Just as one cannot ask an emperor, “By what right do you rule?” without retribution; just as one cannot ask, “But should we call it art?” without pity; one cannot ask Justin Bieber questions in a legal deposition without him getting really pissy about it. TMZ has culled outtakes from the interrogation of the crabby cream of wheat, who was forced to endure decidedly non-swaggy inquiries regarding a battery lawsuit filed by a photographer—a photographer who claims he was assaulted by one of Bieber’s bodyguards, much as Bieber is now being assaulted by the queries of regular people. And like Lil Wayne’s deposition before it, the video is a masterful show of restraint on Bieber’s part, in that he magnanimously does not say flat out that he’s a celebrity and should be doing celebrity stuff right now.
Instead, he just subtly conveys that by answering the typically aggressive line of questioning with a series of dismissive smirks and scowls. He insists that he can’t be expected to recall the minutiae of one’s life, such as whether he’s been to Australia. He repeatedly asks, “Is this a film?” about a camera phone video introduced as such, scoffing the artist’s scoff at his interrogator’s obvious lack of culture. And he talks almost exclusively in the listless, mumbled sotto voce adopted by those who know they don’t have to articulate for it to be understood that they are super, super famous. Bieber even gazes into the camera and uses it to adjust his collar, later giving it a conspiratorial wink—aware, as always, that he and it are the only things in this room that truly matter.
Occasionally their intimacy riles outsiders, such as when the court reporter interrupts their love affair to ask him politely to speak up. Naturally, this forces Bieber to snap that “yes” and “no” are “fucking pretty different” in the only crude language the rabble understands.
Things get even more heated when the attorneys attempt to bring up Justin Bieber’s second most important relationship, the one with non-reflective surface Selena Gomez, who was present at a different alleged battery incident involving a paparazzo. “Don’t ask me about her again,” Bieber warns repeatedly while wagging his finger, before finally storming out and leaving the world forever under-informed as to whether he is dating Selena Gomez.
Finally, Bieber is asked about Usher, and whether he can credit his mentorship for his career. “I was found on YouTube… I think I was detrimental to my own career,” Bieber says in what appears to be a rare moment of candor, until his attorney clarifies that he probably meant “instrumental.” But just like answering questions directly, using the correct definitions of words is something non-artists do. And Justin Bieber is nothing if not detrimental to art.