Forgiving Justin Bieber

The Biebs, begging for forgiveness -- which, of course, he promptly received.

Forgiving Justin Bieber has been a surprisingly brief process. Since the floppy-haired wunderkind released his latest round of absurdly catchy tracks -- including "Sorry" (you might have heard it, oh, three or four hundred times, or even taken part in a flash mob dance to it) -- humans of all ages have been shrugging and carrying on like Biebs wasn't one of the most hated celebrities in the country just a few short months ago.

The years between 2013 and 2015 were terrible for Justin Bieber, and that was, we understood, all his own fault. This kid's abhorrent behavior was performed for a prolonged period, and on an impressively global scale.

The infamous mug shot: not exactly the face of remorse.
The infamous mug shot: not exactly the face of remorse.

At home, there was the egging of a neighbor's house. There was drag racing under the influence in Miami, a subsequent arrest and now-famously unrepentant mugshot. In Canada, there was a charge against him for assaulting a limo driver and claims that he spat on his own fans from a hotel balcony. In London, he grabbed a photographer’s camera and ever so eloquently declared: "I’ll f*cking beat the f*ck out of you.” In Amsterdam, there were astonishingly insensitive comments about Anne Frank. In New York, he was filmed simultaneously peeing into a bucket and insulting Bill Clinton. In Australia, he left crappy graffiti on a hotel wall. There was even, in a Spinal Tap-worthy twist, callous pet-monkey-abandonment in Germany.

Justin Bieber was, without question, a major brat with too much money and too little supervision. The emergence of excruciating videos of him using racist slurs early on in his career only served to prove this point further.

In case that wasn’t enough, the people he surrounded himself with during that time did not help matters. Tales of crewmembers trying to sneak weed through Australian customs emerged. Bodyguards allegedly started fights in English venues and used heavy-handed approaches with fans. And through it all, Bieber strutted around in those weird-diaper pants of his, self-satisfied smirk on his face.

Bieber, in said weird diaper-pants.
Bieber, in said weird diaper-pants.

So how in the hell is Bieber back in America’s favor so quickly? It’s not because of his spouting of religious texts on Instagram, or his desperate baptism in NBA star Tyson Chandler’s bathtub (which seemed about as authentic as the time Paris Hilton showed up to jail carrying a Bible). It’s not even because he showed us a photo of his perfectly formed bottom (though that didn’t hurt, in the grand scheme of things).

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Truthfully, there have been several important steps that have put Bieber back in our good graces. First of all, he paid $80,000 restitution to his egging victim. Not only does this seem like a pretty good pay day for a few propelled dairy products, but the knowledge that Bieber’s neighbor had been asking for $1 million in damages after the incident, made us understand a little bit why Bieber might have wanted to throw eggs in this guy’s direction in the first place.

Then, of course, there was a major ally in the form of Ellen DeGeneres. The universally adored host of Ellen invited her friend Justin onto her popular daytime show repeatedly throughout 2015, and presented the young singer as fun-loving, self-deprecating and humble. At one stage, she even put him in the same room as Seth Rogen, who had recently Tweeted: "Justin Bieber is a piece of sh*t." Rogen subsequently apologized on the air. And so did Justin.

The real turning point came when J.B. volunteered to be the subject of a Comedy Central roast, throughout which he laughed warmly and genuinely, even while being called a "bitch" by Shaquille O'Neal, "a piece of shit" by Natasha Leggero and being informed by SNL’s Pete Davidson: "I lost my dad on 9/11, and I always regretted growing up without a dad -- until I met your dad, Justin."

Which leads us to a major forgiveness factor: Jeremy Bieber. Justin’s father -- who looks a bit like the sort of caricature a cartoonist might come up with if asked to draw a frat bro douchelord -- not only has a checkered past legally (convictions for assault, probation breaking and apartment trashing) but he was largely absent from his son’s life until Justin got famous. Jeremy was present for a number of his son’s infractions, including the Miami drag racing. On another occasion, he and his son filled a private plane with so much marijuana smoke, the pilots had to wear oxygen masks to land the plane safely. When TMZ published proof that Justin was even paying this idiot’s rent, a ripple of sympathy and understanding flowed around the country and swelled into a fully-fledged wave after Bieber broke down in tears on stage at last year’s VMAs.

Truthfully, as a nation, America is a remarkably forgiving place. We want to see young, talented people do well. We might love to watch a good car crash, but we enjoy it a lot more when the people involved get out with no permanent injuries. Everyone might have obsessively watched every step of Britney’s breakdown, but we love it even more now that there’s a happy ending. More than that, if you consider the fact that Chris Brown still has a career after brutally beating one of the most popular female singers in the country, it’s not a stretch for someone like Justin Bieber to get granted a clean slate.

Justin turned 22 this month, and appears to have put the bad behavior behind him (those willing to cough up roughly $250 per ticket can judge for themselves this Friday, March 18 in Oakland). But as a nation, one thing's clear: It's much more fun for us to focus on his undeniable talent than it is to hate him for living out his hormone-addled teenage years in the public eye -- especially when moving on sounds so good.

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