I recently picked up the latest issue of Nylon. It’s a magazine that I rarely read, but I was lured by the siren call of these words on the front cover: “the young hollywood issue”.
I have a bit of an obsession with all things teen — young adult literature, teen movies and tv shows…I’ve seen more episodes of ‘Hannah Montana’ than I care to admit (hey, it’s on the Family Channel, which is my default station when I’m alone in my house because nothing really scary ever happens on it — no gruesome CSI-style serial killers or graphic crime scenes, thank you very much).
Why the obsession? I think it has something to do with the fact that my own high school experience — while interesting, and not without its high points, certainly — was so different from what I see depicted in teen movies and shows that I find it endlessly fascinating. Then again, movies and television are obviously hyper-reality, so I’m pretty sure no one I know really had those experiences. I guess it’s all an idealized version of adolescence, which seems comforting to me because my own teen years were full of angst and confusion. I’m sure I am not alone on that front.
Anyway, as I was flipping through the pages of Nylon I was thinking to myself “yeah, this is all fine and good, and I’m sure these kids are talented and some may go far…” But for me, the Golden Age of Young Hollywood was the ’80s/early ’90s. I’m talking about the Brat Pack, Rob Lowe (sigh), Johnny & Winona (double sigh), the two Coreys, Christian Slater, Drew Barrymore when she was a 12-year-old cokehead…You guys, those were the days. Seriously. Though they may try, none of these Justin Biebers or Selena Gomezes can really hold a candle to all of that. I’m sure it has something to do with the internet — nowadays, every move that teen celebs make is captured and documented for all the world to see, so it’s harder to be spontaneous or to screw up. I remember when I was growing up, one of my favourite things was seeing candid shots of Young Hollywood actors out on the town or at awards show after-parties, with booze and/or cigarettes in their hands, looking relaxed, entitled, and usually kind of smug…it seemed that they were fully aware of how awesome it all was. Fame, fortune, adoration from the masses, and no rules to go along with any of it. Hollywood was their playground.
Of course, we now know that many of them crashed and burned, some spectacularly so…but I still love looking back at those old pictures. It seems like an era that was simultaneously more innocent and more debaucherous than the one we are currently in.
Below, some classic images from Young Hollywood’s Golden Age: