To weed or not to weed? Justin Bieber has got everyone talking. Is that talk based on facts? You decide.
Video of Justin Bieber smoking a normal white cigarette onstage and taking a hearty swig of Hennessey while dancing like a funklord with Rae Sremmurd in Auckland, New Zealand, was posted by TMZ Friday.
At first, the gossip website mistakenly thought the pop star's cigarette was a weed joint.
The website subsequently updated their post, saying there's "some sleight of hand going on" in the video, while noting that Bieber was passed a joint then seen smoking a cigarette at the 0:16 mark.
The Canadian quickly passed the joint (seen in his right hand) to his videographer Rory Kramer, who was standing behind the singer filming the action onstage. Kramer then passed it to a security guard without smoking it.
When Bieber turned back to the crowd he is seen smoking a normal cigarette which was in his left hand.
So, the question is: Did the heartthrob pass the weed joint on without smoking it, or did he have a super-fast puff?
Zoom to the 0:11 mark on the video above for the transfer moment. As seen on the clip, one of the Rae Sremmurd brothers passes Bieber the joint and the cigarette. Even though the singer's back is turned to the crowd, his face is seen in side profile within seconds after he passes the joint to Kramer.
Notably, Bieber doesn't exhale smoke in the few seconds between him passing the joint and turning to face the crowd. No smoke is seen coming out of his mouth until he draws on his cigarette.
It looks like he passed the joint on without smoking it. Which only serves to highlight the ridiculousness of most media websites and shows like The View gnashing over a guy having a chug on Hennessey and -- as it turns out -- smoking an ordinary cigarette.
Not surprisingly, most websites brought up the occasions Bieber has been spotted with weed in the past, and his 2014 arrest in Miami on suspicion of DUI in Miami Beach, where he subsequently tested positive for marijuana and Xanax. Some sites mentioned Bieber's post of a harmless video of himself and a friend shotgunning a beer at a Las Vegas contest a few weeks ago. In his caption the singer said he lost because he "didn't go to college."
Other sites mentioned the many statements Bieber made this year, and particularly during press rounds after releasing his comeback single "What Do You Mean?," about trying to make the best impression on other people.
"I just want to be around people who I feel are supporting me, uplifting me, and making sure I'm the best version of myself, because there are so many people in this industry who... want to keep seeing me fall," he told New York Z100 radio host Elvis Duran in August.
However, as Bieber is 21, legally allowed to drink, and it's unclear whether he smoked weed onstage, why is it such an issue if he occasionally lets his hair down --- in this case, after a full-on week of promotion in Australia and New Zealand?
Unlike E! News, who incorrectly tweeted "Justin Bieber gets caught smoking weed and drinking Hennessey onstage," MTV News correctly pointed out that the much-criticized singer is "grown and isn't trying to hide anything."
Bieber openly shared an Instagram video of himself with the hip hop pair taken at the show during their rendition of Rae Sremmurd's "No Type," re-christening himself "#drunkjustin." There was no mention of the joint he passed, and that's most likely because he doesn't appear to have actually smoked it.Meanwhile, Billboard weighed in, to note, "While several websites are tsk-tsking Bieber and wondering if he's back in the 'danger zone,' let's not forget that he's 21 -- at this point, drinkin' booze is nothing out of the ordinary. If he starts shouting s**t about Bill Clinton again, then maybe we can get worried --- until then, carry on with your lives."
Picking apart Bieber's remarks about his positive intentions going forward from a difficult period is unfair when he hasn't been in new legal trouble for months, and essentially had a drink, danced, and smoked a normal cigarette in New Zealand. Even in the event that he did puff on the joint before passing it, as long as he doesn't get behind a wheel or use machinery, his recreational habits are his choices and unlikely to be augurs of the "downward spiral" that numerous sites are now salivating over. Put simply: Bieber isn't hovering on the brink of another lawless spree, because he isn't that unhappy kid any more.
Throughout his many interviews this year Bieber has put his troubled 2013-14 down to him reacting to a built up negative view of people, bad influences, a bad break-up, and his own unhappiness. Fast forward to now, the singer has reconnected with Christianity -- which doesn't mean he's perfect, rather, a work in progress --- and says he is the happiest he has been for some time.
"I can't lean on people. I got to lean on God." - @justinbieber http://t.co/zHCX2yaCJL pic.twitter.com/JPdg9ncadGDuring his most recent interview with TV3's Paul Henry in New Zealand, Bieber said, "With my life and my career I'm really happy." Later, he added, "For me, I just remember where I was, and know I'm not where I want to be necessarily, but I'm not where I used to be."
— Complex (@ComplexMag) September 29, 2015
According to Bieber, the root of his year-and-a-half of acting up and legal troubles was his own internal chaos. Substances such as weed were crutches not causes. In which case, surely it is better to allow a 21-year-old to be open about his occasional recreational use of alcohol (and, possibly moderate weed use, if that's the case), rather than constricting him into a pressurized pretense of perfection?
Contrary to alarmist clickbait headlines, the real danger zone for Justin Bieber is a media narrative that consistently judges him by standards it rarely applies to itself and those in favor, and opts for overkill, sensationalist reporting over mature, accurate, humane perspectives.
[Images via WENN]