Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about this whole Kim Kardashian / Justin Bieber thing. Let us discuss the simple tale of a 29 year old reality star and the 16 year old pop star who thought she was hot. Don’t forget to add a Mrs. Robinson-esque Elle photo shoot, some flirty Justin Bieber tweets, teasing Kim Kardashian quotes, rabid Bieber fans, conservative critics, and a rich dose of double standard, and you’ll come to the celebrity gossip nightmare we now find ourselves in.
Where Did It All Begin?
Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber met at a White House Correspondent’s dinner in May 2010. As People magazine reports, the two stars took to Twitter. Kardashian proclaimed to have “Bieber fever” and Bieber himself referred to Kim Kardashian as his “girlfriend”. Rabid Justin Bieber fans tore their hair out and wrote hostile messages to Kim Kardashian in chicken blood, causing Bieber to backpedal (partially) with the tweet:
“[Kim is] a very sexy friend but a friend. No need 4 threats. Let’s all be friends and hang out often.”
Old Enough to Be His Mother…in Junior High
As the Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian friendship seemed to be a lasting thing, criticism continued. No doubt affected by the backlash, Kim felt it necessary to assure everyone she wasn’t hitting on Bieber. The celebrity blog Hollywood Life quotes Kim: “We would not seriously date. I could literally be his mom.” This is a phrase that turned up often in later critiques of the Bieber / Kardashian friendship.
Yes, that’s right, Kim Kardashian could have been Justin Bieber’s mom–if she got pregnant at 12 and gave birth at age 13. Is this seriously the criteria we’re using now? Does this mean that a 34 year old woman can’t date a 26 year old man–because biologically it might have been possible for her to have a 26 year old child?
Obviously there’s the separate issue of Justin Bieber being 16, but this doesn’t seem to be the problem most people are having. It’s that Kim Kardashian is older, so old at 29 that Hollywood Life sees fit to call her a “cougar“. Apparently women are now middle-aged in their 20s. Women in their 40s and 50s? Go straight to the retirement home, do not pass go, do not collect any Ashton Kutchers on the way.
Let’s just think of all the older men dating younger women, like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Lorenzo Lamas, and every man in Hollywood. If strict biology is the new rule, then I’m surprised we’ve never heard horrified exclamations of “OMG, he could be her great-great-great-great-grandfather!!
The Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber Photoshoot
The press really heated up with the mildy-PG-rated-sexy Elle photoshoot with Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian. You can see The Graduate-inspired pics here and some snapshots from Kim Kardashian here. The more seductive poses from Kim Kardashian are obviously meant to stir a little controversy, but mostly the pics with Justin Bieber are undeniably sweet.
Bill O’Reilly and his show guests of course had to jump into the mix, condemning the photo shoot and calling it “gross”. O”Reilly said a photo shoot with the ages in reverse would never happen–apparently he’s never seen the provocative ads female teenage models do all the time (not to mention Ellen Page in Hard Candy.) This Kim Kardashian / Justin Bieber Elle spread was extremely tame by comparison.
Justin Bieber just can’t help himself, though, and People reports that he tweeted a pic of him and Kim Kardashian frolicking on the beach. Kim Kardashian one-upped him, though, by daring to post this wildly erotic pic. Twelve year olds everywhere went berserk.
Kim Kardashian: “I’d date him”
The controversy gained steam when Kim Kardashian spoke honestly on Lopez Tonight (quoted on HuffPo) about the photo shoot and friendship with Justin Bieber, and the fact that she’d date him if/when he was legal: “”He definitely has this swag to him,” she said. “You just have to meet him. I thought that the shoot was all in fun. We had a good time. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion about it.”
And opinions they had. Critics and fans alike went on and on about the age gap, and Kim Kardashian was blasted with criticism. There were the repeats of the “she could be his mom” nonsense, though one of my favorite comments on a Bieber / Kardashian article was that Kim Kardashian should “find a guy her own age and start having babies”. Wow. Nice to know that if a woman mentions dating an 18 year old, the obvious response is to lock her back inside the kitchen–barefoot and pregnant–where she belongs. The sad thing is that most of these comments are coming from girls and women.
