James Van Der Beek Thinks Justin Bieber Has It Way Worse Than He Did (& He Had It Pretty Bad)

If you think about it, James Van Der Beek's had a pretty weird life; there are only a handful of people in the universe who can say they were a teen heartthrob at age 20, then grew up to be the facial source of the best crying meme of all time (OF ALL TIME!), and then went on to be in a Ke$ha video and a sitcom in which he starred as himself. We love him now way more than we ever did in his Dawson days — especially when Van Der Beek* talked Justin Bieber and teen idols in an interview with Vulture on Monday.

You see, all James Van Der Beek ever wanted to be was "Mandy Patinkin-level" famous. Which is really a good level of famous to be — you get Tonys and Emmy noms, mad levels of respect, people find your curmudgeonliness adorable, and you don't get rushed by screaming fans every time you try to enter a mall.

Things did not go quite according to plan for James Van Der Beek.

Which is why, when Van Der Beek looks at the super-famous-super-youngs like Justin Bieber, he sees the situation a little differently than the general public does. Here's what he said when asked if he thinks teen idols these days have it harder than her did (and thought he had it pretty bad at the time):

Absolutely, 100 percent. Those kids — No. 1, they’re so young. No. 2, they’re under such an intense microscope. And there’s a lot more money to be made off of them than there was when I was famous. I mean, I don’t know. I just don’t judge. It’s very easy. People love to judge. People love to be self-righteous. They get a lot of energy from that.

Then he describes fame from the perspective of the famous pretty well:

Listen: Fame is not hard. Right? Being a soldier is hard, digging ditches is hard, coal mining is hard. But it’s tricky. It’s not something you can ever get any sympathy for, nor should you, and it’s not something you can really explain to someone who hasn’t gone through it. But it’s tricky because ... you’re the same. You feel generally like the same person, but the behavior of everyone around you starts to change.

And you gotta hand it to Van Der Beek: He is pretty much guaranteed to know more about fame (its downfalls and its benefits) better than 99.9 percent of America. As he says at the tail-end of the interview, "You have to take a lot more responsibility for every aspect of your behavior [when you're famous at that age], which is just difficult to do when you’re a kid."

Because yeah, Justin Bieber is an obnoxious little [insert unfavorable word here] of a kid, but he is just that, a kid. He's not even of legal drinking age yet. And we're already talking about his alleged trysts with porn stars and Brazilian prostitutes. You gotta admit, that's a pretty freaking weird life to live.

*Or, as we refer to him in our heads, The Beek, or Da Beek depending on our mood.