Hollywood’s Cautionary Tale

With the news on Saturday, July 13, 2013, that another hugely talented celebrity has died too young, it got me thinking.  Today’s youth (and not-so-youth) are obsessed with celebrity and being famous, but they fail to see that their life is not all glitz and glamour.  They think that—in some disconnected way—if they dress and act like their favorite celebrities, they can become famous, too.  But, the fact of the matter is many of these people who our young ones idolize are seriously troubled people.  They deal with things like addiction, poor body image, mental illness and a host of other issues.  Their lives aren’t fairy tales.  They are cautionary tales.

As our society has evolved to be more celebrity-centric young people are filled with grandiose ideas that they too can be rich and famous and have a kick-ass life if they can just get on TV.  But it isn’t always sunshine and roses for famous people.  Many of them have deeply troubled lives and more often than should be, they die to young.

Too many great talents are no longer here with us.  There is the dark underbelly of being famous that nobody wants to talk about and idealistic teenagers want to pretend doesn’t exist.  Heath Ledger (2008) River Phoenix (1993), Corey Haim (2010-he didn’t die of a drug overdose but he did have a significant substance addiction).  Icons like James Dean (1955) and Marilyn Monroe (1962) also had their fair share of issues.  James Dean had a history of mood swings that led people to believe he was bipolar.  He partied too hard and crashed his car, killing himself.  Marilyn Monroe…she committed suicide!  And yet, these people are the idols of young kids who want to live the Hollywood, jetset lifestyle.

How many young stars have we watched fall apart before our eyes?  Lindsay Lohan?  Britney Spears?  Amanda Bynes?  Stars like Cory Monteith fly a little lower under the radar than these other high profile stars that have had complete meltdowns in front of a camera lens.  While his previous addiction ] was made public by him and his recent stint in rehab, he is one of the few celebrities who seemed to want to get better and was trying.  It’s terribly tragic.  And, unfortunately, not a new thing.  Several actors have gone much the same way.  Tried to get it right, only to succumb in the end.

We can learn a lot from celebrities.  Their lives are on public display, the good and the bad.  So, why not learn a thing or two from them?  Like, drugs will eat you alive.  Just look at all the actors/actresses/musicians/professional athletes/reality stars who’ve died at the hands of drugs and/or alcohol.  Look at the ones who have been in and out of rehab.

The deaths of these celebrities way before their time is obviously the worst case scenario….made worse because you didn’t see it coming with most of these guys.  But there are so many young celebrities that our young ones worship that are on a fast track to the same destination.  Amanda Bynes comes to mind.  She was a child star.  She was beautiful and funny.  And just recently she was put on a 5150 hold in California after a long series of bizarre behavior.  Her very public mental breakdown has been compared to Britney Spears’ 2008 break from reality.  I fear Amanda Bynes has gone much further and will have a longer trip back.  Britney Spears, though she survived and bounced back better than ever.  Lindsay Lohan, Rhianna, Chris Brown, Justin Beiber.  The list goes on.   I only hope I don’t see their obituaries in the paper any time soon.

Cory Monteith’s death isn’t without it’s teachable moment for all his fans.  He even said it himself about his own struggles and his status as a role model.

“I don’t want kids to think it’s okay to drop out of school and get high, and they’ll be famous actors, too.”  -Cory Monteith

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