The visit by Bieber meant that the issue of the Holocaust spread exponentially through the demographic of his fans. An interview with UN ambassadors Angelina Jolie and William Hague (some bloke in government, apparently) proved that sometimes the glittering crumbs that fall from the golden table of celebrity do so with merit on an overlooked issue. As the Dutch journalist Robert Chesal said on Radio 5 live today: “There are probably millions of beliebers Googling Anne Frank now and that’s a good thing.” Grey-haired academics are worthy and notable, but do they speak to young people as effectively?
In fact, irrespective of our age, aren’t we all enmeshed in celebrity culture to such an extent that it can open, even slightly, the sternest of implacably closed minds? There is a curious and necessary symbiotic relationship between charity issues and celebrity. Many who work in the third sector may grit their teeth when a reality TV or pop star speaks in a well-intentioned but somewhat uneducated way on crucial issues like disability for example; but I’ve always felt that speaking only to those who already understand is self-defeating. Those who bemoan “self-interested” celebrities embracing causes have a point. But while they may spark more than a little ire, they also raise a lot of money and promote information. The side issue is that they also provide a platform for debate.
I confess to feeling furious when I suspect darker motives for championing an issue. Nobody likes to be used, but there is nothing to suggest that this is the case here. In Bieber’s case, he simply doesn’t need to create press opportunities.