Commentary on Justin Bieber’s Visit to Anne Frank House and His Fans’ Reactions
There are very few celebrities that I care about less than Justin Bieber. Normally, I just tune out the barrage of news stories surrounding his success, his failures, his breakup with Selena Gomez, and more inane details of his life that in no way pertain to mine. However, last week, Justin Bieber did something that I found myself caring about. On April 12, Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House, on what he called a “chill day,” according to his Twitter feed. The Anne Frank House posted about his visit on their Facebook page, stating that Bieber’s fans were waiting outside of the house to catch a glimpse of him, and that Bieber signed the guestbook with the message “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
While this may be something that Bieber might say about any other 15 year-old girl, the fact that Bieber made this statement about Anne Frank is appalling. Frank was a young girl in hiding during the Holocaust from 1943 to 1945, who was ultimately captured and died of typhus in a concentration camp. Her diary of her life in hiding remains one of the most accurate representations of life during this time period. Bieber’s comment, while most likely well intentioned, disregards Frank’s struggle completely, merely reducing her to another potential fan, instead of an inspiring icon of one of the darkest times in human history, and makes his visit to the Anne Frank House more about his own star power rather than Anne Frank.
What is perhaps more disturbing about this incident, is the reaction of Bieber’s fans. While Bieber’s actions are atrocious, his fans were lined up outside of the Anne Frank House only to see him, without any intention to see the Anne Frank House, nor any consideration for the historical significance of that place. In the grand scheme of things, these fans that would go to a historic place to see a 19 year-old pop star, have done more disrespect than Bieber has. By choosing to give Bieber this much influence and popularity, these fans have chosen to make him more significant and noteworthy than Anne Frank. This warped perception of importance and significance is incredibly telling because it reveals that being a celebrity is valued in this society over anything else. To Bieber, the presence of his fans at the Anne Frank House excuses his actions and makes it acceptable for him to have made the experience more about him and his fan base, instead of being about learning about Anne Frank and her struggle.
By not speaking out against this type of behavior from his fans, and even having other celebrities defending his words, Bieber’s prominence and vanity is outweighing the historical significance of any event or place. The sheer hero worship of our celebrities is coming to a head in that, as a society, we seem to worship those who entertain us over any other prominent figure. The idea that Bieber’s actions are acceptable and worth defending demonstrates that if you are a celebrity, vanity is allowed, accepted, and encouraged. The actions of Bieber and his fans show us how disgustingly far celebrity hero worship has gone. As college students, we can encourage the education and proper respect for those who have had true historical significance, rather than continue this trend of hero worship for those whose only goal is to entertain the masses and feed their own egos.