Questioning Young Celebrity Sweatshops
Is it just me or is there an increasing trend in prepubescent kids attempting to make their ways into the limelight these last couple of years? Take Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus for example: one is an attention seeking publicity whore who loves singing soprano and posing for the paparazzi; the other is the daughter of famous country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. Both started paving their roads to fame in their diaper days (in Justin’s case, his mother did all dirty paving) and both seem to be quite the hit amongst teenage girls and creepy old men. But aside from all the glamour, the bling, and the wild partying – are they truly the happy campers they claim to be? Can material possessions and five million Twitter followers make up for their lost adolescence? Historical progression is leaning towards “No”.
Look at Macaulay Culkin. He was a product of the much loved blockbuster film Home Alone, going on to star in its sequel and many others such as Richie Rich and voicing for Robot Chicken. But it wasn’t long before he started to burn out (at the age of 14) and saw his career blow up amidst drug arrests and “Jackson molestation” rumours.
It would take a few psychology degrees to figure out why we become so vested in the lives of celebrities and it would take an entire evolutionary cycle to stop the vesting.
Another child-star-turned-prison-inmate: Lindsay Lohan supposedly had a complete breakdown after prison wardens ripped out her false eyelashes and hair extensions at the start of her 90 day sentence. She was released after only 23 days of jail time. One of the many upsides of being a celebrity – you somehow get treated above the law and rehab centres light up in your presence.
Lindsay and Macaulay have by no mean, exhausted the list of “child stars gone awry”. Fame has its price and it is often exorbitant. Children are supposed to have a carefree childhood – one that isn’t tainted with societal pressures and constant media exposure. They are not supposed to be slaving away at a career that often degenerates into nothingness. They should not be so focused on being entertainers that they forget to be children. Of course, you do get the rare few who turn out all right, but they really are the exception that proves the rule.
One of the latest additions to the Hollywood scene is Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) who, at the not-so-ripe age of 12, already has a series of film credits under his name. Maybe he feels pressured by his high status A-listed parents to follow their footsteps; maybe he is just doing what he loves; maybe he’ll become another statistic. I will never know what goes on in the head of a celeb, but what I do know is that even they deserve some sort of normalcy. The way we (the collective) obsess over celebrities is definitely not healthy. More than that, it has far-reaching consequences that end up turning a perfectly sane person into one that would publicly shave off her golden locks (Britney reference in case anyone missed it).
It would take a few psychology degrees to figure out why we become so vested in the lives of celebrities and it would take an entire evolutionary cycle to stop the vesting. It is times like these that I wish parents of minor-celebrities would exert a firmer grip and keep on to their children a little bit longer, before they lose them all together.