When I was in middle school, I found myself a wee bit obsessed with Anne of Green Gables. Maybe slightly more than a “wee bit” if we’re being honest. I fell in love with the movies first, as backwards as that sounds. I watched them constantly. Between that and my LES MISÉRABLES obsession, it’s a wonder that my family didn’t kick me out of the house. (Although, they wanted to. Just ask my sisters.) It didn’t take me long to fall completely in love with the Anne books as well, but since the movies were my first experience with the stories, the actors that portrayed my favorite characters were who I pictured as I read. Megan Follows, who played Anne, became the image of all things Anne of Green Gables. And that’s the only way I ever saw her.
The Anne ideal continued in full force until I was home sick from school one day, flipping through the channels trying to find SOMETHING besides Hogan’s Heroes. (Just kidding. I loved Hogan’s Heroes. It was probably over and I needed something else to watch.) As I scrolled through, I happened to see Megan Follows on the screen in something other than the Anne movies. I was floored. OMG ANNE OF GREEN GABLES IS IN THIS MOVIE. It took only a few seconds to realize that this movie, based on a Stephan King novel, was nothing like the Anne movies. And Megan Follows? Well…she wasn’t Anne-like at all. I was a little devastated. It changed my vision of Anne, unrealistic as it was. Being the (super innocent) impressionable youngster that I was, it was hard for me to see my most beloved character in a totally different light. However, this is NOTHING compared to what my kids are seeing with characters that THEY loved growing up.
Over the years, there have been several celebrities that have given all of us examples of what NOT to do. When you’re in the limelight, there is no such thing as a private life when you’re out in public. (Or…you know, sending out naked pictures of yourself.) In the age of instantaneous cell phone pictures and social media at the ready, news (and pictures) travel faster than you can say “twerking”.
When the latest celebrity scandal involves someone that has been a visible presence on our TV or radio, it’s highly unlikely that my kids don’t hear about it. They are old enough that their classmates will talk about it at school, or they see it on magazines in the grocery store. Also, like my teenager, they will hear about it on any of the social media formats. So instead of pretending that it didn’t happen, we talk about it.
Nothing gives you a better discussion about choices and consequences like a young celebrity sharing questionable pictures of themselves or showing up to a club completely (and publicly) wasted. Obviously, this happens to “regular” people, too. But the visibility and star status of the people we see on TV make what they do seem cool to their fans, our kids. But it can also make our kid feel sad or disappointed in a celebrity they looked up to. My youngest once asked me why a certain celebrity was such a ‘bad person’ now. It gave me the perfect opportunity to differentiate between a bad person and a person that makes bad choices. This is also the perfect time for saying NEVER DO THIS OMG. Also, please always wear underwear always.
On the most recent episode of Sometimes Celebrities Make Bad Choices, Dylan Sprouse (that link takes you to IMDB only) has learned the lesson of “naked pictures almost always reach the internet if you’re a celebrity” like so many before him. Despite his previous questionable judgment, he’s managed to handle the situation with as much decorum as one possibly can. Once again, I found myself discussing the situation with my children. Choices, consequences, do they ever learn? A similar conversation as times before.
Although, this time around, having celebrity status does not seem to exclude you from being put in your place – or humiliated – by your (twin) brother:
I think that’s what Winning the Internet looks like.