BIEBERNALYSIS! I think we've all been taking this Justin Bieber thing for granted. Let us pause for a moment and try to appreciate it.
Can you recall when our swishy-banged cherub released "Baby," the saccharine plea of tween yearning that won the world's heart? He was impossibly wholesome then: virginal and Canadian, a wide-eyed wait-till-marriage Christian, a darling mama's boy. He charmingly bumbled headlong into glass doors, rubbing his precious noggin in childlike bafflement. When he stood beside Usher, he made Usher look tough. Usher.
In his concert film, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D, there's a candid moment that speaks volumes about the Bieber of 2010. He meets a group of his hometown teenage friends backstage: "What are you knuckleheads doin' out there? Causin' a ruckus?" This is likely the single most wholesome thing said by any human being in the last 15 years.
Incredibly, that was just three years ago. Now Bieber wears sunglasses indoors. He smokes blunts with teen rappers; he cavorts with models and is a suspected sex-haver. He's got a magical Ferrari that commits crimes and kills dudes when he's not even near it.
This happened so incrementally that we hardly noticed — the hiring of a "swagger coach," an unflattering magazine profile or two, a casual "swag!" dropped in a song, a roguish new haircut — but it all stacked up to a new Bieber, one who would be barely recognizable if we saw him in 2010.
Just after news of Bieber's evil autonomous car racking up yet another police citation, TMZ dropped the perfect bombshell. Bieber was allegedly photographed sipping something from a double Styrofoam cup, in close proximity to a big bottle of codeine cough syrup. This can only add up to one thing: lean. That purple drank, the laudanum of Screw, the deadly nectar of Pimp C. The elixir that excites the soul of the poet, descended from the very milk of paradise that brought Coleridge his wondrous visions of Xanadu.
When I heard of this, a funny thing occurred to me: perhaps we live in the best of all possible worlds.
If you had shown me that precious "Baby"-era Bieber and asked me for the ideal 18-year-old outcome of this creature, what do you suppose I would have said? "I want to see this boy corrupted, honking boobs and smoking blunts," I'd have said. "I want him acting cool and saying 'swag' and not giving a fuck." To be honest, I wouldn't even have dared to dream that he'd be chugging the purple blood of Houston and committing phantom Ferrari crimes. That would be too amazing. That would be pushing my luck.
Too often, young stars fade away or descend into depressing downward spirals. Only Miley Cyrus has recently trod Bieber's path, but she did so with the slightest hints of guile and self-awareness. These things have never burdened our hero. His young mind is swimming with lean and weed, flush with the hubris of youth and totally untroubled by irony.
Admittedly, he's probably a little shit; by most accounts he's arrogant, obnoxious, and not particularly bright. The music hasn't quite caught up to the lean, either — he just released a goddamned acoustic album, which is more in keeping with our most pessimistic estimations of what might become of him. But this is irrelevant: we don't have to hang out with Justin Bieber or listen to his stupid music. All we need to do is sit back and enjoy the rare beauty of a milquetoast innocent blossoming into a top-notch goofball dirtbag of a man. I can't wait to see what kind of crazy ruckus that sizzurp-sipping knucklehead and his rascally Rari whip up next.
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