Friday, April 20, 2018

30 Days of De-Objectification: Teen Idols

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Photoshop creation by The Real Cie

30 Days of De-Objectification:
Teen Idols

It’s hard to think of instances where being a teen idol helped a performer without harming them in some way. I can think of far more instances where “teen idol” status was destructive and, in some cases, deadly for those upon whom it was bestowed.
It is the nature of young people to be hopeful and eager to please. These qualities render them easily victimized by unscrupulous individuals who, in fact, care nothing about their well-being.
People who were child stars and/or teen idols either depart show business entirely once their heyday is over, or they spiral down. It is unfortunate that the public tends to laugh at the misfortune of these fallen stars rather than to feel sympathy for them. Schadenfraude is ugly.
Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple people who came away from child or teen stardom unscathed. The first is Shirley Temple. She left show business.
The second is Shaun Cassidy. Shaun saw what the star-maker machine did to his older brother David, and he didn’t take his own teen idol status terribly seriously. In one interview, he revealed that he always preferred being behind the camera to being in front of it. Shaun’s sensible approach as well as support and guidance from David and his mother, Shirley Jones, helped ensure that he came through the teen idol experience unscathed.
Unlike Shaun, David’s life was troubled. He never enjoyed the pretty boy pop star persona created by his management team. Backstage, he would often play songs like “Voodoo Child.” He was interested in performing harder rock music, but, thanks to his teen idol status, he was never taken seriously as a musician. Throughout his life, David struggled with addiction and had trouble maintaining relationships.
“The Two Coreys” are another example of the destructive nature of the way child and teen stars are treated. Corey Feldman is alive, but he is hardly unscathed. He realizes that he is the butt of jokes. He has stated that he doesn’t consider the assaults he endured (groping and lewd suggestions) to be as severe as those endured by his late friend, Corey Haim, who was raped.
Corey Feldman is a sweet if somewhat eccentric personality. It would be shameful to ridicule him in any case, but, considering the abuses and losses he’s endured, it is doubly so.
Brittney Spears is thriving at this point in her life, but that wasn’t always the case. Exploited at a young age, the pressure to maintain a “sexy” persona and flawless physique eventually caused her to have a psychological breakdown. Fortunately, Brittney received positive support and is doing well. I applaud her for publishing the unretouched photos from the Candies shoe campaign she modeled for. I’m glad she’s still here.
When I see someone like Justin Bieber acting out, I may feel on one hand that he’s making himself look foolish, but, on the other hand, I understand why he is behaving as he is. A lot of pressure is put on people like Justin to be the image that was created for them. People want Justin Bieber to continue to be the cute, mop-topped teenager that he was when he was discovered, even though he is now in his mid-twenties.
It is one thing to expect people to behave civilly. It is another to ridicule people, set them up for failure, and then expect them to behave normally. Someone like Justin Bieber hasn’t had a normal existence in a long time.
As the late Carrie Fisher said, youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they are accidents of time and DNA. It is high time that society ceased behaving as if youth and beauty are the highest of accomplishments. Beauty is subjective, and youth always fades, unless a life ends prematurely.
We need to be kinder to one another as a whole, and we need to stop perpetuating the attitude of exploiting and burning out teen and child performers.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

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