Americas Wrecking Ball: Analyzing Negative Influences Of Past Disney Stars in Mainstream Media

Americas Wrecking Ball: Analyzing Negative Influences Of Past Disney Stars in Mainstream Media.

Celebrity culture affects people of all ages, but the younger generation is affected the most by celebrity culture especially within Disney, as they are the most vulnerable. To help one better understand how this is occurring, understanding the structure of the entertainment industry and how it works is important. It is important to understand the basic analysis of the structure of the entertainment industry to understand how celebrity culture is manufactured through mainstream media. Once the basic principles are deciphered on how celebrity culture is manufactured though the media, the understanding of how celebrity culture has a negative affect on society will be evident, particularly with the younger generation. Disney is known for having their young stars play a big part in influencing young adolescents. When these Disney stars become older they have an even bigger influence on their young fans. Unfortunately, most of what is affecting the youth is the negative behavior the Disney celebrities are exposing to them through media outlets.
Through the analysis of past Disney stars and their shift into adulthood, it is apparent how these celebrities are negatively affecting their younger fans that idolize them in today’s modern society. Through the understanding of the basic principles the media creates, it will be easier to make the connections on how past Disney stars are negatively affecting adolescents. The evidence presented will heighten knowledge on the argument that past Disney stars are impacting the younger generation negatively with all the publicity the media gives these stars. The vast majority of the media frenzy occurs when the popular past Disney stars behavior turns more explicit while going through their young adulthood.

There are two emotions each individual American flaunts when it comes to the authentication of the 21st century of celebrity culture in American society, according to Sternheimer’s book. These emotions lead one to either cherish or detest celebrity culture in American society. Throughout the history of the United States, the way celebrities go about living their lives has never been as open to the public’s eye as it is today. Media makes it effortless for the modern American to hear and see the latest news about celebrities’ romances, adventures, and their nonconformity’s.

In order to go more in-depth as to why this is occurring in modern America one must first understand how celebrity culture is perceived in today’s society. Depending on the type of personality the viewer has on the media’s analysis of celebrities it may initially seem meaningless to the viewer. However, when a deeper evaluation is done a clearer itinerary becomes more evident to help the viewer increase their knowledge of celebrities and their role in modern American society. In her book Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility Karen Sternheimer states, “Talking about celebrities, whether we express admiration, sympathy, or condemnation for them offers us a framework through which to construct one’s social selves,” (Sternheimer 4). To give a better understanding of what Sternheimer is stating in this quote. When media criticizes a celebrity’s explicit behavior, it allows the observer to compare themself as having higher morals and values than the celebrity; this tends to be the case for some, but not all and especially not the young adolescents. For many young adolescents, it represents a sign of popularity, the ideology that bad behavior gets attention, therefore creates popularity. A celebrity helps manufacture a collection of issues for people to have a conversation about, therefore providing an opportunity to restructure shared values, during the time a celebrity is expressing scandalous behavior. However, in today’s busy society, these conversations fail to take place and therefore the young are led into the bad behavior trap, idolizing their favorite stars publicized behavior.
Celebrities provide a visual understanding that each person has an open class system. Celebrities visual understanding through media is not structured on family heritage, but rather an individual’s talent and skill one possesses. In modern society famous celebrities symbolize the invisible upper class of American society. People, especially the youth who are very impressionable, feel the need to copy the clothes, accessories, lifestyles and behavior these stars flaunt, in order to be popular and to make them feel like they are a part of a higher social class.
Through all of this, the economy and commercial brand goods are being marketed by media, in order to create the need to buy these expensive items. All of this results in economic growth, because the consumer is spending money to have the latest fashion and lifestyle to compete with the celebrity. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable age group influenced by celebrities is teenagers. Teenagers are trying to develop their identity, and have their own composed self-image. The idea of celebrities triumphing over teens has created a negative discomforting exposure upon society as a whole, as stated in Gauna’s article Negative Influences of Celebrities on Teens. An adolescent demands desire love, credence, and attainment in order to build a high self-esteem. Teenagers achieve this by gratification from parents, compeers, and society, during this period in the adolescent’s life; they feel the highest degree of feeling accepted. Teen’s desire for recognition motivates adolescents to be more innovative, tentative, and in some cases more disputed (Gauna).
Teens are at the point in their life where they are continuously reinventing themselves, and unfortunately many times this is done through what adolescents see and hear through media means. Teenager Research Unlimited declares, “Fun is the number one description for the teenage generation” (Gauna). Teenagers accent autonomy, but do not want to experience the obligations and liability adults experience. Teens understanding of fun can be linked to testing out banned or illicit quintessences. Teens are starting to be more observant of others, when it comes to preparation for when they get older. This is the reason for teen’s idolization of celebrities, as they observe, admire, and imitate these stars that are a few years older than them, which is exactly what Disney is known for in its shows. Many hours are spent watching television, movies, social media, and the like, typically unsupervised, and therefore allowing their young minds to be influenced. All of these media outlets have celebrities exposing themselves through the media where their behavior is idolized whether it is good or bad, therefore influencing the youth of today’s society more than ever. Through all of this basic understanding and knowledge, deciphering the basic principles of how modern society is being manufactured through media and how celebrities, particularly Disney stars negatively affect the younger generation should be very clear.
Now comes the understanding of why and how media exposes celebrities, especially the tween to teen age group of society. Through analyzing current past Disney celebrity’s explicit behavior, one can see how they have been blasted by mainstream media and it shows how these celebrities are affecting young adolescents.

