POSTED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 12:04am
CNN — Either Justin Bieber is having a wild time on his South American tour or media reports of the 19-year-old singer's antics are off the mark.
Many reports barely rise above the gossip threshold, but they echo throughout the tabloids and mainstream media.
What you should believe -- and why you should care -- is a raging debate online with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and beyond.
"My truth is in the music," Bieber said in a message to his 46 million Twitter followers this week. It was posted the same day his newest single, "Bad Day," released.
Journalists know very little about what goes on in Bieber's private life. He is constantly surrounded by bodyguards and his representatives consistently refuse to confirm, deny or comment on any reports that surface.
But that does not limit speculation, much of it based on paparazzi photos and video of the teen's comings and goings.
The New York Post's "Page Six" column published several photos last weekend that the newspaper said implied the singer was enjoying the services of Brazil's legal prostitutes while on his South America tour.
One photo showed a man walking out of a Rio de Janerio brothel under a blanket and surrounded by bodyguards. No face is visible, but the Post says Bieber could be identified by "his gray wraparound wrist tattoo, which is visible in some photos, and his signature sneakers."
Another photo shows two women in a vehicle that the newspaper said took them from the brothel to the hotel where Bieber was staying.
Belieber Rorschach test
The media frenzy over Bieber's alleged sexcapades grew after a video appeared on YouTube on Wednesday that apparently was recorded by a young woman excited about her quiet time with the entertainer.
The 15-second clip does not show Bieber doing anything scandalous. He's just sleeping. The tattoos on his arms, the earring, his baby face, short blond hair and red ball cap are all familiar identifiers.
The woman pans the camera to reveal Bieber sleeping under a blanket, then points it at herself while flashing a big grin. It ends with her blowing a kiss toward him.
The video is something of a Rorschach test to diagnose if you are a "Belieber," the term used for Bieber's diehard fans. They always believe the best of their idol.
But un-Beliebers suggested the woman was one of the two females who left with Bieber from the brothel, although they have no way of connecting her to that night.
"He didn't sleep with her," one Belieber said in one of the 7,300 comments posted under the YouTube video. "Justin brought girls back home and he threw a small party. Chicken nuggets, Doritos, a pool table etc., etc."
She offered more details, though she didn't reveal how she would know anything about Bieber's actions.
"The girls got their phone confiscated so they wouldn't take pictures," the fan wrote. "Obviously, because he wanted to have fun without any media around. But when all the girls left, they got their phone back. So did this girl. When this girl got her phone back she sneaked in and filmed him while sleeping. Explains why the video was so short."
Bieber: "Just gotta know your truth"
The truth is -- we don't know the truth. We do know that Justin Bieber is at what can be an awkward point in a teenage idol's career. He's months away from no longer being a teenager. Making the transition from kid to adult is tough enough, but Bieber has the world watching.
Chasing Bieber is a popular, lucrative and dangerous sport for paparazzi. It has led several times to traffic citations for both the singer and the photographers. Punches have allegedly been thrown during confrontations.
Bieber -- unlike some other teen stars -- has managed to stay out of criminal court, although he has been accused and investigated.
His hit songs keep coming. His concerts sell out. And the world can't divert its eyes away from him.
"Can't believe or dwell on the bs. Just gotta know your truth. U can't bring us down," Bieber told fans in a Tuesday tweet.