Tween Talk: The Users and Abusers of the Hollywood Limelight

Meet Nicolette Cappuccilli:

Slight resemblance? Identical and absurdly long last name? She’s my youngest sister, and if you know me at all, you know I love her like crazy. What I love most about her (besides the adorable nasal in her voice and her incessant mispronunciation of the word “button”) is her innocence. She has no reservations and no preconceived notions of how the real world works. Currently, her two biggest concerns are that the premiere of Once Upon A Time airs this Sunday night and that she wants to be Mrs. Justin Bieber, which brings me to my point (I actually got here without rambling on about nonsense for five paragraphs? Let us take a brief moment of silence for my digressive self, which appears to be MIA this week): Young people, now more than ever before, are heavily influenced by the behavior and actions undertaken by their oh-so-cherished pop culture icons.

Taking it a step further, I believe that the evolution of technology directly attributes to the loss of naïveté that preteens are meant to embody. Of course, depending on our personal upbringings and family circumstances, we all blossom at different ages. But during my years as a tween (awkward and uncomfortable as those memories are), I was the poster child for innocence. At age 11, I listened to *NSYNC on my pink, cassette-only Walkman. Chances are that I was sporting a neon-colored scrunchie around my wrist. My hair may have been accessorized with butterfly clips and/or those painful comb-headbands that gives you a “just had Botox” look. My leggings could have had the extra attractive strap that is placed below the heel of the foot. Maybe I was a DJ Tanner-meets-Steve Urkel hybrid, but is that such a terrible thing to have been back in the 90’s, when I wasn’t yet “old enough” to have a cell phone, iPod, or personal laptop?

In 2012, it’s a completely different story. Tweens’ knowledge of technology is more comprehensive than most adults’. My father, a man armed with street smarts and plenty of wisdom, was caught red-handed asking the 11-year-old in the above photograph how to turn on the computer. And he’s not the only one. Tweens know how to operate tablets, iPhones, DVD players, Sirius XM radio; you name it, they’ve done it. They’re loosy gooses when it comes to technology and they know it. Schools have adopted it into their core curriculum, parents feed into it by wrapping iPhones as birthday presents, and children can’t get enough of it. This constant emphasis on technology facilitates tweens’ access to pop culture: the rarely good, the almost always bad, and the uglier ugly. And because they are too young to absorb the right information, they absorb all the information. They learn how to act according to what they see on PerezHilton.com. They base their wardrobes off of TMZ’s homepage. They see the do’s and dont’s, but they can’t distinguish between the two.

Consider using this as a guideline of sorts. If you have a young girl in your life (sister, cousin, niece, next-door-neighbor, pet, etc.), pass it down to her. My catalyst is Nicolette; not only because she’s my sister, but because she’s young, she’s innocent, and she’s impressionable. Knowing this, and knowing what is branded on the covers of magazines and streamed virally on the Internet, I also know how easy it is for tweens to idolize the wrong icons.

Below you will find a list of 10 female celebrities who young girls may consider “role models.” They are broken down into two groups of five; five celebs who embody the term, and five who trash it. 

The Users

Demi Lovato

Yes, she was once a child star on the verge of a mental breakdown. Yes, she had multiple eating disorders and practiced self-harm. Yes, she checked herself into a rehabilitation center because she wasn’t strong enough to fight alone. Say what you will, but I’m sick of people throwing stones and verbally bullying a young woman who, unlike most, took it upon herself to change her life. She recognized her mental flaws and she sought help. And now, she is an active spokesperson for anti-bullying campaigns throughout the country, encouraging girls to rise up against the negativity and believe in themselves. She ignored the criticism and regained her spot in Hollywood; and if you ask me, the light shines brighter on her for it.

Emma Stone

Seriously, how could you NOT love her? She insatiable, hilarious, and dating Andrew Garfield. Not to mention she’s one of the few celebrities who’s managed to remain humble despite her massively successful career. If that doesn’t convince you, this quote certainly will: “You live once and life is wonderful, so eat the damn red velvet cupcake.” See? She’s contagious.

Beyonce

I shouldn’t have to explain myself given the above name and image, but we all know how I love to hear myself talk. Beyonce is the living definition of the term “wonder woman.” She’s covered all facets of the entertainment industry with ferocity, poise, and old-fashioned talent. She’s got a killer voice, a beautiful family, and an empire that she built from the ground up. Perhaps my favorite quality about Beyonce is that she gives back as much as she takes in. She’s traveled around the world in an effort to better the countries, children, and cultures that she is exposed to. Quite simply, she runs the world (PUN).

Jennifer Lawrence

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past year, this is Jennifer Lawrence, more popularly known as Katniss from The Hunger Games. After watching her first interview, I fell in love instantly. My favorite celebrities are the ones who act the same no matter where they are. They have no filter when it comes to stating their opinion, whether they’re being grilled by Jay Leno or their mom. Any celebrity that admits to almost peeing their pants while on the Red Carpet is a keeper in my book. Even better than that? She doesn’t give a damn what size she is; and she has no problem saying it to your face, either.

Sophia Bush

A little B Davis never hurt anyone. I know, I know, One Tree Hill had its last hoo-rah last year, but old favorites die hard and she was definitely one of mine. Outside of playing the beloved Brooke Davis, Sophia Bush has taken huge strides in making the world a better place. Follow her on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean. Taking up causes involving politics, women’s rights, and the environment, she inspires girls to give back to the community, tweet by tweet.

