It’s barely November, and already the inklings of the holiday season are upon us. Happy families in Old Navy holiday sweaters are starting to cozy up prime television ad spots, and Justin Bieber’s Christmas-themed album has recently taken over iTunes.
Unfortunately for Bieber and his army of handlers, though, Under the Mistletoe no longer represents an innocuous piece of holiday cheer. Now that a paternity allegation has been leveled against the 17-year-old singer, it is nigh impossible to savor the frivolity of this festive musical confection without also indulging in a side helping of anxiety over the decline of America’s youth.
Let’s forget about the fact that the backstage bathroom encounter that produced Bieber’s supposed three-month-old son is reported to have lasted only 30 seconds, and that it’s not exactly clear whom the alleged mother even is. (We know that her name is Mariah Yeater, for instance, but news reports can’t seem to attach a much more specific identifier to her than “Justin Bieber’s sex accuser,” “a 20-year-old” or “a California woman.”)
Because beneath that infallible smile and that soft, soulful voice is a smug lothario who has been years in the making. Yeater’s paternity suit might have come as an unwelcome early Christmas surprise to the likes of Selena Gomez, but, if we look closer, we’ll find that there exist many tell-tale signs that Justin Bieber has never been quite the innocent that he seems…
__One Time – May 2009__
Bieber’s debut single is a KidzBop standard, to be sure. Innocuous imagery of butterflies and mountaintops aside, though, there seems to be definite clout to the statement that “One Time” is something of an ode to the spontaneity of a one-night stand. The insistent repetition of “I’ma tell you one time” seems to endorse a relationship standard that rejects long-term commitment in favor of embracing sexual permissivity. If Yeater was hoping she might be able to weasel out a dutiful househusband from her tryst with Bieber, she should have listened to the nineteen times he reminded his female Beliebers that any loving exchanges on his part would occur only once.
__3 Year old crying over Justin Bieber – February 2010__
For those who haven’t yet had the privilege of viewing this YouTube gem, I shall be brief in my summary of it: in this home-shot video, we meet 3-year-old Cody, who, in desperate need of either a power nap or about five shots of apple juice, weeps for roundabout three minutes about her love for Justin Bieber. Any attempts to ground her in reality, like her mother’s gentle admonishment that, “We don’t have to cry because we love Justin Bieber,” are rejected by plaintive wails of “Yeah we do! Sometimes…” and inconsolable sobs.
It’s safe to say that any man who can drive a girl at least ten years his junior into fits of despair wields a dangerous power over women, one that will inevitably backfire on him if he isn’t careful. Just ask John Proctor.
Equally loveable is the video’s sequel, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKEQwvaYI_k&feature=related, in which Jimmy Kimmel invites Cody to his green room and, with the aid of an artificially amplified cell phone ring tone, informs her that someone is calling her on his studio line. Kimmel then proceeds to unite her with Bieber in person.
What follows is an eerily prophetic vision of Bieber’s ease with the proximity of feminine contact, evident in the way Cody purrs to him “Did you see I cried about you?” as she coyly twirls her hair, in the way Bieber sweeps her into a leg-wrapping hug without a moment’s hesitation. The hand placement, that, in 2010, seemed so endearingly big-brotherly now seems a self-satisfied acknowledgment of his power over his diminutive lover.
__The Rolling Stone cover – February 2011__
A liminal moment in pop culture history: the moment when Justin Bieber ditched the overgrown bowl cut for the sex hair and bedroom eyes he is displaying on his first ever Rolling Stone cover. Not to mention the way in which his sleek leather jacket bares just the right amount of deltoid muscle. That was a game changer. That was the day a hoard of older teenage girls stopped brushing off Justin Bieber as the adorable moptop from the posters covering their little sisters’ bedroom walls, and started seeing him as a worthy object of affection.
This is also the interview, mind you, where Bieber’s mother, or his agent, or the gang of hooded hoodlums who usually compose his entourage, must have taken a break from their babysitting duties, because the folks at Rolling Stone didn’t play nice. They managed to coax the poor kid into stumbling his way through a series of questions dealing with abortion, homosexuality, war, religion, health care and Korean politics – none of which he answered with particular grace.
The most memorable line of the entire article, perhaps, occurs when Bieber’s interviewer corners him into articulating his stance on pregnancy that occurs as a result of rape. “Um. Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason,” he admits. Um. Well, no surprises there. It’s not a huge stretch to imagine Justin Bieber publicly defending the rights of the unborn, considering that he’s basically a fetus himself.
__The teen tat –June 2011__
First it was a Jonathan Livingston Seagull tattoo on his left hip. Then it was “Jesus” in Hebrew letters down his ribcage. And, this summer, it was a star on his left elbow. Bieber’s tattoos are audacious, unabashedly overt – an assertion of his independence, perhaps. But they also group him with a host of other young celebrities who have been inked well before their 20th birthdays: Demi Lovato, Ali Lohan and Taylor Momsen, to name a few. And, of course, the granddaddy of all good kids gone bad – Miley Cyrus. Should Yeater’s claims hold true, then Bieber’s alignment of himself with this motley crew will have been just one more step in his transition from sweetly smiling serenader to deadbeat dad.
__The VMAs outfit – August 2011__
The confidence with which Bieber sported his ostentatious wardrobe choice to the Video Music Awards is that of man infinitely secure in his manhood. If you’re going to parade up and down the red carpet in leopard-print sneakers with a snake you’ve christened “Johnson” wrapped around your wrist, you better have the street cred to back it up. Could it have been the rendezvous with Yeater, this verification of his virility, which is the secret behind his smirk? Maybe so. Only time, and Bieber’s soon-to-be constructed DNA profile, will tell.