While watching "The X Factor" a few weeks ago, I was interested in a conversation between Simon Cowell and former-Disney-actress-turned-pop-singer Demi Lovato, held backstage as they were getting ready before the show.
As Lovato was telling Cowell about her relationship with one of the singers from the red-hot band One Direction, Cowell interrupted and asked if she’d kissed him.
“Simon!” A flustered Lovato blushed, denying the two were anything but friends.
“Stay away from him,” Simon cautioned. “He’s pure.”
Lovato has been through quite a lot over the past few years, going to rehab to deal with her bulimia and cutting addictions. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has since come back stronger and more confident because of her struggles. She recently became a contributing editor to Seventeen magazine where she discusses her personal issues as part of a larger campaign called "Love is Louder Than the Pressure to Be Perfect.”
But Cowell seemed to be hinting at a different, “wild side” of Lovato. Fair or not, accurate or not, it's reflective of the scrutiny these entertainers are under once their names are associated with negative headlines.
Now, it appears another former Disney star, Selena Gomez of “Wizards of Waverly Place,” is seeking out a new image.
Newly showcased in the racy R-rated movie “Spring Breakers,” Gomez is quickly shattering all bubble-gum, goody-two-shoes stereotypes in one film.
"People do put a label on you,” Gomez told the New York Daily News. “I know that I have younger fans, and this is an opportunity for myself to kind of grow. It is a little shocking, I think, for the younger audiences ... but I think it was right for me.”
The film is about four college girls who rob a restaurant, go to jail and then — for better or for worse — get bailed out by a drug dealer who may have certain expectations of them.
Apparently, Gomez originally told her fans during a Toronto press conference, “Don’t go see it." But after director Harmony Korine protested her comment, Gomez clarified herself, saying, “Kids my age — my generation — I think that they should see it because it's very real. We're not really sugar-coating anything.” She did give warning that the film was rated R, but then seemed to shrug her shoulders about anything wrong with younger kids seeing the film with their parents, saying, “That’s as much warning as I can give to the parents and the kids. But you can’t control what kids do.”
Are Disney darlings so afraid of being stuck in a niche that they’re willing to do anything to break the mold? In Hollywood, that means upping the sexual ante.
We’ve seen it with “Hannah Montana” star Miley Cyrus, who posed with nothing more than blanket draped loosely around her body for Vanity Fair back in 2008.
The women I’ve looked up to in life are the ones who possess the mature qualities of modesty, decency and propriety. The older I’ve become, the more I’ve realized the importance of so-called “old fashioned” values such as virtue and chastity. Because I’ve “grown up,” I’ve been able to realize that the kind of attention that comes from conducting one’s self in a very crude and sexual way for ratings, status, male attention or whatever is not the kind of attention that is fulfilling. Ever.
In fact, I think it shows a lot of immaturity to think that drugs, alcohol and risqué behavior are the marks of an “adult” woman. Ironically, whenever a celebrity is caught drinking and driving, having an affair or is entering rehab for drug addiction, the entertainment industry makes it seem like such a tragedy — then gets right back to making blockbuster movies about those very issues, luring young women such as Selena Gomez in.
Gomez went on to clarify that she wasn’t an overly Christian woman, and is therefore OK with doing a very raunchy film.
"He thought I was super, super Christian," Gomez said of her director, Korine, according to the Vancouver Sun. "I was like, 'If I was a Christian girl, I probably wouldn't have done this movie.'”
But who says Christians have a monopoly on values? I know plenty of non-Christian women who feel the same way I do about having standards.
It makes me upset to think this film was made for “kids” who used to watch Gomez on Disney. I sincerely hope those young girls listen to Gomez’s first plea and not go see her film.
In fact, I hope Gomez learns a hard lesson — and that she ends up becoming a better person, as Lovato has.
After all, grown-ups like us have realized that it’s best to learn from our mistakes.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.