Fame, Entertainment Media, and Children: The Connection?

17 Sep

famous-on-youtube

Children are people who range between the ages of 1 to 17. This is the age most influenced by entertainment. They are also more influential when it comes to entertainment too. The largest consumer demographic consists of children. Those of school age rely on television, music, and fashion to express themselves, and at the same time, rely on it to tell them about the world, as well as provide answers as to how to fit in their social groups. Businesses are quite aware of the power of children. Many famous stars today rose to fame by supporting children’s networks, programs, and other entertainment outlets. If most celebrities were to observe their large following, they would see that the vast majority of fans range from tween to teen.

Children today are exposed to entertainment now more than they’ve ever been. With technology, and internet access, children can find any entertainment they want-as well, as influence what’s trendy and popular today. Blogging and voting polls give children the power to use their “voice” to influence what’s trendy and what’s not. Networks are even airing Kids and Teens Choice Awards because the voice of teens are so powerful today.

The VMAs 2013 were obviously heavily influenced by kids. For over half the nominees, many of them were Disney Channel stars. To add, I could have sworn One Direction was nominated for almost every section…many of those supporting them being from the tween audience.

With children being so exposed to entertainment today, it’s easy to see how it can take over a mind as vulnerable as a child’s. Messages sent through these mediums shape a child’s life. At the same time, entertainment can tell us a lot about children’s mind-set today, as entertainment is really a reflection of the minds of the children and what’s cool to them, right?

Well, as I flip through children’s channels, purchase toys, and read children’s books, I notice that one theme is particularly strong among youth today: Fame. Particularly vulnerable to this are girls.

What is Entertainment Encouraging Our Children to Do?

Disney Channel, a children’s network that gets millions of views from kids everyday, encourages kids to follow “their dreams” through shows like Austin and Ally, A.N.T. Farm , and Hannah Montana. “Following One’s Dream” often involves being a singer, dancer, actress, or fashion designer. But not just any singer, dancer, actress, or fashion designer. A famous one. They also encourage children to even try all of them at once and become an “idol”.

Toys like Bratz often express themselves through fashion, music, and acting. All of the characters in the line strive to be famous at whatever they reach for. Even American Girl’s Girl of the Year Movie, Saige Paints the Sky, couldn’t resist adding music to it’s final scene.

With the rise of Youtube celebrities, ordinary kids realize how easy it is to get famous in today’s society: do something funny, controversial, or sing a catchy song.

Just about every role model for kids today are in the music industry. Children today want to imitate them, and they are told that it’s okay, that there’s nothing wrong with doing something “you love”. And just about every tween walking “loves” to be famous.

The USA is most influenced by entertainment. Test scores in this country have plummeted as compared to several years ago: and they didn’t even have the same technology! http://4brevard.com/choice/international-test-scores.htm

Is it because children spend too much time on entertainment? Or is it that too many children see a future in entertainment, and see no future in education? Especially because anyone can begin a career in these fields these days-even children as young as 5!

That’s the real question: Do children feel they have any other options in the world besides being a singer, model, fashion designer, dancer, or actor/actress? Or maybe a famous sports star?

Why don’t these networks and toy companies, those who have the power to influence children, utilize it to encourage children to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts?

It says something when the number one most searched topic on the internet was Miley Cyrus…while the USA was bubbling over about the Syrian War happening overseas. Are we too concerned with celebrity status, and do we encourage our children to become over-involved with fame?

Fame and it’s Controversies

There’s nothing wrong with singing, dancing, acting, or any performing arts. What could be a problem is fame. Sure, everyone wants respect, to be recognized, to be worshiped to a certain degree…but is that self-entitled behavior something we should encourage in children?

To add, the world of fame hasn’t proven to be too kind to humans. It especially hasn’t been kind to children. Children don’t often realize the reality of the world of “Fame”. People who are famous are popular, but they have no privacy. They have all the money, and yet many children are exposed to “all that money can buy”, including drugs. This gives them nothing to work for. This also makes life meaningless. When you’ve tried everything, what’s left? This can also lead to arrogant behavior.

To add, it’s hard to keep friends, or find love interests. You just can’t tell who loves you for you. Tons of fans…but no one who truly understands you or allows you to be you. Then you have to worry about family members begging you for money all the time.

Many people love you as long as you keep making movies, music, or books, but as soon as you plummet…usually, no one is left to help you pick up the pieces. Celebrities get old quickly, and there’s always a fresh new face to replace the old, especially when you really aren’t original. Justin Bieber is a prime example. Austin Mahone is an easy replacement. One Direction took over the Bieber craze. And Bieber took over the Jonas Brother craze. The cycle keeps moving, and sales fall in the hands of the freshest face. Generations grow up, and new kids arrive to claim what’s “trendy”. Many celebrities end up bankrupt.

