Justin Bieber is standing up for himself after extracts of his equal parts provocative, angry, frustrated, dismissive, hostile testimony at a Miami deposition related to a photographer’s lawsuit were released online Monday.
“Love how some people love to twist and justify the horrible action of others,” Bieber tweeted some hours after TMZ posted the clips. “We all have a right to defend ourselves and feel harassed.”
Defiantly, the 20-year-old aligned himself with his over 50 million Twitter Beliebers, declaring,
“They can’t break us. They can’t get us down. We are too strong. We love too much,” he wrote, adding the hashtag #mybeliebers.
Bieber is being sued by photographer Jeffrey Binion. The 56-year-old claims Bieber directly ordered his bodyguards to attack him after he was spotted taking snaps of the star outside a Miami recording studio last June. The photog says he was thrown against a wall and held in a choke hold, while his camera and memory card were taken by the guards.
Binion, reportedly, now wants millions. His attorney, Mark DiCowden, grilled Bieber in a four and a half hour court hearing last Thursday, March 6, in the law offices of one of Bieber’s attorneys.
We’re able to see the clips TMZ posted because Bieber’s lawyers lost an appeal last month to prevent that. They also lost an appeal to stop DiCowden from questioning the singer over previous alleged incidents involving him, his bodyguards and photographers.
A combination of those two factors and the natural tension that comes with any legal setting, cameras and reasonable irritation at being asked numerous questions unrelated to a violation or the lawsuit, led to passive-aggressive, tense responses from Bieber,
“I don’t have to listen to anything you have to say,” was one such response to DiCowden’s grilling.
Asked if he remembered being ins Australian, Bieber replied “I don’t know if I’ve been to Australia. “Have I been to Australia?” [In fact, he toured Australia for his My World tour in 2011 and wrapped the Believe tour there in 2013.]
But even typical teen flip offs such as pretending to fall asleep, refusing to answer questions directly, addressing DiCowden as “Katie Couric,” hammy face-pullng, and plentiful “I don’f recalls,” paled in comparison to his eruption when DiCowen asked Bieber if he’d ever talked about his feelings on paparazzi to [now back-on girlfriend] Gomez.
“Don’t ask me about her again. Never… don’t ask me about her again,” a grim faced Bieber finger-wagged at Binion’s attorney, before his own lawyers raised “harassment” objections and told the singer to step out for a 15 minute recess.
All in all, it was all very dramatic and made for juicy headlines. But, as TMZ’s Harvey Levin pointed out during a phone-in to On Air With Ryan Seacrest earlier today, the question as to why Bieber’s legal team don’t just pay Binion off — which is, after all, what he wants — is curious.
“This is a nothing case”, Levin told Seacrest. “Why not just settle it? Why subject yourself to the deposition?”
Perhaps Bieber’s tweets hold the key.
Is he trying to highlight the issue of paparazzi overstepping, as he did back in January 2013 when he called for “meaningful legislation” on the regulation of paparazzi after the death of a paparazzo who died after tailing one of Bieber’s exotic cars in the mistaken belief the singer was in it?
The tragic incident seemed to cap increasingly instances of Bieber’s run-in with paparazzi, that once saw a pack of five chase Bieber on Los Angeles’ 101 Freeway in July 2012. Cited twice by traffic cops for speeding, Bieber later told a 911 operator that when he was tried to explain to a police officer that he had just been trying to get away from paparazzi, the officer responded saying,
‘You waive your rights to privacy when you’re a celebrity.'”
Paul Raef, one the photographers who chased Bieber on the Freeway, would subsequently be charged under California’s 2010 law, which is designed to combat reckless paparazzi. However, the case would later be dismissed on November 14, 2012 after a judge said the charges violated Raef’s First Amendment rights.
Bieber isn’t the only celebrity to rail at intrusion. Steven Tyler, Reese Witherspoon and Halle Berry have all gone on record, either with statements or testifying before various lawmakers about the aggressiveness of paparazzi in pursuit of a money shot.
Watching the snarling, taunting, unsympathetic-seeming Bieber in today’s deposition clips, it’s hard to remember the sweet kid he was when he burst onto the world stage in 2009 with infectious hit “One Time,” a smile that wouldn’t quit and a rags to riches backstory that would prove irresistible to soccer-moms, teens, tweens, and media the world over.
Fast forward to 2014, that picture is replaced by a wary, bolshy singer engulfed by lawsuits, two criminal charges with a third reportedly on the way, seeming dependence on industrial strength amounts of marijuana, admitted use of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, and who now seems adrift from his record company after Universal Music Group chief Lucien Grainge outed Bieber in January as in need of an “intervention.”
But, Bieber didn’t get here alone.
Subjected to bullying on and offline and in the media throughout his entire adolescence over his voice, gender, physicality, sexuality, Christian beliefs while irrationally sneered at as a closet lesbian, foretastes of the current mocking were seen when Bieber was booed at the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks game at Madison Square Garden on February 2, 2011 when a picture of the young star wearing pink glasses flashed on the overboard.
If unfortunate eye-wear was enough to trigger the public booing of a then 17-year-old, it’s not surprising Bieber’s now more affirmatively naughty acts make it so easy for tabloids — well known for playing fast and loose with responsible, fact-checked reporting on Bieber and others — to coerce a collective wave of simplistic judgement against this young man.
Bieber has done some amazing things over the years. His continued work with the Make-A-Wish foundation, Pencils of Promise, the Las Vegas organizations, the Las Vegas Whitney School, mobilization of over $3 million funds and visit to the Typhoon-Haiyan hit Philippines are his latest positive contributions. Opinions of him – if there must be opinions – should be seen in balance, not an either or choice.
If Bieber is pushing back against the stripping of his rights to privacy, he has every right to defend himself since it seems the law won’t.
The recent and needless release of videos showing him urinating for a drugs test in a police station after his suspected DUI arrest back in January would never have happened if it had been a female defendant or someone not famous at issue. The videos were redacted but that only highlighted their ridiculousness and defiance of common sense and decency.
News media organizations who requested their release did so for the traffic it would bring — nothing more noble than that. Incidentally, the videos were released on the same day as Bieber’s deposition, which must have surely added to his sense of pressure and anger.
Looking at these now viral deposition clips, Bieber doesn’t win any prizes for charm, but neither does DiCowden.
Discovered YouTube by Braun at the age of 12 Bieber did not give informed consent to a life without privacy. Alternately drowning and waving in its intense glare, seemingly unprotected by regulations on paparazzi, media, or even an intimate bodily act in a jailhouse — rightly or wrongly is it any wonder Bieber and his guards feel the need to enforce their own brand of protection?
Love how some people love to twist and justify the horrible action of others. We all have a right to defend ourselves and feel harassed
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) March 10, 2014