Anne Frank & Justin Bieber
“I prayed, ‘God, you don’t want this Jewish kid to be Justin’s man, do you?...God, I gave him to you. You could send me a Christian man, a Christian label!’” -- Pattie Mallette in The New York Times, 2009.
Mallette is Justin Bieber’s mother. She’s referring to Scooter Braun, his manager. For some reason, these quotes were my first thought when I heard about the message Bieber left in the guestbook after visiting the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam this weekend. Duana was the one who told me about the NYT piece a couple of years ago. I’m not saying one quote connects the other. What I’m saying is that ignorance can be encouraged.
"Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber."
As you now know, the internet subsequently exploded. Bieber defenders are saying that he meant no malice and that JB had just learned that Anne Frank, like any teenage girl, was into pop culture, and that he aspired to be good enough that she’d be a fan... had she, you know, been raised in this era, not having to hide out in an attic from the Nazis who wanted to kill her. Some are even applying a profundity to Bieber’s words that might even surprise you. The Washington Post that Bieber, in treating Anne Frank like a girl, instead of an icon, was actually honouring Anne’s spirit of hope and innocence. In a perfect world, after all, with no war and no hate, young girls can grow up fantasising about their idols, dancing to music, and creating wonderful memories that come from the frivolity of adolescence. (Thanks Janel!)
So...are we giving this kid...
...that much credit?
He is a child star. For over a third of his life now, he has been surrounded by adulation and indulgence. His sense of entitlement has been well documented. He carries around a victim complex. It’s me, me, me all the time. I agree that there was no malicious intent behind JB’s comment. I don’t believe that Justin Bieber was consciously saying to himself, “let me cockblock Anne Frank’s legacy” and make it all about me. At this point, that behaviour isn’t on the surface anymore. On the surface is the illusion. They all believe their own constructs. The problem is that they’re never challenged to go any deeper. Nobody today is saying to Justin, hey, can you understand why people might think this? If you could revise your message, do you think maybe you would say it differently? Of course not. What they’re doing is agreeing with him. Don’t worry Justin. You’re special and they’re attacking you. Just be yourself, and no one will be able to stop you.
How, then, can there be any growth?
You remember how he was treated when he wasn’t nominated for a Grammy? Scooter Braun went on a Twitter rant about how it wasn’t fair. It’s an approach that leaves no room for improvement -- and I don’t mean artistically but in character. Not once did they consider why the Academy may not have been as impressed as they thought it should be. Not once was the counter argument properly examined. Now imagine being in a relationship with the kind of person who was never given the tools to understand anyone else’s point of view. You set them up to fail in all their relationships.
But whatever. JB’s back in the gym, tweeting shirtless shots of himself on Instagram, clearly not bothered by the controversy. Chest and Abs first, homies. Chest and Abs first.