I remember at ten or eleven years old adoring the young Drew Barrymore and asking my father to rent her movies for me. I had a huge Firestarter poster by my pool table, as I pretended she was my favorite fan, and I would daydream about meeting her and we’d have a childhood romance of holding hands and walking in the neighborhood park.
Several of these guys were my favorites, because I wanted to be like them—and two of them were the two Corey’s (Haim and Feldman) in the late 1980’s. I liked to pretend that I was in those films: taking on vampires with my best friend, taking a spin with young Heather Graham in a hot rod, or having prostitutes safely working from a police station. You may know many of these films, but I remember Corey Feldman killing Jason Voorhees in the forth Friday the 13th.
Soon, you start hearing about these child stars ending up in rehab or overdosing.
In my teen years, these drug-addicted movie star teens became punchlines.
It’s not just rehab. You also read about your favorites getting taken advantage of by their parents, or they end up bankrupt from spending too lavishly. Even others who seem like they had their stuff together, are sometimes in questionable circumstances like being the last ones seen with someone before they die.
So when stories come out about child abuse, you start to nod.
Yeah, I can see it. How can you not doubt that abuse and favors are done behind the scenes? If a boss of a dive bar can think that they can make demands of a grown up, how much more can a powerful producer, agent or director not think they can sometimes force or coerce a young, hungry, impressionable, and fearful child (or teen) into doing things unsightly?
Do you remember the prank that Sacha Baron Cohen did in Brüno where he pretended he was casting babies for a photo shoot? The things those parents said that they would agree to, just to get their babies into a modeling job! Somewhat unrelated, some parents would repeatedly send their children to go visit Michael Jackson, just so they and their children can rub shoulders with someone rich and famous.
While it is easy to sympathize with the stars when they are children, we forget that these scars run deep and the memories last a lifetime. The sexual abuses that happened to stars like Corey Feldman don’t just go away. They linger and creep up often. They affect how one views themselves. If affects decisions. Triggers can bring a thirty year old scenario back into the foreground as if it happened yesterday.
While many can cope, the terrors and embarrassment of dirty deeds done to one as a child repeatedly revisit, and often affect feelings and decisions way into the future. This happens to normal people. And also to celebrities.
We forget that these stars are real people.
We idolize them, and we think their whole lives are summed up with a movie poster and 90 minutes of film. We forget that these people have real girlfriends, eat real meals, have toilets to clean, and sometimes need to figure out how to make ends meet now that they’re known but not getting roles.
It’s easy to tease Mr. Feldman over exploiting the Lost Boys series, saying that he’s just trying to capitalize on a 1987 cult horror classic. Perhaps. But it’s what made him money as a teen, and I’m sure he’s just trying to provide for his child and girlfriend.
Same with trying to revive talks of a sequel to The Goonies. Same with the more recent music attempts. The bills don’t stop coming in, and actors don’t get royalty checks for blu-ray releases.
Let’s remember that stars are not shielded from criticism. You don’t think they read reviews? You don’t think they’re reading the comments sections? Let us realize that no matter how we feel about a has-been, they are real people with real feelings. After all, we’re all just trying to do the same thing: love our families, pay the bills, and be happy.
The role of men is changing in the 21st century. Want to keep up? Get the best stories from The Good Men Project delivered straight to your inbox, here.
Photo Credit: Getty Images