While it seems they can do whatever they want, celebrities are constantly criticized for things that normal people get away with (like twerking at a party). Many get called ugly, stupid, boring, untalented, sell-outs, and many other negative comments. Professional critics and journalists are always watching you, waiting for you to mess up. Celebrities have to try and ignore all of this negativity because this was their choice. There is no room for mistakes. You almost have to be perfect, and walk on egg shells everywhere you go. Everywhere you go, you have to care what everyone thinks and feels and cater to them because everyone is a potential customer. As this is impossible, celebrities often end up offending somebody.

Many journalists print lies about celebrities, or exaggerate events. You have to watch everything you say. When people offend you, you have to show the utmost self-control. You can’t get angry like other normal people. It’s almost controversial to cry-people in the comments section might call you weak or a wimp, especially if you’re a guy. You’re forced to bottle everything up. No wonder so many celebrities are on depression pills!

Few get enough time to spend with friends or family. They are constantly traveling and working odd hours. When they get married, it’s hard to spend time with children or spouse. They are constantly tired.

They also have to watch what they eat and watch their weight. If they don’t, people will talk about them, and their business will be splashed all over the news. And acting as if others’ opinions don’t matter can be threatening to their career because every fan or potential fan counts if they plan on making money.

They travel so often, they often get jetlag. They are always in the air or on a bus.

Many feel they are trapped. Once you get famous, there is no turning back. Many who lose money, or decide that this “world” isn’t for them, can’t go find normal jobs because paparazzi will humiliate them and their “downgrade”. And many times, they buy expensive things, and end up owing money. Jobs with lower wages can’t compensate for what they’ve lost. While many celebrities get sponsored, and get many free things, when they lose popularity, many of these companies expect to be paid back every cent.

Celebrities are stuck with one reputation, and often times, it’s hard for them to try and change. People expect consistency, and as change is inevitable, this isn’t possible. Many celebrities change in a way that’s more appealing, but many change in a way that isn’t so likable.

Many celebrities begin by being what their manager or producer makes them like Britney Spears and BoA Kwon, who were too young to know exactly what they wanted. When they got older, they both tried to express themselves more. This was hard for fans to adjust to, and it caused issues in their music sales for a moment until fans could be more comfortable with their new images.

To add, so many people want the same “dream”. Competition is high. And so many talent-less people often outshine the more talented. A talented actress could be overlooked by a prettier one. A wild singer (like Miley Cyrus) could get more airplay than a talented one (Ariana Grande). The world of fame isn’t always fair, like many of these shows teach children. Sometimes, you can be following the same dream for years…

Do we really want to train up our children to enter into a world where it might not guarantee happiness or TRUE fulfillment?

Why can’t we teach children that fulfillment could come from doing things for others, from service, from contributing to humanity and making a TRUE difference? Being a scientist, astronaut, banker, and other important careers can help children understand the value in service, hard work, education, innovation, and many other up-building qualities.

Fame Can Be Good, if for the Right Reasons

What happened to the days when people used to become famous celebrities because they made a difference in the world? Amelia Earhart became famous for being the first woman to fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean. Mae Jemison was one of the first women, African American at that, to fly into space. The Wright Brothers flew the first plane. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Martin Luther King led the march for civil rights. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. These people aren’t just famous, they are historical figures and role models. Because of them, many things are possible. They have a legacy that can’t ever be erased, unlike these famous “singers” who will easily be replaced by the newest, more entertaining face, no one can ever replace those historical figures. Those people deserved fame, and no one will mar their names because their personal life matters little to what they’ve accomplished.

So I conclude by saying that while there’s nothing wrong with the performing arts, using the performing arts to get famous is taking over the minds of children, and even some adults. Not enough children see the value in doing important things in the world anymore. It’s especially obvious that women are more consumers than inventors in the 21st Century. Many women aren’t making a difference in technology, science, or business…or few are getting recognized for it. Obviously, they get recognized in music because it’s a profession where a woman can shake her body and show off how beautiful she is. It shows that women still only get respect if they stay in professions that make them look good.

Even in the 21st Century, no one is trying to encourage children to truly bring in the future…without bringing entertainment with it. Entertainment is only for escape, but many businesses contribute to everyday functions of human beings in our “reality”. I feel that entertainment should tell the truth about fame, and try to encourage children to try many different things. I also feel they should encourage children to use the performing arts as a means of expression, not as a cheap way to get fame, glory, and respect.

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