Britney Spears first appearance was on the hit show The Mickey Mouse Club that aired on the Disney Channel in the early 90’s, showing the world that 12 year old Spears was born with a beautiful natural singing voice. Britney Spears later became the first past Disney star the media exposed heavily, when she became a young adult expressing bad behavior. It all started on November 7, 2006, when Spears filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline. After the divorce, Spears later stated in her documentary Britney for the Record released in 2008 “I didn’t know what to do with myself, because I had two kids with him. So I started doing drugs to numb the pain and became a party girl. The media blew the situation I was in way out of proportion”. In Liz Kelly’s article Britney’s Erratic Behavior provided the list of dates, where Spears was reported showing bad behavior. On February 16, 2007, Spears spent 24 hours in a drug rehabilitation facility for treatment of substance abuse. The next day Spears shaved her head so the police couldn’t do a drug test to have evidence of the drugs that officers claimed she was on. Mainstream media was all over this story exposing her bad behavior all over America. Tired from the paparazzi chasing her around Spears assaulted a media news crews SUV with an umbrella outside her ex- husband’s house. After the altercation, the next day she checked into California’s Promises Impatient Treatment Facility. Then on September 9 2007, Spears tried to make a comeback by performing a live performance for the MTV Video Music Awards. The performances ended up putting her career deeper into the hole by expressing explicit behavior, provocative attire, and lip singing her song, Gimme More. Later that same month a judge determined that Spears is a “habitual, frequent, and continuous user of alcohol and controlled substances and ordered twice-weekly drug testing. Then on November 18th, Spears was caught on paparazzi cameras taking off her clothes she had on in the center of a Hollywood Hustler store and wore the stores clothes out of the store without paying. Her crazy behavior continued through the beginning of 2008. On January 13, Spears was reported having sex in a dressing room at a Sherman Oaks Betsy Johnson Store. The next day Spears was supposed to be in court for charges she committed, but instead she expostulated out of the courthouse parking lot never attending the court hearing. Due to all her actions and bad behavior the court ordered Spears to stay away from her children. In order to help Spears get her life back in order her friends and family talked Britney into admitting herself into UCLA’s Medical Center to give Spears a psychiatric examination. Spears then turned financial control over to her father Jamie Spears (Kelly).
The next past Disney star that appeared after Britney Spears explicit behavior break out, would be Lindsay Lohan. Her first Disney debut was acting in the movie Parent Trap released in 1998. After the release, Lohan agreed to a two movie deal accompanied by Disney. Lohan starred in the television movies Life Size and Get a Clue, making her a celebrity at a young age. But, Lohan’s fame was just getting started, as she would have many more movie deals in the making. In 2003 Disney released a remake of the movie Freaky Friday. This was a blockbuster hit rendering in $160 million in box office. Lohan won many awards for the performance and acquired a Golden Globe nomination. Lohan continued to star in movies and ended the last film she appeared in 2006. According to the Internet Movie databases biography stated that Lindsay Lohan is “one of the most sought after young actresses in the industry” ( In the year 2007, Lohan’s perfect image went downhill as the bad behavior was about to begin right along with the media frenzy. Alan Dukes article Lindsay Lohan’s Troubled Timeline provided the dates of Lindsay expressing bad behavior. On Memorial Day, Lohan was taken into custody for drunken driving accusations following actuating over a curb while driving her car. A few days after this incident, Lohan checked into rehab. Later that same year, she was taken into custody for drunk driving and having pharmacopoeia in her car. In the year 2010, Lohan’s bad behavior would continue to carry on. While partying in Cannes, France, Lohan failed to appear in a compulsory court hearing. For breaking her parole, Lohan was taken into detainment. As a consequence for her actions, Lohan was forced to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet around her ankle. The next year, Lohan was suspected for stealing a necklace from a jewelry store in Los Angeles. On May 11, 2011, Lohan was confined for 120 days in the circumference of her own house. She also received 480 hours of community service ordered by the judge after her lawyer implored no contention. Later that year, Lohan skipped probation and was later released on a $100,000 bond. In 2012, Lohan was convicted of giving misinformation to a police officer, refusing arrest, and careless driving, after she crashed her car into the rear of a semi- truck. On November 29, Lohan was taken into custody for third-degree misdemeanor battery after reportedly having a heated dispute with a woman, while attending a New York City nightclub. For her actions Lohan was later sentenced to 90 days in a rehabilitation program, 180 days of psychiatric guidance and residential work. Recently, Lindsay Lohan tried to make several comebacks, but was unsuccessful. She continues to have problems with drug addiction and managing her life.

