The Next Wave of Child Stars: Hollywood's Next Thing?

The Next Wave of Child Stars: Hollywood's Next Thing?

With successful projects starring children in major roles, it's very likely Hollywood will run with the idea - no matter what.
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Stranger Things season 2 has just premiered on Netflix. The new season continues the story of the kids from Hawkins, Indiana, and their discovery of the Upside Down. Meanwhile, It is still making millions of dollars at the box office, and Logan spinoff about Laura is being written, at least according to the director/writer. So it's really no surprise that Hollywood is going to try and push out more films starring kids to cash in on the Stranger Things craze. However, as most people have said, forcing kids into a movie is not always the best decision, and with that, it is pretty obvious that they will be blinded by the possible box office returns and not make good product – simply rehashing popular products to hopefully make back their budget, regardless of quality.

It's usually a constant concern when a movie or television program makes a child or children a major focus, that the kids will either not act like real kids or drag the movie down – or both, like in Iron Man 3. This was especially an issue with Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, as the film showed a young Darth Vader, but not as a teenager or young adult, but as a nine-year-old kid who could race in a podrace. Another major example is Jurassic World, where the child leads were almost treated as just exposition machines, such as the younger brother mentioning a divorce that is never brought up again. However, when Stranger Things was released on Netflix in summer 2016, all those concerns were quickly put aside. In this show, the kids act like real kids – in every way from dialogue to physicality. It's obvious that the showrunners, the Duffer Brothers, do something that many other Hollywood writers don't – they understand how children are. More often than not, kids in movies and television are written as dumbed down adults, which is far from accurate. It does the same thing as Stranger Things, presenting the child leads as normal kids, from the way they talk and act to the way they would react to, you know, a killer clown terrorizing the city. This was highly praised by critics and audiences alike, and the studio noticed.

But as with any “big thing” in Hollywood, be it superhero movies, science fiction, found footage horror, or really any popular film's genre, we're likely to enter an era of subpar “for the money” horror/science fiction featuring kids as the main characters. Of course we've had those before, but I'm talking more like The Mummy style of ripping off the MCU than the inevitable The Explorers remake. James Manigold, director and writer of Logan, is currently working on a spinoff about the character Laura, a young girl who has the same powers as Wolverine. This will go one of two ways – the studio lets Manigold make the movie as he sees fit, or they'll get involved and make it into their own take on the “kid lead equals box office” mindset. Even the upcoming all-female remake of The Lord of the Flies seems to be cashing in on this concept, as unless we had already seen kid characters being experimented on, killed by a clown, or literally made in a lab to become a weapon, no studio would want to fund a modern take on that story. While It was a success, it wasn't because it was the cast being mostly kids, it was because there was effort and care being put into the script and production. Look at the surge in found footage horror movies after The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. Not all of them, in fact most of them, haven't been good or even watchable because the people who greenlit the project wanted a quick and cheap buck, knowing the audience will go see it if they say it's in the same style as Blair Witch.

But as I said, this might not be as bad as say, the current shared universe craze. If the studios and filmmakers put their time and effort into making the best possible product, we could see more good movies that aren't afraid to take risks despite the age of their leads. Maybe they won't push for more product like It or Stranger Things, who knows. Rather, perhaps we will see something different – instead of making more, they'll make less and cause every one of the child-led movies to be a success at the box office. It's so unpredictable, so really all we can do is sit back and watch, waiting to see what Hollywood does with their newfound money. With the new season of Stranger Things just starting though, we've still got one great series involving children to watch, and if the trailers are any indication, we're in for another wild ride.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros/New Line Cinema

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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