Having children that range from 4 to 13, there are times I watch the Disney Channel. I love the cartoons (Phineas and Ferb!) but not a fan of their sitcoms. Aside from the bad writing, lame jokes, lack of good parental role models, and the laugh track (which I only appreciate because it lets me know when they were trying to be funny,) the thing that bugs me the most about these shows is that I wonder what will happen to these “child stars” when they get older.
The track record is not good. Let’s turn the wayback machine to 1981 when an adorable Drew Barrymore (6 years old) helped her brother with the E.T. in his closet. She was smoking cigarettes by the age of 9, drinking by the age of 11, smoking pot by 12 and snorting cocaine by 13.
Miley Cyrus got a lot of publicity after she turned 18 and became overtly sexual with her outfits and lyrics.
Do I need to go into details about Britney Spears and Linsdey Lohan?
Most recently, Demi Lovato (Disney star of Rock Camp and “Sonny with a Chance”) has come out of rehab for drug addiction and shared with the press that she still struggles with self-injuring. She’s 19.
And it’s not just the girls who are at risk. Macaulay Culkin, star of the classic Home Alone movies, was just ten when those started. He’s been mostly silent about his personal life during his teenage years, though he was arrested for drug possession when he was 24. Haley Joel Osment (when he was 18) flipped his car because he was driving under the influence and also possessed drugs. Daniel Radcliffe reciently confessed that as a teen he regularly came to the Harry Potter set drunk.
Kids and fame don’t mix. We all know that TV and movie sets are not a healthy place for them, but we have more “child entertainers” now than ever before.
Is anybody doing anything to stop this?
Is there anything we can do to stop this?
It is easy to shake our heads when former child stars end up on the cover of People magazine because of one scandal or another, but aren’t we also at fault? It’s not as though this surprises us anymore. Here’s the obvious truth: The more famous a child becomes, the more likely they will get involved in dangerous and unhealthy behaviors that could even lead to their deaths (like River Phoenix.)
Sadly, I don’t have a conclusion to this blog. It’s more of a lament. I see children in danger and an economy and society that encourages their destruction.
If you think about it, it’s not unlike the Hunger Games. So perhaps Peeta offers us the best advice: “If no one watches, then they don’t have a game.”
What about you? Any thoughts?