Did Justin Bieber really smoke weed on stage with Rae Sremmurd in Auckland, New Zealand?
The sight of Justin Bieber chugging on a bottle of Hennessey and seemingly smoking weed on stage with the hip hop duo ignited the interwebs in a round of pearl clutching last week. But, is the hypocritical fuss warranted?
Hypocritical because, notwithstanding their non-rap sheet records, no-one seems to care a jot when Seth Rogen, Rihanna, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Miley Cyrus, Willie Nelson, and so many more openly tout their pot love.
As it turns out, the TMZ-obtained video of Bieber partying on stage with the Sremmurd boys does indeed show the Canadian taking a swig of Hennessey. But a closer look at the footage also appears to show the "What Do You Mean?" singer passed on the weed joint he was handed without smoking it.
Zoom to the 0:11 mark on the video below to see the moment.
The clip reveals Bieber took the weed joint from one of the rappers with his right hand. He also accepted an ordinary white cigarette with his left hand. At that point, the heartthrob wasn't facing the crowd when he passed on the joint to Rory Kramer, a videographer, who was standing behind Bieber filming.
Bieber's face is clearly seen in side-profile seconds after he passes the joint. Because of this, it is possible to see that he doesn't exhale smoke of any kind after passing the weed. No smoke appears by his mouth or above his head until the 0:16 mark, when he is seen smoking a normal cigarette and has turned back round to the audience.
What does that mean? It means it doesn't look like Bieber smoked the joint before he passed it on. At the very least, it means it can't be definitively stated that he smoked weed onstage. And, if he did take a puff, read on to find out why that's unlikely to be an Armageddon scenario.
TMZ subsequently updated its website noting that Bieber was smoking a cigarette and was passed a joint at the gig. The site added that there was "some sleight of hand going on."
In reality, it's as clear as day that Bieber received the joint with his right hand and a cigarette with his left and passed the joint on to Kramer, who also didn't smoke it and gave it to a security guard at the back of the stage.
Shortly after the concert, Bieber shared a video of himself and rap duo in action onstage on Instagram. He captioned it "I ain't got no type" in a nod to Sremmurd's hit and dubbed himself "#drunkjustin."Since the show, a tsunami of media outlets went for broke hyperventilating over Bieber letting his hair down, amid hasty speculation that he is teetering on the brink of a "downward spiral." The singer's 2014 arrest on suspicion of DUI was brought up in every report, along with the many comments Bieber made this year about moving on from unruly behavior.
— MTV UK (@MTVUK) October 2, 2015
However, despite the typically overwrought media coverage which accompanies all Bieber stories, there isn't anything unruly or out of the ordinary about a 21-year-old having a drink on stage -- or off.
Recent reports claiming Bieber has fallen "off the wagon" clearly didn't read his recent Complex interview. Asked what he does for fun, he replied, "Well, I uh... I golf a lot. I wanted to golf today. It's pretty good. I'm not great or anything. I enjoy it. Also, I can drink now. So I have a few drinks every now and then."
In fact, since turning 21, Justin has been completely open about the fact that he drinks, as his posting of a video of him shotgunning beer at a Las Vegas contest with a pal clearly shows, as well as other photos of him enjoying alcohol this year.
Unlike E! News who incorrectly tweeted, "Justin Bieber gets caught smoking weed & drinking Hennessey onstage," MTV News correctly pointed out that the much-criticized singer is "grown and isn't trying to hide anything."
— Complex (@ComplexMag) September 29, 2015
While many websites have tried to make a connection between Bieber's recent onstage partying and his DUI case, which revealed he had marijuana and Xanax in his system, and blew negligible 0.014 and 0.011 blood alcohol readings at the time of his arrest in Miami last January, Bieber's stated view on the reasons why he got into trouble throughout 2013-14 indicates his acting out was down to a mix of bad influences, emotional alienation, a bad breakup, perceived spiritual disconnection, and unhappiness.
Put simply: whatever substances Bieber took during his annus horribilis were crutches for, and not the causes of his issues.
Fast forward to 2015, Bieber appears to be as focused as he insists he is. He has stayed out of new legal trouble all year, completed his new album, and is fulfilling his contractual obligations with Calvin Klein, as well as numerous interviews and shows before and after the release of his comeback single.
In recent sit-downs, the singer revealed he has reconnected with Christianity -- which doesn't mean he is perfect, but a work in progress -- and that he is the happiest he has been in a long time.
Speaking to TV3's Paul Henry in New Zealand, Bieber said, "With my life and my career I'm really happy," later adding, "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."
So, call off the dogs. Turn off the alarms. If Justin Bieber is allowed to live and enjoy his life -- which will almost certainly include the occasional hearty night out --- he should be fine. It doesn't take a genius to realize that it's the constant, oppressive criticism and over-analysis of this young man that is more likely to cause reactive behavior and long-term harm.
[Images via NBC]