Being an international pop star like Canada’s Justin Bieber is certain to have its share of pitfalls. Scandals such as unfortunate comments at the Anne Frank house and more recently charges of drunk driving and egging a house have continued to dog him.
So this Easter weekend, the award-winning performer made a trip to Japan to get away from it all. After all, what could possibly go wrong here?
While being driven through the streets of Tokyo, Bieber spotted a large traditional looking Shinto shrine. He asked the driver to pull over while he took a picture of it. He then uploaded it to his Instagram account along with the wholesome and possibly Easter inspired message, “Thank you for your blessings.”
Soon after comments poured in razing the pop star saying, “What are you doing motherfucker?”; “Are you crazy???!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me???!!!!!! Go to hell!!! Fuck you!!!”; and “Say sorry to Chinese.”
It turns out that of all the shrines in all Japan, Justin Bieber just happened to stumble upon Yasukuni Shrine. This shrine has long stood as a lightning rod for tensions between Japan and other Asian countries namely China and Korea. Yasukuni is said to enshrine the souls of dead soldiers among others. As such it houses the spirits of various war criminals responsible for atrocities against other Asian countries.
Probably anyone could assume that Justin Bieber wasn’t all that up on the complexities of Asian international relations or Shinto theology. On the other hand, it’s also understandable how a Chinese person might interpret the image in the context of Bieber’s reallyunfortunately worded comment.
Nevertheless, after the scores of scathing comments were noticed, the pictures of Yasukuni Shrine were promptly taken down. It was too late though as word spread and media outlets picked up on the mistake.
On 24 April, Bieber’s Instagram site posted an apology:
“While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine. I was mislead [sic] to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan”
Although the apology led to comments of support for the perpetually beleaguered Bieber there were still some angry comments in English and Chinese to the tune of “stupid gay idiot” and “What a load of crap and go fuck yourself and please never come back to China to make mone[y].”
And there you have the price of fame. While enjoying the love from legions of Beliebers and all the money that comes with it, this young man and many like him must live in constant fear that whatever he says or does will put him in the headlines or get him called a “stupid gay idiot” several times over.
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