Greyson Chance, Sixth Grader, Sings Lady Gaga on Ellen


Two weeks ago, Greyson Chance performed the song “Paparazzi” at a school assembly. Today, he sang the same song live on Ellen. Two weeks ago, he was sitting in his middle school auditorium in Oklahoma. Today he was on the phone with Lady Ga Ga, who told him to “stay away from girls”.

For an aspiring artist, it used to take years to gain the sort of attention that Chance has seemingly walked into. But with the ability of You Tube to turn a two-minute upload into a viral internet sensation, some kids catapult into stardom overnight.

Is that really such a good thing?

The relationship between childhood and fame is, at best, an uneasy one.  Plenty of parents are hesitant to let their kids delve into that world, while others seem reckless in their disregard for its possible ill-effects on their kids. Hence, a big part of the Kate Gosselin backlash, in my opinion.

For the most part, having a child become famous is like winning the lottery, in that it sounds like a good thing, but most of us really won’t ever know for sure.  That said, my concern is that in cases like Greyson Chance’s, parents don’t even have a chance to contemplate the meaning of fame before they are called upon to make a decision regarding it. Time was, for a child to  pursue a chance in show business required having a parent willing to drive him or her to audition after audition, pay for head shots, and shop around for an agent. In other words, it took some time—lots of time. So what happens when that time frame is compressed in such a way that you barely have time to think before you have to asnwer to a booking agent from the Ellen show, who wants to fly your son out to Hollywood for a last-minute appearance?

To be sure, the Justin Biebers and Greyson Chances of the world are few and far between. And I’m sure both young men are having a pretty good time—-and maybe their parents are totally without reservations about all of this. (Bieber’s mother certainly seems to be.) But if you are a parent who isn’t quite sure what you think of having your child become a household name, here’s a bit of advice: skip the You Tube, and keep your home videos to yourself. Because once fame comes knocking, it might be awfully hard to ignore.