Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sympathy for the Devils We Created: Being a Teen Idol Sucks

As fate would have it, I found this 45-ish-year-old photo not long after watching a documentary on the Partridge Family and was reminded that in AC/DC's early days, the P.R. team attempted to make Malcolm Young into a working-class answer to David Cassidy due to his similar physical appearance to the most famous teen idol of the day.

Unlike David Cassidy, Malcolm Young was not an actor or a model, and his facial expressions tended to telegraph the fact that he felt silly about the sexy poses the photographers wanted him to strike. 

Fortunately for Malcolm, Bon Scott, who had already done his time on the bubblegum scene as a member of the Valentines, was having none of the attempts to make the fledgling band into the next teen dream. 

Bon had an evident aversion to wearing shirts onstage. Malcolm's brother Angus took things one step further and started doing literal strip-teases during AC/DC's performances.

Thanks to his brother's exhibitionistic tendencies and Bon's refusal to abide bullshit, Malcolm was able to put his shirt back on and concentrate on playing the guitar rather than trying to make himself appear to be some sort of sex symbol.

Meanwhile, David Cassidy became so sick of his pop star image that he rebelled by posing nude with strategically placed potted plants in front of his manly bits. David said in one interview that it took him about twenty years to finally "come on, get happy" after the Partridge Family was over. The experience of being a teen idol was psychologically damaging for him.

I wrote a poem honoring k-pop star Kim Jong-Hyun of the band Shinee following his suicide at age 27. Jong-Hyun's sister told reporters that her brother was a sensitive personality who was unable to cope with the demands placed on him to appear and act a certain way at all times.

So, the next time you wonder why Justin Bieber started acting out, people who have been put under a microscope and are having every one of their actions analyzed tend to become defensive and lash out at their detractors. Fortunately for Justin, he seems to have aged out of being a teen idol and may be able to live the rest of his life in relative peace.
Hopefully, Justin will dodge the substance abuse which prematurely ended Bon Scott's life, will manage to avoid the severe depression which led Kim Jong-Hyun to suicide, and will never develop dementia as both David Cassidy and Malcolm Young did. I have nothing against the guy, and if he ever finds himself unable to figure out what to do with his surplus money, he can send some to me and I'll be both his bodyguard and his long-lost pal.
From my vantage point, I think we'd all be better off if the star-maker machine were to crash and burn. Celebrity worship is destructive and benefits no-one but the sleazeballs making money by exploiting both rising and falling stars and selling them as commodities to desperate people seeking a hero who can at least temporarily lift them out of their unhappy existence.


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