Given the international outrage, followed by international debate, followed by international soul searching that erupted when Justin Bieber signed in a guest book at the Anne Frank House that he hopes the inspirational icon would’ve been a Belieber—a.k.a. a Justin Bieber superfan—if she were still alive, it’s shockingly obtuse of the pop star to have posted what he did Tuesday night on his Instagram.
The jarring image is an illustration of the 19-year-old shirtless (as if he would be depicted any other way) in bed while a topless woman lays on him in what appears to be a post-coital embrace. Above Bieber appears the caption “Justin.” Above the girl: “Belieber.” Again, Justin Bieber has spent the week drowning in angry tweets and media blowharding over his insinuation that brave, graceful, young Anne Frank would be a Belieber. In the midst of the controversy, he posts on his Instagram a naked girl labeled as a Belieber. Not so smart!
One would hope—pray, even—that Bieber was not making the connection between Frank and the topless girl in the illustration. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that the thought even crossed his mind. But it’s just the latest example of the star’s increasingly tone-deaf response to the building distaste over what amounts to completely obnoxious behavior. (Remember when he responded to all of Britain’s dismay over showing up two hours late for a concert by saying everyone was exaggerating and then threatening to “fucking beat the fuck out of” a photographer?)
The timing is especially bad, considering that it looked like Bieber was actually—by the pure virtue of remaining silent and not letting himself be his own worst enemy—making it to the other side of the Anne Frank controversy as a PR winner. The Anne Frank House stood up for him, urging everyone to “give him credit for expanding his mind.” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he may have had a point—Frank was very much into pop culture and would probably have enjoyed him—and called his thinking she’d be a fan “a nice thing.”
On Wednesday, Anne Frank’s childhood friend, who became her step-sister after her death, told the world to back off Bieber and corroborated Foxman’s theory: “It’s so childish. She probably would have been a fan. Why not? He’s a young man and she was a young girl, and she liked film stars and music. They make a lot of fuss about everything that is connected with Anne Frank.”
And alas—and again—just when it seemed that Bieber the petulant pop star may just have matured into Bieber the wizened and mature artist, he posts the pompous and vain Instagram photo, proving once again that is he, and not always the media, who is the childish one.