In the words of that great and wise orator Harvey Dent, "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Well, unless you're Diplo. As recently as mid-2010, arguing about Diplo really was a thing that people did. Was he a preternaturally prescient cool kid, effortlessly parachuting into 'bout-to-blow micro-scenes, tirelessly channeling the sounds of Young America, and deftly synthesizing potent little cultural scraps into something big and bright and palatable? Or was he a vampire, shamelessly slurping on tyro blood, manipulating its hemoglobin to his own crass ends? That argument is over. In the late days of 2013 A.D., the Diplo Wars have subsided. And, yeah: He won.
In 2008, at the height of the Britney Spears meltdown, Vanessa Grigoriadis went inside the tempest for Rolling Stone and emerged with a classic bit of celebrity reportage. The story starts at the Westfield Topanga mall, with Britney shrieking behind the dressing room door at a Betsey Johnson boutique as her black AmEx is denied: "Fuck these bitches!" There are mob scenes and ex-mujahideen paparazzi and bald-faced manipulations. At one point we meet "a good-looking Danish guy, Claus," who drives a blue Porsche and wears a "FUCK REHAB" T-shirt. He's a self-proclaimed Britney insider, and he's angling for a $2 million payoff to get Grigoriadis access. She plays along: "'Britney and I are really, really good friends,' says Claus. 'That's my contract for her, for a million-dollar deal. But it's all friends. We're going on vacation together soon, on the jet to a supersecret location.'"
Fast-forward five years, and now we have The Hollywood Reporter going inside a different melee with the similarly embattled Justin Bieber. The alluring cover headline? "Justin Bieber Is Not Sorry." THR says it's his first in-depth interview in nine months, and has propped it up with pull quotes about all the celebrities concerned with Bieber's well-being: Wahlberg has called! Drake texts constantly! Will Smith has a sit-down with Justin every week! There's concrete information regarding the evil forces; Lil Twist, for one, has gone the way of King Kevi, apparently excised from the inner circle (it was good while it lasted, wasn't it, Lil Twist?). And there's Bieber being defensive: "I don't give a fuck ... Not 'I don't give a fuck' to just be reckless and do whatever, but 'I don't give a fuck what they say' ... I know who I am and what I'm doing in my life and what I've accomplished and continue to accomplish as a performer, as a writer, as an artist, as a person, as a human being. I'm happy with the man I'm becoming."
Will Smith Caught Cheating: "Will Smith stepped into a private photo booth in New Orleans on Oct. 25 with a gorgeous, young blonde and, once safely ensconced behind the protective curtain, began nuzzling and hugging her, even baring his toned chest and pressing it up against her back as she suggestively lifted her own shirt, exposing her bra." SCANDAL. Will is known as a jokester, but "the closeness he exuded with his stunning costar, Australian actress Margot Robbie, was clearly more than mere friendliness." Robbie is the female lead in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and Smith's costar in the upcoming Focus. Big Will "wasn't acting like a married man; he gave no signs that he was in a committed relationship. What kind of married man would go into a photo booth with a sexy 23-year-old girl and start to undress?" One who is in an open marriage, as Will and Jada have frequently been rumored to be? "Jada Pinkett Smith, Will's wife of 15 years, was nowhere to be found." Jada has made plenty of veiled references to cheating or openness in the Pinkett Smith marriage, but can they survive proof in the form of photobooth pics? Shooting Focus in New Orleans, Smith's family accompanied him on "a day of sightseeing in the alligator swamps" but left quickly thereafter. Witnesses at the wrap party claim Robbie and Smith were "hanging all over each other, laughing like they were a new couple in love." Smith had just finished shooting, so supposedly he wasn't drunk — "he knew what he was doing." Then Robbie climbed on Smith "piggyback style" and headed off to his trailer. "After they left the party, they were gone all night." The source says, "This was absolutely cheating in my book." Pinkett Smith was speaking at a Baltimore charity event, where she gave a telling speech that went "When you are going through a storm with your spouse … stop thinking about what you 'believe' a husband or wife should be." Hmmmm.
What do Kanye West and Justin Bieber have in common besides lack of filter, fondness for leather jogging pants, and close personal friendships with Jaden Smith? They both hate major labels! But for different reasons. In an interview with Amp Radio, Kanye lauded social media for giving consumers the edge over marketers when it comes to deciding what's popular. Sayeth 'Ye: "I love the Backstreet Boys' songs, so if any of them are listening, no knock to them, but there will never be another Backstreet Boys! Not in this day and age. It's going to be artists like Lorde, singer-songwriters in this day and age that are going to come up. This is Instagram, this is the information highway."
I guess Kanye hasn't heard about One Direction. But he has a point! Artists are no longer entirely dependent on the funding of a major label to publicize themselves. They can put up content and attract fans long before they get paid for it, and if they're extremely lucky, a devoted fan base can spark a bidding war. Of course, that's a very optimistic and utopian take on the new model: The Internet as testing ground doesn't always function the way Kanye thinks it should. It has caused some really horrendous one-hit wonders to get signed for multi-album contracts they can't possibly deliver on, since they'd already peaked on their big song by the time they got signed. And Lorde isn't exactly the grassroots phenomenon Kanye describes; she has been signed to a major label since the age of 13, and her current label is clearly spending lots of money promoting her. Kanye is bigger than Yeezus now, but most artists need all that promotional push, because consumers need to hear a name repeated ad infinitum on posters, billboards, and pop-ups to realize they're meant to buy things. Kanye also reminded everyone that "rant" is a pejorative word for his speeches, saying, "'Rant' has a negative connotation, and these are inspiration, visionary breaks in pop culture. Every time I talk it is a crack in the matrix." The Backstreet Boys? The Matrix? Somebody has been thinking about 1999 recently. Me too, 'Ye!
Is Justin Bieber the next hot street artist? The answer is no, absolutely not, but don't tell the baby Biebs, who went tagging last night in Bogota, where spray-painting on public walls is legal. Although we were hoping for an airbrushed portrait of Selena Gomez as the angel of mercy, it turns out Bieber had someone else on his mind: Chris Brown! Bieber expressed his allegiance to Brown by painting "FREE BREEZY" in a squiggly purple arrow shape. He also wrote "CONFIDENT," "CHICKEN SHIT," and "SWAG" with a Stussy symbol as the S. I guess it's good to know that the youth are still drawing Stussy symbols on every available surface. He also drew a pot leaf with the caption "Relax" and a Muppety shirtless figure with a "THUG LIFE" abs tattoo and the inscription "R.I.P PAC." The Pac in this scenario refers not only to Tupac but to Bieber's beloved deceased pet hamster, also named Pac.
The Dexter series finale was everything Breaking Bad’s closer wasn't: namely, pretty lame. Was there any way it could've been better? Like, if the guy who killed so many people over the last eight years tasted his own medicine, maybe? Quizzed by Vulture about how the writers wound up with that exact disappointing ending, Dexter producer John Goldwyn said, "How about that finale? They won't let us kill him. Showtime was very clear about that. When we told them the arc for the last season, they just said, 'Just to be clear, he's going to live.' There were a lot of endings discussed because it was a very interesting problem to solve, to bring it to a close." Scribble out "interesting," stick with "problem," and that's your show's new legacy forever, buddy.
In the span of less than a week, Miley Cyrus got into a cyber fight with Sinead O'Connor, was the subject of a New York Times piece defending her against critics, and pulled double duty hosting and musical-guesting on SNL. Everyone seems to be joining forces to put Miley through Olympian-level trials while staring so hard at her that anyone else would spontaneously combust under such scrutiny.
At times it feels deliberate, as though we're trying to edge Miley closer to what haters are predicting will be an inevitable train wreck. She lobbed some insensitive tweets at O'Connor, referencing via screengrab and the text "Before there was Amanda Bynes" a public meltdown the Irish musician had in 2012, with which she drew criticism from pretty much everyone, not least of whom was O'Connor herself; still, Cyrus offered (OK, somewhat cheekily) to meet up with O'Connor to talk in person. Amanda Palmer got involved, as did Simon Cowell, if only by proxy. It was a train wreck, for sure, but Miley seemed to duck out before she could incur too much damage. She doesn't spend a lot of time on introspection. She's too busy. And anyway, too much introspection is dangerous for a performer who's running his or her own game: Miley's dancing on the edge, so she knows better than to look down.
