Justin Bieber’s visit to the historic Anne Frank House in Amsterdam incurred the wrath of the internet on Sunday, and rightfully so.
The 19-year-old pop-sensation wrote in the visitor’s book of the House: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber,” referring to the name bestowed upon the devout, tweeny bopper fans who idolize the star with an estimated net worth of $105 million.
The trouble with Bieber’s obviously problematic words go beyond the historic and cultural insensitivity and a display of self-aggrandization that are evident. The problem lies in that figures who yield that much influence over youth appear to demonstrate a level of callousness and pride in demonstrating ignorance.
Consider Bieber’s message, which was posted on Facebook by the Anne Frank House, who continued to defend Bieber’s statement, the tweet that went ‘round the world. But tweets were not simply between beliebers and beliebernots.
Several beliebers took to Twitter to seek the world’s help in sorting through their confusion:
“Who’s Anne Frank?” several tweets read, some in better grammatical form than others.
But the Beliebers are not to be blamed when cultural ambassadors don’t emphasize the value of sensitivity and learning about the world from a non-ego-centric prism. Though his lyrics reflect differently (“ ‘cause all around the world, they’re no different than us..”), Bieber demonstrates one of the long-time criticisms of U.S./U.K. foreign policy — acting from a place of self-importance.
But these qualities of arrogance and bravado for incompetence are apparently traits we value, or at least implicitly through viewing the behaviors by other pop idols.
It is not simply Bieber — a good number of musicians and pop culture celebrities, including the likes of Chris Brown and John Mayer, both through their non-musical actions and words spew venomous ideologies that society has progressively worked to dispel.
Though it may be unfair to place a higher responsibility on pop culture icons, particularly young ones, it becomes the responsibility of those such as Bieber, who has more than 37 million followers on Twitter, to adopt the leadership roles that come with that level of influence.