Visit to Anne Frank museum catches Justin Bieber between history lesson and shameless narcissism
By RICHARD ROEPER April 15, 2013 1:04PM
Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam this weekend and wrote a message in the guest book. “Truly inspiring to able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” Joel Ryan~AP
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:04AM
“I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life …” — Anne Frank, age 14, April 5, 1944.
“Truly inspiring to able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” — Justin Bieber, age 19, April 12, 2013.
It takes a special kind of narcissism to visit the home of one of the most important and enduring voices of the Holocaust and to express your wishes she would have liked your utterly unmemorable, synthetic crap music.
Where next for Justin Bieber? Perhaps a visit to the Joan of Arc Museum in Orleans, France, where he can write something like, “Truly inspiring to be here. Joan was, like, totally the same age as me when she died. Hopefully she would have been a belieber. Maybe we would have dated!”
Too soon? Too late?
Please. If our respect for Anne Frank and our reverence for Joan of Arc can be rattled by a pop star’s ignorant comment or a subsequent joke in a column, that doesn’t say much for our own set of beliefs.
Now I’m not a belieber
Of course it was idiotic and immature for Beiber to express his hopes Anne Frank would have been a “belieber”— but since when have we expected 19-year-old pop stars to give us words of wisdom or to even act their age?
We could have predicted this version of Justin Bieber when the kid was barely into his teens and was already on the express elevator to stardom.
When you’re a YouTube sensation, when you’re signing multi-million-dollar contracts, when dozens of adults are fawning over you because their livelihoods depend on you, when the paparazzi are stalking you and the teen star you’re dating, when you have more Twitter followers than the Pope and the president combined, when you’re driving ridiculous cars and wearing ridiculous clothes and getting into ridiculous fights — of course you’re going to be a self-centered little s---.
Thousands of comments, mostly negative, about Bieber were posted on the Anne Frank House’s Facebook page.
“What a self-centered little ----!..That is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever heard of.”
“It’s not all about you, kiddo…Hang your head in shame, you wouldn’t have survived even one day of what Anne Frank endured, you privileged little twit.”
“He also visited the Helen Keller Museum where he wrote something similar. I heard they wrote him back saying because she was deaf, she would have liked his music, because she was blind, she would have liked his dancing …”
“I would never have conceived even Justin Bieber could write such a self-serving, egotistical, self-absorbed piece in the guest book.”
Having been to the Anne Frank House when I was much younger (though not as young as Mr. Bieber), it is difficult to fathom anyone visiting the house and thinking about anything other than Ms. Frank’s life and her generation-spanning words of bravery and inspiration. That Bieber is young and famous and insulated from reality doesn’t excuse his jaw-dropping self-love.
On Monday, the Anne Frank House issued a statement:
“The Anne Frank House was pleased to welcome Justin Bieber. ... We think it is very positive he took the time and effort to visit our museum. He was very interested in the story of Anne Frank and stayed for over an hour. We hope that his visit will inspire his fans to learn more about her life and hopefully read her the diary.”
What a gracious and graceful reaction.
Consider the swarm of fans that followed Bieber to the Anne Frank House on Friday night. Consider the tens of thousands of (one cringes to even type the word again) “beliebers” who quite likely never heard of Anne Frank until this dust-up. Perhaps because of this controversy, some of them really will read Anne Frank’s diary. You can get a Kindle edition for $5.99 — the price of downloading about five songs from one of Bieber’s albums, such as the modestly titled “My World 2.0.” Consider none of us would be talking about Anne Frank today if the pop star hadn’t written those embarrassing words last Friday night.
There is some irony, though, when we see the level of vitriol directed at Bieber on the Facebook page of the museum dedicated to the memory of a young girl who was killed by the forces of irrational intolerance and blind hatred.
“In spite of everything,” wrote Anne Frank, “I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Every social media page on the whole of Internet should have that quote on the top.