This week’s five-minute morsel takes a fly-on-the-wall look into the world of teenage fan girls and it reminded me of how much our culture has changed since I was a teenager.
Back in my day, I lived in a small Indiana town that boasted the second largest Amish population outside of Pennsylvania and had a booming tourist industry because of it. I’d cash my tiny paycheck from my ice-cream parlor, restaurant or babysitting job and run over the local pharmacy to see if the latest issues of BOP or BIG BOPPER magazine had come in. Then I’d hole up in my room to see what Michael J. Fox, Kirk Cameron or Alyssa Milano were getting up to. At that time my family didn’t own a computer and, in fact, I hadn’t yet learned how to use one. We had to catch our favorite television shows when they aired and we rented movies from the video store.
For me, the colorful and gossipy glimpse into the world of Young Hollywood wasn’t really about “romance.” I did have crushes, to be sure, but mostly I just wanted to live the kind of life that these teenage actors were living. I wanted to be in movies, go to the beach and live in a place that was sunny all year round. I don’t think I ever believed that the actors I admired would be friends with me; I just wanted to be like them.
In today’s world, that sort of innocent and distant infatuation has evolved into a hyper psedu-intimacy, where every banal thought and deed is posted instantly on social media and available to a public audience. Young teens grow up feeling like they have access to the most private aspects of their idols lives and, therefore, an emotional bond forms that is rooted in the public fantasy instead of in reality. Some of that is status quo, some of it is innocent and some of it can be quite disturbing–particularly when you think about how this constant virtual voyeurism is depriving young women of the opportunity to discover their own strengths, interests and passions. I also think about how much pressure young people must feel to be “followed” socially and to have their five minutes of fame.
Director Liza Mandelup is exploring a worthy subject. You can read her director’s statements and watch this short doc HERE.