LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

The Childhood Celebrity?

on April 18, 2013 2:19pm

When we think of novels based around certain children, we might think of the dreaded child celebrity that has started to sweep across the world. Today, more and more kids are trying to claim the spotlight and generate some sort of fame through any sort of outlet. This topic made me think of certain children from the novels we have discussed in class like the Llewelyn Davies boys from the Peter Pan stories or Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. But what we see from these children is a drastic 180 degree flip from how children today react to the fame and recognition.

I find it fascinating that today children like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson are celebrate as Harry Potter and Hermione but embrace the fame and fortune. They were not teased or picked at for embracing the characters from the famous novels; no they loved it! So why is it different for the children of the novels we have read? It could definitely be the large generational gap from then until now. Obviously there was not a large “Hollywood” glamorization or novels being made into movies. But still, I know that if I was a child, I would love having stories written about me! But at the same time, there could have been enormous pressure from fans to live like the characters from the novels.

So what made these children hide from the world? I cannot give an answer. But the stark contradiction of today’s celebrity children status compared to that of Christopher Robin’s time is totally different. If we still lived in a society where celebrity status was not being craved for every small thing, how strange would our world be? Just some food for thought!

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2 responses to “The Childhood Celebrity?

  1. This blog post fascinates me because I think it brings up a valid point about the 180 degree turn our society has taken socially. During the time when many of these children’s books were written, children were taught that modesty was a virtue. Children, in many cases, were adored and celebrated, but if they embraced this then suddenly they were considered cocky and spoiled. This stigma has transferred into today’s society: however, we are slowly changing our incessant need to apologize for our successes.
    Recently, I read an article titled “We’re Not Sorry,” which touched on America’s obsession with apologizing for success. Whether it be celebrities in the media, or athletes on the playing field, or anyone who is doused in the spotlight, our culture has continually shamed people for their good fortune. Nonetheless, in recent years I believe we as a society have been moving away from this apologetic nature and are adhering more to the claim “Sorry I’m Not Sorry.”
    To use the examples used in this post, the children in these children’s novel are not like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson because their characters come from a different era. I think the perfect example of these historical differences would be the character of Christopher Robin. Could you really picture the character of Christopher Robin strutting around on the red carpet or posing for GQ Magazine? Preposterous. The reason why is because these children’s novels come from an era so vastly different culturally, that they would find difficulty relating to each other if placed in each other’s time periods respectfully. To compare them is to compare apples to oranges. The millions of other children who gazed upon their pages adored the characters in these novels, but today’s child stars are admired from beneath the pedestal to which our culture has elevated them.

  2. While I appreciate and believe that there is some truth about how celebrities are revered as the characters they play, rather than being penalized for it, I certainly do not believe that this is always the case. Kaley brought up Emma Watson as being celebrated for her role in Harry Potter, however it should be known that Ms. Watson was actually reported leaving Brown University in 2011 because of the fame. In articles that I have read, she said that she was in denial for thinking that she could have a normal college experience and actually left because of her notoriety. The money and celebrity benefits probably sound really nice to us, and the celebrities who receive them are assuredly not complaining much, but I also do not think this does not come without sacrifice. Like the Llewelyn Davies boys and Christopher Robin, these celebrities are unable to have a sense of normalcy in their life and autonomy that we as regular citizens are entitled to have. Furthermore, I believe that comparing the children modeled as characters and the celebrities that play them is an unfair contrast. The Llewelyn Davies boys and Christopher Robin did not ask to be main characters in their respective books, they did not even write the book, or sought out the fame that came as a result. Celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson made the choice to pursue that role. They auditioned for the role and prepared for it, therefore they themselves sought out stardom. For the real life models of the books that we have read in class, it must be considered that they did not ask for this, making their stardom even more off-putting because unlike the celebrities we have today, they had normalcy and lost it due to the actions of authority figures in their lives.

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