Justin Bieber–Little Lothario
Let’s just take a look at what Justin Bieber’s been up to in his time in the spotlight. There was the crush on “super hot” Beyonce, the smooch from Rhianna, playful banter with Chelsea Handler, and flirting with cute women reporters. Justin Bieber also did the SNL teacher/student sketch with Tina Fey. Aside from that? Well, MTV has a gallery devoted to Justin Bieber and the ladies.
Contactmusic News discovered Justin Bieber’s generous age limit for dating back in April: “Anything above 40 is a little too old for me. I just look for a girl who is funny and has nice eyes and a smile.” His thoughts on Kim Kardashian? “”I think she’s cute. And, no, she’s not too old for me.”
All you women under 40 just perked up in front of your computer, didn’t you? You’re also thinking: “Justin Bieber gets extra points for not using the word ‘cougar“”.
Kim Kardashian Confused
Seemingly torn between standing her ground and caving in to societal pressure, Kim Kardashian keeps changing her tune. Zap2It and OK! Magazine report on her September Jay Leno appearance, where she vehemently denies any dating possibilities with Justin Bieber. Kim Kardashian actually adds to her age by saying she’s “almost 30” and Zap2It helpfully refers to her as a “cougar” as well. “‘This is illegal, this is disgusting,’ she tells Jay on the Tonight Show. ‘He’s a cute kid and that’s it.'”
Kim Kardashian later admits to once dating a 50 year old man, and that she likes younger men: “but not 16 young. More like 26 young.” Then she says age is not important. Zap2It is confused, and so are we.
The Double Standard
Search “Olsen Twins Turn 18” on Google and you’ll find plenty of guys who didn’t think the idea of dating an 18 year old “disgusting”. Asked about all the men who’d been panting and drooling while waiting for their birthdays, the Olsen Twins themselves trotted out the old “Boys will be boys” to CBS News.
No one complained when 18 year old Keira Knightley made out with 26 year old Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean (least of all, Keira!). Or when 15 year old Natalie Portman flirted with a tempted 36 year old Timothy Hutton in Beautiful Girls. And then there was 17 year old Drew Barrymore and 59 year old Tom Skerritt in Poison Ivy. I’m sure you can think of other films, far more risque than the Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber Elle photoshoot.
But then Kim Kardashian flirted with Justin Bieber and it was The Scarlet Letter all over again. Only apparently it won’t be an “A” for Adultery–it’ll be a “B” for “Bieber Fever”.
Yes, the age of consent in California is 18, but in many other US states it is 16. The outcry over a 29 year old girl holding hands with a 16 year old guy in a photo shoot seems a little Victorian–actually, Puritanical. (Those Victorians were really pervs under all those ruffles and repression.)
The fact is, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber are NOT dating. Like any normal 16 year old, Justin Bieber is a flirt who can’t believe his luck in being surrounded by hot babes constantly. Kim Kardashian paid the kid a compliment by saying he had some serious “swag” and that she’d be happy to date him when he was 18. She’s enjoying the attention and he’s blushing all the way down to his toes. No one has been harmed.
There’s probably plenty to criticize about Kim Kardashian–or any reality star, for that matter. But in this instance, she doesn’t deserve all the hate. And if what she says to Jay Leno is true, about not drinking or doing drugs, there are certainly worse people in Hollywood for Justin Bieber to be hanging around with. (He needs to avoid her sisters, though.)
Chelsea Handler’s Got the Right Idea
Host of hilarious and outrageous talk show Chelsea Lately (and upcoming host of the MTV VMAs), Chelsea Handler isn’t afraid to go against convention. When Justin Bieber visited her talk show, he bragged about trying to land a date with Kim Kardashian and other celebrity women. Chelsea replied sassily: “Basically, what’s happening is, you made it OK to flirt with underage people.” Bieber thought it was more than okay, because he asked Handler out as well.
Now with all the rumors about Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, Chelsea Handler let her feelings be known to MTV: “He’s a two face is what he is. He acted like we were in a committed relationship, and then he was prancing around with Kim Kardashian on the beaches like they’re a couple…I’m not going to waste my time on that guy.” This all, of course, in Chelsea Handler’s deadpan style.
That’s the best way to handle this whole Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber scandal. Just go with the flow. Laugh at all the press, admire the cute photos, ruffle Justin Bieber’s adorable mop top, and make inappropriate remarks.
And mark his 18th birthday down on your calendar…