Justin Bieber didn’t just come away from Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards with two awards. He also felt the need to get something off his chest. The morning after, he took to Instagram to share his conflicted feelings on awards shows, self-worth, authenticity, and more.
Explaining his discomfort in his Instagram caption, he admits awards shows “seem so hollow” and at odds with the kind of “fulfillment” he is looking for.
At the Billboard Music Awards, Bieber performed his chart-slaying hit, “Sorry,” and “Company.” Although he sang live over a backing track, some viewers slammed his rendition as lackluster and accused the pop prince of lip-syncing.
The singer won the Top Male and Top Social Media Artist awards and gave a short speech when he accepted the former.
— BillboardMusicAwards (@BBMAs) May 23, 2016
But behind the razzamatazz of the show, the Canadian wasn’t happy. In his Instagram caption, he elaborated as to why, saying, “But I don’t feel good when I’m there nor after. I try to think of it as a celebration but can’t help feeling like people are rating and grading my performance.”
He went on to note, “A lot of people in the audience there to be seem worried about how much camera time they will get or who they can network with,” before adding, “when I look in the audience I see a bunch of fake smiles so that when the camera hits them they look happy.”
Bieber said he believes that, if he’s “living” his purpose, he wants “the reward to be fulfillment,” which is different from “getting awarded for the things that I’m doing.” He acknowledged that awards shows cannot “calculate and award someone’s spirit” and said he feels honored by such events and knows he is privileged. He also revealed he feels a disconnect between being recognized with awards and how he really feels inside.
In the final part of his essay, the Grammy winner confessed, “in these settings I can’t feel the recognition. There’s an authenticity missing that I crave!” he wrote, before apologizing for his imperfect grammar.
Bieber then shared a black-and-white pic of him, taken during his Purpose World Tour, with the message, “We all get caught up in striving for the approval of others.”
In recent months, Bieber has pulled back from interacting in stressful ways with his fans. In March he canceled his tour meet-and-greets, saying he felt “emotionally and mentally drained to the point of depression” by the sessions because he takes on the “spiritual energy” of fans in these settings.
Fast-forward to earlier this month. After encounters with highly invasive fans during his Boston tour stop, Bieber announced he would no longer take photographs with fans or members of the public in his private life because he “feels like a zoo animal.” Many fans feel resentful. However, lots of Beliebers also support Bieber’s decision.
Bizarrely, it seems to have been forgotten that the Biebs has likely taken more spontaneous pictures, held more Q&A’s, played games, invited more fans to studios, and doled out more hugs and kisses in impromptu scenarios than most of his artist contemporaries.
The fact that Justin takes the time to not only take pictures but also hug, kiss and talk to his fans, he’s amazing pic.twitter.com/KqOdYGyLum
— ️ (@iwilIshowyou) December 26, 2015
On Tuesday, Page Six, Hollywood Life, and many more ran with headlines claiming the Biebs is spiralling toward a breakdown. Today’s Kathie Lee Gifford, minor singer Jacob Jobe, and random online users found fault with Justin’s awards show remarks and his relationship with fans and suggested that he should “get out of show business.”
The media’s pile-on comes after weeks of outlets interpreting everything Bieber does — from walking barefoot on grass in a park, sitting in a tree, getting a minute face tattoo, to his latest Instagram posts — as somehow strange behavior and signs of his imminent “meltdown.” As always, media hunger for clickbait and a form of accepted parasitism are at the root of this push.
In reality, this narrative has been driven by media speculation and exaggeration, amid a seemingly collective irrational outrage over Bieber establishing necessary, healthy boundaries with fans and attempting to enjoy a basic level of privacy for the sake of his mental health. Meanwhile, Amy Schumer stopped taking selfies after just one unpleasant confrontation with a demanding fan with little media comment. Notably, Bieber has been meeting fans and the public on a daily basis for years and was evidently experiencing increasing harassment before his “no photos” policy.
Surely, double standards?
— JustinBieberCrew.com (@JBCrewdotcom) May 14, 2016
>pic.twitter.com/jpgGJ2EMFk this is why he pays us dust
— megan (@allingrande) May 22, 2016
[Images via Chris Pizello / Invision / AP]