Justin Bieber’s judgment may have reached a new low. The Biebs’ latest indiscretion, a graffiti drawing of a monkey he spray-painted while in Brazil, has landed the pop singer in seriously hot water with critics who say the graffiti is clearly a racist caricature of a black man.
As seen in a photo the 19-year-old singer from Ontario, Canada, posted to his Instagram account, the image shows what looks like a monkey, painted black, with “googly” eyes and his tongue sticking out. The monkey wears a tie, gold chain, gold earrings, a gold nose ring and a gold crown. He has a single gold tooth – or a lip stud, it’s sort of unclear – and bulging biceps.
Bieber posted a photo of the graffiti monkey two days ago with the caption, “This is my escape.” Unfortunately for the Biebs, he’ll have a hard time escaping the firestorm of criticism he’s about to experience for the crass piece of “art.”
"Does he think we're all monkeys?" another asked.
A role model to millions of “Beliebers,” the singer has in recent weeks displayed behavior that is not sitting well with music fans – or law enforcement, for that matter. Bieber was recently chided for leaving a Brazilian brothel with two women in tow. And concertgoers were not too happy with the singer when he skipped out early during a live performance, leaving his fans dumbfounded. Bieber was also cited for illegally tagging a hotel in Rio de Janeiro with another one of his graffiti drawings. The Biebs faces steep fines for defacing the property.
Even if Bieber’s latest monkey graffiti was an inadvertent – albeit ignorant – slip-up, racial stereotypes and caricatures have a long history in American culture. Its roots go back to a time in when blackface, a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows during the 19th and early-20th centuries, was popularized.
What do you think of Justin Bieber’s graffiti monkey? Do you think the drawing was racist? Share your thoughts in the comments below.