Justin Bieber has unwittingly stepped onto yet another landmine after making a fairly innocuous comment about Anne Frank over the weekend.
For those who may not know, Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who died in a Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen at the age of 15 in 1945. While she was in hiding, the teenager wrote of her experiences in diaries which have since been read, translated and honored the world over.
Back to Bieber.
Making use of his day off from his Believe tour to visit the Anne Frank House on Friday, staff later posted the short message that the 19-year-old wrote in their guestbook to the museum’s Facebook page.
The singer’s message read:
“Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
Inevitably, all hell’s broken loose.
At the time of writing, comments at the Frank museum’s Facebook page are hitting 469. Most are highly critical of Bieber’s comment, and Bieber himself.
One commenter wrote: “Way to turn an inspiring moment into something about yourself.”
Another said: “Unbelievable… agreed very self-serving and completely missed the lesson in front of him. Shows his complete LACK of Maturity.”
Yet another added: “Tacky, tacky, tacky. It’s not all about you, kiddo. Imagine even THINKING that, in SUCH a place. Hang your head in shame, you wouldn’t have survived ONE DAY of what Anne Frank endured, you privileged twit.”
However, one commenter, Heather Mirman, also made this point (in part):
“As a Jewish person, Anne Frank has always been a symbol of hope and belief to me… I don’t think what Justin was trying to say was in anyway him being self-involved or narcissistic. How he related Anne was to what he knows about teenage girls in real life, his beliebers. He is trying to say that he would’ve been proud to of had her as a fan because of her courage and the fact that she believed in good. Maybe if we take a moment to think about his words and what (i think) he meant by them, we would appreciate the fact that a 19 yr old global phenomenon took the time out of his busy tour schedule to learn a piece of history and remember Anne’s honor. I think Anne would be proud of his comment.”
Mirman’s view will, of course, be a minority one. On Twitter, the reaction to Bieber’s latest faux pas has been — for want of a better word — nuclear.
Here’s a snapshot:
VH1’s Kate Spencer wrote:
— Kate Spencer (@katespencer) April 14, 2013
The Daily Telegraph’s US correspondent Jon Swaine tweeted, with added pictorial bite:
Pics of Justin Bieber in moments of sombre reflection at the Anne Frank museum heyitsremi.com/wp-content/upl… heyitsremi.com/wp-content/upl… — Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) April 14, 2013
While the New York Times’, Dave Itzkoff posted:
TMZwrote: “Had she lived… the April 13 diary entry would surely have included the word ‘douchebag.'”
The Atlantic’s James Fallows exulted to a LOLGOP tweet:
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) April 14, 2013
You get the picture.
For their part, Anne Frank House’s press office toldBBC correspondent, Anna Holligan: “He’s 19, it’s a strange life he’s living, it wasn’t very sensible but he didn’t mean bad… He was very interested in Anne Frank.”
It’s worth noting that BuzzFeed reported that Bieber made the comment after he was told by a museum guide that Frank was a fan of pop culture.
In addition, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has confirmed that Frank was a fan of celebrities and pop culture and doesn’t have a problem with what Bieber wrote in the guestbook.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it,” he said.
This latest fracas adds to a series of missteps Bieber has made on the Euro leg of his Believe world tour. These include — parental rage after a late concert in the UK, a run-in with a paparazzo, nightclub disputes, the quarantining of his pet monkey in Munich — and last but not least, battery allegations in the US.
The teen phenom’s last European concert date is April 26 in Helsinki, Finland. From there, he heads to the Russian Federation, South Africa before returning — trailing laurels — to the US on June 22.
Bearing in mind that Bieber took the time to visit the Anne Frank House and his comment was undoubtedly innocently intended, perhaps a little perspective wouldn’t go amiss.