Sunday, August 3, 2014

What's wrong with former child stars

Okay, this is probably it. This is what's wrong with former child stars who go bad. Hollywood doesn't do them to it. It's not early fame.

Here it is:

A university study followed "cool kids" in middle school for ten years, from age 13 to 23.
Through a series of interviews and surveys, the researchers found that the 'cool' kids in middle school were more likely to have engaged in romantic behavior at young ages, participated in delinquent activity and picked friends based on their levels of physical attractiveness.
Basically, they were "cool" because they did things in middle school---dating, drinking, experimenting with drugs---that most kids didn't do until high school. But when they got to high school and EVERYONE did this stuff (if they wanted to), the cool kids tried to be even more extreme.
“It appears that while so-called cool teens’ behavior might have been linked to early popularity, over time, these teens needed more and more extreme behaviors to try to appear cool, at least to a subgroup of other teens,” study author Dr. Joseph P. Allen, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, said in a press release. “So they became involved in more serious criminal behavior and alcohol and drug use as adolescence progressed. These previously cool teens appeared less competent -- socially and otherwise -- than their less cool peers by the time they reached young adulthood.” 
It came to me watching the first audition film of Jean-Pierre Leaud for Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows. Truffaut reportedly got a letter from Jean-Pierre's principal warning him that the kid was a brat. He would hang around with older kids and run around off campus (this was at a boarding school). They kept catching him with dirty magazines. He was hard for teachers to deal with.

That was when he was fourteen. From the audition film:
"How old are you?"

"I am fourteen."

"It's a bit old."

"I'm not that tall."

"You look twelve?"

"I think so."
So who were these high school kids hanging around with little Jean-Pierre when he looked 12? The study noted that the "cool kids" in middle school tended to hang around with older high school kids. But, since high school kids usually don't like hanging around with middle schoolers, they were hanging around with the dregs of high school which screwed them up even further.

I should note that, as far as I know, Jean-Pierre Leaud turned out okay. Although I did hear he was high on drugs the whole time he was filming Luc Moullet's A Girl is a Gun

In a way, I feel a little better knowing that the cool kids went on to lead miserable lives. Although it wasn't universal---some of them turned out just fine---and it was no picnic for those of us who weren't cool, either. And you shouldn't have to pay the rest of your life just because you were popular at 13.

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