OPINION: Hollywood chews up, spits out young stars

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As social media has grown over the years, celebrities and now influencers have less and less privacy. Social media stars may be next in line for the horrors of stardom. (Photo courtesy of Maddi Bazzocco | Unsplash)
By Elaina Kleven

As more young figures ascend to Hollywood stardom, will the old systematic patterns of pedophilia and child grooming create another victimized celebrity? 

The exploitation of young girls has a dark and modern history. Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, Lindsey Lohan, Shelly Duvall and Megan Fox have all been through the backstage abuse that society misses until it’s too late. More may be hidden from the public eye.

Some of these events of public humiliation and on-screen exploitation happened less than 10 years ago and suggest that this may still be happening to different stars — social media influencers. 

A simple Google search reveals most social media influencers’ addresses, daily routines, personal preferences, family members and “leaked” private information. It seems as if lacking a private life, and feeling undeserving of one, is normal for these celebrities. 

This normalization of such a feeling has led to several celebrities’ falling-outs and public mental breakdowns. The most prominent of examples include the infamously, favorably reported start and end of Britney Spears’ mental breakdown. 

As reported in the documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” the Hollywood paparazzi stalked, harassed and humiliated her whenever she went out in public for several months, leading to her experiencing extreme paranoia and crippling anxiety.

Between 2006 and 2007, Spears made the cover of six different magazines “175 times in just 78 weeks, accounting for sales of $360 million,” according to MTV analytics. She soon decided to shave her head in protest of paparazzo filming her every move.

She was deemed psychotic and her conservatorship was given to her father, James “Jamie”  Spears. It was only on Feb. 11, of this year that Spears was deemed in equal power with her father over her conservatorship. 

As shown in the MTV data, the media devoured every bad picture that ever came out of the several months of harassment. It was only after the public identified the reason behind her behavior that the tides turned in Britney’s favor.

The public looked back at Spears’ reactions to the terrible circumstances she was put under and agreed that she was only human, siding with the pop music icon in the trial against her father. Many fans even held peaceful protests outside the courthouse and started the #freeBritney trend on numerous social media platforms.

Was this movement overdue? Was the truth hidden from the general eye for too long by those who are responsible for it? 

As most celebrities and the public now stand with Spears, the question that now stands is: How do we know when enough is enough? When will society’s relentless demand of more and more from public figures finally end? 

Probably not any time soon. In theory, if this did not end with Garland’s death or Duvall’s abuse, then how can we believe it will end with Spears?

Garland landed Dorothy’s role in  “The Wizard of Oz” early in her career. She was forced onto a strict diet. The studio that hired her, her mother and grandmother pushed her past survivable doses of sleeping and pep pills almost every day in the studio.

“After four hours (of sleep) they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row,” Garland said in an interview with Paul Donnelley for her biography. 

One would assume that these instances of abuse would have ended after Garland’s experiences were raised to public light. But shy of 40 years later, Duvall experienced a classic Hollywood horror story: a powerful director taking advantage of a young star behind the scenes.

During the filming of “The Shining,”  director Stanley Kubrick, forced Shelly to endure trauma as a requirement of her performance. This included him forcing the cast and crew to ignore her for the entirety of the filming process, randomly cutting out her lines mid-take, never complimenting her on any of her scenes and the infamous 127-takes of the ax scene, earning the Guinness World Record for most takes for one scene with dialogue.

Duvall detailed the abuse in “The Complete Kubrick,” a book by David Hughes.

“From May until October I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great,” Duvall said in the book. “Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play.”

Horrific stories of those we admire on the big screen enduring abuse seem to come up again and again over the years and seemingly have no end in sight. If some of the biggest Hollywood stars fall prey to these atrocious acts, is it too far out of reach to assume that social media influencers are at risk of victimization?

If this assumption is valid, will people prevent this from happening or even catch it before it does? The answer to this can only lie within the people of Hollywood and the unknown future.

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