Confession: I have edited and re-edited the draft for this post multiple times with a view to make it gentler, but instead, it comes out bolder and more passionate each time. I will stop now before it gets worse!
I guess I need to admit I care about the issue more than I thought… and risk looking like a fool. Here I stand upon my soapbox.
I’ve been listening to Jackie Evancho a lot lately, enjoying her lovely soaring mature voice, startling from such a little body.
I’ve been listening, and feeling an unexpected sense of rising distress.
Can you tell me what her parents and coaches are thinking, giving a nine and ten-year-old songs like Can You Feel the Love Tonight?, Music of the Night, and My Heart Will Go On at a time of her life when she should still be singing Jesus Loves Me? When did it become okay to teach a child to sing to us of sensuality?
I wince as I watch her, still wholesome and sweet, but changing–her mannerisms more affected, her body dolled up. Who could be unchanged by such a flood of praise and popularity?
I wonder if this is the kind of child trafficking we condone in America? Are we so willing to sacrifice the innocence of young performers as to set them awash and drunken with praise and expect them to keep their heads, to maintain their charming simplicity? Are we so eager to place adolescents in the position of sensuous adults that we cannot see the trajectory? Have we learned nothing from the Elizabeth Taylors, the Lindsay Lohans, the Charlotte Churches? Can we not predict the troubled lives, the wake of broken relationships once our carefully-groomed prodigies are all grown up, once they’re hurting and angry and robbed of everything good?
How is this not child exploitation?
We offer fame and money; we steal purity and unselfconsciousness.
We promise Jackie she can become a celebrity, and fail to tell her she can no longer be a child.
I mean hey, it makes money.