We live in the days of wayward celebrity youth. They're in and out of rehab, being booked for a DUI, or making videos that could double as soft core porn. These kids are not yet out of their teens, but their behaviour is wildly out of control.
It saddens me that we condemn the behaviour of these young stars when it's our society that's to blame. Our over-idealization of them has caused them to lose their way so that all they can do is behave outrageously.
It's always the same story: a talented youngster is discovered. The young person is quickly swept up in a stream of intense attention, admiration and catering to their every desire.
The young person whose personality is still unformed can't help but be adversely affected by this overwhelming experience of adoration and over-indulgence.
Famous adults also lose their way. We see examples of this in the media on a daily basis. It's not surprising that if the adult ego is vulnerable to the assault of celebrity, young people will be even more susceptible to the pitfalls of sudden, intense fame.
The teen-aged star is in the unique position of being the object of adoration by a group known for its near-insane reactions to their idols: tween girls. These tweens shower affection on the young star, on-line and in-person, inflating the young star's ego until they believe all the hype.
The media and corporations fan the flames of this adoration, profiting on images and products associated with these young stars. To make things worse, the entourage that's supposed to support and protect the young star, in fact colludes with their every self-indulgent or self-destructive whim.
Youth is a time of narcissism and spoiled youth who lack all guidance become the ultimate narcissists. It's no wonder that the young celebrity begins to feel invincible and above the law. Instead of helping them grow into mature, responsible adults, the people in their life are creating an obnoxious brat.
Deprived of the benefits and the structures of a normal youth, the young celebrity becomes disconnected from day-to-day reality and focused on pleasure over personal development. He or she begins to see the world as their playground, and people as their playthings.
Often, their art can suffer as the true personality and talent of the young individual is obscured by their self-destructive lifestyle and the constant flattery they're receiving. It becomes harder and harder to have a critical eye toward their work or even to be motivated to create.
Eventually, the sales of their music or the attendance at their films or concert tours could begin to suffer and suddenly, the people who were flattering them are now abandoning them, causing them to feel betrayed and enraged. Sadly, this usually just causes them to act out further.
People who try to help the young person get back on track are either separated from the star by the greedy enablers, or the young person has become so grandiose that they reject any wise advice they might receive.
Unfortunately, the public who adores these young people is as quick to censure them as they were to put them on a pedestal. The masses are exceedingly fickle. A young star will be idolized one day and reviled the next, when his behaviour inevitably spins out of control.
The young celebrity often can't reconcile the contradiction and this could lead to a mental breakdown, even suicidal behaviour. At worst, they'll be hospitalized; at best, they'll continue their hedonistic ways.
We're responsible for creating the monster that is the young celebrity. We spoil them rotten and then are outraged when they become arrogant brats. We're disgusted when the young star flaunts their over-entitlement and defies authority, but we don't see how we've made this happen.
We as a society need to acknowledge our role in the making and then breaking down of young celebrities. We're dangerously ignorant of the effects that constant adoration, enabling and exploitation have on a young star.
We need to see that it's not their fault that they're spoiled brats. Between the fans who treat them like deities, the companies who profit by exaggerating their value and the flunkies who benefit by pandering to them, these kids are doomed to lose sight of who they are, what they want and what really matters.
The cult of celebrity, especially when it comes to our youth, has very contradictory rules. It says, "We'll love you, indulge you and tolerate your misbehaviour, but only up to a point. Then, when we're fed up with your bad attitude and your acting out, we'll turn on you as intensely as we once adored you."
I pity the young celebrity of today. For too many of them there's only one place to go, and that's down.