Exploitation of Children in the Entertainment Industry

4 Oct

Sophia Grace and Rosie first caught my attention when the famous video of them singing to Nicki Minaj’s ‘SuperBass’ started spreading like wildfire on Youtube. The number of views for the video reached over 39 million and propelled them into fame ever since. Their videos are also shared countless of times on Facebook and on other forms of social media like Twitter. Commercial appeal and creativity are ways to make an impact in the Youtube community (Hassan 2012) For these girls, their young ages and adorable appearances make them commercial.  Youtube was meant to be an experimental space, an ‘accidental cultural archive’ (Burgess & Green 2008). Perhaps their parents wanted to upload the video out of plain fun, or perhaps there was the aim of ‘striking gold’ through that video… which in this case, happened.

The girls were flown into Hollywood to appear on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Since then, they have appeared on the show for a couple of times and have even hosted interview sessions with celebrities like Taylor Swift, Hugh Grant and Reese Witherspoon. They were also given the chance to interview celebrities on the red carpet, and a fully-sponsored trip to Disneyland and Toys ‘R’ us. These events on a whole may seem harmless, but it is yet another example of the commercialization of children, an issue which has been associated with the entertainment industry for years.

Children are often exploited for their likability, their innocence, their ability to ‘make’ money. Child stars who enter the entertainment industry at a young age are often robbed of their innocence and being transformed into money-making machines for their parents and managers. Parents of Sophia Grace and Rose have already been criticized by the public for exploiting their daughters. Even Ellen’s fans showed their disapproval. One of them tweeted, ‘Aww they’re so sweet, feel bad for them because their parents are obviously milking it for the cash…they should be in school!!’ Another said, ‘I’ve watched them several times on Ellen and I know I might be in the minority but I really think that the songs/raps they perform shouldn’t be performed by a 6 and 8 year old.’

It is not an officially proven case that children entering the entertainment industry is a harmful thing, but over at Hollywood, the celebrities who went out of control at some point were coincidentally formal child stars. Britney Spears became deranged and shaved all her hair. Michael Jackson was just 5 when his life as a musician started. He was one of the greatest musicians of all time, yet he was accused of child molestation and pedophilia. Somehow, celebs who entered the entertainment industry at a young age became problematic when they got older.

I feel the need to address this issue each time I see young children being exploited like that. I feel bad for these young children who are being thrown into the world of entertainment. They are so young, they probably wouldn’t know what’s right and wrong. Their parents should be protecting them and giving them a normal childhood instead of exploiting their children for money and fame.

 

6 Responses to “Exploitation of Children in the Entertainment Industry”

  1. jennetcom 18/10/2012 at 2:59 PM #

    I have such mixed feelings about Sophia Grace and Rosie. I won’t lie – I am prone to looking up the videos of their many appearances on Ellen, as they definitely are entertaining. But I think way too much attention has been given to them.

    Their original YouTube video was adorable, and I’m not surprised it became a viral hit. Bring them on Ellen by all means – I certainly enjoyed seeing them get to meet Nicki Minaj etc. But they now have an actual segment, and have essentially been made a regular part of the show.

    There are so many other kids out there that could benefit from the attention of someone like Ellen. These ones have surely received enough (as you said, they had a shopping spree, plus being sent to a number of amusement parks in the States).

    As you’ve looked at in your post, I’d be a bit concerned about how all the attention and essentially becoming mini-celebrities is going to affect them. Sophia Grace and Rosie are so young – they don’t need to be thrust into the spotlight at such a critical age.

    I say let them go back to England, go to school etc and let them just be kids!

  2. bjn22 18/10/2012 at 3:14 PM #

    I honestly think these girls won’t make it as far as Britney Spears or MJ because they are in the middle of a 15-minutes-of-fame exposure rather than establishing real careers – after all – their media attention isn’t based on pure talent, it’s all about their cuteness and youtube popularity, and they probably will be forgotten in about 6 months.
    At the same time, you make really good points about their parents milking it for the fame and money, disregarding the possible harm. If these girls are being treated to Disneyland trips and Toys R Us freebies, then they’re probably going to get big heads and be under the impression they’re something special when really they’re just a couple of cute kids who got media exposure way too early. I don’t know what’s worse; the Ellen show seeking out people like this and giving them the opportunity to be exploited, or the parents agreeing to commercialize their kids. Really good post, with interesting points.

    • crispycreme 25/10/2012 at 2:24 AM #

      Ellen probably gave these girls a fixed spot on her show because she wanted to improve her show’s ratings.

  3. marissapags 23/10/2012 at 11:33 PM #

    I couldn’t agree more with you! Children being exploited and pushed to endure a celebrity persona has its consequences in the long run. Firstly some of these children turned celebrities are pushed into the limelight by money hungry parents who use their child as a tool to generate not only popularity but also cash! Some children are honestly truly talented, don’t get me wrong, however to throw them in the hectic and “glitzy” world of fame at such a young age robs them of their innocence and their freedom! Have you also seen that deranged child honey boo boo? This actually makes me sick.

    The child as innocent is an imperative concept to childhood. Children have no real sense of independence yet so their parents or adult careers have a firm control on them without the child making any decisions on their own. Your example of Michael Jackson is spot on! He openly admits he never experienced the innocence and freedom of a childhood therefore he expressed childlike behaviour throughout his adult hood. It breaks my heart people criticized and mocked him, he was simply just trying to relive a time of his life that he never had. He had a fascination with children only because he was trying to search for the child within himself! The child that was taken away by his father when he was pushed into a heavy musical career at the age of five! Parents of these child celebs should take note of stars such as Michael Jackson and Britney spears who were deeply affected in their adult life due to a young career.

    Love you MJ☹

    • crispycreme 25/10/2012 at 2:23 AM #

      I was quite disgusted when I saw the video on young girls joining those beauty pageants. Their parents may think that it’s perfectly fine but in the future, it is definitely going to affect these young girls adversely.

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