From an actual historian versus, say, my light pop culture survey course…
We hardly know anything about what music Anne Frank liked. Beyond a reference to a Mozart concert on the radio (“I can hardly listen in the room because I’m always so inwardly stirred”), there’s not much in her writings that speaks to that question.
We do know that she was a girl who cut out pictures of celebrities and glued them to her bedroom wall, though, because that wall survives at the Anne Frank House. (“Thanks to Daddy,” she wrote in her diary less than a week after entering the Annex, “who had brought my picture postcards and film-star collection beforehand … I have transformed the walls into one gigantic picture.” Over the years in hiding, she added new pictures and covered up older ones, replacing Deanna Durbin with Leonardo Da Vinci like any self-respecting young teen.)
And here’s something about that wall. For all the obsessive documentation of Anne Frank’s live that the last sixty-eight years have seen, and for all the ways that the web facilitates tracking and analyzing and plumbing visual culture artifacts, there’s apparently no full listing of the subjects of photographs anywhere on the internet, no annotated reproduction of the wall itself. A document that Anne and her sister created and maintained as their link to the outside world and that life they’d left behind — and hoped to return to — and it appears that none of us have cared enough to excavate and display it in the most thoughtful and fullest way our era can.
Isn’t it possible that Bieber, seeing that wall, imagined his photograph on it? And doesn’t that kind of break your heart?
So yeah, I don’t know. It’s easy to mock. But the more I think about it, the less I want to.
I don’t even really care about Justin Bieber, you guys, except as a prime example of how people don’t take pop music (or its fans) seriously.
But I always understood Anne Frank’s role in the remembrance to be educational—for kids. For teenagers. For people still trying to figure out how to talk about something so huge and horrific. I don’t want anyone’s reaction to her house (which I have not visited) or her story to become so criticized that some other kid thinks they shouldn’t even bother trying to understand. Let alone write a couple of quick sentences that immediately distill their likely complex mix of guilt/sadness/shock after seeing her house first-hand.