Justin Bieber, the 19 year old Canadian pop phenomenon has sold over 5 million albums worldwide, has millions of fans and over 35 million Twitter followers. He is boyishly cute, sings sweet pop songs about love and heartbreak and it’s no surprise that young girls adore him. It may be a different era but think Take That, The Beatles and Elvis who all elicited the same level of worship. Young girls violently sob in his presence and there’s not much point going to his concerts as the screaming masses drown out his liquid gold voice.
Justin, by virtue of his age, must be going through significant change as all teenagers do, but is forced to do so whilst suffering the ignominy of every word, action and deed being mercilessly scrutinised then judged by journalists the world over. Who doesn’t know that when travelling abroad recently he was taken to task for attempting to have his pet monkey accompany him onboard a jet and one wonders why his management were unable to prevent such immature self-indulgence. The metamorphis from teen to adult though is angst ridden, often cruel and beset with mistakes that are later reinvented as experiences. The vantage point of middle-age allows us to look back often reminiscing that it’s better to have regrets than not have anything to regret.
He is now being criticised for allegedly suggesting that he hopes Anne Frank would have been a Belieber, the endearing nickname for Justin’s fan mass. It is telling that he chose to visit Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam at all, wanting to witness the cramped living conditions of the 15 year old victim of Nazi Germany wouldn’t be everyone’s choice of a tourist attraction, particularly of one so young and with so much. Seeing the inhumane way Anne and her family were forced to live for some 2 years before being betrayed and carted off to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is incredibly shocking and in stark contrast to the freedoms all of us enjoy. You can’t stand up straight as you wander through the tiny attic and you are overwhelmed with gratitude when the back-breaking tour comes to an end. The true horror of what humans can do to one another marks you indelibly and is a powerful lesson for every young person to learn.
Many of Justin’s followers won’t have known who Anne Frank was, until he uttered her name or that her tragic story exemplifies the true horrors of war; loss of freedom, indignity, fear, betrayal and ultimately death. She bravely stood for each and every victim of war and if one young person looks up her story online and learns just a little more, Justin should be thanked. She probably would have been a belieber too.