Justin Bieber’s mom is cashing in on her son’s celebrity to further the anti-abortion cause, and this could mark the escalation of a wider anti-abortion campaign that aims to use the big screen to make an impact on young women.
Pattie Mallette, the mother of Canadian-born Bieber, has signed on as Executive Producer for the film Crescendo and is taking a lead role in promoting the film. You can see a trailer for the short film below:
The film, innocuous and labored though it appears, has already won awards for its apparent “pro-life” message. Crescendo comes attached to the Mexican (all-male) triumvirate behind the 2006 anti-abortion film Bella, directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde. It appears set to follow a similar life-cycle of being screened up and down the U.S., and eventually abroad, with the goal this time of raising some $10 million for what Mallette and associates are calling “crisis pregnancy centers.” Such centers in America have been taken to court in the past for shaming women and offering dubious medical advice.
Bella, one among several recent so-called pro-life films, was panned by many critics for clubbing viewers over the head with the “abortion is murder” message, and pro-choice groups chalked it up as an anti-abortion propaganda piece. Still, the anti-abortion lobby was able to win it a slew of “people’s choice” awards, even seeing it receive an award at the White House. That Crescendo will receive similar tumult seems guaranteed, if not only by virtue of its themes but by Bieber’s mother’s deft marketing.
Mallette has even recorded a special video message to go with the film, and makes aggressively clear that she is supporting this film “As Justin Bieber’s mother.” This a direct quote from the video’s opener.
“My hope through this involvement is to encourage young women all over the world, just like me, to let them know that there is a place to go, people who will take care of you and a safe home to live in if you are pregnant and think you have nowhere else to turn,” Mallette is quoted as saying.
Mallette, whose troubled childhood led to a suicide attempt and a stay in a mental institution, conceived Justin when she was 17 and has since revealed, or rather sold to anyone who would listen (either through her 2012 autobiography or many personal appearances), that she had previously been “pressured” into having an abortion, something she resisted by fleeing to a crisis center. This a story that has become like divine inspiration among the anti-choice faithful. They do, however, entirely miss what Mallette leaves unsaid: that she ultimately was given the choice whether to have a child or not.
Were this all Mallette was doing, however, it would not seem so objectionable. If a woman wishes to keep her child, there should be no demand even uttered that she do otherwise, which should not need saying. Taken singularly, then, there is nothing to comment on or any objection to really be made.
However, with her son’s net worth at an estimated $110 million and legions of fans, most of them lusting teenage girls, her son’s clout, and by extension Mallette’s own, is undeniably great. Mallette seems to have worked to position herself as a media mogul with a message and, at the same time, remain “just” Justin Bieber’s mom. This is a feat that gives a sense of just how far one can ride on a child’s coattails without drawing too much attention, while at the same time accruing wealth and power. However, this is certainly not the first time Mallette’s antagonism toward the pro-choice movement has been detected.
Controversy was stirred among the Bieber faithful when in 2011 the pop star, still with a side-sweeping helmet of hair, said when asked by a Rolling Stone reporter on his view of abortion, “I really don’t believe in abortion. It’s like killing a baby.” What about in cases of rape, he was quizzed. “Um. Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason.”
At the time Bieber was only 16 and, without wishing at all to sneer but rather to give a better impression of the general level of his political awareness, when asked what political party he would support, he replied he didn’t know but, in a soundbite reminiscent of Mallette’s radio pal Sarah Palin, “Whatever they have in Korea, that’s bad.”
The Rolling Stone was criticized at the time for asking questions that seemed to hinge on them having caught a whiff of a story we had until then only gazed at through hints and tidbits.
Whether Mallette is knowingly pushing an anti-abortion agenda with Crescendo is debatable but, even taking her at her word that her involvement is simply about raising funds for crisis pregnancy centers, the naivety of her solipsism — that she seems to believe her story is the norm and not an exception — is startling. Furthermore, this doesn’t eradicate the overriding concern that the anti-abortion lobby will capitalize on this. After all, how could they pass up the opportunity to reach out directly to their prime audience: teenage girls who may find themselves in the position of staring down young motherhood.
The behind-the-scenes machinations to make Crescendo a reality and Bieber’s mom’s involvement as the marketing tool seems a synergy that is almost heaven sent, but it is not the work of a god but rather the anti-abortion wing of the religious conservative industry, whose very effectiveness in bringing this about proves they are a credible threat.
There is, however, a bright spot in this. Justin Bieber himself is said to be disquieted by his mother’s activism and is unlikely, after the 2011 fracas, to dirty his hands in the fight. If Bieber does manage to resist — and that position will likely be bolstered by his management team who will want their star to stay cash-earning for as long as possible — it may be that Mallette’s campaign will fail to garner the reach it requires to be a truly devastating gateway for anti-abortion propaganda. However, the formula for how to do this, it seems, is constantly being refined.
Image credit: Thinkstock.