Child Acting: A Corruption Act

By: Jadey Macdonald

We all had our favorite Disney or Nickelodeon shows when we were younger. Each day we came home from school and plopped down on the couch, after all of our homework got done of course, and flipped to our beloved Disney shows. Personally, the innocent actors would awe me and I would sit there hoping one day I could grow up to be as cool and put-together as Carly Shay, Alex Russo, Miley Stewart, Zack and Cody Martin, or Lizzy McGuire.

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Now that we are all grown up, the real question is not if I have achieved my aspirations, but what have these characters and actors become and what are they up to now? I noticed that coincidentally, shortly after one of my favorite shows got cancelled, I saw Hannah Montana, Alex Russo and Lizzy McGuire on the big screen as Miley, Selena and Hilary. Not only did they get their big break, but also they were now singing and doing anything to bring in the fame and money. This pattern happens frequently with child actors, especially in regards to Disney and Nickelodeon. It made me start to question their true intentions. Were these actors fulfilling their true passion as they claimed in interviews, or just blindly following the lime light like moths to a flame?

Many of these actors began their acting careers early. So early, they may not have had too much influence in their inevitable career path. Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato starred on Barney when they were only 9. Dylan and Cole Sprouse starred in their first movie, Big Daddy, when they were only one year old! The iconic Lindsay Lohan began her modeling career at age 3 and her acting career at age 9. I don’t know about you, but when I was 9, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life and definitely did not have the capability to decide that for myself. How much did these big stars want the lives their parents wanted for them?

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Tamera Mowrey says she had to “miss out on a lot of things” including her prom during her high school years. It is hard for teenagers, tweens and even little kids to have a full-time career while trying to balance schoolwork; this combination introduces too much stress into a child’s life. Excessive stress, money and fame remove a developing child that still has a lot to learn from reality. When this child grows up, he or she does not know the value of money and has a tough time conceptualizing the fact that their entire life has revolved around their next gig. This confusion of self-identity and what is important in life mixed with what seems to be endless money will lead to the inevitable self-implosion of many of these child stars. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/08/06/child-star-issues/2609493/

Here are some examples of child stars gone bad and some reasons behind the transition.

The main child star that everyone thinks of is Lindsay Lohan. Her life seemed so put together: A successful singer, actor and model. Now, you can see Ms. Lohan one the screen in an orange jump suit and cuffs. She has been charged with many counts of drug possession and has checked in and out of rehabilitation centers frequently. Amanda Bynes is another recent victim of the corrupt child star complex. She was caught driving drunk a few times and gave belligerent defensive responses. Miley Cyrus seems to be purposefully making a scene in the headlines to gain attention, whether it is good or bad. Her style is now a little more ‘edgy’, including attire that shows off much of what she has to offer and a wild, bleached hairstyle, leaving very little to the imagination. Many paint her in a negative light and as a bad role model now. Britney Spears went through a crisis after years in the spotlight as a well-known singer and actor. She had her rounds with drugs and even shaved her head. Many teens go through a ‘rebellious stage,’ but it seems as though this stage for these actresses and singers was a little more severe and under a magnifying glass for all of the public to scrutinize.

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The main issue with all of these stars-gone-bad is not only for their own health and safety, but also for the many boys and girls who have looked up to them and grown up with them through the years. Many youngsters that are obsessed with these stars currently look up to them and subconsciously model their behavior after them. It is hard to break this idolization as soon as a star turns sour. When this happens, the enamored child or adolescent will believe that since the amazing Amanda Bynes did it, why can’t I? This same thought went through every child’s mind when they saw Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMA’s, and now we have mass amounts of child twerkers amongst us.

All hope is not lost, there are still a few stars that have sucked up as much fame as possible and are doing better than expected. Despite bumping uglies with our fellow belligerent Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez (originally Alex Russo to me) has a successful acting and music career. Although Hilary Duff (Lizzy McGuire) is a little less well known, she had a good run in movies and even released her own album, creating a foundation for a music career. Miranda Cosgrove has always been pretty tame, but she is doing well and threw out a few songs as well. It may be a matter of time before we see these celebrities go downhill, but as of right now, it is the last sliver of hope we have left for future childhood actors. Check out this link if you want to restore hope for these youngins: http://www.buzzfeed.com/nataliemorin/disney-channel-stars-who-managed-to-keep-it-together#.pvEQroG2q

I personally believe it is unfair for youngsters to be robbed of their childhood just for fame and fortune. Possible acting careers are undoubtedly in the parents’ control. Many times it costs money and time to arrange gigs, and only the affluent and dedicated will achieve this goal. Miley Cyrus came from a family of fame, with her father being a well-known country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus. It becomes more difficult to get into acting the older you get. With the way parents are leading their kids into acting at such a young age, the children who are truly passionate about acting do not have the means to achieve their dream.

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Although much good (money, a solid career and fame) comes from success at a young age, overall I feel as though child acting has a negative effect on the actor. Although we all aspire to be as successful and rich as these kids one day, it is easy to look only at the positives. The amount of pressure and stress these kids have to deal with, while knowing that a whole show and career of others is riding on them would push anyone to their limits. These children should be removed from the lime light for a while and experience the life of a normal child, so they do not feel as though they have missed out on anything once they are older. I feel as though these kids need to have more of a say in their career, and definitely experience life in and out of the spotlight. Acting for children should also be more accessible to those who do not have the money, publicity and connections that child stars like Miley Cyrus had.

2 thoughts on “Child Acting: A Corruption Act

  1. Your topic is very interesting and I think you made a really convincing argument! A suggestion I would give to make your article easier to read would be to use subheadings to divide the text; however, you did a nice job of incorporating lots of pictures into your post to make it more visually interesting. A question I had after reading your post: Why do you think it is that some child stars completely fall off the wagon (like Lindsay Lohan), while others have gone on to be more or less completely normal (Hilary Duff)?

    Overall, it’s a very well-written and engaging post!

  2. I really liked your article! You stayed very engaged with your readers and provided a lot of different examples (using different celebrities) of the points that you wanted to make. One thing that I would suggest, however, is putting captions beneath all of the pictures that you used – at some points, it was confusing for me to try and figure out why you had included certain pictures, or who the pictures featured, and captions could definitely solve that problem. One question I have for you is: how much of the bad behavior of child stars stems from their parents’ decisions to put them in the spotlight? You touched on this idea briefly, but I’m curious to find out more about the effects of parents on child stars.

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