Another example of a young celebrity with similar issues is Miley Cyrus. She made her first Disney star appearance on the show Hannah Montana. The show follows the everyday life of Miley Cyrus as an adolescent living two different lives as a normal schoolgirl day by day and a popular studio artist by night. In Margaret L. McGladrey’s article The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful states how the Disney Channel are targeting their young audiences with hidden adult programming. Interesting enough as Cyrus got older; a more provocative picture was being established by her, which became apparent as the show advanced on. Cyrus would begin to have no regard for rules or advice. In the show Cyrus exhibits her body ostentatiously and manages herself in an intimate way. The way Cyrus dresses is inappropriate for her young viewers. Cyrus continues to express her negative influence and has been all over mainstream media debasing her own visual image and showing she has unquestionably no respect for herself. Cyrus stated in her book Miles to Go “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You never know what it’s going to look like on the other side, but you’ll see it eventually if you keep your eyes open.” This gives fans that liked the young Miley Cyrus hope that she can change her behavior. All she needs is more time.
Through these past Disney celebrities one can see the negative influences expressed further through mainstream media and therefore trickling down through to the eyes and ears of young viewers. The young adolescents that idolize these celebrities are being affected by the stars bad influence, in a negative way. Young teens are being exposed to sex, drugs and other bad behaviors. These are all things they should not be exposed to, but young children and teens look up to these celebrities and therefore are exposed through the media. Teens think they need to follow these celebrities in order to fit in and be the cool and popular kid in school. So teens are having sexual relationships at younger ages and are experimenting with drugs. Another negative impact is the clothing and accessories these celebrities flaunt which have tremendous influences on young adolescents. When young teens see celebrities in magazines, television, commercials, news and the like displaying the hottest new clothes/accessories, they think they need these items. They feel these clothes will make them popular and not looked down upon by their peers. Many of these clothes expose more of the body than girls at younger ages should be exposing. The final way these stars affect teens, is though observing their rebellious behavior and hearing it being all over the media, almost popularizing that behavior to the teens. Adolescents see it as if their favorite celebrities are doing it and they are rich and famous, then why should I listen to what somebody tells me and why should I not try it. All of these negative behaviors in which past Disney stars are expressing is hurting the young generation in a more negative way than positive.

