Justin Bieber Says He's Not 'Sorry' For Anything In Insightful Interview
In the modern celebrity profile, we expect juicy scoops along with a granular level of detail of what a famous person eats during an interview or how their body language or cadence shifts when the reporter asks a question. These minute details are often not very enlightening, but thankfully this is not the case for GQ's upcoming cover story on Justin Bieber.
It's hard to remember that Bieber is only 21 given how many phases his career has gone through—from "polished" to "less polished" then "sailing past 'badass' into regular 'bad'—but the piece opens up with him eating the rooftop of the Beverly Hills hotel where he now makes his home. He's ordering the dinner that looks like "an illustration from a story about a boy who becomes king": chicken fingers.
Writer Caity Weaver says it's "unsettling" interviewing Bieber.
A linguist would say he violates backchannel norms. That is, he withholds those subtle signs—short verbal cues like “mmm-hmm,” “right,” and “yeah”; quick head nods—that indicate an engaged listener and that encourage the speaker to continue. You perform these signs countless times a day; it’s something humans do whether they speak English, Hungarian, or Farsi. There are a number of reasons why Bieber might have developed this irregular habit. Perhaps it was drilled into him that two people talking at once makes for poor audio quality on talk shows. Maybe he was warned that a stray “yeah” to demonstrate you’re paying attention could, in the wrong hands, turn into an on-the-record affirmation that Bush did 9/11. Maybe he wants to be unsettling.
We do get the juicy scoop about Hailey Baldwin, the 19-year-old daughter of Kennya and Stephen Baldwin, who has been seen cavorting and sometimes kissing Bieber.
He denies that they're dating, but it's not that he's trying to hide anything. After all, Baldwin is up waiting in his room when Weaver and Bieber come by. It turns out it's complicated for a global pop star who is both young and busy and surprisingly thoughtful:
"I don't want to put anyone in a position where they feel like I'm only theirs, only to be hurt in the end. Right now in my life, I don't want to be held down by anything. I already have a lot that I have to commit to. A lot of responsibilities. I don't want to feel like the girl I love is an added responsibility. I know that in the past I've hurt people and said things that I didn't mean to make them happy in the moment. So now I'm just more so looking at the future, making sure I'm not damaging them. What if Hailey ends up being the girl I'm gonna marry, right? If I rush into anything, if I damage her, then it's always gonna be damaged. It's really hard to fix wounds like that. It's so hard.… I just don't want to hurt her."
Going up to the room is a great excuse to note that Bieber does use the tiny shampoos that appear daily in his hotel room. However, he does not use his cell phone all that much—even to check to see whether Baldwin is in his room:
“I don’t want people to feel like they can just get in contact with me that easy,” he tells me later when I ask about the logistics of a pop star’s personal phone. Very few people have his number. He doesn’t even bother memorizing it because it must be changed every six months, for security. One of the most endearing things about Justin Bieber is that for the entire time I’m with him, he never once looks at his phone.
But make no mistake, Weaver wasn't afraid to ask persistent questions. Especially about his long-lost monkey.
Except for a question about a doctor referral (of all things!), Bieber patiently answered most of them.
He did open up about losing touch with his parents, though it doesn't seem all that different from the typical young adult.
"You don't need them as much. And for them, it's like, you were all they had. Not all, but they were so invested in you. And then one day you're just gone, and you're doing your own thing, and you don't need them, and you don't value their opinion the same, either."
His relationship with God seems to be on stronger terms.
“I feel like that’s why I have a relationship with Him, because I need it. I suck by myself. Like, when I’m by myself and I feel like I have nothing to lean on? Terrible. Terrible person. If I was doing this on my own, I would constantly be doing things that are, I mean, I still am doing things that are stupid, but… It just gives me some sort of hope and something to grasp onto, and a feeling of security, and a feeling of being wanted, and a feeling of being desired, and I feel like we can only get so much of that from a human.”
And he talks about getting booted for defiling sacred ruins with his bare ass.
"Me and my boys have been doing this thing where we moon each other whenever we take a picture. So [my friend] went to take my picture, and I mooned him. And I guess [the guards] thought that I was being disrespectful to the site or whatever. That's not what I was doing. I immediately was like, 'Man, I didn't mean any disrespect…,' but they weren't really having it. They were like, 'No! You—this disrespectful!' I said, 'All right, cool—we'll bounce.' So I just walked out. I just knew it would escalate into something else. The dudes that were escorting us were like four feet tall, and I just wanted to… The old Bieber came back, and I wanted to smack them around a little bit. But I realized, you know what, obviously it looked bad, and it was disrespectful, because I was in their sacred area, showing my ass and stuff. But it was all in good fun. My boys—we do this wherever we are. It's like a last-second thing: They go to take a picture, and I just turn [around]…but yeah, you know, clarifying that, you know, to the Mayan people or whatever, whoever was…felt any."
He's not actually sorry about all his many very-public mistakes!
You know that song "Sorry"? The one with the unshakeable melody that everyone has interpreted to be a bigger apology to the world at large for his string of fuck-ups? Everyone got it wrong, he says: "It was about a girl."
And he has no regrets: "Everyone, when they start growing up, realizes, 'Man, I did some dumb shit when I was younger.' It's not just me.… If I could go back, I wouldn't really change much. I think it's all my journey. That stuff made me who I am."