Actor Shia LaBeouf has finally seemed to have enough. The 28-year-old, who shot to fame on the Disney Channel series Even Stevens, is said to be beginning treatment for alcohol addiction following an arrest last Thursday in New York City. He allegedly caused a commotion during a Broadway show following an afternoon filled with drinking at bars located in nearby Times Square. It is the latest instance of reckless behavior and stranger-than-fiction moments from the Transformers star. It is a story many have heard before regarding many names that have been connected to the Disney Company. As time goes on, a dark shadow has eclipsed over what was once a base for hopeful young stars to achieve fame. Nowadays, the public does not wait for the next Disney star; they seem to wait for news of the next Disney disaster.
Entertainers such as Lindsay Lohan, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus have all either gotten their start or achieved a high level of fame through Disney. Almost like clockwork, all of them hit a great height right before a great downfall. Lohan is almost in the news weekly. Gomez is rumored to have entered rehab after a turbulent and recently reinstated relationship with singer Justin Bieber. Lovato suffered through a drug addiction, as did Efron. As for Cyrus, many probably get a tabloid story regarding her actions hourly.
Back in 2012, the president of worldwide Disney Channels, Gary Marsh, gave an interesting interview to The Hollywood Reporter. With so many young stars who were once under his watch now making the wrong kind of news, Marsh claimed that in essence, what was happening to those young stars, like LaBeouf, was not his problem. He explained that the company brings in help from security experts, psychologists and life coaches, to guide their young charges along, but even that could not lay out a foreseeable path.
“We’re really clear on where our role begins and ends,” he explained. “It’s usually after the pilot but before the series launches. We give them all of the tools they might need, but the network is not responsible for raising [them].”
Marsh is not the parent of any of the children who cross through the doors of Disney. Once they are gone, there is no need to keep them under the protective wing of Mickey Mouse (or any other winged Disney character, if you need to use logic here). LaBeouf has not been connected to anything Disney related in over a decade. However, there is still some blame to place.
Children who grow up believing they are the “star” do not always end up in a clear-headed space. It is a sad circumstance the public has seen many times over. These young hopefuls end up on a wayward path without any sense of guidance because they are exalted so early on. LaBeouf may be one of the lucky ones; he may be able to get through his issues. However, the same can not be said for everyone.
In August of 2013, an actor by the name of Lee Thompson Young was found dead after committing suicide. Young, who was appearing on the TNT series Rizzoli & Isles, had once been the star of the Disney Channel series, The Famous Jett Jackson, back in 1999. According to many sources, Young struggled with bipolar disorder for years and had been dealing with depression in the months leading up to his death. In their defense, no one knows exactly when Young’s troubles began, but it does turn a somewhat shifty eye back toward the Disney Corporation.
The list of somewhat “successful” stories of past Disney stars is even more shocking. The main two who have seemed to steer clear from the ashes are actresses Raven-Symoné and Hilary Duff. Granted, both Duff and Symoné had careers before they ever appeared under the Disney logo. However, two young starlets out of a countless number of other faces, both male and female, do not tip the scales in Disney’s favor. Something is definitely going on and a simple line of “it is not a problem” should not be the only explanation, especially when they have done so much to make sure these young faces make money and keep ratings high for them.
Perhaps Gary Marsh is right: the parents and families of these young stars should step in and be the guiding force in the lives of their children, not the company they work for. In truth, it happens to young celebrities from other youth oriented channels and companies, such as Nickelodeon. Maybe it is not fair to call out the Disney Corporation as being the leading force in what turns their stars, like LaBeouf , into troubled human beings. But just because it is not fair does not mean that they are fully innocent in what happens to these young lives afterward. Whether Marsh likes it all not, many disastrous roads seem to lead right back to Disney.
Opinion by Jonathan Brown