Did Justin Bieber Indirectly Kill a Guy?
The scene of the accident in Los Angeles, where a paparazzo was killed trying to photograph Justin Bieber's car.
Well, okay, not really. Not even indirectly. More like indirectly-indirectly. But there's something there. It seems like Justin Bieber is just so dang adorable that even a possible photograph of him slamming a greasy burrito in a car is lucrative enough for some poor guy to die for it.
If you didn't hear, this Tuesday a paparazzo chasing Bieber around was struck by a car and killed while attempting to snap a shot of Bieber's Ferrari. Keep in mind that Bieber wasn't even in the Ferrari at the time. The snapper just wanted a shot of the car. That image was enough for him to risk, and ultimately lose, his life.
Everyone agrees that this is an unbelievably sad thing that should never have happened, but it's natural to wonder where some blame might lie. We can't possibly blame the Biebernator for any conscious wrongdoing on this one. In fact, he was obviously pretty broken up about it. Also, people shouldn't be running around in traffic for a silly photo, so there's that. The closest we can come to blaming something is pointing the finger at entertainment culture at large, which has made the photographic likeness of a teenager so profitable that it's financially worth it to run into traffic to snag a shot of an empty car.
One thing's for sure: According to Bieber, it's absolutely anyone but him or his management's fault. After all, when you systematically cultivate your image for years to sell so well that a blurry shot of your car is worth money, it's someone else's fault for chasing your goddamned white Ferrari around Los Fucking Angeles. It's everyone else's fault, definitely. Everyone but yours. I probably wouldn't have found this whole thing so infuriating if Justin gave a simple, "Wow, a guy got hit by a car? That sucks, sorry to hear it," statement, but yesterday he released one that more or less blames and criticizes everything but himself for not stopping this: "Hopefully, this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves."
Let me start here by saying: Fuck you, Justin Bieber.
So Bieber's quarter-million-dollar sports car is blasting around town, and his statement is basically "Uh, I guess people shouldn't be following my stuff around taking pictures. Maybe that guy wouldn't have died all stupid like that?" Get lost.
While the actions of lots of paparazzi guys can indeed be shitty, you'd have to be pretty much completely up your own ass to painstakingly hone yourself into an irresistible product and not expect a few bottom-feeding tabloids to come after anything having to do with you. Bieber wasn't born into this role, he asked for it, and he knows exactly what he's doing. To suggest that a shortcoming in the law is even partially to blame for this car photo being too hot is so grotesquely obtuse that it makes my eyes feel like they're doing that slot machine thing when someone gets punched really hard in a cartoon.
Furthermore, Justin and/or his handlers can eat a hammer for suggesting that innocent bystanders should need to be protected when he or his things are out gallivanting around. Sorry pal, but there's only one being I'm going to have preparations for when it marches up my street: first name Chupa, last name Cabra.
Of course, this is LA, and I understand the image train will never stop. On the other hand the kid is a household name and has already made more money than everyone this article touches combined. Certainly he can stand to put the whole get-up away for 20 minutes every now and then and act like an unassuming person for a while, if he really did care about the safety of cops, innocents, and others like he says. I mean, gosh, Justin wasn't even able to take it easy when he met the Canadian Prime Minister. You'll find few people who respect politicians less than me (much less Canadian ones), but come on, overalls? Find your off switch and use it once in a while, little friend.
Probably the saddest part of this whole thing is that in a final act of indignity to the victim, one unexpected photo of Justin Bieber is making the headlines: one of him praying over the leftover crumbs of the photographer's dead body. And of course, this photo by another tabloid photographer is entirely OK, because it's flattering. Sure, it's candid and taken from a distance during the typically private acts of prayer and mourning. In any other setting a celebrity hounded by photographers would probably complain... but by gum, this one looks fantastic for the brand. Don't expect another statement to be released about how we need to pass laws against photos like this beaut'.
In the end, a photographer crossing the street after trying to cash in on a local fad was vilified and will likely be buried as a complete asshole and a creep, while #JustinHasABigHeart trends on Twitter and he thumbs the single fastened strap of his overalls and lectures the rest of us on our system of laws. Most importantly, Justin's PR firm will sleep soundly knowing they successfully spun a tragedy that could've and should've absolutely been tied in media reports to the unapologetically filthy excesses and unnecessary image maintenance of their client. Good play, everyone. A true media victory.
All this over a photo of a car belonging to a singer I respect less than that top-hat-wearing cartoon frog from The WB. I need a scotch.
Jon Hendren is a writer and comedian who has the greatest Twitter handle of all time - @fart