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Leonard Friend Headshot

In Defense of Justin Bieber. Seriously.

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My god, I cannot even believe I am writing this! I watched the Bieber Deposition video yesterday, and I should preface this by saying that I am not so much defending Justin Bieber as I am reassigning blame for his behavior. I think we can all agree that he behaved like an insufferable little shit. But Justin Bieber does not exist in a vacuum; he was not created in a test tube and suddenly unleashed upon us. We made Justin Bieber. If you want to talk shit about somebody, talk shit about a society in which we could collectively raise the teen-stache version of a Rancor beast and then get mad when it, ya know, eats our Alien-Strippers and stuff.

Look, we all remember being teenagers. And if you don't remember, I am here to tell you: We all sucked when we were teenagers. Little children are like adorable little dandelions upon whom all our future hopes and dreams are placed. On the other hand, preteens and teenagers are the absolute fucking worst (JK! Heart you, teenagers! But, also, not JK at all). Christ, when I was a 12-year-old at summer camp, I declared myself to be Supreme Dictator of the World and enlisted my friends to whip other kids with bathrobe belts for no reason. Ugh, 12-year-old me! But also, ugh, 12-year-old everybody. Sure, some adolescents are worse than others, and some are saints who get shot by the Taliban and still write books to promote fee speech. But the point is, kids are not adults. If they were, they'd have adult jobs and pay adult taxes, and we'd allow them to see R-rated movies.

So now take that same awful teenage disposition and add in the following things: Millions of dollars, millions of girls who literally iWorship the ground you walk on and a gigantic team of "Yes Men" who basically live to do your bidding. You have no concept of life outside of the tunnel vision existence of making money, having sex, consuming a lot of alcohol and hanging out with Usher...AND YOU ARE STILL JUST A DUMB, DUMB, DUMB TEENAGER WITH NO ABILITY TO PROCESS ANY OF THIS! If your average teenager lacks perspective, imagine how skewed the perspective of a child star must be -- and then remember that it is society's outrageous adulation of celebrity that molded this kid's reality.

Now let's throw something more malicious into the mix. Let's take Bieber's warped concept of how the world works and add in full grown fucking adults constantly harassing him and following his every move, taking pictures of him and shouting awful things at him. Let's acknowledge that in addition to 13-year-old girls who are there at every single turn (which is to be expected in the entertainment industry), we have men who sit and wait outside his hotel room, his house, whatever restaurant at which he's, whatever airport at which he's arriving, all so that once they spot him, they yell the worst shit they can think of in the hopes that he'll get pissed off as they snap pictures of his smug little face.

Most of us live lives that allow us to learn why we sucked as teenagers. We grow and realize that the things we once valued may not matter, the things we dismissed may hold more truth than we realized, and the things we never even knew existed may be what life is actually about. The Biebs, on the other hand, despite being 20-years-old now, is stuck in a vortex of being a teenager forever -- it is not years that make us adults, it is life experience, and his life experience will never be that of a normal human being.

So what, then, is the excuse these paparazzi have? What excuses the adult deposition lawyer who asked a 20-year-old kid about his dating life as if that actually has relevance to his case? I am sick of this flaccid strawman B.S. of, "Well if you don't want to deal with paparazzi and societal judgement and a blah, blah, blah, don't be a musician or actor." Is that really what we want? For our favorite musicians and actors to open donut shops instead of providing us with the work for which we appreciate them? You may not like Justin Bieber's music, but there are millions of kids who do. I know don't want my favorite musicians to not make music just to avoid the harassment that is now accepted as "part of being a celebrity." If a person chooses to be a heart surgeon, they should accept that they may face death on the operating table from time to time. They should not accept that their patients will treat them like absolute dogshit just because they're successful at their jobs.

So, sure. It's easy to say, "Fuck Justin Bieber and his awful little mustache, and his poor grasp of the English language." But honestly: Fuck this society for voraciously devouring its own young and then getting pissy when we choke on a few bones. Kristen Bell recently said in an interview that a paparazzo chased her to her car and, when she refused to roll the window down, called her "the C-Word" and told her he would tweet her hotel information so that people would follow her. So if that is the world in which we live, so be it. A celebrity should be allowed to tweet the contact info of any paparazzo who torments them and tweet the contact info of any blogger or magazine editor who employs the paparazzi. Perhaps when they feel what it's like to be inescapably harassed, to have their privacy disappear, and to have their lives endangered -- then maybe these people will move to a new line of work. If, "Well, he chose to be an editor at TMZ, he should expect to be treated like a rank pile of goat feces," were the norm, perhaps entertainers and artists (regardless of your opinion of the quality of their work) could go back to focusing on entertaining us and making art. And wouldn't that be better? I dunno, Katie Couric. You tell me.