Do Reality Talent Competitions Exploit Children?

American Idol, X Factor, and America's Got Talent Break Kids Down While Toddlers and Tiaras Devalues Them

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    (Photo: Reuters/Oleg Popov)
    A Roma woman applies make-up on a girl during a beauty pageant. April 8, 2011.
By Justin Sarachik, Christian Post Reporter
December 12, 2011|10:19 pm

Reality shows like "America's Got Talent," "American Idol," and "X Factor" are wonderful shows for people of all ages to get discovered for their talents, but one of the more important issues these shows present is, "How young is too young?"

"X Factor's" age limit is 12-years-old, while "American Idol" has a limit of 16. Recently these reality shows have been under fire due to possible exploitation of these young teens, and also a lack of responsibility concerning the price of fame and pressure has led people to condemn parents.

On last Thursday's episode of "X Factor" one of the young contestants, 13-year-old Rachel Crow, had an emotional breakdown in front of America upon being eliminated.

The girl was practically screaming as she began a small meltdown.

Television critics and concerned parents fear for the psychological effects on a child going through such immense pressure on a platform so great and feel the age requirement should be raised to 17 or 18.

Another key in the whole reality talent show business is the exploitation factor. These shows are making millions of dollars off of children performing and they aren't receiving anything for it as far as the public is aware of.

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However, perhaps the most egregious to some, is TLC's "Toddlers and Tiaras," which shows children aged three through five compete in beauty pageants and contests where they are trained to act and behave in a certain way to beat out other children their age in beauty and style.

Most of the hatred toward this show stems from the behavior of the parents with the children. Some parents take their daughters body waxing and tanning, while some put veneers in their teeth, and cake on makeup while instructing their daughters they have to be prettier or more cute to standout in front of all the other girls.

Some blogs are calling these girls "Prosti-tots" because of the costumes they wear. Sometimes they wear bikinis, or elaborate underwear to mimic sex icons Madonna or Lady Gaga, while another wore Julia Roberts outfit from "Pretty Women," a movie where Roberts played a prostitute.

NewsBusters reports the show as being a free pass for pedophiles as well.

Brent Bozell, the columnist of the news site wrote, "It’s quite possible if these kinds of videos and photographs were found on the computer of a 40-year-old man, he might well be arrested or investigated for child pornography. But TLC is spreading these images far and wide, with no consequences – and no apparent shame."

The child that dressed as Julia Roberts, Paisley, was only three-years-old at the time of airing and her mother saw nothing wrong with the skit. She said, "She’s three. If she was 10, I never would have considered this. But as young as she is, I thought it was very comical," reported NewsBusters. “It was the cutest thing ever. It was very innocent.”

Christian Post readers were mixed about whether shows like these are harmful to children.

Michael Gambino, a drummer has said, "It’s horrible. We played a music conference last year and shared the hotel w Toddlers & Tiara people and it was sick looking at miserable kids and their "less important" siblings moping around the hotel."

Vincent Balestriere, a journalism student cited a personal example: "A woman three doors down from me entered her youngest daughter into those pageants. She usually had to take her kicking and screaming."

"I think toddlers and tiaras and shows like that are in a completely different bracket then American idol and shows of that nature. Toddlers and tiaras is just more pushy parents and less of a choice by the kids. Shows like American idol you see more often than not the kid making the choice to compete and use their talent rather than the parents saying this is how it has to be and pressuring their children into doing it," said Nicholas Olivo. "Jackie Evancho at 10-years-old shows more maturity in her 2nd place finish on Americas Got Talent then most adults do and she is now a best-selling artist."

Joe Kool feels things sometimes get out of hand on these shows, "alot of the time they do indeed have good intentions but have a wrong way of showing it or go about it the wrong way."

While Anthony Caccese thinks it is all about the child's maturity level. "If they can’t handle losing, then they shouldn’t compete."

Broken Records Photography Matthew Ryan feels the rules should stay the way they are, and said, "It's more about the parents than the kids usually; those toddler pageants especially. But there are those kids with real, rare talent that want it bad, and want it for themselves."

He then throws a jab at "Toddlers and Tiaras," and said "It's basically child abuse IMHO (In my honest opinion)."

What do you think? Are these shows too much or they are entirely different altogether?

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