Jodie Foster on the Cruelty of Child Stardom

Actress Jodie Foster was moved to write a passionate essay for The Daily Beast by the firestorm of gossip, rumor and harsh criticism surrounding the romantic triangle involving “Twilight” star Kristin Stewart, her live-in boyfriend and “Twilight” heart-throb Robert Pattinson, and a 40-year-old film director caught on video smooching with Stewart.  Foster is, as we all know, a former child star, like Stewart, who co-starred with Jodie in “Panic Room” when the 20-something “Twilight” idol was just 11. In her piece, Foster eloquently (even though she went to Yale) condemns the fishbowl life that celebrities have to endure today in the social media, and expresses the belief that parents do their children no favors when they push them to early Hollywood stardom.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again,” she writes, “if I were a young actor today I would quit before I started. If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally. I would only hope that someone who loved me, really loved me, would put their arm around me and lead me away to safety.”

I have been privileged to know former child actor Paul Petersen, a truly great man who has tirelessly and passionately worked to alert the public to the inherent abuse of child stardom in Hollywood, and to make the industry more sensitive and humane to its youngest participants. It was Paul who alerted me to Foster’s commentary.

You can read it here.


8 thoughts on “Jodie Foster on the Cruelty of Child Stardom

  1. I intended to write a response on my blog after reading Jodie Foster’s opinion because she negates to mention that she along with Kristin Stewart were put in this business that parallels a pimping lifestyle (sadly not always just imitating).

    These parents put their babies in a business that reverses the responsibility of earning their own income while simultaneously robbing their children of their rightful asset: childhood.

    The fact that they choose to remain in the business as adults is an essay in self-abuse

    • Good comment, although I do not think all child actors are self-abusive for staying in show business; at least a few, I would give the benefit of doubt, have rationally chosen the most lucrative career path that they are most qualified for (and most knowledgeable of how to navigate). I wonder if, instead of the proto-pimping and breadwinning-reversal path, it’s an even worse parenting decision to involve kids in the activity we see on TV as “Toddlers & Tiaras.” Both seem like high-risk paths for abuse.

  2. I salute Foster for her stand. Shirley Temple is another example no one wants to hear about. Always exploited but never trained, studios kept pumping out her films without investing in her artistic development. The result? Temple “retired” a low-talent has-been at 22. A nice person, but a has-been. Definitely not a supportive industry for children.

    • I think that’s unfair to Shirley. She wasn’t as remarkable an adult actress as she had been a child star, but nobody was or could be. She was competing with herself, and doomed to lose—the child version was the greatest star of the 30’s by far. Still, adult Shirley was pretty, sexy, and could handle drama and comedy. She quit becuase she was sick of Hollywood, not because she wasn’t working.

      You point is correct, but Temple’s a lousy example.

  3. Oh boo hoo. I’m not buying Jodie Foster’s sob story. It’s absolutely true that the media crucifies celebrities to sell stories. That’s what the media does. You have a bad hair day, you get caught without makeup, and it’s going to be everywhere. But so what? Grow up. It’s a choice. You don’t have to buy into it and play the media’s games. Look at Hillary. She stopped caring what she looks like and people respect her more for it.

    Kristen Stewart is not a little girl. If she was being a homewrecker (and it wasn’t somebody else in that photo cavorting with the married director) then she deserves what she gets. She knew the deal if she was caught (or she should have). Nobody forced her to do it. She screwed up and it got caught on camera because of all her money and fame. Excuse me if I’m not crying about it. Hollywood people aren’t screwed up because of the limelight. That isn’t what does it to them. It’s a combination of too much freedom and “playing the game”– that is, trying to live up to the fantasy images that their agents have carefully cultured for them. Tom Cruise is a “smooth, cool, suave” hero so he’s not supposed to ever be caught with his finger up his nose or ketchup on the front of his shirt. If he is, then the media would have a field day. Well, Tom Cruise can choose to buy into that image or reject it as merely a “role” he plays from time to time. It’s when actors take their roles too seriously and try to play them ALL the time that problems start. Note that actors who play more normal, flawed individuals have less media “scandals.” Kathy Bates for example. When was the last time Kathy Bates got lambasted in the media for a relationship gaffe? Never. Because she’s not expected to live up to that image. But Kristen is. However, Kristen has a simple choice. She could reject our expectation that she play that role all the time. When the media lashes her for failing to be what we expect, she could just respond by saying “that’s not who I am in real life. Hollywood is ridiculous.” And it is. We do crucify them, no doubt. But for some reason, they play along too. And it’s way more to their benefit than ours… so end of story. Hollywood actors who complain are pathetic.

    • Hard to tell-did you not read Foster’s piece, or just didn’t understand it? She wrote that if she had a choice and knew what she was getting into, she wouldn’t choose a career as a celebrity, and that makes perfect sense. As for the rest—as usual, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Hollywood actors indeed have no right to complain about their loss of privacy, as it’s part of the price they pay for their careers. They have every right to complain about rudeness. Foster simply writes that Stewart’s and her own profession is unhealthy, and that social media have made celebrity even more abusive than ever, and that is demonstrably true. Kathy Bates has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

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