Justin Bieber Meta Interpreted By Fan Art & Artists In ‘Where Are Ü Now’ Video

Justin Bieber and Jack Ü’s “Where Are Ü Now” music video is now online, two days ahead of its official, wide release. Reaction has been mixed, mostly due to widespread ignorance about the purpose of the fan-made and artist-contributed art seen in it.

A low resolution video for Bieber’s dance collaboration with EDM tastemakers Skrillex and Diplo inevitably made its way online, shortly after a high quality visual was made available to Samsung+ users on Friday, June 26.

While many Justin Bieber fans expressed their appreciation over the kaleidoscopic, graffiti art and painted imagery in the video, tabloid and mainstream media reports focused on a few provocative messages in the clip which were created by fans and artists.

Back in May, Jack Ü extended an open invitation to Los Angeles-based artists and fans to a three-day event at a gallery to draw on “actual frames from the video,” which were later “re-photographed, animated and inserted back into the final cut.” Despite this, initial media reports implied or stated the mistaken claim that Bieber is personally responsible for all the art seen in the “Where Are Ü Now” video.

Inaccurate? Yes. Especially as the video actually shows some of the fans and rising artists involved and the thousands of drawings they contributed to the video.

Watch the video below.

Among the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it messages seen, were the words “Jelena 5ever” with an “X” overlay. The words “I want you to know” are written above that, which may refer to the same-titled dance single recently released by Bieber’s former sweetheart, Selena Gomez, and the producer/DJ, Zedd.

Justin Bieber
(Photo: Jelena is the fan-given name to Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez's once loved-up romance)

Numerous reports and many Gomez fans interpreted the crossed out “Jelena” message as shade. In reality, it was either drawn by a fan or one of many artists invited to the art drive. Given the clickbait nature of typical tabloid Bieber-Gomez claims, an “X” through the word “Jelena” as an artistic observation of relationship that’s over is tame.

At one point in the “Where Are Ü Now” video, a fan’s or artist-created declaration reads, “I [heart icon] p***y” next to Bieber.

Justin Bieber
(Photo: Another still from the video showing another example of user-generated art)

Another frame revealed the phrase “Stop Worshipping Me” in capitals over a shadowed image of the Biebs. It could be seen as a meta statement about the polarizing place the Canadian occupies in pop culture. Beloved and hated by many, both stances dehumanize the singer.

Nearby instructions of “Please go out and find some worthy idols,” and “read a book,” also pop up. Based on online chatter, these are retorts often used by Bieber’s critics (and trolls) on social media and online comments. Their inclusion indicates the video concept is partly about letting a wide spectrum of people — not just fans — share their perceptions of Justin Bieber through art.

Justin Bieber
(Photo: The user-generated message 'Stop Worshipping Me' is seen in the Where Are U Now' video)

Diplo said as much in a later Twitter exchange with Bieber’s fans. One Belieber told the Jack Ü producer the video’s imagery was “disrespectful [to Bieber]” and linked a phallic image still from the video.

Diplo responded, with, “just keeping it 100,” before adding, “internet is disrespectful. enjoy the medium.. translate the message for your self.”

When another Bieber fan asked Diplo if it was the “real video” or if it would be edited, he replied, “it is what it is.” He added, “u guys made it! we love it.”

A seemingly older fan tweeted Diplo and praised him for the inclusion of anti-Bieber art in the video, writing, “clearly there were some rude haters or non-fans in there [at the gallery event]. It’s cool that u’re keepin it real tho, It’s new.”

On Saturday, Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, took to social media to underline the user-generated art element and hype the official release of the high quality video on VEVO this Monday, June 29.

Ironically, some of the reaction to the visual misses the point that it used art made by fans, non-fans, and artists, to reflect a range of projections and perceptions of Bieber. If any of it is “disrespectful,” that’s because much of what is said about Bieber in the public domain is exactly that.

The “Where Are Ü Now” video isn’t a sanitized, vanity vehicle. That Justin Bieber — an ex-resident of a pop universe in which uber stars control their images with iron grips — chose to be in such a meta visual is a brave move by a still-regrouping superstar and Jack Ü.

[Images via Instagram / Atlantic Records]