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Thread: The "Reality" Aspect

  1. #1
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    The "Reality" Aspect

    I think one thing that people forget, and what makes this particular 'reality' show so hard to stomach (because we are dealing with children) is that it is NOT real at face value. Even from the very premise of the audition, there were so many factors involved - this show is not even representative of the 'talent' that exists in America. You expect almost without question that things are 'fair' and 'true' because children are involved, and that is not the case.

    If you look on the official website, you can view and download the 'audition contract', the very basic agreement that was followed by hundreds of pages of additional contracts, I'm sure. They did extensive background checks, psychological profiling, and had numerous requirements for the final 20 families. I would very much like to see some of the people writing here who claim to be parents or grandparents speak on this issue. (oh but wait, they can't because they signed confidentiality agreements too). If any of these kids have careers after this, they will have little control and better hope and pray the show/ managment team treats them right.

    I know we often forget, but in this 'business' it is all about money. And the producers are going to create this show and the output in whatever manner they would like to MAKE money. And the producers own these kid's now.

    So.. for fans who enjoy a particular person, that is great and wonderful. But please don't limit your thoughts to thinking the show is ever about what is best for any of these kids. Even the very personal information that is shared about them on the official website is a cause for alarm, names of schools, hometowns, etc. Even a child beginning to pursue an entertaiment career would not present that much information about themselves, as a matter of their own safety. And a successful child in this business surely wouldn't even indicate the town they live in.

    Personally, I would like to see more people having concern for this exploitation. I know this forum is enjoyed by many kids rooting for their favorites.. but are there any adults reading?

    jmho - S

    P.S. I am not affiliated with this show, but I have extensive executive experience involving children in the entertainment industry and talent development. That's the viewpoint I am speaking from.

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    I am an adult reading and also a teacher.
    Here is some of my deep thinking:
    I think this show is reflective of the overall extreme, out-of-control competitiveness of many parents in our society. In my opinion, you see this kind of behavior in every childrens' activity now.
    If you think AJ is bad, go to a little league game. Every activity is now treated as a profession instead of as a fun hobby. Children are expected to devote all their free time to whatever their chosen activity is, and that is not healthy for the child or the family.
    Example: I know a child who plays soccer. She is six. In addition to the several practices throughout the week, there are often tournaments in which her team plays games at 7:00 am on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings, and one or two additional games on a weekend.
    My niece was involved in ice skating from the age of 5 through 9. They were required to attend two one-hour private lessons and one three-hour free-skate each week. In addition to several summer competitions, each weekend from December through February she attended competitions in different towns, skating three programs each weekend. During the times she wasn't actually skating, the families were expected to sit and watch the rest of the competition for the entire weekend.
    In my opinion, the time requirements alone are ridiculous for children at these ages and their families.
    I can imagine what kind of time the AJ families have to devote to this show, and the activities that have preceded it.
    Sorry I'm kind of off-topic.
    This has gotten way too long. I will post more thoughts directly related to AJ later if you're interested.

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    Getting back on topic, considering what happened during AI2, I hope the Smoking Gun is doing the extensive background checks for these shows now.
    I am concerned for any child whose entire life is focused on one thing. I am concerned about the excessive focus on success in extremely difficult and competitive fields, entertainment or sports, where the deck is stacked against their chances of becoming a "superstar".
    I am also concerned for children when all their time and effort is devoted to entertainment or sports at the expense of their education. They will need a good education in order to develop success in something else in case the "superstar" thing doesn't work out.
    Some of the kids on AJ seem to possibly lead relatively balanced lives. Some of the contestants obviously spend their entire lives immersed in the pursuit of success in show business.
    I have often imagined the teacher's lounge conversations at their schools. I can relate to the frustration felt when Little So-and-So is way behind in Subject X and has been absent almost every Friday for some entertainment event.
    Or Little So-and-So falls asleep every day at 1:00 pm because they had to go to Lesson/Practice at 7:00 am or were up until midnight for Costume Fittings/Rehearsals/Photo Shoots etc.

