What’s wrong with Justin Bieber?
We may never know for sure. But, it seems the pop superstar may have just needed a break from being a superstar when he cancelled pre-booked appearances on the The Late Show and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last week.
After tweeting apologies to host Stephen Colbert early Tuesday, hours before he was due to shoot his appearances in New York City, Justin took off to friend Steve Parker’s ranch in Trabuco Canyon, Orange County, the same day with pals.
On the way, they stopped at Cook’s Corner, a renovated biker’s bar located in the canyon, for a helping of cheeseburgers, beers, and video games.
“He was playing arcade games and having a cheeseburger and drinking a few beers,” an eyewitness at the bar told E! News.
The time-out continued on Friday, when the 21-year-old and his pals visited a college bar close by the campus of the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. The Biebs stopped by the 901 Bar and Grill and generously bought a round of shots for students. Citing sources, E! says Justin arrived with a group of about five or six people.
In video footage shot by an onlooker, the heartthrob made a toast, saying, “Purpose! The album!”
When JBiebs toast is weak pic.twitter.com/G3IAW43vRP
— Burt Macklin (@duhitscarolinee) November 28, 2015
“Everyone got shots in their hand and they were all about to do a toast,” a witness told the outlet. “One of them got up on a stool and we were like, ‘Wow, that’s Justin Bieber.’ ” Another source said Bieber had a “kick a** time” as he bought shots for several students in the bar.
At some point, the Purpose singer and his crew made their way to the Shrine Auditorium later that night, where Justin jumped on stage to perform his hits “Sorry” and “Where Are Ü Now?” at The Chainsmokers show. The connection between the two artists comes through Rory Kramer. The videographer previously worked with EDM duo and now works with Bieber. Kramer directed and filmed the stunning Iceland-set music video for the singer’s “I’ll Show You” single.
The Biebs later posted a photo of himself facing the crowd. “Thank you to the Chainsmokers,” he wrote in his caption. “U guys put on a hell of a show and honored to be a part of it.”
To rewind. Last Tuesday, Bieber tweeted, “My apologies to @colbertlateshow as I won’t be able to make it to nyc tomorrow for the show. I look forward to making it up to you soon.” Team Bieber followed up with another, explaining, “@StephenAtHome thank you for the understanding as sometimes life kicks our a** and we need to deal with it. I will see u soon. Thank you.”
Shortly after, Entertainment Tonight and TMZ reported the Biebs cancelled due to “undisclosed personal reasons” and being “emotionally and mentally spent,” respectively. It was emphasized these issues are not caused by drugs or alcohol.
Sensing blood in the water, certain quarters of the entertainment news stream hyped up ET and TMZ’s reports to speculate that Bieber’s bailing was down to a full-blown “meltdown,” whatever that means.
It’s a word that gets thrown around by websites, outlets, and tabloids to describe a celebrity perceived as “going through something.” One of the consequences of such hyperbole in this case, is that paparazzi-obtained pics of Bieber not doing a Britney Spears à la 2007 and shaving his head, and taking a ride on a scooter hours after tweeting Colbert, were gleefully seized on by the New York Daily News, Hollywood Life, Hollyscoop, and others, as some sort of proof that the singer was playing “hooky” when he cancelled his TV spots.
Pictures and video footage of Bieber leaving a doctor’s surgery on and filling his prescription at a RiteAid pharmacy in Los Angeles on Friday were ignored by the press.
Bieber subsequently went to The Chainsmokers’ sold-out L.A. show later that night.
The fact that the “Sorry” singer did little more than jump around on stage and lip-sync at the concert, and was likely trying to lift his spirits, wasn’t even posed as a possibility by Indian news outlets, who branded him as a “liar.”
Introspective Instagrams shared by Bieber and his documented history of depression, and months-long promo tour across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the run-up to the release of his Purpose album, and a whirlwind of radio interviews, TV appearances, and performances after it dropped, were also not considered in most media reports.
In reality, Bieber has spoken at length this year about struggling emotionally and mentally with early fame, a lack of privacy, and paparazzi intrusion throughout his career, as well as the well-documented events of 2013-2014.
Back in August, Bieber broke down in tears at the end of performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. During a later interview on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, he said he cried because he felt “overwhelmed” by the audience’s support.
Bieber’s brief high strung moment — while filming the Today Show in September to promote his (then) upcoming new album — when mic feed of his complaint about camera placement leaked — his walk out from an albeit inane Spanish radio show interview, and a concert in Norway after one song in October — has led to speculation that he is having difficulties with his hefty work schedule amid personal issues.
Justin also broke down in tears on stage during the third of three events held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on November 13, the same day day Purpose was officially released. He cried during his rendition of his song “I’ll Show You.”
The song’s lyrics find Bieber getting candid about his emotions and fame. “Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing / When the pressure’s coming down like lightning / It’s like they want me to be perfect / When they don’t even know that I’m hurting,” he sings in the pre-chorus.
During a recent televised interview with respected Z100 radio host and ET correspondent Elvis Duran, the Biebs admitted, “It’s an emotional time in my life for sure.”
Elaborating, he said, “I’ve been having a lot of cries lately — good cries, bad cries, just all around being emotional.”
“I just want people to know I’m human,” he told the music magazine. “I’m struggling just to get through the days. I think a lot of people are. You get lonely, you know, when you’re on the road. People see the glam and the amazing stuff, but they don’t know the other side. This life can rip you apart.”
Justin went on to reveal he deals with depression “all the time,” and feels “isolated” by the downside of fame.
“You’re in your hotel room and there are fans all around, paparazzi following you everywhere, and it gets intense,” he said. “When you can’t go anywhere or do anything alone you get depressed. I would not wish this upon anyone.”
Given the seriousness of Bieber’s statements about what he goes through as one of the most scrutinized stars on the planet, the assumption-making by some outlets about the reasons behind his Thanksgiving cancellations is uncalled for and could even be dangerous.
It’s highly doubtful any of these outlets knows Bieber’s mental and emotional health history intimately to comment in a meaningful way about what benefit he may or may not get from spending time at a ranch, bar, show, or snowboarding in Utah.
Additionally, he isn’t under any obligation whatsoever to tell the media and inhabitants of the Internet, specifically what prevented him from feeling able to perform over Thanksgiving.
Whatever the reason(s), it seems clear that Bieber felt he needed a break with friends. And, if that’s part of what it takes to avoid the messy scenarios of previous years, he shouldn’t be blamed for listening to his own health needs.
[Images via Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Instagram]