In order to stop the past Disney stars destructive impact on the younger generation, people need to become more aware of the impact of media on the children. Barrie Hardyman in his article Anatomy (So to Speak) of A Tween Star stated “Parents need to stop letting the television be a babysitter for their child”. Television should be watched together and so when negative behaviors and bad behavior are exposed to them they can at least be discussed. Without proper supervision and discussions, children are being exposed to these negative role models, which can ruin their life. Parents need to be the role models in their children’s life, sharing their views and values, not the celebrities and the media (Hardyman). So the only question left to ask, is America going to let these selfless million dollar celebrities and media continue to have a negative influence on the younger generation? Or are American families going to influence their children themselves and shield their children from the negative impact these celebrities express and media promotes?

The one thing the young generation should take note on from these celebrities is that money cannot by someone happiness. As one can see these young celebrities are making a lot of money and yet they are so unhappy they are ruining their lives with alcohol, drugs, and bad behavior, and then on top of it teens are being exploited by the media, all for the mighty dollar. This is why the family is important when it comes to television and celebrities. It is important to keep an eye on what the children are viewing and parents should be watching it with them and talking about the bad behaviors and good morals to have in a productive, positive society. (Hardyman and Gauna).
There is a lot for the younger generation to learn from these past Disney stars and their negative affects on the younger generation. Through analyzing these stars lives it is clear to see that money does not buy happiness. The younger generation needs to learn that role models are not from money hungry businesses that are being watched on television, but from someone positive from their life. The younger generation should learn through this analysis that being themselves is what really matters not a spoiled Disney celebrity they see on television.
It is also important for the youth of today to realize that Disney is a business. It is all about making money and it’s done through exploiting the young celebrities and the youth that watch Disney shows and buy their products. Disney has nothing to do with promoting the innocence of youth and everything to do with exploiting the younger generations, all for the mighty dollar. Through all of this analysis everyone not just the kids should learn that past Disney celebrities have had a negative influence on the youth of society and it is important for everyone to understand and monitor media’s negative influences on the youth of today. If this is done in a positive pro-active way, the youth will flourish and grow to be a productive part of future society.

Work Cited
Bickford, Tyler. “The New Tween Music Industry: The Disney Channel, Kidz Bop, and
An Emerging Childhood Counterpublic.” Popular Music 31.2(2012): 417-436.
Web. 12 February 2014.
Blankenship, Mark. “When Disney Stars get Slutty.” (2013): Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
Cyrus, Miley, and Hilary Liftin. Miles to Go. New York: Disney Hyperion, 2009. Print.
Duke, Alan. “Lindsay Lohan’s Troubled Timeline.” (2012): Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
Fallon, Kevin. “It’s been 20 Years since Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan
Gosling Joined The Mickey Mouse Club.” (2013): Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
Gauna, Alyssa. “Negative Influences of Celebrities on Teens”
(2013): Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
Hardyman, Barrie. “Anatomy (So to Speak) of a Tween Star.” (2008): Web. 12
Feb. 2014.
Kelly, Liz. “Britney’s Erratic Behavior” (2008): Web. 25 Feb.
“Lindsay Lohan Biography.” Internet Movie Database (1990): Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
McGladrey, Margaret L. “The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful.”
(2013): Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
Sternheimer, Karen. Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social
Mobility. Routledge, 2011.Print.
Spears, Britney. Interview. Britney: For the Record. Dir. Phil Griffin. Documentary.
MTV, 2008.

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