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    FORT Fan Shaenee's Avatar
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    To address the first post...I think I have been saying all along that for some of these kids, "making it" into the group may be detremental to their career. It could hold them back in many ways from becoming a star in their own right. Lucy for one would be someone who's career could be completely destroyed if she made the group as she would never be taken seriously as a solo artist after that and if the group doesn't do well, she's most likely finished in this business and we will have lost a wonderful singer and performer
    However...having said that, no matter what happens or who gets in to the group, every single one of these kids (from the auditions on) have now got free publicity and promotion. Even the kids who didn't make it to the semi-finals are signing autographs today and getting offers for all kinds of things. It has helped them have a "face" in a business where literally thousands upon thousands of kids and young adults are competing. So everyone DID get something out of it.
    I don't think you will get an arguement on these boards that the conpetition is not fair...we are all bright enough to realize that everything is edited, promoted and manipulated the way Fox wants it to be to create drama and gain viewers.

    To address the 2nd post on this thread:

    I don't think kids are given enough credit today. They start working on things from a very young age and I see nothing wrong with it as long as the kid isn't being tortured into it.
    Let's be honest...in todays world, it is extremely competitive. if you want to be in the Olympics, or the NHL or be an actor, you have to get started very young. There is just too much talent out there.
    I was raised by a so-called "stage-mother" and true, there were times I probably would have liked to just be at home playing with my friends or my Barbie's instead of on the road performing. But what I gained from that experience is priceless.
    I feel like today I have so much more poise and confidence because of it.
    No...you don't want to force or push kids to do something they absolutely hate, but at the same time, I think you're doing a terrible injustice if you just let them sit in front of TV or play video games or have fun, fun, fun all the time instead of giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential in life.

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    FORT Fogey zippy's Avatar
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    Yeah, Pippin, I hear you. I have read the audition contract, btw, and I have conflicting feelings about this show. On the one hand I enjoy watching the kids perform, but on the other hand, I kind of wish that none of them make the group, because I'd rather they were home just being kids than out making money for 19E. But ultimately it's the parents' call, and I hope they know what they're doing. The kids I really wonder about are the ones who didn't make the final 10, but got just enough time on TV to be pursued by agents who are filliing their heads full of ideas about TV, modeling, or commercials.

    ETA: Nothing I've seen so far makes me think this group will be successful, though, so maybe they will all be able to get back to "real life" fairly soon.

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    Shaenee---I agree that it is obvious that AJ is manipulated by Fox and 19E and that the "winners" will be selected accordingly. I just hope the AJ parents realize this and have prepared their children.

    Zippy---I also enjoy watching the kids perform and speculating on who will get into the band, although part of me is completely skeeved out by the whole idea.

    I think the exploitation of children aspect may be one reason why the ratings are so low for this program.

  7. #7
    FORT Fan Shaenee's Avatar
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    I know I'm most likely in the minority here, but I don't feel that the majority (I'm nost saying "none") of these kids were exploited. Just the opposite, I think they were given a wonderful opportunity, and a growing and learning experience.

    I have seen many of the younger people on this board say they wished "they" could have auditioned or been in the group.

    Even if you don't win, it can be a positive experience and make you stronger and if you're really meant to be in this business, it can actually make you more driven to succeed.

    I won a lot of competitions when I was very young, and I LOST a lot too. I'm thankful for every one of those experiences. I now look at my parents and say "I appreciate you giving me the nudge I needed to reach my full potential and help me become the person I am today". I think kids handle things so much better than we give them credit for.

  8. #8
    AJs FAN MalibuGlitz's Avatar
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    "I have often imagined the teacher's lounge conversations at their schools. I can relate to the frustration felt when Little So-and-So is way behind in Subject X and has been absent almost every Friday for some entertainment event.
    Or Little So-and-So falls asleep every day at 1:00 pm because they had to go to Lesson/Practice at 7:00 am or were up until midnight for Costume Fittings/Rehearsals/Photo Shoots etc."

    "The kids I really wonder about are the ones who didn't make the final 10, but got just enough time on TV to be pursued by agents who are filliing their heads full of ideas about TV, modeling, or commercials."

