I mean, 50 years ago they would have sent you home for wearing jeans to work on casual Fridays. My European father-in-law considers it poorly mannered for a man to speak with his hands in his trouser pockets. My parents-in-law also frown on paper plates and cups. And my ma, who’s always critical of the low classy but who isn’t exactly high classy herself, snarls at people who “lean”. One should never lean against a wall. People who lean are lazy and badly bred.
So we’re judging Justin Bieber for wearing overalls to meet Stephen Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister -- yet another example of a generational clash, grumpy old people vs modern youth?
Our PM presented JB with the Diamond Jubilee Medal. As you can see, Bieber commemorated the occasion by throwing one strap off his shoulder and turning his hat backwards. In response to the criticism, JB defended his style choice by posting this message on Instagram:
“The pic of me and the Prime Minister was taken in a room in the arena where i was performing at that day. I walked straight from my meet and greet to him, if you ... expect me to have a change of clothes let a loan a suit at that specific time that’s crazy, It wasn’t like it was like I was going into his environment we were at a hockey arena. Wow am i ever white trash ...lol.”
I might be more concerned about “let a loan” than I am about his clothing.
But if he’s offering this as his excuse (as opposed to something like “I gotta stay true to my fans, and my own vibe” which, frankly, would be easier to argue) it’s pretty weak. Because this is the Prime Minister. I know the joke on us Canadians is that we’re some dinky little please and thank you and constantly apologetic country but even our PM doesn’t drop in on a flyby without notice. This visit was planned. It would have been meticulously planned. JB would have known for a while. Which would have given him and his people time to have a suit waiting for him backstage. Or a black shirt and black pants. It’s that easy.
So what is it then? Is it lack of preparation, really? Did he really not have the time to pull something more appropriate together, or, well, was it more a lack of respect?
Imagine then that you’re Justin Bieber. And you tell your parents, even your grandparents, that the Prime Minister is coming by to present you with a high honour. My ma? My ma would be ALL OVER my wardrobe. And if my ma saw that I wore overalls to meet the PM? She’d shoot me herself.
This, again, is the problem with the child celebrity. There’s no one around to say no. No one wants to say no. No one has the balls to step up and say, Hey Justin, maybe not a great idea to meet the PM wearing that outfit. Can you change? Please change. GO CHANGE NOW.
Put a microphone in front of JB’s mother, Pattie Mallette, today asking for her thoughts on her son’s Prime Ministerial sartorial selection and she’d probably find a way to excuse him, and perhaps to turn the conversation around to portray him as a victim of unfair condemnation. Please. If Chris Brown’s mother found a way to justify his wearing of a racist costume on Halloween, you don’t think Team Bieber will somehow find a way to make it so that Justin did no wrong?
Whatever, says the modern youth. It’s just gear. It don’t mean a thing.
But let’s bring it back to Michael Jackson, shall we? JB wants to be the next Michael Jackson. He has declared that he is modelling his career after Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson would have NEVER, EVER, EVER worn coveralls and a backwards cap to meet the Prime Minister.
Here’s Bieber performing at the Grey Cup last night in Toronto.