Friday, March 22, 2013

Jennifer Capriati... yet another troubled celebrity

I remember back in 1990, when 13 year old tennis phenom Jennifer Capriati was in the news for being so young, so gifted, and so poised to be a superstar.  Besides being a superstar athlete on the tennis courts, she had an ad campaign with Oil of Olay.  At that time, I was 18 and it looked like we both might be going places.

Then in the early 90s, Jennifer Capriati got in trouble for almost stealing a ring, which she claimed was accidental.  She was also in trouble for smoking pot.  She had reportedly contemplated suicide and was depressed about her looks and relationships with others.  Her mug shot was plastered all over the magazines and she became a poster child for kids who get too much, too soon.  It looked like at 18, maybe she wasn't going places...

But then she bounced back and started kicking ass in tennis again.  People talked about how she was making a comeback.

In 2010, she required hospitalization for overdosing...

And now, in 2013, she's in hot water again, for stalking and battering her ex boyfriend.  I don't know what her issues are.  I did read an interesting op-ed yesterday written in 1994 by an LA Times journalist who pointed out that lots of athletes have early successes and grow up to be perfectly responsible adults who don't get into trouble.

Based on the pattern reported, though, I would venture a guess that maybe Capriati is dealing with some long standing issues that are not getting resolved as she gets older.  If I had to make a very wild guess, I would say she probably has a character disorder on the Cluster B spectrum.  Of course I don't know... and some of this might be because she is a celebrity and things she does get reported to news outlets.

It's sad, though, that someone with so many opportunities and so much raw talent has ended up as tabloid fodder.  I hope she gets some help, for her own sake and those who are around her.


  1. It seems there's a price to pay for being in the limelight from such a young age.

  2. Maybe there is... though there's no denying that there have been a lot of young people who have been successful and not repeatedly ended up on the wrong side of the law. I'm not sure why Jennifer Capriati has had the troubles she's had, but I don't know that it's entirely due to pressures from a young age.

    1. I'm not so sure, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, Macaulay Culkin and now Bieber is showing signs of going off the rails. Of course lots of kids who aren't in the limelight go off the rails, maybe we just notice these ones more because they're tabloid fodder as you say. Still it's tough enough growing up without added pressures.

  3. I agree. I'm not sure what the answer is, though. If you are extremely talented or skilled and have a desire to achieve before you're an adult, is it right for society to stop you? I have grappled with this question a lot myself. It seems like nowadays, there's a lot more pressure for kids to achieve really big things. But I would also guess that a lot of those kids had some kind of drive that made them want to perform, too. If there wasn't some kind of innate drive, wouldn't we have more extreme overachievers? Maybe if our society were more like that of the Far East, where kids are under pressure since birth...

    Many of the people in your list come from families that were already pretty dysfunctional and would have been regardless of whether or not there had been child stars in the mix. Lindsay Lohan's father is pretty much a criminal and her mother has drug problems; I doubt that her star power had much to do with the fact that her dad has chronic issues with the law. It's kind of clear that Lohan has inherited the propensity toward addiction and being in the limelight gave her easier access to satisfying those addictions.

    Michael Jackson likewise grew up in a home with extreme discipline and allegations of abuse, as well as religious indoctrination that was there before he was a star. Same goes for Macaulay Culkin. I'm not sure about Judy Garland or Britney Spears.

    I'm sure the stresses involved with show business exacerbate these problems and make it hard for people to stay grounded, though. There have been a lot of sad cases over the years. Hell... pretty much the entire child star cast of Diff'rent Strokes had issues.


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