Yesterday, the Brazilian news outlet G1 reported that police were questioning Justin Bieber for graffiti writing on the Hotel Nacional in Rio de Janeiro. On Monday, Bieber made headlines for investing $1.1 million in a social media start-up, which comes on the heels of news that Bieber was seen sneaking out of a Brazilian brothel on Friday night with two women. For a star that was once seen as a wholesome young man with a big career ahead of him, it seems that Bieber, like many 19-year-olds, is struggling to figure out who he is.
Most recently, Bieber's latest hobby is graffiti writing. Today, he posted photos on his Instagram of the new works in Brazil.One of his captions reads, "Every place I have tagged has been approved I do not suggest tagging private property.. I still suck but i have fun doing it ;)," a response to G1's story.
However, it is not the alleged illegal activity that is disconcerting about Bieber's graffiti but rather what he chose to draw with his spray can. One of his images is a black figure that looks alarmingly like a Sambo portrait, painted with a gold chain, a gold tooth, gold earrings, a gold nose ring, and a crown that looks like Jean-Michel Basquiat's signature motif. Bieber's caption reads, "This is my escape."
Bieber's other paintings show smiling, amorphous creatures and one penguin, so it seems unlikely that the 19-year-old was purposely drawing offensive iconography. Still, Bieber's graffiti, like his antics in Brazil, may not be as harmless as he thinks. What seems like innocent fun to the young star takes on a darker meaning when you look at what Bieber actually painted, reminding us of the time he wrote a note about hoping Anne Frank would have been a belieber in a book at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. For a young man with so much influence, such offensive imagery and actions have greater repercussions beyond being Bieber's "escape."