Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wha'chu Talkin' 'Bout, Greg?? -Eve

I once had an argument with my friend K.T. (Hi, KT!) about child stars. He insisted that they all turn out wacky when they grow up and I disagreed. Of course, when challenged to come up with a name of one who ended up normal, I couldn’t.

Apparently KT has been conferring with Greg over at Gottabook, because I just watched the movie he wrote, “Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Different Strokes”, and all I gotta say is…damn! It started off so happy and silly, then spiraled into a depressing black hole of drugs, arrests, assault, bankruptcy, unemployment, and, in one case, death by overdose.

Too many responsibilities and expectations at too young an age, well… aged them prematurely. Poor Arnold, Willis, and Kimberly, smiling for the cameras and perpetuating the romantic myth of child stardom, while watching their real lives crash down around them.

Whew! Okay, then. But watching it did remind me why I love writing children’s books so much. Spending my days immersed in Kid Lit is an escape from real adult world pressures. It reminds me how blissful and alive I felt when the biggest decision I had to make was which shade of red to choose from the jumbo Crayola box.

And I think Greg will agree with me. Although well-written and fascinating, the “Different Strokes” movie certainly made me thankful for my “normal” childhood, and even more thankful that I have a really cheery job!

Thanks, Greg!
And, KT, you were right...again. One less thing we have to disagree about.



Jude said...

Child stars who turned out great:

Shirley Temple Black, former ambassador (a Republican, but hey, we can't have everything)

Ron Howard, excellent director

Sheila Kuehl, lawyer

Those are just a few, but the list is extensive. If you looked at all the series that were ever on t.v. and all the movies that were ever made, most child stars seem to turn out fine.

Disco Mermaids said...

You are correct, Jude. I guess I was all caught up in the 1980's after watching the movie and was thinking more along the lines of...Corey Feldman, Ionie Skye, Drew Barrymore (although, she's ultimately turned out great), Michael Jackson, etc.

But you're right...Reese Witherspoon, Claire Danes, Brooke Shields, Winnie from the "Wonder Years"...all normal and successful!


Gregory K. said...

As Jude notes, there are, in fact, many child stars who turned out great. There are, unfortunately, hundreds who didn't. Who knows if they woulda turned out great had they not become stars? No way to know.

At a certain point in researching Strokes, it was clear that there's no simple explanation for either path (as if you really need research for that!). This particular show simply had three sad tales at the same time... and that's the type of stuff we all remember, sadly.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm also glad to be writing children's books. As I noted on my blog, writing daily about sad, true stories turns out not to be my cup of tea!

alvina said...

More child stars who turned out pretty normal: Natalie Portman, Anna Paquin, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mayim Bialik, Jason Bateman, Britney, nevermind.

Disco Mermaids said...

Okay, you got me, Alvina. Of course, now I'm obsessing over coming up with names of those who turned out normal.

Peter Brady- I hear he's normal.
Ricky Schroder
Dee from "What's Happening?"
Rob Lowe
Tommy Howell
Leanne Rhymes
Lindsay Lohan...questionable.

It's nice to have a new way to procrastinate!


angelmeg said...

Child stars who turn out okay have parents who treat them like children and not like cash cows.

Ron Howard says that growing up he never realized how much money he was making because he got an allowance and his family lived on his dad's salary.

Gregory K. said...

It's not just the cash issues, by the way. It's about children having a CHILDHOOD. That seems to be the largest distinguishing characteristic, from what I learned. Even there, of course, some adults triumph anyway. Drew Barrymore hit bottom and overcame in a huge way. One could argue in her case that it wasn't being a child star that caused the problems (perhaps accelerated them), but simply that we all heard about it because she was a celeb. Non-child stars have failures, too, unfortunately... and we just aren't gonna hear about them.