Child actors—recently put into the spotlight with the premiere of the second season of “Stranger Things,”—have been a widely controversial topic for years. Later in life, several have gone through mental health and drug issues, holding the Hollywood industry responsible for the deterioration of many lives through the makings of adolescent celebrities.
While child labor is illegal in the United States, exceptions are made for child actors, singers, dancers and artists of other sorts. The film industry requires child actors for movies and television shows—there are no suitable alternatives. This exception to the law, however, still has a moral gray area.
Regular children are able to go through years of schooling before deciding on a career. For famous child actors, many are stuck in a career and a lifetime of no privacy that they did not choose.
In the news, the child stars of “Stranger Things” have been known for ignoring adult fans that stake outside of hotels to meet them and have been criticized for their unfriendliness toward complete strangers.
Being constantly stalked, watched, followed and reported on is part of a daily routine for those who are famous. All actors, especially children, deserve privacy—no child should have to go through this ordeal and then be criticized for it.
The excess amount of money that all actors, including children, are paid is also highly controversial. Having access to thousands of dollars growing up can lead to a lack of responsibility and a shallow perspective of the world.
The inescapable superficial Hollywood culture can further this perspective, and eventually lead to mental health and drug issues. Aspects of this culture include the party scene, the obsessive diet culture and highly sexualized nature of young girls.
With seemingly endless amounts of money and freedom, alcohol and designer drugs among former child actors are ubiquitous in Hollywood, as well as mental illnesses. Prominently, Hollywood is home to an obsessive diet culture that teaches both males and females that their appearance is of the upmost importance.
In a world where audiences and fans fall in love with a character a child plays on screen, being able to grow out of that character has been proven to be difficult time and time again. In an attempt to break out of their shell, former child actors such as Miley Cyrus put on wildly sexualized publicity stunts with the hope of making people forget the lovable character she used to play.
With millions watching their every move, it is clear that child stars are unable to have natural growth periods from children to teenagers to adults. It is alarming and also unhealthy that this transition is not a gradual one, rather, an explosive and publicized one.
To combat the many difficulties child actors face growing up, we must address and spread awareness of issues such as drug abuse and mental illness. Providing more mentor and parental roles within the acting industry could help our child actors have a more natural childhood, and by extension adulthood, thus avoiding these issues in the first place.
Rather than ridiculing former child actors in the media, we must do our best to help them live a normal life despite being famous.
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