This article was originally posted on June 2, 2011. Due to great reader feedback, we resubmitted it for you, our readers.
I find it very challenging to find sympathy for someone that is paid millions to make believe, play an organized game, or be ogled for being a walking train wreck who loses it all due to carelessness, drug use, or general idiocy. However, there is cause for some compassion for these people despite their excess of means and extravagant lifestyle. They suffer through the same emotional pitfalls that face every person who has ever lived, but do not have the same wealth of experience and natural growth and maturity that the common person has gained through various life experiences. For each unbelievable occurrence in their lives there is a simple moment that they miss which is important to their proper development. There is a reason that child stars almost always have a very public meltdown and a reason that professional actors and athletes regularly fall from grace. They do not know how to handle life’s difficult situations because they rarely have had to deal with any adversity.
Most celebrities come into their financial wealth too soon and too quickly to mature properly as a consumer and just as a human being. A person’s emotional maturity stops growing at the age that the attain enough money to support themselves financially for the rest of their lives. This means that the average celebrity who hits stardom in the 20′s never grows past that point. This is the reason that so few child actors regularly garner acting roles once their initial show ends. They do not have the life experiences to imitate and evolve in their craft. They also can not handle their money or lives properly because someone else, whether it be their parents, their guardians, or their agents, has made every important decision in their life for them. A person that works over a long period of time to attain his or her wealth and celebrity, knows how to spend, how to save, how to plan, and how to behave and emote, because they have been through obstacles that proved stressful and completely frustrating. Actors that get fame at an early age never learn the simple actions and coping mechanisms that normal people inherently have from regular childhoods. This often leads to self-abuse, self-medication (illegal drugs), and run-ins with the law.
Celebrities have had many run-ins with the law. Some of their very public mistakes are well-documented and some never reach the general public. Their missteps are usually covered up by their talent. Their management teams can not afford to lose bankable clients, so they protect them. When the talent leaves, they all of a sudden have to be responsible for their mistakes. Then the celebrities find that their plight is very are similar to that of poor, inner-city youth. Though at extreme opposites of the financial spectrum they share the same ignorance of the real world. A child that is raised on welfare, sleeping on his grandmother’s couch because both his parents are on drugs or in jail, with all the prominent figures in his life selling drugs or in a similar situation. They would not be expected to get an education and grow up. They are expected to do nothing, so that is what they do. Nothing. That child finds a path to self-destruction because it lacks guidance and direction. Drugs are readily available for use or sale in poor neighborhoods. Congruently, a person that can afford everything that they have ever desired lacks the same direction. They find ways to cope with lethargy and stress, usually with drugs. Both types of people often find themselves in courtrooms. Only, the celebrities have better lawyers. Neither the rich or the extremely poor have people that are more concerned with their well-being than being attached to them for the fun times. Celebrities live a different existence than the average person because they often do not have one person in their immediate circle of friends that will tell them the whole truth. They fight for approval amongst themselves, but do not say anything incendiary lest they be cast away from their star friend. In this way they are extremely lonely, despite being constantly surrounded by people, which is very sad. These relationships carry on until the middle of former stars lives when they can no longer support a circle of parasites that bring nothing to the table. By then, the star is past their prime and their celebrity is fading.
The over the hill star has spent more than half of his life in the limelight. Fame and celebrity have become as much a part of him or her as their actual life’s work. Child actors, supermodels, and athletes hit their peak no later than 25 years of age. This by itself is cause for depression in most cases. Imagine being Danny Bonaduce whose show ended in his early teenage years, Christian Laetner whose best years as an athlete were in college, or Cindy Crawford whose “talent” of being pretty began a steady decline after her early twenties. Each of these celebrities highest point in life came relatively early in their lives. Bonaduce had so much fame in his early childhood that he was one of the most easily recognized celebrities of his television era. His late adulthood has been less than stellar. He has now fought drug addiction, been divorced, and been arrested. This is a far cry from his days as America’s sweetheart as a child. Judy Winslow from the cute television show, Family Matters, is now a porn actress. Think of O.J. Simpson, who had been a star athlete for the first half of his life. From his teenage years into his thirties, he did not have to worry about school, women, or money. He won a Heisman in college, became a Hall of Fame running back in the pros, and retired as one of the most famous faces in the sport. He now has led police on a televised chase in a white Bronco, allegedly murdered his wife and her lover, and been arrested for stealing back things that he allegedly lost and sold. The peak of Christian Laetner’s basketball career was a game-winning shot in the NCAA tournament against Kentucky. He played basketball for another 10 years without half of the success that he had in college. And finally, can you fathom being a supermodel who reached celebrity not by merit or talent, but by physical beauty that fades after your twenties. The standard by which people judge you and weigh your worth is destined to leave within 5-7 years of attaining it. These celebrities gain more than the common man could ever imagine, but they lose more too.
They lose the right to their privacy. Simple trips to the mall are stopped the minute that they are spotted by a fan. They lose meaningful friendships because almost everyone wants something from them. They lose their childhoods to full work schedules in their adolescence. No child should have to be on set for 12 hour-days. They lose the ability to love and be loved. Half of the people that they date are looking for celebrity or money from them. And if they date other celebrities, then they choosee to love people that have spent most of their lives being catered to. Ultimately, they lose themselves, and I, for once, feel sorry for them.