Celebrity culture has worsened in recent years, especially after social media has encouraged us to stalk our favourite celeb’s every move and never allow them to make mistakes. Take Justin Bieber, one of the biggest teen stars of the moment. Recently he has been seen as going ‘off the rails’- but can we really blame him? His intense stardom has brought him nothing but scrutiny and millions of screaming girls. As much as others would say it’s a good life, it must be pretty daunting to face that kind of attention on a daily basis, particularly at such a young age.
Imagine walking onto campus with every single person staring at you on the way there. They’re pointing, whispering, “could it really be you?” Perhaps you’re running late, or didn’t sleep well last night, or just seriously not in the mood. It doesn’t matter. Everyone stops you for a photograph, an autograph. This happens to you every single day. You can’t escape in real life, and online it’s probably worse. You get so many tweets that you could never possibly read them all and try to have a life as well. And to top that off you have seriously damaging trends about you. Remember the horror of #cutforbieber?
Any of this would be difficult enough for an adult star to handle, but imagine being thrust into the limelight as a teenager or youngster and being forced into this kind of lifestyle. Photographers and the media always invading your personal space and everything you do is being judged. It’s only natural that many would snap under this kind of intense pressure. Choosing to be a musician or actor comes at a huge cost these days, and it seems that young celebrities really are paying the price.
Miley Cyrus is a recent example of a child star that has emerged into the media and reinvented her image. She has people everywhere talking about her, from her raunchy outfits to her hammer-licking ways. Her sexualisation becomes shocking because she is young and because we have grown up watching her as Hannah Montana. Just because Miley has reinvented herself in this way does it really mean that she is going off the rails?
Selena Gomez recently admitted that she took a stint in rehab, following on from an admission from Demi Lovato who has been incredibly open about her eating disorder and experience in rehab. Why are so many young adults struggling with stardom so much? Justin Bieber is now facing a DUI and was surrounded by controversy after he attempted to punch a photographer in 2013. Why is it that we scrutinise child stars so much more than adults? Is it really only because we have seen them growing up on television and it just seems so wrong that Hannah Montana, or Mitchie from Camp Rock could possibly be acting so adult?
The issue arises when these child stars, especially the Disney protégées, attempt to move away from their image as sweet and innocent, and to be taken seriously as adult stars. Selena starred in Harmony Korine’s 2013 film Spring Breakers, attempting to play a very different character to that of her real life persona and so change her media image. The problem, then, is that instead of easing themselves into an adult career these teenagers go to extreme lengths to show themselves as being the complete opposite of what they once were.
With a media and society like ours, how can we possibly have any hope for teenage stars? Many of them seem to turn to drink and drugs, an outlet that offers them the only real escape. Rather than spending so much time judging these kids, they should be helped and it’s a positive thing that so many of them are openly admitting their stints at rehab. Child star Drew Barrymore was addicted to cocaine at the tender age of 13 but she has come out of it on the other side and is now regarded as a great actress. However, that was in 1989, and, of course, 2014 is a very different era for celebrity culture. These teenagers have little choice but to indulge too much in the dark side of the industry to be able to cope with the intense pressure and media scrutiny they face on a daily basis.