Justin Bieber has posted a fair few photos from his recent Men's Health cover story on his social media accounts. But the actual interview? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
The reason, is crystal clear now that writer Oliver Broudy's full interview with the superstar is available digitally.
Broudy not only detailed Bieber's candid reveals, he also throws his own evidently overly-harsh prejudices and views of the then 20-year-old into the article. To some extent, it's sort of deceptive, as the Canadian was most likely not aware that he was opening up to such a judgmental critic.
It is arguable that Oliver, who spent a day with the singer, was playing devil's advocate on behalf of Men's Health readers. However, his piece comes over as far more personalized than that. Right from the start, Broudy seems unwilling to give Bieber a chance, based on what sounds like a festering brew of odd resentments and jealousy.
"It's not that you don't like Justin Bieber," he declares within the first few paragraphs. "You actually find him offensive."
"Why? Because his success primarily depends on skillful producers and shrieking tweens? Because he managed to steal the attention of half the planet's girls by basically becoming one of them?" he adds.
Aha, the classic "Bieber is a girl" insult. Shocking to see an adult offer that, as opposed to the typical, adolescent, Internet trolls.
Elaborating, Broudy added, "Or maybe it's just that he's never had to deal with all the crap the rest of us have. Like public transportation. Job interviews. Getting fired, or dumped, or ignored at the bar."
Yikes! We're barely through the article and we already feel like saying: How about Bieber's loss of privacy? The body-gender shaming and online abuse he has received throughout his career? Becoming a paparazzi target and a focus of frequent tabloid invention, and the hoopla that comes with the privilege and burden of fame?
Broudy continues,"Mowing the f---ing lawn. This is a kid who had his bodyguards carry him up the Great Wall of China. Everything was handed to him. And now he's a big boy and he thinks manhood is going to be handed to him too. And you're like, 'no, dude. No.'"
Handed to him? It seems Broudy chose to ignore the fact that Bieber and his mom, Pattie Mallette, struggled financially after she gave birth, and spent time in a supported facility for young, single mothers. The Biebs' later schlep across the U.S. to perform and meet every DJ with his manager Scooter Braun to persuade them to play his records, also appears to be missing from Broudy's research notes.
His dark asides pepper the entire Men's Health interview. While Bieber is candid about his attempts to grow up and become a man of integrity while living an over-scrutinized life with easy access to temptations, Broudy seems devoid of any real compassion for a youngster dealing with that struggle.
"Watching it is painful, like watching a skunk attempt to work loose from a bear trap," notes Bieber's profiler as he analyses his subject.
Voyeur-like, he adds, "But there's something fascinating about it as well. It turns into a kind of dark sport. And if you watch long enough, you can't help but think, Jaysus, if I only had five minutes with the kid… But what exactly would you say? And could he even hear you if he hasn't learned to listen yet?"
While Bieber unloads earnestly in Saint Laurent, his Rolls Phantom, atop a chiropractor's table, a gym, a restroom, and at Spago, about growing up too quickly, wanting to retain a place of "purity" in himself, wishing for a Batman superpower so he can disappear at will, doing a "180" from jail in 2014, and aspiring to be a "class act" --- all of these revelations are interspersed with Broudy's cynical carping.
At one point, the writer reels off Bieber's past lowlights: Calabasas, an accusation of a limo driver assault in Toronto --- personal liability was consistently denied by the singer and the case was later dropped --- the egging, a police raid, the DUI, paparazzi skirmishes. It goes on.
Of these, Broudy reflects, "And you could easily sit back and wish more of the same upon him," adding, "Until in the end he achieves the well-trod exit from celebrity that some part of him surely desires."
Toward the end of his excursion through Bieber's flaws, Broudy seems to --- at last --- feel some empathy with the singer. Musing that "it's hard to be a man these days," he goes on, "As he talks you realize the funny way you each want to be like the other. He wants to be like you. Real. Limited. Bounded. You want to be like him. Or do you?"
Finally, the writer appears to begrudgingly concede that a boy from Canada conquered the mounts before he learned how to process his shiny, new life, and control kid-like emotions and impulses. Now, Bieber seems to be trying to reclaim some of that lost innocence. It's a familiar arc. Not really that hard to understand.
"Wait, wait. Do you think I'm being authentic right now?," Bieber asked his interviewer right at the end of their session, according to Broudy. The writer turns his query over to readers, finishing with, "It's a fair question. Worth pondering. Do you?"
Ironically, the singer's multi-part feature in Men's Health is titled "The Reinvention of Justin Bieber." After Broudy's pre-judged mauling, Bieber would probably just settle for an honest and objective rewrite.
[Images via Peter Hapak/Men's Health]