Monday, August 15, 2011

David Cassidy, Allison Pearson, "I Think I love you", and teen idols

I finished the book finally, and I still think Susan's review is a pretty good one. As I said in my previous blog post I was too young to IDOLIZE David Cassidy. I knew who he was, I listened to his music, but I was definitely more of a fan of Shaun Cassidy and the "Da Doo Ron Ron", Donny and Marie Osmond, and even John Denver. I did actually own this album:

Shaun Cassidy (album)Image via Wikipedia

So anyway, Susan Coventry says on her blog "ReadingWorld":
"Part one revolves around David Cassidy to such a degree that, well, I almost gave up on the book. I understand that the obsessiveness of Petra’s tween love was important for the whole theme, but I found that I didn’t particularly enjoy obsessing over David Cassidy. Plus, the whole mean-girl genre for tweens is getting a lot of attention currently, and I don’t really need to be reading that much of it. Overall, I found the thirteen-year-old Petra to be relatively uninteresting.

However, Bill amused me, and I did want to know what was going to happen with him. That kept me reading on until we shifted gears to 1998. At that point, I became more interested in the story."


This was very much my experience as well. I actually skipped a few pages of part one because I was so bored with the description and build up of Petra and Sharon's life. Once I did get to the second part I felt disappointed. Susan goes on in her blog to be satisfied with the book, but I felt let down. I felt like Part two was rushed. I wanted to know more about Bill. I wanted to see more of Bill and Petra together. We don't get that though. Ms. Pearson is years late in getting this book done and I felt like she just rushed through the second part to finish it. I personally would have preferred less in Part One, and more in Part Two. So to me the book became rather a waste of time.

Except....... except it got me thinking about "teen idols". I was too young to idolize David Cassidy. He was my mother's age after all. Who were the idols of my friends? Did we even HAVE idols? MTV was born in 1982. "Video killed the radio star" as the song goes. Well.. 1982 was a busy year for me. My mother and step-father split up that year. I changed schools twice, moved a few times, and watched my mother start dating. Life was changing, and it was changing fast. I even met the boy who would be my first boyfriend. We went through puberty together. I didn't need to idolize. I missed that part of innocence. So I was curious about idols and I went digging.

Naturally I didn't need to dig far. Like the book review, teen idols have already been written about. Turns out the teen idols for me were supposed to be "The Brat Pack". Wikipedia says so, so it must be true.

Wikipedia says: "The teen idol is primarily a phenomenon of 20th century mass communication.".
In the 1970s:
"After Davy Jones came Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy. They held the title of Teen Idols from the late 1960s til the mid 1970s. Both Sherman and Cassidy were actors on television and musicians in the pop-rock category at the time. Musical series such as Cassidy's The Partridge Family, the animated series The Archie Show, and (to a lesser extent) The Brady Bunch integrated television and teen-pop music to significant success during this time frame.
One of the features of many teen idols is that their fans (and, in some cases, the musicians themselves) tend to develop a distaste for the music once they become adults, and it is not much listened to by adults, except for nostalgia: the legacy of bubblegum pop. Performers in this category would include Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, Donny Osmond, Tony DeFranco, and The Bay City Rollers. Even modern classic hits and oldies outlets, which cover this time period, rarely play cuts from the teen idols of the era, with the exception of Michael Jackson, who began his career as a teen idol but whose career eventually evolved far beyond the limitations of that description and into superstardom."

And then by the time I'm in my pre-teens and teens:
"In the mid 1980s there was a group of young actors called The Brat Pack, the whole group collectively and separately became teen idols. There was Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy. They starred in many coming of age films together in some fashion and became incredibly popular without being musicians.

Actors Corey Feldman and Corey Haim became teen idols during the later part of the 1980s with films The Goonies and together The Lost Boys and License to Drive among other films. They were dubbed "the two Coreys". Before Corey Haim's death in 2010, they did a reality TV show for two seasons (2007-08) on A&E named The Two Coreys after their 1980s moniker.

Australian/American singer/actor Rick Springfield was regarded as a teen idol in the 1980s with such hits as "Jessie's Girl" and "Don't Talk to Strangers". The Grammy Award winning musician Springfield was known for playing Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime drama General Hospital. He originated the character from 1981-1983. He left acting after his music career took off."

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Right! Who could forget "Jessie's Girl"? I had friends on the school bus who swooned over Rick Springfield, but I didn't really "get it" although I learned the words.  You can click on the link about the Brat Pack if you like.

So anyway, I didn't really have a teen idol.  I think most of the teen idols of my generation were actors/actresses, and maybe MTV stars. It is interesting that teen idols are an "invention of mass communication". I can see how that is true. Now with social networking fans have more access to celebrities than ever before. With Facebook and Twitter we can "connect" to those idols by simply putting an "@" at the beginning of a message. I know it's true. I've done it with writers before.

This segways into a conversation about marketing and advertising. .. of people. David Cassidy gained fame as "Keith Partridge" and shot up to super-stardom very quickly. Then he didn't want to be "Keith" anymore and has had a hard time getting out of it. I think even to this day that is the case.  I'd almost wonder what he thought of the book that Allison wrote except I read the notes at the end. Susan Coventry was right. It really is a fictionalized memoir.  Allison did finally get to meet Cassidy when she was older. She found out that brown never was his favorite color.

 While the book fell flat for me, it was fun spending a few days looking up all this stuff. I had kind of forgotten about most of it in the last 10-15 years (since I left that job where I got paid to watch "The Partridge Family" every weekend).

Anyway you can read more on David Cassidy if you want. There is plenty online. Enjoy!!

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