Thursday, January 18, 2007

Child Abuse Disguised as "Art"??

Kingdom Advancer has a very detailed and informative post up on a subject that should make us all sit up and take notice.

KA stated:
It's about protecting a young girl (actress Dakota Fanning) and standing up for what's right.

I heard about this on the Sean Hannity radio show today. I think it's disgusting and awful...and I can't believe the parents would let their 12 year old daughter do such a role! It's amount of money or fame is worth putting a child through that!

There was a so-called "psychologist" on Hannity's radio show today who tried to point out that this film would "bring light to a much needed subject"...blah blah blah. Yeah right...have a young girl going through a simulating rape scene is the right way to do that???


Paul Petersen, former child star who played Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show, has now become an advocate for child actors through his A Minor Consideration organization. It was formed in 1990 to give aid and support to young performers---Past, Present and Future.

Paul countered everything that the promoter of this terrible film was saying on Hannity's show. He pointed out that the girl had to have endured some awful things from the director of the film in order to make the scene "realistic."

Please visit Kingdom Advancer's Wrong In So Many Ways post to see all the reasons why we should be concerned about child actress, Dakota Fanning, as well as any other child actors out there who could be subjected to "Indecent, Inappropriate, Inexcusable, Irresponsible, Unacceptable, Unwise, Unlawful child abuse" disguised as "art."


Jaded said...

As you know, I have been an actress for most of my adult life, although I don't perform as my primary means of making a living any more. I now run a very successful music/acting studio, so I get lots of kids who want to become actors and actresses. I don't accept ANY student who has a parent who is motivated to have their child start working in the industry at a young age. The entertainment industry is difficult for an adult, and it's overwhelming for a child.

The first thing I tell them is that kids who work rarely become adults who work. So, if they think they're jump-starting their child's career, they're not. They're actually putting a time limit on it. The second thing I explain to them is that if their child starts to become successful, he or she will become the primary - or worse, the SOLE - bread winner for the family, which is wrong.

The way the laws exist, a parent only has to hold 15% of their child's earnings in trust for them. They can keep the other 85% for themselves to act as managers, or even for living expenses. In California, they have to save 100% of the child's earnings for them, but the way people get around this is by having a permanent address in a different state.

Think about it... how many times have you seen a very popular child star fade into obscurity as soon as they get older? What's cute and unique about a 10 year old isn't so cute in a 20 year old. And, how many times have you read that parents squandered almost all of a child's earnings and there's nothing they can do about it?

For the most part, parents who are that motivated for their children to work are doing it simply to live vicariously through their children. They'll tell you that it's only because it's what their child wants, but seriously, kids want alot of don't necessarily GIVE them what they want. They're CHILDREN. They want to stay up all night and eat candy at every meal sometimes. You don't LET them do what they want! Children aren't able to make great decisions for themselves. If their parents won't parent them, who will?

The idea that a 12 year old girl should simulate a rape scene in order to earn a living is, at best, irresponsible. Even the most mature 12 year old is still a child. Their brains are not fully developed, and they are incapable of seeing the long-term repercussions of anything. I'm not saying that this movie isn't "important" or that the story shouldn't be told. There are many ways to shoot a film that don't include showing a violent rape scene, yet can still provide emotional impact.

I realize that this is a LONG post, and I apologize. I've just seen things like this too, too often. Even one of my students is going through this...she was on Broadway as one of the young girls in Les Miz. Yes, I was proud of her, but her mom is SO pushy. They now live in CA (I see them for the summer), and this little girl is the sole bread winner for the family. If she doesn't work, they don't eat, period. How is that the child's choice? She's now 15, but she's still tiny and sounds very young, however, she's developed the way any 15 year old girl does. Now she can't get work because she looks young but is obviously mature. She does a lot of voice over work, but still, at 15, she is responsible for providing for the family. That is child abuse, plain and simple.

Again, sorry for the length. But even as long as this is, I could go on for hours about it. We are in total agreement about something again, Christine. Who would have though?

Christinewjc said...

I didn't realize that you were so involved in teaching acting students until your comment here Jaded. I'm sure that we could probably have a long discussion about the pitfalls of children and teens wanting to get into the acting industry. Been there, done that. Learned a lot, though.

I just remembered that you had asked about my daughter being in the industry.

To be honest, my heart sank when she first told me that she wanted to be an actress. Doesn't everybody's child want that at some time or another? I didn't know how determined she would be until we got into following the path into the industry. The stories I could tell you! Thankfully, the pitfalls didn't cost us anything more than just money and hard lessons.

