North America, meet your new goodwill ambassador.
Since arriving in London earlier this week for sold-out tour dates at the city’s monstrous O2 Arena, Justin Bieber has spread joy on behalf of our proud country throughout England’s fair city. He whined about how horrible his birthday was. He showed up almost two hours late for a concert. He walked around town with a gas mask. And on Friday, he told a photographer that he is going to “fucking beat the fuck out of you.”
For America’s formerly moppet-haired, adorable tween pop star, it’s been quite the eye-opening week.
The trouble began with Bieber’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 19th birthday, which he had planned Sunday night at London’s Cirque du Soir nightclub. The bash was shut down early when bouncers reportedly caught wind that the Bieber ball was admitting guests under the age of 18—word is that Will Smith’s 14-year-old son, Jaden, was among them—and that the singer’s entourage got into an altercation with security over the issue, forcing everyone to leave.
Exercising his "It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To" prerogative, Bieber took to Instagram to put on blast the “dummies” who contributed to the International Tragedy that was his “worst birthday” ever. “I love how the club wanted to give the press another reason why we didn’t stay at their weak ass club so they wouldn’t look bad for me walking in and right back out," Bieber wrote. "I said my ‘worst bday’ but that was due to dummies pushing over my fans and being overly aggressive. Btw it wasn’t the worst bday cuz all my friends from back home flew in I was just mad in the moment.”
But maybe he still found a way to party hard. The next night, throngs of fans and their parents flooded the O2 for the first of his four shows, arriving promptly for the 8:30 p.m. start time so as to not miss a pop or lock from the performer’s set. And then they waited. And waited. And waited. Bieber didn’t hit the stage until roughly 10:15, nearly two hours later, leaving his young fans and the grown-ups they dragged along to fret over the late hour—it was a school night!—if they’d have a way back to their homes—the Tube closes early!—and if they’d get their money’s worth—would Bieber shorten his set?
Thankfully, the O2 ensured that the Tube would be running when the show finished. Bieber said nothing on stage that night but hit Twitter with a flurry of excuses when the concert ended, claiming he was only 40 minutes late for the show and passing the buck to technical issues as the cause for delay. “I never have any intent to upset or let anyone down,” he tweeted graciously. But then he added, “I’m not okay with things being exaggerated.”
Things took a bizarre turn as the week chugged along. He flitted around London wearing a ludicrous gas mask over his face…to disguise himself from paparazzi? Blend in? It’s hard to say, as the mask was about as inconspicuous as the leather Hammer pants and neon orange shoes he complemented it with.
Then came the odd Twitter rant, in which he insisted that he is a “good person” whom only God can judge. “Can’t phase me,” he tweeted. “I’m a good person. I know that. You can’t tell me different. We know the truth."
All that ranting was followed by a “collapse” backstage at Thursday night’s show, which, was, as these medical scares are, followed by the posting of a shirtless picture on Instagram. “Getting better listening to Janice Joplin,” he captioned the racy shot. (It’s spelled “Janis,” Biebs.)
And then there’s the crème de la crème: the expletive-ridden tirade. On Friday, he shoved a paparazzo on the way into his SUV. The paparazzo cried assault and began calling Bieber names. Bieber flings open the door of the SUV and starts screaming like a banshee: “What the fuck’d you say?...I’ll fucking beat the fuck out of you.” Briefly forgetting he weighs what one could estimate at a hefty 110 pounds, he then began swinging at the photographer before being corralled back into the car by his bodyguard.
And with that, one hopes, Bieber was on his way to Heathrow, to leave London to ruminate on all the good cheer he sprinkled through its streets this past week. Next up on the tour is Paris. Bonjour. Beware.