Justin Bieber thinks The Weeknd’s music is wack. We know this because reporters asked if he was a fan, and — after said reporters ignored his initial “no comment” — Baby B went for it and did what we want all pop artists to do. He stoked the beef.
And why wouldn’t he? In this, the era of Instagram confessionals, 140-character declarations, and Drake songs inspired by Meek Mill, we welcome narratives of tension, especially when both parties are super famous. In the case of Justin and The Weeknd, we’ve got the makings of a glorious saga: Fresh off his relationship with Bella Hadid, Abel is hanging out (and making out) with Selena Gomez — Bieber’s famed ex-girlfriend, with whom he boasts a dramatic past.
I mean, hello: On top of Selena and Justin making tabloid headlines for the better part of a decade (they’ve been on and off since March 2011), each was the other’s first notable celebrity relationship — making them this generation’s equivalent to Britney and Justin back in the noughties. So, of course, that means they’re doomed to be roped into each other’s romantic story lines until they’re married to someone else. And by the transitive rule of famous people dating other famous people, The Weeknd was destined to enter the ring too.
And yet! Despite those years of backstory, and the great fame of everyone involved, this beef somehow feels like it's missing … something. Let's bear in mind that all Justin could muster against his supposed rival was a halfhearted, one-word, music-centric dis. OK, so he thinks The Weeknd’s music is wack. And? Even The Weeknd himself doesn’t really seem to care about it. There's a very real possibility that this is the most beef-less beef of all time. Frankly, it’s about as dramatic as a subtweet sent from a locked account — and yet here we are talking about it.
So are we desperate or just bored? More accurately, this seems to be the sort of thing we’ve started to take refuge in so that we can stop focusing on what feels like the end of the world. In a climate defined by actual hate and actual fear and actual drama and actual upset, it’s a relief for us to bask in hearing Justin Bieber innocently slag off The Weeknd — particularly in response to the simplicity of The Weeknd dating Selena Gomez. (Like: Cool! Great! Who cares?) It’s a safe zone, temporarily free from stories about how National Parks Twitter accounts have been shut down and the wall is getting built. Justin’s non-feud feud with The Weeknd is comic relief. And ask anybody who’s gone through a difficult time: humor is what keeps you alive.
Bieber and The Weeknd aren’t trading threats or even name-calling. Unlike Meek Mill and Drake, neither one of them is bringing a third party to the table or making sullen songs about each other. This is fluff, and it’s much-needed.
So while we can roll our eyes at the madness of caring about whether Baby Biebs actually thinks The Weeknd’s music is wack (bless his heart), it’s a break from the much more serious madness we’re seeing at the hands of those in real power. We may secretly root for a witty dis track or a Drake weigh-in (maybe that’s just me), not because musicians’ personal lives are our problem, but because those personal lives distract us from real problems. We can sit back and wonder what it’s like to be a rich, famous pop star whose main problem is being asked about the goings-on of their ex-girlfriend, forgetting for a second that they’re sailing on this shit cruise with the rest of us on Earth. We, for a hot second, can champion a particular person for stoking their cut of beef accordingly and entertaining us with their inability to properly communicate. And then we can joke and laugh or comment and curse, depending on what happens next.
So yeah, it looks like Justin Bieber thinks The Weeknd’s music is wack. And next week, so-and-so will say such-and-such about so-and-so and do whatever with what’s-their-name, and we’ll get up in arms or roll our eyes about that, too. And maybe we have reached peak petty nothingness in the field of celebrity beef — but while we’re there, why not let it entertain us?