English: NYC signing September 1, 2009 at Nint...

English: NYC signing September 1, 2009 at Nintendo Store – New York City, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In which I reveal how little I know about Justin Bieber, or his mom.

We bloggers get pitches. Most are woefully untargeted (I know a PR person hasn’t bothered to read my blog when he or she sends me information on baby bottles and diaper bags). Some are wildly ridiculous (pitches for sex toys, surgery and hemorrhoid cream come to mind). And every so often, I will receive a pitch that makes me go “Wha…?” This one came in last week, and at first glance, it was appropriate: an online magazine for parents of teenagers.

I skimmed through the topics…teen tech addiction (uh — hard to judge when MOM is the one who is online 24/7)… how to help a teen who is struggling with body image (again — maybe mother needs to heal herself, too!)… tips for applying to college (Yes. There may not be any new information here, but that kind of article gets my attention.)

And then I saw this:


Now, since I live in Los Angeles where everyone is supposed

to be trying to get famous, I can understand why someone might think this is relevant. And I do have friends with kids who are performers, so what Pattie has to say about launching a young person’s career on YouTube might be quite instructive for them. But no — this is how the interview is described:

In a revealing one-on-one interview … Patti Mallette, the mother of America’s most famous teen, Justin Bieber, shares the hardships of her teenage pregnancy and her struggles to provide a good life for Justin as a young single mother. Still a big part of her son’s life, Mallette helps him cope with his rocket-ride to fame and has tried to surround him with the right people as much as she can. “I just pay attention to my son and deal with him on a mother/son basis… “I try not to let public opinion affect me.” That includes daily calls and texts and frequent visits, even when he’s on the road. Despite some of her son’s recent controversial behavior, Mallette says, “Justin knows what I disagree with, but he also knows why I’m so proud of him.”

Frankly, I don’t understand why media outlets offer articles like this. Child performers have very little in common with regular kids, so there is very little their parents can offer the rest of us in the way of advice. Perhaps I would feel otherwise if I was a fan of the Bieb — but I cannot identify his hits without someone telling me who it is. And I have very strong opinions about the wisdom of allowing young people to earn millions and millions of dollars. Basically, I think it’s a really bad idea.

I’m going to digress a little bit and tell you a story from my sordid past:

Back when I was working behind the scenes in television, I was a production assistant on a staff that included a young writer who was my age. We socialized outside of work. I was friends with his wife. They visited my apartment, I visited theirs. We exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts.

Then he got promoted and the socializing ended. He was now “the boss” and I suppose he needed to assert his authority and create some distance. The lunches and get-togethers outside of work ended. In fact, he would do things like invite friends of mine to have lunch with him but neglect to include me. Our conversations were now limited to what he needed from me and how quickly I could get it done. And there were one or two times when he “put me in my place” by chewing me out in front of the rest of the staff.

At the time, a successful writer I knew shared a little Hollywood wisdom with me: “When one of your friends finally ‘makes it,’ and suddenly comes into money and power, you need to give him three years to be a total asshole.”

I have no idea if this guy stopped being a jerk because I wasn’t able to stick with him longer than 18 months.

The thing is: This guy was a presumably mature adult (although there is some question about that, because maturity is not a trait that’s valued in Hollywood — people tend to go farther without it). But if you can expect the grown-ups to go a little crazy when they first get their hands on big wads of cash — how can you expect a kid to keep a level head?

The teen star gone wild is such a tried and true trope that it doesn’t surprise anyone any longer. From Drew Barrymore to Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes, the tabloids serve them up to us as entertainment, so we can go “tsk tsk” and thank the stars that our children aren’t messed up like that. So Justin Bieber has been annoying his neighbors with loud parties and fast driving in his quiet gated community? Boys will be boys. He disrespected a former President? Half the country would probably do the same (although since he’s Canadian, they might find that doubly insulting).  He was two hours late for his own concert, upsetting young fans who needed to go to school the next day? They should have thought of that before they bought the tickets, right?

I’m willing to cut the kid a little slack. I hear he’s being cast as Robin in the next Batman movie. Perhaps working with professionals on a highly regimented film shoot will give him the structure he needs to get his act together. Then again, that did not work for LiLo.

Maybe that’s why Justin’s mom, Pattie Mallette, is making the rounds giving interviews. Or maybe she’s just trying to promote her own memoir. Perhaps there are people out there who will see inspiration in what she has to say.

I’m just not one of them.




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