Aaron Carter and the Disgusting Truth about Discarded Lives
When I was 14, I unintentionally fell into what would become my career. In 1994, the head curator of the local art gallery (who was a family friend) knew I was a creative kid and asked if I would create a short performance at the art gallery. Two days later, eight calls came in to perform at birthdays, store openings, community events, etc. Within two years, the show had gone from a ten-minute setup time for audiences of dozens to a four-hour setup time that needed a full crew, dancers, pyro, etc., for audiences of thousands.
What came with that success was an environment of adults who didn’t have your best interests at heart. In one situation, a manager was more interested in under-rehearsing and overbooking to the point I had literal physical exhaustion. This by the time I was fifteen years old. Never mind seeing psychological, emotional and, sometimes, physical threats/abuse by the time I was sixteen.
To see what happened to Aaron Carter last week made me think "There but for the grace of God go I." Because I had one thing so few child actors have: a parent that stood in the gap and protected me from predators. With her help, I was able to (as they say) "Rise above my raising" and become a productive member of society with healthy relationships.
I watched the media and fans portraying Aaron's situation as a “Little Boy Lost” type of dynamic. But what I saw was a kindred spirit who was dealing with very real physical and mental health issues who had been trained from a young age to keeps secrets at all costs and to protect some image that ended years ago when he stopped working for record labels and studio executives.
Instead of watching the situation and judging, ask yourself this: Is there anyone that I know who might be in a similar situation. If so, please act on it. Reach out to them. Open the door of conversation and let them know that you are wanting to support them because life wouldn't be as fun without them in your life.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health or addiction issues, please reach out to someone you trust or The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health | CAMH.