A while ago, Justin Bieber (JB) was criticised for a comment he left in the Anne Frank House guest book which read ‘Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would’ve been a belieber.’ For which, not surprisingly, he suffered a lot of ridicule. There’s every chance that Anne would’ve been a belieber. She was a teenage girl aged 13-15 at the time she wrote in her diary. The contents of which shows her to be an ordinary adolescent living in an extraordinary time; her relationship with her parents, her worries, her love life, her dreams of becoming an actress. So correct me if I’m wrong, but the majority of JB fans are ordinary teenage girls. So it’s not the accuracy of the statement that caused the outrage.
What I found particularly distasteful about this was that JB went to a place that is so much more significant culturally and historically than he is, yet he still made it about himself with the phrase ‘Hopefully she would’ve been a belieber’. It’s so narcissistic that it’s gone from detestable to pitiable. I start to feel sorry for him that someone could be so delusional, but I doubt he spends any time reflecting on this between counting his millions and having his pick of literally any girl in the world, so the pity is fairly fleeting.
Let’s not mince words about what’s going on here. He is so wrapped up in his own world, his own self-image, that he couldn’t even take the time to appreciate the struggles of anyone else. There was a world of tragedy and beauty around him, a mixture of immense pain and suffering with the triumph of joy and hope. Yet JB, in his omnipotence, reduces everything around him to supporting members and background scenery in the movie that is his life. He is front and centre, he is the star, he is the main attraction. That’s what I think about selfies. Whenever anyone takes a selfie, they are basically writing ‘I hope she would’ve been a belieber.’ Anytime someone posts a photo of themselves with food or in front of scenery they are reducing the food and scenery to props in their life movie. Look at me, look at the cool shit I’m doing, do you like me yet? Are you jealous of my life yet? That’s what I hear every time I look at a selfie.
Saltz’ wrote an article defending the selfie which itself was inherently narcissistic. In it, he likens himself to Van Gogh, the famed painter, because they both created selfies, Van Gogh with paint, Saltz with a camera. Aside from the fact that Van Gogh was mentally usntable and killed himself and thus not the best example, the context in which Gogh created his paintings is wildly different from the context in which Saltz takes selfies. Who does that? Compares themselves to a world famous painter as if they are somehow similar? Someone who takes selfies, that’s who.
But hey take all this with a grain of salt. Despite my devastating good looks I’m not particularly photogenic. If I could take a decent selfie, maybe I’d have a different opinion.
Saltz, J 2014, “Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie” – http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/history-of-the-selfie.html