It’s day two of Justin Bieber’s latest public beating, this time over a guestbook note he wrote at Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House museum on Friday.
The scale of the row has now led to a definitive statement of support for the singer from the museum.
To recap, Bieber paid an after-hours visit to the attic/ house (now a museum) where Anne Marie Frank — a Jewish girl, then 13 — her family and others hid from the Nazis from July 1942 to August 4, 1944. After they were discovered, the group was arrested and deported. Anne later died of Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, but the diaries she wrote while in hiding live on. Selling over 30 million copies, Frank’s diaries humanized the statistics behind the Holocaust.
At the end of his Friday visit, Bieber — who is currently on tour and used part of his day off to spend time at the Frank museum — wrote in the guestbook:
“Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
When the singer’s note was posted by museum staff to their Facebook account, it sparked a social media firestorm on Sunday. The anger centered on Bieber’s ‘belieber’ reference, a term used to describe his fans.
However, museum officials defended Bieber’s comments and commended him for his visit.
“We think that what’s special is that a 19-year-old comes to the Anne Frank House and spends an hour visiting on a Friday night,” museum spokeswoman Maatje Mostart told AFP.
“He could be doing other things in Amsterdam, he was very interested,” added Mostart. “That’s more important than the commotion that we’re now seeing. That’s the positive side and we want to leave it at that.”
Annemarie Bekker, another spokeswoman at Anne Frank House told Reuters that she and the museum’s staff were “a bit overwhelmed” by the criticism of Bieber’s guestbook entry.
“He’s a 19-year-old boy taking the effort to come and see the museum,” Bekker noted, “and we’d like to point that out, and I think it’s quite innocent what he put down.”
The Anne Frank museum also posted a message to their Twitter account that reiterated their positive take on Bieber’s visit.
Notably, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the 100-year-old Jewish organization the Anti-Defamation League, offered his reading of Bieber’s intent:
“If you read Anne Frank’s diary, she was into celebrities, she was into pop culture,” said Foxman. “So for [Bieber] to say he would have hoped that she would have been a fan, it’s a nice thing.”
Meanwhile, 4534 miles away in Norway a certain teen star replied to his critics in his customary way. Today, Bieber uploaded two shirtless picture pictures of himself to his Instagram account with mocking captions.
The first of these read: “‘Uh oh @justinbieber is losing it taking shirtless pics in the mirror’ -funny people.”
The second picture, was posted with a caption that seemed to address one of the specific criticisms — “arrogance” — that was leveled at the singer in regard to his Anne Frank comment.
It read: “Breaking news @justinbieber posts two shirtless pics in a day could he be anymore full of himself – silly people.”
Bieber then quickly deleted that wording, changing the caption to the one that’s below.
“Breaking news worldwide @justinbieber just posted 2 shirtless pictures he must be going crazy’ -funny people #forthefansanyways #dontbecreepin :p”
While many critical narratives on the Frank fracas are still being reported, in other quarters sturdy defenses are tipping the balance.
Jewish website Haaretzwrites: “Bieber might be better at singing songs and making girls swoon than in penning meaningful impressions at the Anne Frank house. But let’s give him some credit for going there in the first place.”
The Washington Postechoed: “Bieber has been excoriated for making what has universally been considered a narcissistic gaffe. But it was nothing of the sort. Maybe out of ignorance or maybe out of innocence but surely out of insight, he treated Anne as the 14-year-old girl that she was.”
The Los Angeles Timesasked: “Are we being too hard on Justin Bieber?”
The Salon too, called for restraint, saying:
“Let’s give him [Bieber] a little credit for visiting the Anne Frank House in the first place. It’s not like Amsterdam doesn’t offer plenty of empty distractions for a filthy rich teenager on a stressful working tour.”
Lastly, according to statistics from groke.se, Google searches for Anne Frank quadrupled on Sunday, while her Wikipedia page was the sixth most viewed English language article throughout Monday. In all sorts of ways, that’s thanks to Justin Bieber.
— Anne Frank House (@annefrankhouse) April 15, 2013
For more information about Anne Frank click here.