The impact of media on young women in the spotlight
By Anna Kleinschnitz, Contributing Writer
Throughout history, the media has played an active role in the destruction of famous young women.
The news today often mentions Britney Spears because of her court battle with her conservatorship. For the most part, she the media portrays her in a sympathetic light and has the support of the media and the masses.
This is a major difference from the past because in the 2000s, the paparazzi constantly harassed her and ruined her image. She is not the only woman who has experienced this phenomenon.
Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Baker, is one of the most well-known figures from the 20th century. At the peak of her career, the world considered her one of the most famous actresses globally. With all this success comes backlash.
Often, the media reported her as a ‘diva’ and ‘air-headed.’ She came late to set and had a hard time memorizing her lines. Media scrutinization did nothing but exacerbate Monroe’s declining mental health, which eventually lead to her death by overdose. Today, we see her dresses selling for millions of dollars, but in her day, the world demonized she her for being sexual.
Anna Nicole Smith, a woman often compared to Marilyn Monroe, also experienced similar treatment. She media companies like CBS and TMZ scrutinized her. They targeted things such as her weight, personal relationships and talent.
After her eventual death by overdose, her mother filed a lawsuit against these agencies because of how toxically they behaved. Today we remember her for her beauty and her tragic life, but there was little sympathy for her then.
Amy Winehouse was a well-known singer and songwriter in the 2000s. Though listeners liked her music, and she was renowned as a talented person, what seemed to attract people to her was her private life. The media extensively documented her experiences with a toxic relationship and drug use in the public eye.
The press constantly harassed Winehouse for these things. She eventually died of alcohol poisoning. When people think of her now, they recognize her music and her tragedy more than they realize how the media must have impacted her already troubled mental state.
A more recent example of this trend is Lindsey Lohan. After rising into popularity after “The Parent Trap” and “Mean Girls,” she was at the top of her career. During this time, the paparazzi stalked her. They followed her to parties and reported her to be a ‘bad girl.’
The constant bad press worsened her drug use and she fell out of the public eye for a time. After some time in rehab, she has returned to acting, but has not reached her prior levels of success that the other women in this article had. Perhaps this is because she did not die like the rest of them.
That leaves Britney Spears, child star turned sex-symbol. Like many child stars, she enjoyed partying and did drugs. The level of paparazzi stalking her, however, was unprecedented. She almost never had a moment to herself.
The world scrutinized her weight, style, relationships and even the way she parented. It was this constant harassment that led to her public breakdown. This is one of the many reasons she had to enter a conservatorship in the first place, which makes it ironic for her to receive such media support now.
What history tells us is that the media needs to keep their eyes off successful and troubled young women. They are most vulnerable due to the misogynistic tendencies of the public and constant harassment does not help.
This is a thoughtful and important story. Good work, Anna!