The Abusers

Lindsay Lohan

Obviously LiLo takes the cake when it comes to childstar-turned-trainwreck, and it really is a shame. It seems like every time you turn on E! News, she’s added yet another form of criminal activity to her already long-winded list of offenses. First it’s drug and alcohol abuse, then it’s stealing, DUI’s, jail time, hit-and-runs, and lie on top of lie. LiLo is the epitome of wasted talent. She had so much promise as a young girl (Parent Trap days were the best) and she threw it all away for reckless partying and an unappealing reputation. And she’s in so deep that it doesn’t really matter where her career is headed in the future. She could play the role of her life in the upcoming Liz and Dick, but at the end of the day she will still be referred to as Lindsay Lohan: walking disaster.

Amanda Bynes

Talk about lack of personal responsibility; Amanda Bynes is literally in denial when it comes to her bad behavior. After all of the tragedies we’ve witnessed and heard about in the news regarding texting/drinking and driving, she refuses to stop doing either. The craziest part about this for me is how easy it is for her to not do these things. She has a substantial amount of money thanks to All That and various teenage romcoms, so why can’t she afford to call a cab? Hire a car service? Friggen take a jet for God’s sake. Do ANYTHING except operate a vehicle under the influence and without the proper precautions necessary to do it safely. But for reasons unbeknownst to myself and the rest of the world, Amanda Bynes is allowed to be a reckless driver.

Rihanna

I’m going to breach the taboo topic that nobody wants to talk about: Is Rihanna out of her mind? Honestly, is she legitimately losing brain cells as we speak? I’m not going to speak out of term when it comes to Chris Brown because even he knows what the consequences of his actions were when he raised his hand to her in 2009. Domestic violence is a serious issue. Celebrity or no celebrity, in love or out of love; no woman OR man deserves to be a victim of abuse, be it verbal or physical. Whether or not she wants to recognize it, Rihanna set a precedent for young girls when she made the decision to invite Chris Brown back into her life after that incident took place. Time after time, tweet after tweet, interview after interview, she’s sent out a message that encourages girls to forgive their abusers; and that is something that I just can’t understand or tolerate. Abusive relationships, in any and every form, need to be put to an end. Victims of abuse need to walk away knowing full well that their lives are better for it. If Rihanna were a role model, she would have acted accordingly.

Bristol Palin

Assume I’m going to talk about teen pregnancy? Guess again. What’s troubling about this individual is not her decision to take on the role of “single mom” and raise a child out of wedlock so early in her life; but rather, the fact that someone whose life has been anything but “traditional” has the audacity to criticize other forms of non-convention. Of course, I’m talking about Bristol Palin’s narrow-minded perspective of what constitutes love, marriage, and family. Her distaste of same-sex marriage certainly isn’t a quality that she hides from the public. In fact, I’ve heard through the gossip grapevine that she’s made several homophobic comments in the company of family and friends on that terrible reality show I’ve never watched in my life. Having your own personal beliefs is all fine and dandy, but condemning others’ feelings and deeming them negative just because you feel like it is blatantly crossing the line. Mutual acceptance goes a long way,Bristol; look at your own choices before you start criticizing someone else’s.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is like that brown-noser everyone secretly loathed in 7th grade. Regardless, that’s not why she made the list. Aside from one or two singles here and there, all of her songs are about failed relationships where 100% of the blame is placed in the laps of her wrong-doers. Virtually every man that has dated Taylor Swift has lived to regret it simply because of her annoying, incessant need to write about everything they did wrong while they were with her. How is it that a girl who has wooed the world with her sweet charm and risen to the top of the country charts within a few short years is constantly being victimized? What happened to girl power? Where did her confidence flee to? Taylor, here’s the truth about your past relationships: they’re in the past. No relationship is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, so take some ownership for your own. Did you really hop into bed with John Mayer and expect him to make you heart-shaped pancakes every morning for the rest of your life? Do you realize how much time you spent bad-mouthing Nick Jonas when you could have been promoting your music? Newsflash lady: you are not the victim. At any given moment, you have the power to decide who you should and should not be with. I know that she’s done her part when it comes to helping the community and inspiring others to follow in line (which, I have to admit, is pretty awesome), but there are different forms of role modeling. Girls who listen to her music are being taught to blame everything on their ex instead of recognizing their shortcomings and moving forward. Not cool, TayTay.

Being a part of the Hollywood community is a tricky concept when you lay out all the terms. In exchange for privacy and autonomy, celebrities are rewarded with designer wardrobes, VIP accommodations, endless perks, and a loyal fan base. Yet in the midst of all the glitz and glamour, some celebrities forget about that last clause and throw their cares to the wind. They fail to recognize that young girls all over the world look up to them. Maybe they didn’t ask for that title when they signed up for the limelight, but there are loopholes in every industry, and Hollywood is one of them. Being in the eye of the Hollywood storm is both a rarity and a privilege. The first five women have used that power for betterment and progress; the last five have abused it for no good reason. With privilege comes perks and responsibility, especially when an 11-year-old girl has your songs on her iPod.

Let this be a lesson to all celebrities (because they clearly have nothing better to do than read my blog post, duh): Think twice before you throw your middle finger to the cameras and negatively impact your young fans. Otherwise, I cannot be held responsible for removing you from Nicolette’s “Famous People I Want to Meet” list.

Bieber, you’ve been warned.

Kristina Cappuccilli

20-something creative writer turned corporate, armed with big ideas and even bigger dreams. Avid reader, lover of all things musical, incessant blogger. Sucker for movie quotes, feature writing, and a good book. To inspire and be inspired.

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