First up, I love Anne Frank. Me and my mate Monica, we used to sit at the back of class during “Open Study” times, searching for all the dirty bits. The dirty version – sorry, I mean uncensored version – of her diary came out in the 1990s, so it was literally hot off the press. I can still remember the bit where she talked about masturbating – she said she’d found a button of joy – and of course, the bit where Peter shows her his tomcat’s penis – and then the bit when they kiss on the divan. But I also liked the bits where she was jealous of her sister, idolized her dad, hated on her mum and slagged off that dentist (God, living with that dentist must’ve been annoying). I loved that book. I liked it more than Forever by Judy Blume or The Divorce Express by Paula Danziger.
One of the things I have always loved about Anne Frank’s diary is how Peter is blatantly not good enough for her. I reread it recently, and I noticed it again. He’s just a boy, you know? And she’s really something. But they’re stuck in the attic and so she projects all this stuff onto him, all this longing, all this desire, all these worthy feelings. There’s that bit where he tells her that, should he survive the war, he’s intending to convert to Christianity and deny ever having been Jewish. Anne can’t believe it – she’s so decent, so spiritual, so righteous. She writes in her diary that she can’t believe for a second that he really would, that he really will. She believes he’s more than that. She thinks he’s just saying it.
That’s what teenage girls are so good at, aren’t they, falling for boys who are unworthy of us. Remember Claire Danes and Jared Leto in My So-Called Life? Or just remember all those boys who you thought were perfection. None of them were good enough. But who else did you have? I used to write every joke Jason Hollingsworth ever made in front of me down in my diary before bed each night, like I was committing them to memory or something. This is what teenage girls do: they love boys who are unworthy of their love with an intensity that is almost supernaturally inexplicable. And nobody knows this better than Justin Bieber. He is the Peter Van Daan of the whole world.
And he’s also: just a fucking kid. So, for example, like, when he wrote in the Anne Frank house’s guest book: “Truly inspiring to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber.” Well, awright, to be honest, on the one hand he was actually just being insightful. I think he’d been really inspired by going round the place – I have to admit, I’ve never been there, but I buy that, I buy that he found it moving and inspiring and meaningful and stuff – I really think he was trying to say: “Oh, now I see, she was a normal teenage girl. Now I see what she was like. She was a normal teenage girl – and normal teenage girls are all Justin Bieber fans! Hopefully she would’ve been a Belieber…” That kind of thing. In a way, it was a really insightful comment. She was really into the celebrity culture of the 1940s and that. Who knows? Maybe he’s right. And, on the other hand, okay, he was being a bit tacky. You know? He was wondering what she would’ve thought of him. And because he’s Justin Bieber, if she would’ve liked him, she would’ve been a Belieber. So, yeah, that’s a bit tacky and all. Putting it all on yourself and that. But wait! I remember! That’s because he is a kid. He’s just a kid. Leave him alone. He’s not half as tacky as all you guys, ripping him to shreds for being a bit tacky. At least his heart’s in the right place. That has to count for something.
“You think it’s so bad, what he said?” I asked a student of mine yesterday.
“It’s inappropriate,” he said.
“But how inappropriate is it?” I asked. “He didn’t say he would have had sex with her or anything. Some people have probably written in that guest book ‘Anne Frank – phwoargh – if only she’d survived the Holocaust – I would.'”
“Yeah, but they’re not famous,” said the student.
“He’s not a politician,” I said. “He’s not an ambassador. He’s just a kid.”
“He has a role-model function,” my student said.
“Oh,” I said.
“Also, she’s a historical figure.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“And he’s an egomaniac.”
“Yeah,” I said, “probably.”
“And, you know. He should think more, about the implications of what he’s saying. About the Holocaust and stuff.”
I don’t know why we expect Justin Bieber to not be a dick, when we’re such dicks to him ourselves. I’m not talking about his music – I never listened to a Justin Bieber song in my life – actually, I think I did, once, quite recently, but I’ve deleted it from my memory – I’m talking about him as a person. He’s just a fucking kid. Okay, maybe he was a bit tacky. But he didn’t piss on the Holocaust memorial, or have sex in the car park at Auschwitz. He didn’t say Anne Frank had faked her diaries, or that the Holocaust didn’t really happen. He just wondered – or hoped – that, had she been around today, she would’ve been a fan of his. Like you guys have never fantasized about having dinner with Virginia Woolf, or being invited over to Goethe’s for tea and biscuits. Justin Bieber is Justin Bieber. When people like him, they’re Beliebers. He doesn’t know any different. He’s never known any different. Leave him alone, man. How can you expect him to be better than you? Okay, he’s a bit tacky, and a bit arrogant – but you’re all being total dickheads. You all need to seriously get down from off your moral high ground. The air must be really thin up there.