The actress Jessica Biel has a wild new role opposite a frightening new leading man. Yesterday, it was revealed that Biel, the star of television’s 7th Heaven, a bevy of meh movies, and Easy Virtue, which was underrated, is now tackling her least challenging role to date, playing an anti-vax celebrity mom taken in by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who co-stars as a public health hazard. Unfortunately, Biel’s performance may be her worst to date. But the only real way to make that judgment is to compare it to her turn in the gay-panic flick I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, in which she featured as a romantic interest, albeit without putting children’s lives in danger.
The parallels between Biel’s current performance and her role in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry are pretty startling. In Chuck and Larry Beil plays a presumably smart, but ultimately clueless lawyer Alex McDonough. Beil’s current role as a politician-lobbying celebrity mom mirrors her turn as McDonough in that both characters were largely played as eye-candy to distract from the idiocy of the plot. In Chuck and Larry, Beil spends some decent screentime being oogled by Adam Sandler as she wears a bra and panties and, later, a tight leather catsuit. Similarly, at the California statehouse, Beil was pictured standing awkwardly beside grinning politicians, drooling over her star power and white-bread good looks.
That said, Biel’s character in Chuck and Larry is at least unwittingly duped by fraudsters Adam Sandler and Kevin James camping it up in pink-face as gay lovers. But in her current role, Biel appears all too conscious of position. As she stands beside Kennedy, it’s clear she is not lobbying because she has been seduced by a science-denying charlatan, but because she actually wants to be there.
The announcement of the actresses new role came as Biel and Kennedy promoted their horror show at the California State Assembly and State Senate. Biel, decked out in drapery-inspired, cream-colored frock and white business jacket, was pictured posing dutifully beside California lawmakers as she and Kennedy, wearing a suit he presumably borrowed from a more functional member of his extended family, were in Sacramento to lobby against State Bill 276, a piece of legislation is meant to make kids safer by increasing oversight in medical vaccine exemptions.
The sponsors of SB 276 say it’s necessary. Personal exemptions were outlawed in California in 2012. And since medical exemptions have become the only out for California anti-vax parents a medical black market has emerged. It seems California doctors have been fraudulently issuing medical vaccine exemptions to kids who have no medical reason to opt out. Importantly, this puts children with a legitimate reason to opt out (like having Luekimia) at significant risk. The fraudulent exemptions not only weaken herd immunity, but they also increase the likelihood that sick and at-risk kids could be exposed to measles, which is a life-threatening virus.
Kennedy has lauded Biel’s performance as brave. And it is. It’s rare that a Hollywood star wilfully and willingly takes on a role that makes them look this stupid. The last actress to show such “bravery” was Jenny McCarthy, who, to be fair, suffered minimal consequences for her work on behalf of Big Measles.
Now, let’s earnestly consider whether Biel’s role as an anti-vaxxer will age better or worse than her role in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. There are three salient points that need to be brought to bear.
- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry sucked.
- Anti-Vax activism sucks.
- I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry didn’t spread preventable disease.
So, yeah, Biel will probably be least fondly remembered for her role as an anti-vaxxer. She’s probably a nice person and well meaning and all that, but history will not be kind to her ill-informed activism.
The open question now is whether or not Biel’s behavior will taint husband Justin Timberlake’s world-conquering personal brand. He brought sexy back. Is typhus next?