It would be odd if Justin Bieber wasn’t saying “I don’t give a f__” at this stage of the game. But it’s remarkable to see it said in the Nov. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, a weighty outlet where the singer’s expletive is given a fitting platform.
Trailing laurels from his Latin America Believe tour leg and a new shorter haircut, the 19-year-old and his manager Scooter Braun got stuck into a cover story that delivered insights aplenty on the pair’s thoughts about bad press, tabloid economics, famous friends like Drake and Will Smith, and the inside track on the dynamic duo’s relationship.
Billed as Bieber’s first in-depth interview in as long as nine months, it’s fair to say a lot’s happened since then and THR certainly didn’t skimp on the word count.
But here are nine standout reveals from it.
1. The Age of ‘Swag’ has passed:
That more brash epoch of style was just too obvious. The Biebs and his onesie collection are still very “influenced by black culture,” but has now internalized the concept preferring to own it as a “lifestyle — like a suaveness or a swag, per se.”
And be advised, future mentions will be rare, if at all, as the word is horribly “played out.”
2. There is method behind his profanity:
Retrospectively noting Justin’s gifts to a sleepless news cycle — monkeys without papers, mop buckets, tales of lawless Segway riding through the badlands of Calabasas, strippers, and a Casper-like exodus from a Brazil brothel, the singer said of ‘haters’ and tabloid media:
“I don’t give a f—.” He explains, “Not ‘I don’t give a f —‘ to just be reckless and do whatever, but ‘I don’t give a f— what they say.’ … I know who I am and what I’m doing in my life and what I’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish as a performer, as a writer, as an artist, as a person, as a human being. I’m happy with the man I’m becoming.”
3. The Anne Frank hysteria was even more unnecessary than some thought:
Bieber’s guestbook entry at Amsterdam’s Anne Frank Museum touched off international contempt when the cultural newbie wrote that he hoped Frank might have been a Belieber.
However, Braun widens the context and says museum guides specifically “showed him the pictures of movie stars in her room, and they said: ‘Maybe you would have been on that wall, Justin. She might have been a fan of yours.’ And he was touched by that.”
4: Will Smith has committed to weekly phone calls with Justin, which is kind of awesome:
Turns out if you’re a friend of the Hollywood actor (or his son Jaden), that means something if you suddenly take up residence in headlines that start with the words “Meltdown!”
Smith calls Bieber every week to talk through potential issues or just chat. The only thing off the table is Scientology.
“He said, ‘Man, that makes me feel so loved. I woke up, and there’s Will Smith, one of, if not the, biggest movie stars on the planet,’ ” Braun recalls Bieber saying when Smith showed up at his pad after hearing the singer was feeling low in May. “‘He took time out of his day for me.’”
5: Eminem doesn’t hate Justin, not even a little bit:
Smith isn’t the only celebrity happy to pep talk Bieber. It’s well known that fellow Canadian Drake is a pal of the pop prince and “like a big brother to Justin,” according to Braun. But who would have guessed Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, and Detroit’s finest are also prepared to step up if needed?
Many thought Eminem hated the “Baby” singer after he rapped, “Evil runs through him. Him don’t give a damn how Bieber doing,” in his 2011 track “A Kiss.”
Braun told THR that, Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg, said: “If you ever want Eminem to talk to him, he would do it in a second. He cares about that kid.” The rapper’s offer could be thanks to Justin’s past face-time with his daughter Hailie Mathers, who is a Belieber.
6: Braun and Bieber have been fighting this year:
The 32-year-old manager who discovered his client when he was 12-year-old and already owning YouTube with covers of hey day R&B songs, revealed his relationship with Justin became strained this year.
“When Justin was younger, it was, ‘Keep him out of trouble, stop him from falling down, protect him as much as you can from anything that can hurt him,’” Braun says. “When I try to do that now, he’s resentful, he pushes away and rebels. What I’ve come to learn is: Be there, give the best advice you can, but he has to be allowed to make his own decisions — and his own mistakes.”
Braun also revealed he doesn’t sleep until he knows Justin has returned home (or wherever he is staying), on a given night.
He continues, “I saw the rebellion, I saw our relationship being hurt. We were struggling in talking to each other because I wasn’t having conversations about anything good anymore. It was constantly calling to say, ‘No!’”
“Scooter was like the father figure in my life,” Bieber agrees. “But when I started to grow up, it was hard for him to have to listen to my input. I want to be me, to show everybody who I am as an individual. I don’t want to just be a puppet.”
7: Bieber can count those he trusts on one hand and Lil Twist and Lil Za really are out:
Perhaps the least surprising reveal after two false paternity claims, endless gossip stories, and ‘burns’ such as a former buddy who was paid $40,000 for that mop bucket footage, Bieber says life has taught him “you shouldn’t trust anybody.” The exception? “I trust my mom and dad. I trust Scooter with my career; he’s always made sure I’m taken care of,” but “That’s it.”
Presumably that list also admits the crew who went with Bieber to THR’s session — his ex-swagger coach Ryan Good, deejay Tay James and Pastor Judah Smith — and others such as Pastor Carl Lentz and childhood friend Ryan Butler.
But it definitely no longer stretches to Young Money rapper Lil Twist and Lil Za, both of whom were longstanding buddies and reportedly house sitters at Justin’s California mansion.
THR writes, Braun “excised the negative influences from his client’s social circle back in August,” which likely prompted the furious Twitter tirade from Lil Twist earlier this month.
8: Jon M. Chu has the heart of a poet:
Director of Bieber’s 2011 smash, Never Say Never, Chu also helmed the Christmas Day debuting Believe movie, which will address the singer’s unprecedented year as well as Believe tour concert footage. He made this statement about the polarizing, cultural place the teen star occupies and it’s sort of epic.
“What’s compelling is to see Justin not as an object for us to judge, to harp on and destroy but somebody whom we have responsibility for because we ultimately put him there. We click on those links. We fuel that fire.”
9: Contrary to widespread opinion Bieber isn’t trying to be a ‘Bad Boy’:
Asked if he felt constrained by a need to maintain a “perfect boyfriend” image as opposed to salty female equivalents such as “homie” Miley Cyrus, the forked-tongued Taylor Swift, and Bajan bad girl Rihanna, Bieber’s answer is extraordinary given the prevailing public opinion of him.
“That’s not what I represent,” the singer concludes.
“What I represent is positivity and brightness and lightness and amazingness. Nothing negative at all.”
[Image via The Hollywood Reporter]