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When Ellen DeGeneres plucked Greyson Chance from YouTube obscurity to sign him to her new musical label (I suggest she rename it "I Love You! You're Great! Records"), she also raised the expectations of millions of other kids who now consider themselves merely one video away from superstardom.
For fame-obsessed tweens and teens who don't watch Ellen, there are many other avenues to get the message that fame and fortune are within grasp. American Idol goes out of its way to promote the "everyperson" nature of its contestants ("Ladies and gentlemen, high school student Aaron Kelly!") br><br><And in kids' sitcoms, entertainment jobs apparently grow on trees.
Exhibit A, Fiction: Kid superstars are becoming as much a staple on Nick and Disney sit-coms as aloof dads are on adult comedies. Examples: Hannah Montana (teen as pop star), Sonny With a Chance (teen as TV star), JONAS L.A. (teen stars as teen stars), Big Time Rush (teen hockey players as boy band stars), iCarly (teen as web star) and this fall's Shake It Up, from Disney, about a pair of tweens who score gigs on a dance show.
Exhibit B, Real Life: Greyson enters a world filled with teen and tween pop stars, not just including the omnipresent Justin Bieber, but aforementioned teen TV stars like Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana), Demi Lovato (Sonny With a Chance), Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place), Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical), and Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly). All have real recording contracts.
Why shouldn't an average kid from Omaha think he can be the next little big thing?
In an L.A. Times article from last November, Nickelodeon super-producer Dan Schneider (iCarly, Victorious) said, "If there is anything I've learned about kids today -- and I'm not saying this is good or bad -- it's that they all want to be stars... I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice if more of them wanted to be teachers and social workers; it would be." He adds, "Every parent thinks their kid has it. Most of them don't." Kudos to Dan for 'keeping it real' off-camera, if less so in front of it.
I'm not suggesting we destroy kids' dreams as Neil Patrick Harris' character did so cruelly last week on Glee (awkwardly lip-synching teens dreaming of stardom). Dreams are definitely important. But so is real life. Kids can have a firm foot in each, but it's gotta be hard when pop culture is encouraging them to jump into one with both feet.
Does kids' TV create unrealistic expectations? Chime in now!
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