We now live in a world where the names ‘One Direction’ and ‘Justin Bieber’ have become commodities, with the singers’ surges of adoring fans taking up the entire Twittersphere and solidifying their omnipresence in society. Flick on the telly-box and you’ll see eleven year-old Willow Smith gyrating, log onto Youtube and you’ll find Justin Bieber’s videos at the top of the ‘most viewed of all time’. But is this young star explosion getting too far out of hand?
Just recently it was revealed that Harry Styles of One Direction was forking out a whopping £15,000 for the insurance of his first car, a plush Range Rover. Not bad for a lad that only came onto our screens a meagre seven months ago. What with all the huge endorsements that One Direction have already racked up off the back of the X Factor the boys aren’t exactly struggling to make ends meet and, for them, life couldn’t be more blissful. But doesn’t it all seem a bit too much too young too fast?
The poster child for such concern filters from none other than hair-whipping Willow Smith. That an eleven year-old can even be dedicated to a ‘career’ that reaches beyond hair-plaiting is nothing short of frightening and her new music video featuring Nicki Minaj entitled ‘Fireball’ is just another worrying factor. After initially playing the video, one does begin to wonder what must’ve going through Smith’s head as she danced Beyonce-style moves to her own primary schooler’s voice. Of course, with all the bags of talent that she has so effortlessly, the world should have a right to know, but when it becomes so much of a money-making machine it does begin to get a little heart-breaking.
Justin Bieber is another ready-made young star that, even only at the tender age of seventeen, he’s gaining veteran-like status after only two years in the spotlight. Bieber has been the undoubted ‘boy of the moment’ with his flickable locks and baby-faced charm, but with a nail polish, fragrance and his range of Justin Bieber toys at justinbiebertoys.com (no, I am not joking) already ticked off his to-do list, his success does seem rather unnatural for a boy of his age.
Growing up too fast is something I’m sure most adults regret in some way or another, and it seems like these teens haven’t really got the memo. Take Styles’ recent relationship with Xtra Factor presenter, Caroline Flack. With their fifteen-year age gap it’s not hard to notice how the need to grow up became something of a new game to play with rather than reality. This chunk of Harry’s life pretty much confirms how the discrimination between fame and the real world becomes so hazy that it eliminates a person from everything they came to know before.
The connection with Styles’ evaluated ego of bagging himself a successful and glamorous 30-something presenter, his haphazard splurge on a luxury Rover, and the sheer unwavering adoration of One Direction fans from the UK and now even the US all seem to go hand in hand. This is a pattern that we have nervously witnessed before; a scenario of kids being thrust into the spotlight too soon with their eyes shut and the brutal need to grow up overnight.
There are indeed other Pop Tart size stars that are sure to be a hit in 2012, along with the afore mentioned Bieber and Co., Cody Simpson, aged fifteen, and Greyson Chance, aged fourteen, are already making a name for themselves in the States. The Twittersphere even proclaimed that 2012 was ‘Cody’s year’, whilst flatteringly being globally known by the industry as ‘the new Justin Bieber’. For me, this ‘out with the old, in with the new’ business just screams ‘child producing money making machine’ in itself. The industry is too happy to wash their hands of current child-stars as long as it means more dollar in their back pocket. Surely the kids should be given some level of respect? If they’re not being discarded like sour milk they’re damaging themselves with inflated egos and wealth that continually fails to nourish, something that the likes of child-stars Britney Spears and Demi Lovato have had to publicly bear the consequences of.
Demi’s struggle with bulimia and self-harming stemmed from never feeling good enough in this dog-eat-dog media industry that she had to realise wouldn’t catch her when she fell. It seems unfathomable that these kids in the pipe-line, who are unaware of their complacency and the consequences of their commitment, probably aren’t even slightly aware of how the industry that made them are just as likely to push them over the edge, and that, unfortunately, is the most harrowing fact of all.
Images courtesy of: smtdaily.com; sodahead.com.