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Justin Bieber’s self-promotion finally goes too far

Laura Merrell

Oh, Justin Bieber, you’ve done it again! Thanks to his childish antics and the criticism they have inspired, Bieber seems to be making headlines every week.  One of my favorite recent mis-biebhaviors occured when he came under fire for wearing overalls to meet with the Canadian Prime Minister.

This week, he’s in every magazine and newspaper because the Anne Frank House published what he wrote in their guestbook during his visit: “Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”

For those of you not in the know, “Belieber” refers to the hordes of young teenage girls that would defend his questionable music and even more questionable integrity to the death. Because of his reference to his fan legion, many have criticized his statement as a crude attempt at self-promotion, This criticism is right because there was no reason for him to mention his brand his product, or himself. The House of Anne Frank has made public other notes left by celebrities in their guestbook before such as Whoopi Goldberg’s, but none of them made a shameless plug for themselves or their latest project.

Many of Bieber’s fans showed their support for him through this difficult time on Twitter or Facebook. However, what is most concerning about this story is that most of his fans admit that they have no idea who Anne Frank was. This revelation about America’s youth shocked me.

I read “The Diary of Anne Frank” around the age of twelve and remember being struck by her courage, her spirit, and how easily I could relate to her fears and insecurities. The questionable message Bieber left behind should really be eliciting a different response from critics: these kids need to learn and read more in general, especially about the Holocaust.

The Holocaust seems like a distant memory now and fades more for each generation, but it is important to be exposed to that  historical event through movies, plays, poetry, or maybe an honest diary left from a girl who did not make it through the end of the war. Comedian Rob Delaney is hopeful, as am I, that Bieber’s accidental endorsement of Anne Frank will work as an incentive from many young girls and boys to read her diary.

Instead of being an advocate for reading, history, learning, or remembering the Holocaust, Bieber choose to move the focus over to himself. I am unclear about whether Bieber knew that his comments would be made public, since he and everyone else in his camp has refused to comment about the incident. However, the more glaring issue is that his young, impressionable, adoring fans have displayed their ignorance of Anne Frank, and this needs to be remedied. I do not suggest that American public schools start requiring elementary and middle schools to show the documentary, “Shoah” or have their students read “Night” by Elie Wiesel, but some exposure to the Holocaust at a young age through the eyes of a truly amazing young Jewish girl would be appropriate. Especially since reading and writing skills are dwindling as social networking sites take over, it is important to continue to push for each new generation to have an understanding of the past and a thirst for knowledge.

Justin Bieber missed a perfect opportunity to make learning about the Holocaust “cool” to his young fans, instead choosing to promote himself. I can only wish that other celebrities in similar situations will choose to elevate learning or reading over a little publicity for themselves. Unfortunately, my hope will probably never be realized, especially considering past celebrities’ poor choices as role models for children. One example that comes to mind is Michael Jordan’s sensational decision to pursue a career in minor league baseball instead of returning to college to finish his degree.

In an ideal world, Bieber would post a picture on his Instagram any day now of him holding a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary and wearing a pair of hipster reading glasses, encouraging his fans to pick up a copy of this “great girl [‘s]” work. Instead, he’ll probably post a picture of himself shirtless with a caption about how he’s misunderstood, and I will have to shake my head, shrug my shoulders and lament his misspent youth.


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