So I just got done watching The Game Plan on TV. For those of you who don’t remember this movie from 2007 (I’d never even seen it until now), it’s a movie about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson discovering he has a daughter from a previous relationship, and he and his daughter discovering each other and becoming a family. Straight-up sappy stuff. It might have been my empathetic side, or the three rum and Cokes I’d had, but it was emotional for me to watch. However, at the end of the film, with all the emotion and the little girl screaming to her dad, I was left thinking: Who in their right mind lets their kid become part of a movie like this? This isn’t an argument about kids earning too much money too fast, or not living a normal life. It’s actually much simpler than that, and similar to the whole argument that romantic stories put stress on relationships. (Seriously guys, there is no chance of you becoming a prince, slaying a dragon, and having the love of your life. That being said, there is hope for the “Will Ferrell as a lumberjack kicking the door down and spreading the seed”-type ending ala Step Brothers, so…ladies?)
For the girl in this movie, with all the emotion she was supposed to feel in the movie and everything, how the hell is she supposed to go home and just expect the usual from her own parents? The Rock, at the end of the movie, picks her up, kisses her in front of cameras and says that he is taking her home and loves her. How is this girl’s real-life dad supposed to live up to that? This young girl goes from the movie to a dad that says good job, now do your homework. Let’s be real: the chances are slim that the dad can ever live up to that kind of emotional high, regardless of the fact that it’s just a movie.
And it isn’t even just limited to just this movie. I am extending this argument to every movie where a kid is hired to be the kid of a famous actor or actress. These kids are asked to be so attached to these lead actors and actresses for months in these big Hollywood-type extreme stories. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a lower-middle-class household. When I was around the ages of these kids, I was full of overactive imagination. I used to imagine there were armies in the backyard and that I had to defend the house with a bunch of fake guns. I used to think Santa was real, a thing I sadly and honestly believed in until my teens. As kids, we believe all this because we are not old enough to separate things that are real from imagination, because the real world sucks most of the time.
That is why having a Hollywood kid is so dangerous. They go from living the life of make-believe stories about love and parents and things of that nature, to a real-life relationship with real parents and real things (school, chores, homework, etc.). If I had a kid, I wouldn’t let them do Hollywood things if they wanted to. Jesus, if I had to try to tell the kid from The Sixth Sense to do his homework, after he just spent like 2 months seeing dead people with Bruce Willis, I would just give up. How would I ever be cool in his eyes? I am a person who wants to be a teacher and likes to volunteer, not a man who has yelled “Yippie-kay-ye” and looked cool, or had kinky sex in a tube with Mila Jovovich. Compare the two in the eyes of a 10-year-old or something. That’s impossible, and there’s no comparison.
While writing this article, I have been thinking about the amount of issues that these child actors go through when they get older and the world doesn’t care to see them in movies anymore. They’re forced to live in reality, and all of their formative years were spent relatively out of parental control in a fantasy world, with fantasy parents. Look at Macaulay Culkin, for instance. He was huge as a kid actor, and played a role where he basically beat the shit out of older people all day. Now he’s a no-name with a flesh-colored beard, the worst color of beard. His last IMDB entry is for a Robot Chicken episode from two years ago, and they even have a picture sans flesh-colored beard, because it is a site for actors, not Craigslist Casual Encounters. So I end with this: How can anyone really want their kid to be an actor? The answer would be if they are crappy parents. Lindsey Lohan’s parents wanted her daughter to be an actor, because they are such screw-ups that it seems that they still want to live in the fantasy. I think having a kid actor is just not fair to the kid or the family involved. And it damn well wouldn’t be fair to me, because I am no movie badass. But hey, if Tom Cruise can do it, there is hope for my short ass.