    I understand most of what your saying even if I don't agree with all of it, But I'm 16, And I personally actually love being BuZy going to Dance Classes, and Singing, And Acting Lessons, And Doing Competitions, for me it's Fun, and yes, still to me it's more than a Hobby because It's something I love to do, so I do consider it sometimes like a proffesion. Also To St.Louis, I personally know about missing school for Shows, or competitions, ect. and I know a few teachers didn't really like it on certain occasions, but most of the time it was fine as long as you make up the work on time. And 1 of my friends actually was able to scedule a study class for her last period of the day so if she needs to leave early for an audition, or something she doesn't miss a class. As for staying up all night for Costume Fittings/Rehearsals/Photo Shoots etc., well, that sometimes happens maybe with adults, but most or all Kids I know aren't allowed to stay that late, not only by their parents, but by whoever is directing it, and Child Labor Laws(IE SAG Young Performers Handbook), like for example, all rehearsal in Dance performences for kids are never sceduled late.
    And To Zippy, I just hope if some of the other Kids found agents, or a manager that they are respectable agents with a good record. They will only be filled witht fake promises and wrong information if they don't find the right agents. Not every1 in the entertainment business is out to rip people off. And Also I just wanted to say that why not let a child do what they love, whatever it is, as long as it's safe and fun for them, I mean you wouldn't make your child quit soccer because you thought he or she wasn't having time to be a kid, as much as you would stop them from singing, dancing, or acting, because that's what they are doing, is being a Kid when they are doing something that's fun for them, if they are forced into it though, then no, they shouldn't have to do something they don't want. There are a lot more parents forcing their kids to be Doctors or Lawyers than Singers and Actors. Lots of Kids like to dance around their house or sing in front of their family in the living room, why not give them a good oppurtunity to perform more, and in front of more people who will see them and their Talent, I think If you're born with it or are trained to perform, (if you wanted to perform but need training to perfect it) then you should show other people. Anyway Sorry for such a long Post, Just wanted to say all that, I respect your opinions, just wanted to say mine too. THANKS Bye
    Last edited by MalibuGlitz; 07-11-2003 at 05:58 PM.

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    Gosh,
    I have to say I'm suprised and very pleased to see some other discussion here in this topic.
    The one thing I'd like to say mostly to Shaenee, is while I agree that they are getting a lot of exposure, and many of the kids may very well be being approached by offers of management and such, that is something relatively easily accomplished in the kid world. Getting an agent is not difficult at all, especially if you are in LA.
    The exploitation I fear is that certainly those who make it into the band will have no say about their career path. They have kids who have little or no experience, and parents who are equally unaware. This is a tough business, and their competition extends far beyond this show. There are kids who have already worked years on their skills in the professional entertainment business. Acting, modeling and other entertainment avenues require a skill and training just like singing. If the quality of some of the shows doesn't improve, being an AJ might turn into a detriment.
    It sounds like your experiences were positive, because your parents made it that way for you. And it pleases me very much to read that. That is not always the case. And what makes it even worse is that children in entertainment have much less value than their adult counterparts. Their fame is fleeting, and as many people dislike them as do. That's not to even mention the 'subculture' of people who like little girls and little boys for the wrong reason. You can count on one hand true 'child stars'. I just hope that someone is able to help all of them keep their focus and their priorities straight and that it does not turn into a regret (or worse) later down the road. Three years in a child's career is an ETERNITY.. unlike adults they change and grow so quickly. Some of these kids won't even be recognizable in three years, yet AJ will still own them. (I know the confidentiality agreements signed for this go out 3 years.. assuming the management would as well.)
    And.. I do not know what kind of compensation they are receiving, other than hotel accomodations.. but I venture to say it is not much... and certainly not in line with what the company is making off of them. The initial contract uses language "without consideration" several times, that means.. no pay.
    An opportunity? Perhaps a great one for a few... that question won't really be answered until a couple years from now. But I don't think it is a given that they will all have a great experience. In fact, I'm sure there have been some casualties along the way already. And when AJ2 shows up..their 15 minutes of fame will begin to end. That's asking a lot out of a kid, to understand how this comes and goes so quickly.
    Thanks for taking the time to write out and share your thoughts.
    S. :-)

  10. #10
    FORT Fogey zippy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pippin
    (I know the confidentiality agreements signed for this go out 3 years.. assuming the management would as well.)
    Now THAT is an interesting piece of information. I've mentioned in other threads on this board my suspicion that we will start hearing American Idol/19E "horror stories" about five years from now. Maybe it will only take three years. But the management contract for AI goes on forever, at the discretion of 19E, so I doubt this one ends at any specific time.

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