Justin Bieber’s now firmly established role as involuntary pop culture punchbag received a fresh injection of new material in the shape of selective but authentic deposition video clips edited and posted to viral heaven by TMZ.
Lets just say the process didn’t go too well for young Canada, as his alternately defensive, angsty, argumentative and confused turn in the hot seat, became what CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos called “a dream come true for his opponent.”
And, if the 20-year-old singer wasn’t psyched to be deposed by attorney Mark DiCowden, who acts on behalf of the suing paparazzo Jeffrey Binion, it’s a safe bet he wasn’t amused by the usual off and online ‘Bieber beatdown’ that followed the video releases.
Binion alleges he was assaulted by Bieber’s security on the singer’s orders last June after allegedly taking photos of the singer outside a Miami recording studio.
An objective take?
We really want to see the whole 4 1/2 hour deposition to see how long it took for Bieber to dial up to a Spinal Tap 11, and how DiCowden’s Chinese water torture probes developed.
Lets face it, the man wouldn’t be out of place in an army interrogation unit.
If TMZ’s video edits of Bieber were selected only after four hours of grilling, as the singer’s legal team told Page Six, then criticisms should be tempered with understanding.
Someone who doesn’t know the difference between “detrimental” and “instrumental” was never going to be able to handle a court hearing and the kind of pressure that followed.
Inevitably, TMZ repeatedly posted the segment where Bieber dropped the F-bomb on the female court reporter who asked him to speak up. However, Bieber’s apology to the clerk — “Um, I’m sorry for letting this man [DiCowden] get to me before. My bad” — was never published by the celebrity gossip site.
Tellingly, other clips that showed Bieber being humble or politely expressing frustration in the deposition were published mainly by foreign media outlets. U.S. sites preferred to revel in an orgy of over-the-top comment condemning the pop star’s snarky responses, as if he should be happy about the fact he was being filmed getting sued for unspecified damages.
[Video: Scroll to 2:51 minutes for Bieber’s apology.]
Of course, Bieber bashing has been going on for years, long before a Defcon 5 police raid showed up at his door.
Arguments that the Bieber backlash is motivated by his legality-challenging behavior stand contradicted by boos at the New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks game at Madison Square Garden on February 2, 2011, jeers at Canada’s 100th Grey Cup game in November 2012 and his booing at the Billboard Music Awards in May 2013.
Back then, Bieber hadn’t begun his global, graffiti spree. His incendiary trail-blaze through the South America and Australasia legs of his Believe tour was still months ahead, and the current criminal charges and civil lawsuits he faces were still an event horizon.
The anti-Bieber climate of today started as a push back to his ubiquitousness and likely a fair amount of jealousy. But, is now fed across entertainment media outlets and by a press that knows negative Bieber coverage plays well to the gallery.
Canadian motivational and educational speaker Saidat agrees.
Her anti-bullying/self-esteem program “Music, Motivation and Movement” has been taught in over 800 schools and community centers. Saidat uses Bieber as a horrifying example of sanctioned bullying. At one point in the video (shown below), she holds up a photograph of the singer to booing children, telling them:
“This person has done nothing to you personally.”
Just got sent this video. Watch the whole thing. How would u react? Could you keep your head held high? https://t.co/HaGgIm7UsX
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) March 16, 2014
Don’t just take my word for it. Google statistics reveal 131 outlets had jumped all over the recent Seth Rogen story by March 14, 10: 20 E.T, in which he yet again compared a kid who hasn’t reached the age of majority, to excrement. By contrast, two outlets (including this one), reported retired astronaut Chris Hadfield’s supportive Bieber comments by the same time frame.
That’s the basic way in which the narrative is shaped. The tone is set by what is focused on. There are, of course, other strategies.
Irrational – and at times, fabricated — reporting on Bieber has seen Radar Online run with a purported graphic text story in January, which allegedly detailed abusive texts posted by Bieber to his then former girlfriend Selena Gomez. TMZ called the story out as fake before it was published (the outlet turned the story down when it was shopped to them, based on non-credibility), and it was denied by both star’s reps.
Similarly, News.com.au did not update a story which claimed Bieber called an Australian fan a beached whale on the last day of his tour, despite inexplicably conflicting, so-called witnesses, and an independent witness who told Hollyscoop the singer didn’t interact with any females fitting the description in the story.
It’s believed the claim originated with an angry female fan prevented from talking to Bieber at the hotel by his bodyguards.
Likewise, claims that Bieber is a sizzurp addict are completely refuted by toxicology testing conducted shortly after his January DUI arrest. A report revealed no trace of opiates — the drug group that codeine-based sizzurp belongs to — while confirming the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and marijuana were present in the singer’s system at the time.
Despite this, unfounded TMZ reports linked Bieber and sizzurp [Update: right up until early summer 2014.]
In Rolling Stone’s March 2014 cover story, a source close to the singer told the magazine,
“There’s certain things he’s doing that aren’t right.”
“But then a lot of [accusations] out there just aren’t true. That makes it harder for him easier for him to recognize his behavior. It’s easy for someone who is acting out to counter claims that their behavior has crossed the line, when they see reporting of stuff that never happened.”
“He feels persecuted and misperceived.”
Criminal defense attorney Roy Black, who represents the singer in his DUI case, offers:
“We love it when people start becoming successful.”
“But once they actually are highly successful we do almost everything we can to destroy their lives. And Justin Bieber’s case is just one of many. He has absolutely no privacy. He is harassed by photographers or paparazzi – whatever you want to call them – at every turn.”
Black and his legal team fought unsuccessfully for footage of Bieber taking a urine test for drugs — while in custody at Miami Beach Police Station — to be kept sealed from public disclosure, after news media organizations filed a motion to see the urine test footage.
In the end, presiding Judge William Altfield slammed a redactive black box over the video that was so farcically big, it exposed the intrusion into Bieber’s privacy for what it was — a basic denial of common decency at a vulnerable moment.
The jail clips were released the same day as Bieber’s deposition, which may have added to a sense of pressure and violation. That overwhelmed, defensive young man we saw in those deposition videos didn’t replace the bright-eyed child star of 2008 without cause. A now constant bullying and increased paparazzi aggression towards him are integral to the picture.
Has Bieber crossed the line in some instances?
It would seem so. And we have a court system to address that. What is not needed, is the incitement of a collective lynch mob by the majority of a media complex, which seizes on every action, Instagram or statement Bieber makes to push a negative narrative. The by-product of which hampers him from moving past youthful missteps.
Where are, and when will, narrators with objectivity and integrity step up to bring balance to our thoroughly non-modern, gladiatorial sport?
For a comprehensive record of Bieber’s charitable efforts and outreach work to date, click the highlights.