin Bieber’s penis, but if you’re really interested, you’ve already found them.
More highlights from the jail tape include Bieber doing push-ups, but that’s about it, because being in jail sucks and there’s not a damn thing to do.
Now, aside from the “indignity,” the guy’s not in serious legal trouble, not for a celebrity. While your uncle got a DUI and was on probation for like ten years, millionaires have sterling legal representation and can punk the same courts that actually sentence regular people to time. Look, Snoop Dogg was accused of murder and was acquitted. Jay-Z was accused of stabbing a dude and got a misdemeanor. All Bieber has on his plate right now is that DUI arrest, a non-violent resisting arrest charge connected with that, and an assault charge in Toronto. Remember when Keith Richards was caught with heroin in Toronto? That carried a potential life sentence. That’s serious. But they all got off, and the public forgave them. Hell, liked them even more.
So what’s happening? According to the narrative of celebrity, this is the run-up to a comeback. The bit of adversity on has to experience to make a triumphal single when it’s all done, go on talk shows, that sort of shit. Some stars don’t survive, and the public throws them away, but backlash has been mild regarding Bieber. He’s a celebrity forced down your throat, but any baby-faced, adolescent crooner who’s molting into a “fast living” persona who’s had everyone treat him like Jesus Christ for five years is going to inspire some resistance from the public after a while. He’s also a valuable commodity to a lot of people, so he probably won’t be left to fall off completely, and in 20 years, the worst he’ll be doing is a eight-times-a-week Vegas show for like 50 million.
This week video surfaced of a deposition Bieber gave regarding a civil suit where his bodyguard is accused of beating someone up. Dressed up in some camouflaged update of Don Johnson’s blazer, and rocking his trademark Vanilla Ice fade, he goes through a variety of moods as he answers questions from an attorney. It really shows his range. At one point, he’s asked if he owes a debt of gratitude to Usher, who signed him when he was 13. Bieber’s incredulous. He scoffs and says “I think I was detrimental to my own career.”
Now that’s classic. He means “instrumental,” but he’s right on both counts, because where we are today, for celebrities, being detrimental and instrumental is often the same exact thing.