Before Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber won Best Male Artist at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night, a TV camera caught his dead-eyed stare during fellow singer Pink's truly high-flying performance, and viewers buzzed about what he was thinking and why he was reacting in a stoic manner.
Some viewers said online they thought Bieber shared an uninspired performance at the BBMAs, coming on the heels of him explaining that he's done with taking photos with fans and canceling the remainder of his Purpose tour meet-and-greets.
But people can take their cues about Bieber's face straight from his own Instagram post Monday morning, after he wrote about the BBMAs, decrying "fake" awards shows and defending his reaction as, if nothing else, "authentic."
"I don't know about these award shows. No disrespect to anybody at any of the shows or the people running it. Nothing but love for you guys and your support. But I don't feel good when I'm there nor after," posted Bieber.
"I try to think of it as a celebration but can't help feeling like people are rating and grading my performance."
He said a lot of people in the audience there seemed to be worried about how much camera time they will get or who they can network with. "When I'm doing a regular show I feel they are there for the right reasons and to strictly have a good time! But these award shows seem so hollow."
Bieber said he "gets" that the premise is to award people for their accomplishments, but he asked: "is it really?"
"Because when I look in the audience I see a bunch of fake smiles so that when the camera hits them they look happy," said the 22-year-old.
"Sure there are people truly proud of others so I don't want to knock them. I'm just looking at the vast majority. I just think to myself if I'm living my purpose I want the reward to be fulfillment. I'm getting awarded for the things that I'm doing and not for who I am which is understandable. I know it would probably be hard to calculate and award someone's spirit. lol," he posted.
"But when I do get these awards the temptation of putting my worth in what I do is so hard to fight!!!I am privileged and honored to be recognized by my peers in but in these settings I can't feel the recognition. There's an authenticity missing that I crave! And I wonder does anybody else."
He coupled his "Insta-rant" with a stock photo of a castle and fields of sheep.
He followed up his original post with a second one stating, "We all get caught up in striving for the approval of others."