Life TV & Movies

The negative impact fame has on child stars

The enormous pressure, drinking or drugs and other issues that fame brings up can cause serious problems and even ruin people’s lives. Daniel Radcliffe was one who had a lucky outcome, however others like Macaulay Culkin and Lindsay Lohan haven't been as fortunate.

Daniel Radcliffe recently discussed his days as a young star who drank to excess. While starring as Harry Potter he was drinking daily and going to the set drunk. He said fame brought with it pressures including the expectations to live up to an image he “had in his head about what it means to be a famous actor” and to “always appear in a good mood.” He used alcohol as a coping mechanism and this led his drinking to spiral out of control. He even admitted you could see he was “dead behind the eyes” in certain scenes.

Fame has its perks and might seem attractive at first, however most people don’t see the negative side. It often takes child stars down paths that lead to substance abuse, criminal charges or jail time. Peer pressure, whether we believe it or not, can also play a big role in ruining the life of someone famous.

Sophie Turner, Sansa Stark in ‘Game of thronesopened up to a podcast about how she was “overwhelmed by her sudden fame, and even considered suicide as a result.” The pressures of fame proved to be a heavy burden when she became fixated on the criticism she received from trolls, who called her “fat” and “a bad actress.” She believed them and became very self conscious. As the depression developed, she “had no motivation to do anything” and even experienced suicidal thoughts.

From an insider’s perspective, Mara Wilson believes crimes and breakdowns often happen when child stars reach their late teens and even well into their 20s. This is evident in the lives of Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes, who both struggled with drug use and alcohol. In 2007, Lindsay Lohan was arrested twice for being in possession of cocaine and it just went downhill from there. Up until 2012, she was sent to five rehab facilities, appeared in court 20 times and was charged for grand theft, possession of drugs and driving under the influence. Amanda Bynes claims to be “doing amazing”, however her strange behaviours definitely do not match up with her own assessments. She has been charged with two counts of hit-and-runs, and claimed she doesn’t drink and drive however refused to take a breathalyzer or drug test on the scene. She contradicted her own words through dramatically changing her appearance, being arrested for criminal possession of marijuana, tampering with evidence, and reckless endangerment.

Typically, stars starting at a very young age lose their chance at being a kid. Sometimes kids are forced into fame and are required to grow up really fast. While children are young, parents make the decisions their behalf, often leading them into a childhood with undue pressures. An actors general work day is 12 hours but tends to run late which takes away from the time they should spend playing and being a kid. Because they are deprived of their childhood, they are pressured to act older at a young age and they become more susceptible to peer pressure and other issues around them including addictions and overdoses.

Demi Lovato, a well-known American singer and actress has shone light on this issue with her own personal experiences. She confirms she “definitely felt the pressure increase when the fame started to creep into [her] life.” Her manager confirmed that “so many more expectations were put on her than a normal 15, 16-year-old girl would have” and because if those standards she couldn’t be a normal teenager. Starting at a young age, she felt pressured to look a certain way and “sing music that [she] felt people would like”, rather than her own preferences. The pressure to succeed soon led to her using alcohol and cocaine for self-medication and searching for what her alcoholic father found fulfilment in. She ended up living in a sober house for a couple years. After six years of sobriety, she came out with a song called “Sober” in which she confesses she had relapsed. Soon after that she overdosed on heroin and was rushed to the hospital in July 2018 with friends and family who stuck by her side.

Macaulay Culkin, the young actor in the famous Home Alone movies, was one who also struggled with having to mature faster. Being a child actor, he had achieved everything his father wanted for himself before he reached 10 years of age. Culkin states that it seemed as if his father was jealous of his accomplishments and was abusive mentally and physically while adding threats to “do good or i’ll hit you.” He emancipated himself from his parents at the age of 15, meaning his parents lost the status of his legal guardians and also lost control over his $17 million fortune.

The enormous burden fame has proven to have on some is really devastating. The pressure that comes with it often leads to breakdowns and sometimes involves drugs and alcohol that they use as their own medicine. Fame can even go as far as ruining people’s lives through harsh self doubt, the constant urge to pick up a bottle and drink and the enormous burden of pressure to succeed. You feel vulnerable to the personal evaluations of other people. The public is “ultimately in control of whether your career continues” so that caused a lot of stress for seeking acceptance and likes. Being famous may seem appealing at first, however fame gives the dark illusion of a perfect life and that is most definitely not the case. Donna Rockwell, a clinical psychologist specializing in celebrity mental health states that “fame and celebrity can closely mirror substance abuse symptomology—and over time, result in actual substance abuse, isolation, mistrust, dysfunctional adaptation to fame, and then, too often, untimely death.”

Though the impact of fame can be negative, it has been proven to not always be permanent. Once Daniel Radcliffe realized he was heading down the road to destruction, he changed his ways. Now he is extremely cautious to not become an alcoholic, so made his own decision to completely avoid it all together. His journey to sobriety was difficult but with the help of friends, he overcame that wild past and confirms, “I’m really much happier now.”

Image illustration by: Dr. Jank

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