It has, as usual, been a whirlwind year for Justin Bieber. (A quick recap: 2018 saw him get engaged, get married, get a new face tattoo, make his mark on practically every corner of Brooklyn via seemingly endless public make-out sessions, and issue a promise to grow his hair down to his toes—only to then shave it all off.) And now, in the final hours of the year, Bieber has added yet another achievement to that list: starting and (sort of) ending a feud with Jojo Siwa, a 15-year-old Nebraskan YouTube star.
It all started on December 22, when Jojo Siwa shared photographic evidence with her seven million-plus Instagram followers that she'd received an early Christmas gift in the shape of a brightly colored BMW, which had been customized to feature not only Siwa's name, but also a hyperrealistic painting of her grinning face. One may expect Bieber, a painter, former YouTube star, and customized car owner himself—almost exactly a year ago, he responded to accusations that he wasn't in the Christmas spirit by driving a SUV covered in snowflakes, ornaments, and Santas around L.A.—to respond to the image with a grin, too. But alas, Bieber did not: instead, the 24-year-old made his distaste with the 15-year-old's ride quite publicly known by commenting two words on her post: "Burn it." (Well, four words, technically, since he followed up on his demand a bit later by commenting "burn it" once again.)
What, exactly, was on Bieber's mind when he left the comment? It's unclear, but there does at least appear to be a reason as to what, exactly, he was doing checking out a 15-year-old's custom BMW: he actually left his comment on a regram of Siwa's post shared by West Coast Customs, the customization company responsible for painting her likeness. Bieber follows just 102 Instagrams, and their account just so happens to be one of them, making it likely that he caught glimpse of the photo on his feed. Just like Bieber, however, Siwa's mother, Jessalynn Siwa, also happens to follow the account, and it wasn't long before she responded to (one of) his comments to torch the car: "burn your own things," she wrote.
While Siwa's mother kept it lighthearted with a laughing emoji, her comment appeared to be enough to awaken Bieber to the fact that he'd just started some drama with someone nearly a decade under his age. Indeed, his comment ended up being dramatic enough to still be on Bieber's mind more than a week later, which is when he shifted platforms to Twitter to write Siwa a custom message explaining his reasoning: "@itsjojosiwa I have nothing against you it was the car and the colors I didn’t like I really hope you didn’t think it was malicious or mean spirited," he wrote.
Even though he stopped short of apologizing, Siwa appeared to take his message to heart—or at least take it seriously enough to turn it into leverage. A few hours later, she replied: "it’s all good bro! you can perform at my 16th birthday party and we’ll call it good!" Bieber, for his part, has yet to respond to her proposal, but in the meantime, Siwa has turned his demand into a catchphrase of her own: she deployed it later that night in response to a photo that 33-year-old Jeffree Star posted of a flamethrower, and as a caption to a photo she posted of herself in yet another custom car—this time with a life-sized Bieber cardboard cut-out.