The "acting bug" hit my daughter at an "older child" age. She was 14, and wanted to take acting lessons. She started off studying with Barbara Shannon, who was quite a gruff and critical teacher. However, Shannon was a good teacher and did a great job of videotaping "before and after" scenes so that the students could see their progress. She died a year or so after J went on to study with another acting coach, Al Valletta. He's great! I was so impressed with his teaching ability and he steered us in the right direction when it came to finding an agent. He was wise to advise us to enter through the commercial acting route. Since then, J has been with 3 agencies. Two for acting and one for print modeling. She seems to get more castings (and work) these days with the print model agency. I could go into more detail if you want to chat some more about it.

J is happy with the print model work, but she laments that she doesn't have time to continue acting lessons. College, her PT job, traveling to auditions and castings takes up so much of her time these days. But she really wants to get back into lessons and move on to TV and film acting auditions.

As the typical mom that I am, I REALLY like where she is at right now. She's making good money, yet not into the whole "Hollyweird" scene that I see destroying young women like Lindsey Lohan. J has a good head on her shoulders and I don't think she would get caught up in that kind of life, but still being "anonymous" in the acting industry has it's benefits (IMHO).

Whenever I can, I share stories and articles about how celebrities get so messed up in their lives. She listens and is actually thankful that she knows such things. I plan to discuss the Dakota Fanning incident with her and asking her opinion on it. We don't agree on everything in life (what two people do??), but we do agree on many of the same issues that confront people in her generation these days.

Thanks for sharing all that you did in your comment. I think it's important, and helpful, for people to know such things. I'm glad to read that you are concerned about the children you teach and care about their well-being, over and above the "success, fame, and money" goal(s) that often drive people into the acting industry.

Yeah...we agree yet again! Amazing! heh heh

Jaded said...

Being anonymous in the industry is often a good thing, I agree. When I was performing for a living, I did a lot of really cool stuff: 5 national tours of Broadway shows, 2 shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, leading roles with the Boston Lyric Opera and the Washington National Opera, guest soloist at the National Cathedral a number of times as well as at the French Embassy several times, concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center etc etc. Please don't take this as a "Bragging" thing, because it's not meant that way. It's just what I did. I am good at what I do, as are any number of other people. I worked constantly for more than 10 years, often being offered roles without auditions. However, I'm not famous, not even close. I also did, and continue to do well financially, but I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I am blessed to be able to do what I love for a living and to be successful with it. However, only about 3% of the people who consider themselves as actors actually make a living at it, and less than 1% of those people are famous. More than 80% of the people in the Screen Actors Guild earn less than 5 thousand dollars a year at their craft. (I wasn't a TV or film actress, so I was never in SAG. I am in Actor's Equity Association - AEA)

Any stories you could tell, I have probably either heard or experienced, and I'm sure you could relate to all of my stories as well. I stopped performing for a living for a number of reasons. I remember very clearly the day I knew I needed to be doing something else. I was on tour with a woman who was in her early 50's. I was 29 at the time, and engaged to Mr. Jaded. We were sitting backstage one night, and she was frantically trying to reach her husband because she'd just heard one of her daughters was sick. She didn't have the money to fly home, and she hadn't earned enough money the previous year to have medical benefits through AEA. I just thought..."I don't want to be this woman 20 years from now." I knew Mr. J and I wanted a family, and I knew that in order to raise a child effectively, both parents needed to actually live in the same state! As soon as that realization hit me, I felt as if God had breathed a sigh of relief, like I finally heard what He'd been trying to tell me all along. It was always a struggle for me to be in that business and have strong faith because, well, the things I saw...the stories are endless. So, now I teach. I did go to graduate school and I got a Master's in Special Education from Rutger's. It helps a lot with what I do, teaching exceptional kis.

I've never regretted my decision. I have friends, a number of whom you have probably even heard of or have seen, who remained in the business and are doing quite well. None of my female friends who are still performing have children. They thought there would be plenty of time, but now they find themselves around the age of 40, wondering if it's too late. Every one of my female friends who decided to have children also decided to leave the business. It's not impossible to raise kids and work, but it's very difficult, especially when you have to travel so much.

I tell every student that if their goal is to perform for a living, great. If their goal is to be famous, they're going to be in for a rude awakening, because there is a vast difference.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Thank you so much, Christine. If the chance presents itself, talk about this issue on other blogs you visit, as well.

Keep praying...I'm trying to figure out if there's any other action we can take right now.

Doug said...

Unbelievable on so many different levels.

otto said...

Perhaps we should wait until we actually see the movie before condemning it.

A question on movies in general: there are many movies that depict bad things happening to children: abuse, neglect, bullying, hunger, murder, etc. Should none of these, which are surely just as horrible as rape, ever be depicted in movie? Or is it specifically rape that is being objected to here?

For example, in the movie Hide and Seek Robert Deniro portrayed a psyhotic father who kills his wife at the beginning of the movie, then tries to kill his daughter (portrayed by Dakota Fanning) at the end. Surely that would be just as traumatic to Dakota's character as being raped. So would the same objections apply to Hide & Seek?