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The Rant Zone
Mikey Hates It!
If Mr. Blackwell has come out of his lover's hole and seen his shadow, it must be awards season, huh? I watched the People's Choice awards the other night, and I'm torn when I see that little kid from The Sixth Sense. On the one hand, you'd like to see him win, and on the other, for his own good, you wish he wasn't even in the business.
Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but I'm reasonably sure that acting isn't a suitable profession for adults, let alone children. These days, every movie ends with the assurance that "no animals were injured in the making of this film." Yeah, but they never tell you about the kids, do they?
Child actors are a tragedy waiting to happen. Look at the Little Rascals. They're all dead. Now, sure, they pretty much all died of old age, but does that make them any less dead? O-tay, then. Where was I? Oh, yeah, the harsh reality of a child star segueing into his or her most challenging role: adulthood. Life cereal is running a new series of commercials featuring a grownup Mikey. Remember Mikey? The "Mikey-likes-it" Mikey? Well, get this: Life cereal cast some other guy to play the adult Mikey! Nice, huh? So where is the real Mikey? No doubt he's sitting in a dimly lit bar in the Valley midafternoon, badgering the bartender to pour one more on the house for the real Mikey, goddammit! He'll drink it! Mikey'll drink anything.
I speak from experience. Most of you don't know this, but I was a child star and I have kept it under wraps because I thought it might hurt my career as an adult. You probably don't recognizeme with the goatee but, yes, I played the little redheaded girl Margaret on Dennis the Menace. Fuck you, Wilson!
The most miraculous thing about children -- other than their uncanny ability to repeat verbatim in front of your boss every joke you've ever made about his speech impediment -- is their innocence, their sweetness, and their utter, total trustfulness. Children truly do believe in the goodness of mankind. Throw a child into show business, a world where the phrase "I'll call you" actually means "I will use every ounce of will that I possess to avoid coming into contact with you for as long as the sun shines in the heavens and I continue to draw breath," and, trust me, that childlike quality will be stripped faster than a fully loaded Lexus parked in front of a Detroit crack house.
Christ, isn't it hard enough for a kid to have a normal childhood without being schlepped around to audition for every walleyed, halitosistic, bad-toupeed, spits-when-he's-talking casting director in town? Putting your kid in show business means taking him to meet the very people you should be doing everything in your power to protect him from. The only idiots who don't see that are frustrated stage parents who try to fill their career-void by being so demonically driven they make William Randolph Hearst look like Jeff Spicolli.
Fortunately, you can tell when your kids are in danger of becoming child stars. There are some tea leaves you can read. Like if you tell them to go out and play, and they say, "Play how? Moody? Belligerent?" Or if your kid sees news coverage of another kid trapped in a well and says, "Hey, did I read for that?" Or if you call your kids in for dinner and they say, "Sorry, I don't eat with the crew." All of these are bad signs.
No child really wants to be in show business. Ask little kids what they want to be, and they'll say a fireman or an astronaut. I guarantee you, not one will say: "I want to be on a set all day with a bunch of alcoholic, prescription drug-addicted, psychotically self-involved adult costars, waiting to say my completely unrealistic lines that illustrate how adorably wise and precocious I am."
We all think our kids are adorable and say smart, funny things, and that the world would love them if it could just see them on the big screen. But that doesn't make them actors; it just makes us parents. If you honestly think any one kid is that much cuter than any other, you're missing the point. All kids are cute. They're designed that way. There is no such thing as a kid who isn't cute. The trick in parenting is to make sure your kids are still cute when they become adults. And the best way to guarantee that is to keep them the fuck out of Hollywood.
Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.The Rant Zone. Copyright © by Dennis Miller. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.