Justin Bieber gets Anne Frank

April 15, 2013

Anne FrankI can’t believe I’m doing this, but I am going to defend Justin Bieber. The singer, who for some reason is immensely popular right now with girls around the age Anne Frank was when she died (15), went to Amsterdam, and while there visited the Anne Frank museum.

Afterward he wrote in the guest book “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber,” that being the affectionate term that Bieber’s fans use to identify themselves. Now he is being attacked for being a egotistical moron.

Well of course he’s egotistical! He’s a 19! He also happens to be the center of a great deal of attention the last few years and made tons of money from it. (I hope he’s saving and investing it, because this delirium will pass). Justin Bieber is in the teen idol business and he sees a lot of 15 year old girls in that line of work. To him, there are two kinds: beliebers and non-beliebers. I don’t want to shock you, so sit down for this: He prefers the former. He thinks they are very perceptive and have the good taste to like his music.

While she waxed poetic about the tree outside her window, love, war and other “important” issues, she was also very interested in the pop culture of the time. She had pictures of movie stars on her bedroom wall, torn from the pages of movie star publicity magazines, which, presumably, she also read with teenage excitement. If you actually read and studied her, maybe if you visited The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam like Bieber did, you would know that.

But he’s not a moron, or heartless, or whatever else he’s being accused of. He no doubt saw that Anne was quite excited about the popular culture of her day, so it is not out of line for him to project that onto himself (see 19 year old male, above). In fact, I think Justin Bieber gets Anne Frank in a way that those who are screaming bloody murder about his harmless comment do not.

There’s also the little matter of that word “hopefully” — used, I think, with some self-awareness and perhaps even humility.

The administrators of the Anne Frank House put out a statement in which they wisely try to stay out of the (faux) controversy, and say that the important thing is that Bieber was interested enough to come to the museum to visit. I concur. I would bet you that a lot of teen girls who count themselves as “beliebers” are reading Anne Frank’s diary right now because of Justin Bieber. A pretty serious accomplishment for a teen idol.

Look, when I was 15 I was a huge Monkees fan. Somehow I grew up to be a serious person anyway, and I don’t recall any Monkee, even Peter, the “serious in real life” one who was my favorite, ever steered me to important reading material that could enhance my thinking about the world and my place in it.

I think I know what Anne Frank would say to Bieber’s attackers if she were here, whether she was 15 or 85: Is this really the most important problem in the world right now for you to rant about?

I just would like to get a message to Justin: Next time you’re in Atlanta, I know a place for you to visit.

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