For the umpteenth time in a matter of months, pop singer Justin Bieber finds himself on the wrong side of the news. While most of his antics have occurred after he legally became an adult (at least by the standards of Canada, where he was born), this one happened when the singer was around 15 years old. In 2009, a camera crew was filming when Bieber decided to make a joke that was crude for some, but racist for others. As he has moved from a pop sound to a more urban one many of his close friends are African-American suggests he is not racist. On the other hand, it does reveal that Justin Bieber is blissfully ignorant and has been for quite some time. Truthfully, that is something that is a bit worse.
Within 24 hours of the video leak, Bieber issued an apology. He stated, in part, that at such a young age he didn’t realize that the “power of certain words” were stronger than others. There are rumors that the singer attempted to keep the video from ever being viewed. However, TMZ admits that they had the video for many years and chose not to release the footage. Had it become public at such an early point in his career, it might have ruined any chance at a long lasting one.
As time has gone on things have gotten worse for the once massive pop star. His troubles have escalated from possible drug use to assaults and even a charge for driving under the influence. Following every instance, Bieber releases an apologetic statement of some sort, either officially or unofficially mostly through his Twitter. Promises of getting back to his music, straightening up his act and returning to prominence are almost second nature for him. The shock within this latest piece of information comes from the fact that many of his ignorant actions started well before most of the public knew about it. Even some of his “Beliebers” have stopped sticking up for him after the joke, choosing to no longer follow him as blissfully as they once did.
Ignorance is defined as the lack of knowledge or information. It is not the same as stupidity. Wikipedia states that both (ignorance and stupidity) can lead to “unwise” acts. With each act seeming to be more unwise than the action before it, it really does say a lot about who Justin Bieber is. Calling him out as a racist does not work because although the term used in his joke may be considered “racist”, he has shown through his actions that he is not one. Racists are full of hatred for someone who is not the same skin color as they are. Along with hanging around many African-Americans (including his mentor, R&B singer, Usher), Bieber has also appropriated a bit of urban culture into his every day life. One will say what they choose to about that, but it does prove that he is not a racist.
Ignorance, like racism, can be fought against. Like anything in life, it is not an easy battle, but change can happen. People can learn that their beliefs and actions do not have to solidify who they want to be as they grow older. Justin Bieber is only 20 years ago and he still has such a long way to go and stronger still, a long way to grow. He has to want to become a different person, though. A simple apology after every negative action will not cut it. As of this point, he never truly learns from his apologies, so they become harder and harder to believe. Perhaps the bigger thing he can do following this “newest” scandal is to be a man of his word. That goes a lot further than just hanging around with close friends of different races or having them speak out on his behalf.
Of course, there are many things he would have to step up to and redeem himself for. If one positive thing can be said, his latest apology shows that there is a place for change. In it, he says that he is “a man who now knows his responsibility to the world”. Right now, a lot of people would be happy if he understood his responsibility to himself. For now, ignorance may be bliss for Justin Bieber. Maybe one day, he may truly learn from all of his mistakes. If not, people may start considering his time in the spotlight the ultimate mistake.
Opinion by Jonathan Brown