I came across a list of 30 child movie stars who died at early ages. Some died as children, but the majority died as young adults. Two common threads stood out: most lived and died in the greater Los Angeles area, and their deaths were associated with drugs and alcohol.
Neither of those details surprises me. Los Angeles, a city full of movie sets and superstars, is known for it’s fast pace nightlife, filled with drugs, sex, and rock & roll. Throw in an impressionable child star, frequently exposed to that lifestyle, and the demise such as the deaths experienced by many of them, does not surprise me.
I want to believe I’m in no way accountable to these souls – how they live their lives and die is their business. Yet I feel unsettled. These child stars were my entertainment for many years.
Wiping my hands clean, I continue on with my life. After all, what could I possibly do?
Today, I spot what looks like an empty beer can, nestled in the middle of a bush. If I hadn’t been in a rush, I would have stopped to take a picture of it. What struck me was this beer can’s alleged journey, and eventual landing in the middle of a bush. Had one of the deceased child stars ever tossed their empty beer can into a bush, I wondered.
Later on I see empty shot-sized vodka bottles scattered along a dirt path that runs adjacent to a sidewalk that separates a decent part of town, from a not-so decent part. This time I had time, so I stopped to capture the image.
I realized as I stooped low to get a good angle, that the prevalence of empty booze bottles scattered throughout my town has a similar effect on me as the awareness of child stars whose deaths are associated with drugs and alcohol. I do, in fact, initially feel concerned and responsible. These empty bottles don’t land at their destinations on their own; a real human being at some point was at the other end. When I was barely a child myself I began my own journey of being at the other end of an empty bottle of booze.
The cognitive dissonance for me is partly created by my own youthful experience with drugs and alcohol, and knowing how easily I could have been met by the same kind of pathetic death as the young stars. Another reason I’m bothered by how these young movie stars die is because it is the very consumption of their movies, by people like me, that kept them in that lifestyle.
You might be thinking, how could anyone possible intervene! It’s a reasonable question, given the magnitude of alcohol problems in America. It’s not so reasonable, when you consider the alcohol problem in American.
What could anyone have done for me? I don’t know. By boycotting movies with child stars, how can I be assured it would save them from living a fast life in a big city full of drugs and alcohol? I can’t. Even harder to address would be the numerous souls trudging through the streets of my town. Do I roam through the streets myself, petitioning them to give up the booze?
I have absolutely no idea how I can advocate for those whose lives interact or depend on alcohol on a daily basis. But I can’t help sense these are our people, and there should be more concern – from all of us.
So, for today, I will do the only next right thing that comes to mind: pray, and be willing to be of service should an alcoholic need my help.