As far as pop stars humiliating their bodyguards in public goes, this has got a long way to go to reach "Rihanna, weed, a blunt, and a conveniently smooth head" levels. But, after a long and exciting string of erratic, pee-in-bucket-cuss-out–Bill Clinton-type bouts of behavior, Bieber seemed to have turned a corner. When Zach Galifianakis thanked Justin for being on Between Two Ferns right in the middle of his meltdown, it seemed evident that Bieber was not, in fact, still mid-meltdown. (By the Catch-22-like rules of celebrity meltdowns: As soon as you acknowledge a meltdown, it no longer exists.) But now, this. So: possible explanations?
So Zach Galifianakis called up the Biebs and was all, "Hey, homey, wanna come on my Funny or Die talk show?" And the Biebs was like, "Sounds chill, I'm there." What ensues is a frank and honest discussion about the fear of making shitty music, time travel, and peeing into buckets. And between those two ferns a hard-won, if grudging, mutual respect was achieved. Eventually. Sort of.
If you're still genuinely upset about the Batfleck, well, I feel bad for you, son: The world isn't done messing with your tender comic-fan heart, as proven by Justin Bieber Instagramming a photo of himself holding a Batman vs. Superman script (otherwise known as the Man of Steel sequel) with the most inflammatory hashtag: "#robin?" Obviously (for reasons outlined by ScreenRant, and also reasons you could probably supply with your own brain), it's a fake, and likely relates to an upcoming Funny or Die skit Bieber recently shot. Think of this as your intensive training course in cinematic anger preparedness, and learn to alleviate your fury with repeated viewings of Batfleck tossing sandwiches into the back of the Good Will Batmobile, as seen above.
Some days, there's a cohesive theme to the afternoon links. Other days, like today, it's difficult to find any overarching meaning within the knots of the giant ball of Internet we call "life." N-words and doughnuts. Funky Winkerbean and pregnancy after 40. Ah, the rich texture of the world. How can we begin to understand it? It's too complex! Everything is happening all at once! There is immediacy, confusion, and catfishing to be contended with! Why bother with the riddle? Why not take 10 hours of your life to wrangle 500 balloons into a puffy Iron Man costume instead? Two years ago, balloon artist Jeff Wright created a Buzz Lightyear outfit, but his feat was overlooked for a year until Toy Story 3’s director, Lee Unkrich, tweeted about it. If the most important thing about the Internet is immediacy, we have no choice but to celebrate Inflatable Man today. In these uncertain times, tomorrow is no guarantee. Float away, Jeff. Float into the mystery with your suit of balloons.
Stereogum explains: "[Spike] Jonze is about to unveil his next film — Her, with Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with a computer — and Karen has written a song for it ... in the movie, Phoenix and computer-voice Scarlett Johansson sing it as a duet. But Karen's also recorded her own delicate, lovely version of the song." Thanks, Karen: Now we know exactly when during Her we're going to break down into endless, inconsolable sobs.
Is Justin Timberlake Cheating on His Wife? The rumors started "when Justin Timberlake left a party at Philadephia's Sigma Sound Studios with a beautiful blonde close behind." Has his commitment to monogamy already gone bye bye bye? Nah, it's his cousin. "Should I just go ahead and change my name to mystery blonde?" tweeted the blonde, Caitlynn Timberlake. "The party gossip, however, has affected Justin's wife. It's no lie that Jessica is getting sick of all these rumors about her new husband. It's even more annoying because the truth is they're very much in love and are talking about starting a family next year. So for him to be linked to a woman who happens to be in the same picture is starting to wear a bit thin." Well, don't hold hands with any mystery blondes in front of photographers, Justinnnnn.
Simon Cowell Knocks Up His Best Friend's Wife: Cowell, 53, once said "God, no, I couldn't have children. With kids, you've got a routine you can't escape from." Looks like he had an accidental change of heart/affair with his best friend's wife! Cowell is unexpectedly "expecting a baby with NYC socialite Lauren Silverman! She's 10 weeks along." Trickily enough, the 36-year-old mom-to-be is "still married to Cowell's close friend, NYC real estate mogul Andrew Silverman — but plans to leave him to be with the Brit." Good luck with that.