In both videos, Bieber was in those awkward middle teen years, between 13 and 16, when kids are on the verge of adulthood but still subject to very child-like impulses.
Bieber came across in the video as one of those kids, full of bravado, showing off in a way that he thought would impress the people around him.
He clearly didn’t realize the full impact of what he was saying. He only knew that he was provoking a reaction that made him feel daring. It’s something juveniles often do.
It’s clear, judging from his immaturity, that Justin grew up without any positive male role models in his life.
His father, Jeremy Bieber, was a neer-do-well who abandoned Justin’s mother right after he was born. Afterward, he passed in an out of Justin’s life.
Growing up, it’s unlikely Justin rubbed shoulders with many, if any, black kids. African-Americans only make up 2.5 percent of the Canadian population, according to recent census figures.
At that age, his impressions were probably shaped more by stereotypes than real life experience.
Juxtaposed against that is how fast Justin had to grow up, once he became famous. The pressures were enormous and the learning curve short and sharp.
As it turns out, of course, his teen idol image was largely manufactured, the product of his handlers and slick public relations. Shame on us for wholeheartedly buying into it.
But the videos show Justin as he really was, and to a large part, still is–a kid, with all the faults and insecurities of anyone his age.
There have been reports that these videos have been an issue in his camp for some time. Various extortion attempts allegedly have been made to keep them private.
But Justin apparently decided to put an end to the backroom dealing and accept responsibility for his actions.
That shows he really is growing up and deserves a break.