The Facebook page of The Anne Frank house today revealed that the pop star Justin Bieber had visited – he was in the city to perform a concert of his popular music. Bieber’s message, that he had left in the guestbook, was also shared by Anne Frank House. It said:
“Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
Now I don’t know what constitutes an actual outrage anymore. But people on my Twitter feed were outraged, some of them. I also find myself unable to think about the whole thing without talking about prisms and such – so be forewarned, I am going to talk about prisms and such. Probably.
I wasn’t outraged by what he (is claimed to have) wrote. I mean I could understand if people were shaking their head at it a little bit going, “what a bloody one eh?” but people were talking about it as though he had done a hate crime. Because I wasn’t outraged I can’t quite explain why they were outraged. This is their fault: they were just calling him in arsehole without really saying why.
I am pretty sure it boils down to the last sentence. However, such is the propensity for outrage that there may be some pressure groups who are against people feeling inspired by visiting historical locations. I can more easily see people being offended by the phrase ‘Anne was a great girl’ as though he was being disrespectful. But, it is the last sentence that has upset so many people.
“Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” What that boils down to is someone clunkily saying that if a teenage girl from the past was alive today she might like his music. Yes, he is a bit ego-centric. Yes he uses a bit of slang to describe his fans. But he’s a teenage pop star. If he wasn’t being egocentric at all times there would be a team from his record label replacing him before his next blink had moistened his eyebulbs.
He views the world through the prism (told you) of being the biggest pop star on the planet. I am pretty sure that no-one reading this has even the tiniest inclination of what that feels like; though I believe Britney Spears occasionally reads my blog so maybe I am wrong. Because of what the world has positioned him as – an icon – and he is surrounded by people whose sole purpose is just to make him happy and maintain the cycle of his fame, because of all this he isn’t going to have a bit of perspective on things.
Surely Bieber going there is quite a good thing, quite a positive thing for him to be doing to understand the horrible past of the human race – probably so he can write a song about it.
Apart from anything else: there is a pretty good chance that were Anne Frank around now that she might like his music. Lots of people seem to. A 14-year-old girl would probably like the idea of an international heartthrob pop star thinking she was a great girl. And he is used to 14-year-old girls screaming at him.
I may be giving Bieber credit he doesn’t deserve, or looking at in a way that idealises an act of philistinism but I like to think the naivety of his words speaks to something that is easy to forget when we talk about anything to do with the second world war – or indeed anything horrible from the past. She was a child, the world made her into an icon because of something she left behind – but Bieber wrote something to a 14-year-old girl, and not some myth.
While people were lambasting a somewhat stupid teenager grown adults were crossing their fingers that a song from The Wizard of Oz would be number one. I had to stop following someone on Twitter because he was doing updates incessantly about whether it would remain in the top 10 – which meant it had to be played on some (none BBC) chart countdown. His take on it was that it was (obviously) a conspiracy. That it would just creep out of the top ten by the cut-off point.
My take on the conspiracy was that all the people who thought it was a good idea bought the song already and other songs probably had a steady rate of people buying them through the week.
Despite having misgivings about the whole idea/campaign (why not get Ghost Town back to number one? Or something with a bit less childishness about it anyway) the amount of furore about it meant that I did want it to be number one because of the principal of the matter.
Now this has gone, hopefully the funeral will be the end of it. There is something icky about all of this and I think the tories are actually getting some leverage out of it all.