Justin Bieber did a pretty good job at his roast, which aired last night — reacting gracefully to jokes about his juvenile antics and “lesbian” haircut. He smiled, he laughed, he even stood up at the end and gave a good delivery of his own set of missives — no doubt written with the help of a comedian. (Bieber would never, ever have come up with the word dais on his own.) But he made it through the night barely letting any anxiety or insolence show. Impressive, considering this was just one pit stop on the Justin Bieber Apology Tour currently making its way around our media landscape. Bieber and his team know that the “little shit” reputation has gone too far, and now that he’s gone three years without a new (official) album, that’s the Bieber everyone sees — the egg-throwing, bucket-pissing, bar-brawling, King Joffrey Justin Bieber.
The PR backbone behind this special came out last night, after the jokes had all been made, after we had been reminded again and again (with jest!) what a crappy guy this famous teen has been. (Roasting Justin Bieber might just be the easiest gig anyone could wish for.) The now-21-year-old stood up in front of a room of industry people and “got serious”: “I was thrown into this at 12 years old and didn’t really know what I was getting myself into,” he starts, reading off the TelePrompTer. “I’m a kindhearted person who loves people, and through it all, I have lost some of my best qualities.” Like his clever comebacks, these lines are also not something Bieber wrote himself. And if there were any sort of props granted to Bieb after sitting there and giggling at jokes made at his expense, we now see quite clearly the reason why. We also see straight through to the marketing mechanism behind Justin Bieber, the team of record executives, managers, and handlers desperate not to let this dude be forgotten or washed-up. After a night full of jokes, the joke’s on us.
I guess there was one type of joke that was off-limits: