For Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette, these have to be trying times.
Over the last five months the inspiration-speaker, producer and author, has evidently read, heard, and watched an arena full of strangers boo her only child amid a rising tide of media reports, polls, punditry, and international conversation dismissing her son as a “douche,” “thug” — and worse.
The reasons are a laundry list of incidents involving Bieber.
These include a possible prosecution for battery, a police investigation for alleged reckless driving, lawsuits for assault and theft, and the seizure of his former pet monkey in Munich after he traveled with it without necessary documentation, to name just a few.
But the other reason is our thoroughly non-modern appetite for gladiatorial pop culture, in which transgressions of any kind morph even typical tabloid reporting into a blood-in-the-water focus.
Mallette, a formidable woman in her own right with or without her connection to the most famous teenager in the world, is currently on a national book tour to promote the new teen edition of her 2012 co-authored autobiography Nowhere But Up.
The original version is a harrowing walk through the 38-year-old’s early years until present, during which she was sexually abused, self-medicated (as she terms it) with drugs and alcohol, suffered from depression, and attempted suicide at 17.
While pregnant with Justin, Pattie stayed in a crisis pregnancy center giving birth at the age of 18.
The new edition, which went on sale July 2, leaves out some of the rougher details of Mallette’s life and features sidebars and discussions specifically designed to answer the questions she is often asked by her over 2 million followers on Twitter, many of whom call her mom.
Crediting specific people who became involved in her life, her Christian faith, and refusal to “give up” for her turnaround, Mallette knows something about being up against a wall and getting over it, something she is likely trying to impress upon Bieber.
On that subject, the conscious mom is careful about what she says having previously revealed her son asked her to “continue to respect his boundaries and my relationship with him.” But, inevitable prodding from interviewers along her promo tour has meant her overall view on the criticism of her son has come through the cracks in Mallette’s amiable wall.
On Tuesday, in the Fox and Friends studio, even before yesterday’s Bieber and Gomez reunion story, Mallette all but confirmed that ‘Jelena’ wasn’t dead in the water when she replied to an are they/aren’t they query, saying:
“It depends what day of the week it is. I can’t keep up.”
A day later on The View — the same day that TMZ’s video of Bieber dropping trou in a New York City nightclub’s kitchen and urinating into a mop bucket, before spraying a photo of Bill Clinton with cleaning fluid while yelling “F*** Bill Clinton!” sucked the oxygen out of the Internet — Mallette replied to a question from Barbara Walters on the advice she would give her son, saying:
“I don’t know, I just want to encourage him to stay grounded, and not give up,” adding, “I think all parents worry about their kids… I don’t necessarily agree with everything that he does, but we talk about things. I can’t really tell you all the thing we talk about, but I’m super proud of him [for] a lot of things he does that don’t make the headlines everyday.”
She was more explicit on Bravo’s Watch What Happens: Live hosted by Andy Cohen.
Addressing the widespread backlash but without talking about specific incidents, Mallette said:
“I definitely think he’s getting a bad rap, but I’m also not naive to think that my child is perfect and making all the best decisions of his life.”
She went on. “He knows what I disagree with, and he knows all the things I’m really proud of him for, too.”
“I mean, people don’t talk about all the great things he does every day. Every night before a show, he meets with Make-a-Wish kids. He goes to sick kids’ hospitals. He visits with them [and] takes his time. He gives back to charities.”
In fact, Bieber is on track to become the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s biggest musician wish granter at just 19.
In another interview that aired on Thursday evening on ET Canada, Pattie was also asked for her opinion on her son’s behavior.
“I just deal with whatever comes up, I think you would if your kid was off to college and making decisions. You just… I just talk to him, I call him.. and he knows what I think.”
During her interviews Pattie revealed Justin asked for space on his 18th birthday and requested that she allow him to tour alone, but also said she still speaks to him every day.
Mallette’s comments come in a week that has seen her son and his management team enter major damage limitation mode post TMZ’s footage. The pop star apologized personally to the ex-POTUS by phone and a Clinton aide has confirmed the former president accepted it.
In addition, following Bieber and some of his tour mates’ attendance at Chicago’s Bodi nightclub on Tuesday after his show at the city’s United Center, the club has been cited by police for admitting and knowingly having an underage person in the establishment and faces a fine of up to $1,000.
As questions about the company Bieber is keeping come to the fore, his friend rapper Lil Twist was stopped by police at around 03:30 am Thursday as he drove along a parkway leading to the gated Calabasas, CA neighborhood where the singer lives.
Lil Twist was driving Bieber’s Fisker Karma at the time. The 20-year-old is believed by Los Angeles authorities to have been driving under the influence of marijuana and was moving at between 60 to 70 mph in an area with a 30 mph speed limit because of construction. Following his arrest, bail was set at $5,000 for the misdemeanor offense.
It’s not known if Mallette knew of these latest events when she spoke to E! News recently.
“My son is not a public figure to me, he is my son,” she said, adding, “I can’t predict what’s going to be in the headlines. Justin has always been someone who has to do things his way. And I have to be able to believe he will do the right thing and he will come out on top.”
While that remains to be seen, it is perhaps worth noting that Mallette survived her early years and went on to raise a child and forge a successful career. Founder of the Round 2 Foundation, which is based on the idea that round one knocks a person down but round two is where they can pull it back together, Mallette is out in the trenches with teens sharing her story to provide hope.
In short, she is a testament to the fact that giving up on someone when they hit a rough patch — even if they are a millionaire pop star — isn’t something she advocates for anyone’s child let alone her own.
What are your views on Justin Bieber, is there cause for the international censure or his behavior blown out proportion because of his celebrity?