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Publication Announcement

The true cost of fame: New book explores the effects of celebrity culture on child stars

20 March 2017 Birmingham City University

The impact of life under the spotlight for some of the world’s most well-known childhood celebrities is examined in a new book to be released this week.

‘Childhood and Celebrity’ explores the complex relationship between childhood and celebrity culture, and documents the changing nature of high-profile youngsters in the 21st century, and our growing fascination with child stars.

Published by Routledge, the book has been compiled and edited by Birmingham City University academics Jane O'Connor, Reader in Childhood Studies and John Mercer, Professor of Gender and Sexuality.

The book brings together a collection of international research and looks at specific case studies of former childhood stars.

Among the famous names explored in the book are ‘Home Alone’ star Macaulay Culkin, ‘The Exorcist’s’ leading lady Linda Blair, and Disney star turned femme fatale Miley Cyrus.

The book explores the struggles many young stars experience in trying to maintain their stardom through adolescence and how early exposure may have contributed to future battles with drugs, public transformations and controversial acts.

Jane O’Connor, Reader in Childhood Studies at the University’s School of Education said:

“As a society we have always had a fascination with child performers. From the stars of Hollywood’s golden age, including Shirley Temple and Judy Garland, to the adored stars of the Disney Channel such as the likes of Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

“We watch their lives play out on social media, in newspapers and on our television screens. Every misdemeanour or mistake highlighted for all to see. But what affect does living under the spotlight really have on them and their later lives.

“Increasingly as a nation we no longer just want to be like celebrities – when given the opportunity, we want to be celebrities too, and children today are being brought up with the evidence of that opportunity all around them. The rise of social media, TV talent shows and reality television has meant that these opportunities are even more accessible.

“However we need to pay careful attention to those children who are becoming famous and the effect celebrity culture has on them.”

"Childhood and Celebrity’ will be officially released on Friday 24 March.

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