For anyone over a certain age, Justin Bieber's scandal-laden antics have the two-pronged effect of producing delightful schadenfreude — watching a spoiled boy become spoiled rotten —while also bringing out our inner pearl-clutchers. When is he going to hurt someone? Is he a lost and misguided child who is just in need of some nurturing? Who is around to feed him his vitamins and teach him to fold all of his muscle tanks?
Last night, footage of the young Biebs surfaced showing the pop star telling a not-so-funny joke involving chain saws, racial epithets, and the kind of humor one might expect from the worst teenager on Earth. Today, as expected, Bieber's team released an apology, one thorough and well-written. The missive reads:
"As a kid, I didn't understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt. I thought it was ok to repeat hurtful words and jokes, but didn't realize at the time that it wasn't funny and that in fact my actions were continuing the ignorance. Thanks to friends and family I learned from my mistakes and grew up and apologized for those wrongs. Now that these mistakes from the past have become public I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I'm very sorry. I take my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake. I was a kid then and I am a man now who knows my responsibility to the world and to not make that mistake again. Ignorance has no place in our society and I hope the sharing of my faults can prevent others from making the same mistake in the future. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say but telling the truth is always what's right. Five years ago I made a reckless and immature mistake and I'm grateful to those close to me who helped me learn those lessons as a young man. Once again....I'm sorry."
Yes, of course we all make mistakes at 15, before things like context and history are learned, and yes, of course, crazy antics from one's teenage years shouldn't count against you later in life.
Unless being kind of a jerk is your raison d'etre. Justin's assurance that he is a "man" (a word he uses twice), just doesn't seem to hold a lot of water. Here are the things he hasn't apologized for, just in case anyone is keeping count: drag racing drunk, causing $20K worth of damage egging someone's house, and for deeply offending mostly everyone when he left a comment in a guest book wishing Anne Frank could have been an Belieber. He did, however, apologize for dropping by a shrine that commemorated Class A war criminals in Japan (though not as effusively as this time around), and he also apologized to Bill Clinton for spraying and swearing at a photo of him. (Sadly, there is no reported recollection of that event.) Oh, and this is just in the last two years.
So, yeah, good for Justin for apologizing this time, in a fashion that is uncharacteristically more convincing than the other 789 times he has needed to make amends (and chose not to). But, and this may be wildly off-base, none of these acts seemingly indicate "manhood" or "becoming a man." If Justin didn't have a very good track record of very bad behavior, this pretty heinous joke might be worth forgiving. Justin, baby, it is pretty hard to buy you as anything other than a petulant man-child with good hair who got caught, once again, being a total twerp.
Either way, maybe we have entered the era of Apologizing Justin. And, if so, guess it is kind of about time.
(It is interesting to note that the difference with this particular apology may have to do with the transgression type. Drag racing, swearing at presidents, and egging houses are all pretty badass in a hackneyed, Mall Of America kind of way. This, however, is just bad.)