Tuesday, 28 July 2009

O Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore art thy career?

"Oh my God. Leonardo DiCaprio is sooooo dreamy. He's gorgeous. He's so sexy and amazing. And he's such a nice person. He wouldn't hurt a fly. And how brilliant was his performance in Titanic?"

Girls my age will remember these words. They are the words of our tweenhood. Words we ourselves have uttered and said with the fullest conviction of our lives.

But it isn't just us. For generations there have been idols for young girls to look up to, whether they were actors or musicians (I use that term lightly - my 'musician' dreamboats included any current boyband who knew how to do stay in time with the choreography and spike their hair up). My mum had David Cassidy, for example. And even today young girls are still fauning after those pin-up hunks that are splashed across the front pages of Tiger Beat or whatever the equivalent is these days (When I was that age, it was Girl Talk, Bunty and M&J - awwww, are they still around?).

The thing I wonder is why we have these idols (who we're going to forget about in fifteen years anyway)? What purpose do they serve? Do they set us up for the time when we begin dating boys? Or are they setting us up for disappointment more than anything? After all, amongst all the perks of being a pin-up, there are more than enough cons to outweigh them.

When Titanic was released in 1997, DiCaprio was it. That man could do no wrong in the eyes of pre-teen and teen girls worldwide. I was one of them. But, like many before me, I'd also been a fan of darling 'Leo' since seeing Romeo + Juliet the year before. That man's idol career couldn't have been timed better.

I was crazy for him. I had posters, pictures, all of his films on video which I watched religously, a collection of articles and magazines dedicated to him, a 'Leonardo DiCaprio annual' book, stickers, bookmarks with his face on them, and (and here's the truly embarassing bit) a video I found in a bargain bin called 'Love Leo' (on which contained a cheaply-made documentary dedicated to all things Leo - when he was born, where he's from, masses of quotes, his favourite food, his favourite music, his favourite actors, his favourite films ... blah, blah, blah, ... all the answers a young girl wants to hear. :-P) You get the point.

The following year I started watching horror/thriller films and a new fandom was made - Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr. Anyone remember I Know What You Did Last Summer? Or She's all That? Or *dies* Cruel Intentions? (God, that film's hot!) Yup ... and with these teen movies came another handful of 'scary movie' hotties slapped on the cover of teen magazines. Well ... you can see where I'm going with this.

What's interesting is that Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich ... all those 'wave of new young actors' ... are now no-where to be seen. Their fans have grown up, realised 'Wow, you kind of ... can't act that well', and moved on. Where does this leave them? I realise that DiCaprio was probably a bad choice for this post as, a few years after Titanic, he cut off his trademark floppy hair, lost the attitude and became a serious actor and humanitarian. But this is rare. Look at the two Coreys. Which duo had it better than them in the '80s? Too much fame too fast brings along the heavy parties and a fabulous cocktail of drink and drugs that teens don't want to see. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Scott Wolf, Joshua Jackson ... yeah, the list goes on.

What I found funny was growing up and realising that half the crap I'd been fed about these idols was pure fiction. Gorgeous Leo was not the angel I'd thought he was - Adults had actually been more accustomed to hearing about his hard-partying, drug-experimenting, womanising ways. But, of course, you can't tell a child that. Once you're placed into that idol category, you're expected to act a certain way, talk a certain way, look a certain way ... just for a film. And, as a young 'un, you believe it. You look up to these young men as 'pure' and wonderful people ... a fabulous personality that's been entirely created by magazines and studio executives.

Listen up, 'tweens and tee ns, nobody's that perfect. You see that sparkle in your idol's eyes? That's tiredness from being flown from film shoot to magazine shoot to press junket to red carpet and back again. Is it any wonder that they end up on drugs? Or seeking early retirement? All the Robert Pattinsons and Zac Efrons of the world are not perfect. (Unless you're the Jonas Brothers apparently - what the hell is up with those kids?) And blockbusters like Twilight and High Schooo Musical do not make them a good actor (it ain't hard to smoulder and look seductive for 90 minutes ;-) ) - Wait until they break out and do the little indie film, or make you gasp at how gritty the performance is. (Or pull a Leo and cut off their floppy/crazy hair.)

But, yeah, geting back to my initial point. Why do you think young girls need idols like these? Does it set them up for disappointment when they realise that these idol hotties are just products/images created and no man is ever that perfect? Is is healthy? And (you knew I was going to ask you this one) who were your idol/pin-ups as a 'tween/teen?

(I've just found out that GirlTalk magazine is still going. And look at who's joining the young girl on the cover? :-O :-D ;-) )



Violet said...

haha... a very cool post indeed. I remember I was in 10th Grade when Titanic was released. I also remember girls idiolize him but honestly, it was nothing the way it is for Edward from Twilight.

I think Tweens need idols because they are tired of seeing guys who are no good and characters like these make them believe that there is hope :)

But really that's just setting up for failure.

Could you plz plz plz make your comment section pop out instead of embedded. That way I could comment on your blog from work :)

If you don't mind that is. The embedded thing doesn't work somehow.

Ceri said...

You're right - I haven't seen teen madness like this (for Pattinson) since ... well, the Beatles? (At least *they* had talent, *ahem* ... oops, my bad ;-) )

I'll try and make it a pop out. :-D